Prison Ministry Discussion wth Myokei Shonin (Nichiren Shu)

Discuss the application of the Dharma to situations of social, political, environmental and economic suffering and injustice.
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kirtu
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Prison Ministry Discussion wth Myokei Shonin (Nichiren Shu)

Post by kirtu » Tue Jan 19, 2016 8:14 pm

Discussion with Myokei Shonin about her Prison Ministry
I believe that Myokei Shonin was elected Bishop of the Nichiren Order of North America last year.

Part 1
phpBB [video]


Part 2
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Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Even if you practice only for an hour a day with faith and inspiration, good qualities will steadily increase. Regular practice makes it easy to transform your mind. From seeing only relative truth, you will eventually reach a profound certainty in the meaning of absolute truth."
Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche

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Re: Prison Ministry Discussion wth Myokei Shonin (Nichiren S

Post by Queequeg » Wed Jan 20, 2016 10:37 pm

Thanks for posting this. Her husband used to make appearances here at DW. Good guy.
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Re: Prison Ministry Discussion wth Myokei Shonin (Nichiren Shu)

Post by Joka » Wed Mar 15, 2017 2:06 pm

People in prisons are human beings also needing help and an opportunity of redemption or helping hand like anybody else. I think a Buddhist prison venue helping prisoners is a great idea.

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Re: Prison Ministry Discussion wth Myokei Shonin (Nichiren Shu)

Post by narhwal90 » Wed Mar 15, 2017 4:00 pm

I stopped by the Sweetwater Zen center in San Diego, the guy who welcomed me was off to participate in a meditation session at a prison down there. I've participated in similar activities with AA/Alanon in detox centers etc- very cool to see outreach in any form it takes.

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Re: Prison Ministry Discussion wth Myokei Shonin (Nichiren Shu)

Post by Joka » Wed Mar 15, 2017 4:13 pm

narhwal90 wrote:I stopped by the Sweetwater Zen center in San Diego, the guy who welcomed me was off to participate in a meditation session at a prison down there. I've participated in similar activities with AA/Alanon in detox centers etc- very cool to see outreach in any form it takes.
There needs to be more outreach to the disenfranchised, hopeless, alienated, outcasts, and exploited poor.

I always hear about Buddhism's decline in some countries but if there was an active outreach towards people especially the much more needy segments of society such a thing would cease to exist.

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Re: Prison Ministry Discussion wth Myokei Shonin (Nichiren Shu)

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Wed Mar 15, 2017 4:58 pm

Great videos.

I've been doing prison visits with a Prison Dharma group for a number of months now, and I have to say it's one of the best experiences i've had, on a number of levels. The bureaucratic bit can be frustrating of course.

Honestly, when I first started going the funniest thing was that the cops made me more nervous than the prisoners.
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Re: Prison Ministry Discussion wth Myokei Shonin (Nichiren Shu)

Post by narhwal90 » Wed Mar 15, 2017 6:02 pm

Telk you what, feels pretty good to hear the security door close with you on the outside :)

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Re: Prison Ministry Discussion wth Myokei Shonin (Nichiren Shu)

Post by binocular » Wed Mar 15, 2017 6:39 pm

Joka wrote:There needs to be more outreach to the disenfranchised, hopeless, alienated, outcasts, and exploited poor.
What chances do these people have of ever becoming real Buddhists?
What chances do these people have of ever becoming accepted by Buddhists who are people in good standing by society's standards?

I am very skeptical about prison ministries and other ministries to the disenfranchized. It seems to me that through those ministries, those disenfranchized people are being given false hope and promises of a future that can never come true.

I would like to believe that this isn't so, and that there is instead real hope and real opportunity for the disenfranchized.

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Re: Prison Ministry Discussion wth Myokei Shonin (Nichiren Shu)

Post by Joka » Wed Mar 15, 2017 6:45 pm

binocular wrote:
Joka wrote:There needs to be more outreach to the disenfranchised, hopeless, alienated, outcasts, and exploited poor.
What chances do these people have of ever becoming real Buddhists?
What chances do these people have of ever becoming accepted by Buddhists who are people in good standing by society's standards?

I am very skeptical about prison ministries and other ministries to the disenfranchized. It seems to me that through those ministries, those disenfranchized people are being given false hope and promises of a future that can never come true.

I would like to believe that this isn't so, and that there is instead real hope and real opportunity for the disenfranchized.
I've come from a very lowly and less than honorable background myself when I was younger. No group of people on earth are ever undeserving for a chance of redemption, spiritual fulfillment, and a helping hand.

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Re: Prison Ministry Discussion wth Myokei Shonin (Nichiren Shu)

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Wed Mar 15, 2017 6:48 pm

binocular wrote: What chances do these people have of ever becoming accepted by Buddhists who are people in good standing by society's standards?
You be surprised, some of them are pretty serious practitioners, in some ways much more so than you'd find on the outside. I would say they definitely meditate more than your average Dharma - center dweller, IME at least. There is a prison here (I think) where some people built a stupa on the grounds, using their own money. I have been impressed by their devotion and openness. Some people take refuge in prison.

As to their chances on the outside, well ,it's stacked against them, but you can see how much more resilient Dharma practice makes them in dealing with their situations, and coming to terms with their own stuff. Like I said, in many ways what i've witnessed in some people is a greater level of personal insight than you'd see in your average meditation person for sure, at least in going by the discussions i've been around. You know all that stuff where people meditate for shallow reasons? That stuff is out the door in prison, these guys HAVE to take practice seriously, and not as just some fun distraction.
I am very skeptical about prison ministries and other ministries to the disenfranchized. It seems to me that through those ministries, those disenfranchized people are being given false hope and promises of a future that can never come true.

