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Saved by the Dharma

By K. W.

Hands rolling mantras
I devoured these books over and over, steeping myself in their teachings as I learned to sit.


Ten years ago I was in prison. I was very angry and blamed everyone else for my predicament. I harbored so much hate inside of me towards a person who I felt was responsible for my incarceration, in my mind the future had me committing a murder against this person. As surely as the sun came up every morning I knew this would be my future. To become a murderer. Every night as I fell asleep on my concrete bunk I would imagine every step I would take to avoid detection and be successful in this future venture.

Somehow I got my hands on two books by Lama Yeshe as well as a book by Venerable Thubten Chodron: Making Your Mind an Ocean, Becoming Your Own Therapist and Taming the Monkey Mind.1 Venerable Chodron’s words and Lama Yeshe’s teachings just made sense. I devoured these books over and over, steeping myself in their teachings as I learned to sit. Before long I was able to send love and compassion to the people I had been planning to kill. Can you imagine! I avoided becoming a murderer because of some worn little books that found their way behind barbed wire and into my prison cell! After being transferred to a different facility, a group from the outside led by Lama Pema befriended me as they made weekly visits to the prison facility. After five years of detention I was released and immediately went to Chagdud Gonpa Amrita and took refuge and received the name Padma Dorje from Lama Padma.

The same week that I met the Karmapa when he visited Seattle. It was just me, the Karmapa, Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, and ten other people in the room at Nalanda West. One week later I met the His Holiness the Dalai Lama when he visited Seattle on his “Seeds of Compassion” Tour. I am truly blessed to have been put in prison don’t you think?

Thank you for all you have done for me. Thank you for helping me to avoid becoming a murderer.

K. W.

  1. Now republished as Taming the Mind

Incarcerated people

Many incarcerated people from all over the United States correspond with Venerable Thubten Chodron and monastics from Sravasti Abbey. They offer great insights into how they are applying the Dharma and striving to be of benefit to themselves and others in even the most difficult of situations.