Prison Dharma

People in prison and volunteers who work in prisons reflect on how to apply the Dharma in prison settings and beyond.

Prison Outreach Program

It all began with one man in prison writing a letter to Venerable Thubten Chodron. Today, Sravasti Abbey sends a quarterly newsletter, Dharma books, DVDs of teachings, and prayer beads to thousands of people in prison.

Here, you’ll find reflections by Venerable Thubten Chodron, other prison volunteers, and people in prison themselves on what it’s like to practice the Dharma in prison.

You can support our prison outreach program by making a donation to Sravasti Abbey here. Be sure to indicate “Prison Dharma Program” in the comments box. Your contribution helps to produce Dharma materials and supports the postage to send them.

For a listing of films related to Buddhism in correctional facilities see Vipassana Meditation for Correctional Facilities.

Subcategories

A small bird emerges from a hole in a bird house.

By Incarcerated People

Reflections, essays, and poems by people in prison about their Dharma practice.

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A black and white butterfly rests on the edge of a doorframe.

By Prison Volunteers

Volunteers reflect on what they have learned from sharing the Dharma with people in prison.

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Related Books

All Posts in Prison Dharma

By Incarcerated People

Reentry

A newly free person continues the Dharma practice that he began while incarcerated.

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By Incarcerated People

Time, inspiration, and gratitude

Calvin is free after 27 years of incarceration. He reflects on how he met Buddhism…

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Barbed wire in a garden.
By Incarcerated People

Prison labor

Today's prisons provide few chances for rehabilitation, instead using incarcerated people for cheap labor. One…

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Silhouette of prison bars with blue sky, sun, and bird flying by.
On Love, Compassion, and Bodhicitta

Transforming adversity into bodhicitta

The difficulties of the pandemic are a special challenge for those who are incarcerated.

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Silhouette of man standing behind prison bars.
Prison Poetry

Developing bodhicitta

A man serving a life sentence transforms feelings of dread into compassion for all beings.

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Closeup of the statue of a smiling Buddha's face.
Prison Poetry

Love

Finding the value of love in searching for peace and equanimity.

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The word "Why?" written on a metal sliding door.
Prison Poetry

Why?

Poetry from inside a state prison.

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Silhouette of trees against a dark night sky filled with stars.
Prison Poetry

The peace and beauty of the night’s darkness

A prison volunteer finds respite from the daily struggle.

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Two strands of barbed wire with blue sky in the background and sunlight.
By Incarcerated People

A fight on the yard

An incarcerated person describes the disruption caused by a fight in the prison yard.

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Person compassionately holding the hands of another person.
Prison Poetry

The cure

On March 15, 2019, 50 people at mosques in New Zealand were murdered by a…

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Silhouette of hand reaching out toward the sun.
On Cultivating Wisdom

Selflessness keeps you out of SHU

From a teaching by Venerable Chodron, an incarcerated person learns to train consistently to deal…

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