I would like to believe that this isn't so, and that there is instead real hope and real opportunity for the disenfranchized.
False hope for what? They are being given Dharma, not jobs etc. The only hope there is hope that they can transcend their pain and conditioning, which is something that -should- be offered to everyone, including those in bad situations.


If anyone is interested, I would recommend the book Dharma in Hell by Fleet Maul, it's a quick, easy read that will give you a vague idea of what practicing in this environment is like.
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Re: Prison Ministry Discussion wth Myokei Shonin (Nichiren Shu)

Post by narhwal90 » Wed Mar 15, 2017 6:51 pm

Lots of addicted folks find AA and other programs in prison, achieve recovery and come out of prison to live perfectly reasonable lives. Some of their stories are horrifying, and I'm proud to know a few. If people can serve their time and be Christian, why not Buddhist? If you want to see what hope & redemption & gratitude looks like, talk to a recovered addict.

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Re: Prison Ministry Discussion wth Myokei Shonin (Nichiren Shu)

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Wed Mar 15, 2017 7:00 pm

narhwal90 wrote:Lots of addicted folks find AA and other programs in prison, achieve recovery and come out of prison to live perfectly reasonable lives. Some of their stories are horrifying, and I'm proud to know a few. If people can serve their time and be Christian, why not Buddhist? If you want to see what hope & redemption & gratitude looks like, talk to a recovered addict.

Yep, people who have been through this kind of thing sometimes really get Mahakaruna, I think it isn't just some idea to them, but a lived experienced resulting from insight into pain.
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Re: Prison Ministry Discussion wth Myokei Shonin (Nichiren Shu)

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Wed Mar 15, 2017 7:08 pm

Another thing, having an idea someone is irredeemable in this country due to their incarceration is insane anyway, given how easy it is to spend time in prison here, and the insane number of people in them. I hope I don't need to point out, many prisoners are "normal' people. In my younger days I could just have easily ended up where some of these guys did were it not for some advantages i've had, and I haven't even lived a very unusual life.
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Re: Prison Ministry Discussion wth Myokei Shonin (Nichiren Shu)

Post by binocular » Wed Mar 15, 2017 7:32 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:As to their chances on the outside, well ,it's stacked against them,
Exactly, hence my concern.
False hope for what?
Like I said right away:
What chances do these people have of ever becoming accepted by Buddhists who are people in good standing by society's standards?

narhwal90 wrote:If people can serve their time and be Christian, why not Buddhist?
As for Christians -- Can the disenfranchized ever become first-class Christians, or are they doomed to being second-class Christians, and introduced with a qualifier like "... and this is John, who after many years of battling addiction, finally found hope in Jesus" ?
Is the more hope for prospective Buddhists with a disenfranchized background?

I am not optimistic that the religious community accepts the (once) disenfranchized.
narhwal90 wrote:If you want to see what hope & redemption & gratitude looks like, talk to a recovered addict.
I'm more interested in seeing whether the religious community accepts them, or whether they remain stigmatized for the rest of their life.

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Re: Prison Ministry Discussion wth Myokei Shonin (Nichiren Shu)

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Wed Mar 15, 2017 7:39 pm

binocular wrote:[
Exactly, hence my concern.
They should get MORE attention rather than less if that is your concern.

Like I said right away:
What chances do these people have of ever becoming accepted by Buddhists who are people in good standing by society's standards?
What a question. Well, some will end up back in prison, others will not. Hopefully Dharma practice can help them either way. Part of your question is also about the penal system here, which basically encourages lifetime recidivism, so if you're that concerned, stop worrying only about individual and group culpability and look at the system too. Anyway, i'm not sure about trying to share Dharma practice with anyone based on such a conditional result..."I only want to practice with this person if this helps them reform".

I am not optimistic that the religious community accepts the (once) disenfranchized.
It depends on the community I think. Obviously there are many different religious communities with many different angles.
I'm more interested in seeing whether the religious community accepts them, or whether they remain stigmatized for the rest of their life.

Again, a part of that is part of the larger conversation about prisons and incarceration..as far as them "being accepted"..I imagine i've already practiced with at least some people who have been in prison at one time or another, it's not like it's something people are necessarily going to advertise.
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Re: Prison Ministry Discussion wth Myokei Shonin (Nichiren Shu)

Post by narhwal90 » Wed Mar 15, 2017 7:45 pm

Theres no shortage of judgement in any religious community I've come across but that hardly means that all those in such communities make judgements. Several of the recovered addicts/alcoholics I know are fully engaged in their respective practices (Catholic in this case, but different congregations), not just sitting in pews but active in various respects of their practice. Coming from an AA perspective they do not make a production of publicizing their recovery, but they're local folks so their pasts are well known as is their current behavior.

I attend meetings with a recovered alcoholic nun, I've not met a recovered alcoholic/addict priest yet but I've heard quite a few speaker recordings from them. Along the lines of what the AA big book suggests, their sordid past is often their greatest asset. Having recovered their lives and self-respect, knowing what its like to be in the grips of misfortune at its worst, its not uncommon that they are more skilled in compassion than the "normies".

None of the folks I interact with in those programs give the slightest thought of stigma, they freely relate the good , bad and ugly of their experience when asked.

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