Filed in Social Justice

The Prison Monk

An interview with Buddhist activist and former prisoner Fleet Maull

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He who puts an end to former crimes
By taking up the way of peace,
Illuminates the world
Like the moon freed from a veil of clouds


—The Buddha, Angulimala Sutta

In 1985 Fleet Maull, a Buddhist practitioner and senior student of Tibetan teacher Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche (1939-1987), was indicted for cocaine trafficking and sentenced to a prison term of twenty-five years without parole. Despite the obvious challenges of pursuing meditation in prison—the overcrowded conditions; the violent, chaotic atmosphere; the lack of personal space—Maull committed himself to a path of Buddhist practice. While incarcerated, he ordained as a novice monk and completed the foundational practices of Tibetan Buddhism, which include over one hundred thousand prostrations.

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