Friday, November 13, 2009

Buddhism in Texas prisons

One usually thinks of prison ministries as a Christian or perhaps an Islamic calling, but according to an informative article by Zen Zheng in the Houston Chronicle ("Cultivating her faith," Nov. 12) "Buddhist volunteers work in eight of 113 state prisons." Buddhist prison ministries are spearheaded by Myokei Caine-Barrett, a Texan who was introduced to Buddhism in El Paso and Houston. She has performed weekly services at TDCJ facilities since becoming ordained in 2007.


Anonymous said...

But even following the path to enlightenment will not change the ideas that prisoners are not fixable within the Texas population as a whole. Unlike Christianity, Buddhism isn't something that you can 'put on' when the need arises to gain favor with one body or another. It is a total life change, and requires years of study, thought, and purity to achieve. Regrettably, anyone on the inside that takes this up will never be seen as someone that is attempting change, only another false believer in religion X trying to get by on the system. and that is a shame.

sunray's wench said...

I agree with you Anon @ 11.06, and I think it is one of the main reasons why ANY religious conversion should not form part of an analysis of suitability for parole. It really shouldn't matter if inmate X is a Christian, Buddhist, Taoist or any of the pagan traditions; what should matter is general behaviour while incarcerated, and support available on the outside.

Anonymous said...

I'm not too concerned about Buddhism in prisons. However, I have observed that the Iman at my correctional facility seems to focus all his energy on the most aggressive and violent inmates. Looks like he is building up his little private army. It looks like a horror story in the making (chapter one in a horror story). I wonder what he has in mind for them.

Anonymous said...

I personally am delighted that the buddhist's are active in the prisons. By exploring and for a time embracing Buddhism, my son learned to BE ALONE in the midst of all that is prison. The Buddhist man who came to the unit every three weeks didn't "preach" he taught my son to look inward. He continues to do so daily. I consider this one of the most positive "extracuricular" activities that prison ministry volunteers provided to him.

I must agree with Sunny, however. Religion, beliefs etc are for soothing the soul. Parole should be determined by behavior on the inside and support on the outside.
And don't EVEN get me started on Rissie Owens.

Anonymous said...

"However, I have observed that the Iman at my correctional facility seems to focus all his energy on the most aggressive and violent inmates."

My thoughts were that that was extraordinarily brave and devoted of him. Your thoughts have a much darker cast to them.

It sounded to me like something many, devoted to Christ try to do. To be like him by reaching out to the most in need among us of certain sorts of "Good News".

Myokei Shonin said...

Thank you for including this article on your site. I received notice of its inclusion which also led me to check out your blog. What a goldmine! I will continue to follow your work--it is such a gift!