Lighting the inauguration lamp for the Liberation Prison Project in Bangalore, August 2017. Photo courtesy of Choe Khor Sum Ling.

Rashmi Krishnan, a student and volunteer of Choe Khor Sum Ling in Bangalore, India, shares news about the center’s encouraging expansion of its prison outreach through the Liberation Prison Project (LPP) to women:

For over two years, students at Choe Khor Sum Ling have been visiting male prisoners at a facility as part of their work with the Liberation Prison Project. Over the last year, the program has been expanded to include the female inmates’ section.

Between fifteen to twenty women attend the sessions, which are held every Saturday, except for second Saturdays and public holidays. As part of a session, teachings of the Buddha, which include the subjects of impermanence, karma, forgiveness, and compassion are discussed. It is very encouraging to note that the discussions are very participatory and interactive. Techniques like analytical meditation and calm abiding are also imparted during the classes.

The impact of the teachings has been heart-warming. Patience levels have improved considerably among inmates, and the willingness to be equanimous through forgiving oneself and others is eagerly implemented.

Between discussions on karma, faith, and equanimity, there are times when inmates acknowledge the improvement that has occurred in those who used to be very angry.

A drawing by Sadhana Nagendra depicts the teaching of the Liberation Prison Project run by the Choe Khor Sum Ling in Bangalore, August 2017.

One of the inmates very profoundly said that regardless of whether she is inside or outside the prison, she is constantly worried and wanted to learn how to put an end to her worries.

Our work with the inmates clearly showed that it doesn’t matter whether one is at the tenth floor of a posh high-rise or in a dreadful nine-to-five, working endless hours of a soul-numbing job or in prisonthe mind that is not at peace is imprisoned and undergoes punishment.

The path of liberation is practiced by both the volunteers and the inmates as discussions and the lessons on impermanence and equanimity are internalized. During the process, the mind gradually shifts gear to higher levels of acceptance. We’ve especially begun to internalize the lesson that we may not be free to change our external circumstances, but we can use the mind to utilize present circumstances to become a better human.

Read student testimonials, program details, and teacher information on the Liberation Prison Project: brings you news of Lama Zopa Rinpoche and of activities, teachings and events from over 160 FPMT centers, projects and services around the globe. If you like what you read, consider becoming a Friend of FPMT, which supports our work.