I’m sitting just thinking about that wonderful breakfast of yours. I wish I was there, it sounds so good. Breakfast here is not one I look forward to. They serve pancakes at least four or five times a week, often with just a half spoon of peanut butter. Sometimes they have little sides of oatmeal or grits or a piece of fruit. When we’re on lock down they serve us less. Just enough to keep us alive. You’ve seen how much weight I lost. Oh well, I’m doing everything in my will power to change that. I will change it. I will.

We just got off lockdown. I had to wait to get stamps to send letters off. I got the books you sent. I don’t know why it took so long. I could see when you ordered it. I also received a book from Melvin. It is called, The Buddha in Your Mirror. It’s a real good book with lots of knowledge in it. Is hard to put down when I start to read it. I love it. It breaks things down where I can understand it. Please give my greetings to the members when you go to your next SGI meeting.

In this prison I’m only allowed to have two visits per month as a G5. I come up for my G4 in a month. I hear they aren’t letting a lot of people have their G4.
(Sonni’s note: G5, Ad Seg and solitary are all the same thing. At least 23 hours a day locked up with no privileges of any kind. He can’t make a phone call or have a visit that isn’t behind glass until he is G2. He is served food through a slot in the door. Exercise in the yard is in a cage) They are making me do an extra six months. The thing about that is, when I do come back up I might be coming up for my G2. We’ll see. That hasn’t happened so far. Things have away of not not working out the way you want them to

As much as it hurts me I have to say this. I love Jamie and the kids with all my heart. I do. However, I’m starting to feel like I am no longer a part of their lives. It hurts. Megan still don’t try to bring Jamie or try to talk to my family. So that’s why I hurt. As his father, I’m not able to be there for my son so he will know that I love him. I’m being stopped from doing that. Any other dad might be glad he didn’t have to worry about his child or children. The men who don’t care have women who drive them crazy trying to get them to be interested in their kids. However, the ones who do care have so many problems trying to spend time with their kid. I don’t why.
A lot of things are changing as life goes by. Change is a good thing. We all need change sometimes. I’ll know things are changing for me when I am able to see my son when I want to – and when I am home.

(after the visit) Hello mom, I’m back. I just had a visit with Melvin. He’s a real good person. He’s funny, too. He encourages me a lot and that’s pretty cool and it’s what I need. We talked about a lot of stuff. You know, about his life at their restaurant. We talked a lot about his life. He calls it ‘back in the day’. He’s a wonderful person. We had a good time at our visit. He caught me on a bad day. I want feeling well and I was tired. I made the best of it because I knew it was for a good reason he was here that day. We enjoy each others company. We laughed, talked and changed together.

He told me about a group of four that gets together to chant. Of course, one of them is him. However, the group of four added another person yesterday. Guess who that person is? (smile) It’s me! We are called the Onalaska group. We are having our first meeting on the 27th of April at Melvin’s restaurant. I will be here but not in my mind.

He asked me about the food. I told him that T.D.C.J (Texas Department of Criminal Justice) has some units that butchers their own pigs. This place happens to be one of those units, so they serve a lot of pork. Too much pork. I just have to deal with it the best I can. Then we chanted for five minutes. I was tired. He could see it in my eyes. He told me to get some rest. please call him and tell him I will continue to chant and encourage others. Ask him, how did the first meeting go?

There was a problem that day, I found out. My mom tried to visit and they turned her away because I already had my two visits for the month. I go for years without having a single visit from anybody. Now I had too many! Yes, life is changing.

I’m going to go for now, but not forever. Till next time. Love you always, Son

(note from Sonni: SGI stands for Soka Gakkai International. The words are Japanese and translate into Value Creation Society. This letter is different from other letters. It was filled with hope and determination. It had laughter. His mind was outside of the prison in a positive way. I told him if he studied the causes he made throughout his life, and learned to make new ones, better ones, and if he was able to make the changes he needed and begin to learn what cause and effect is, and what the word consequence means, and gradually make the right causes, he could be happy, even in a prison. Today I saw change. Today I could hear happiness in his words)

(additional note from Sonni: This was originally posted on May 18. I decided to add these words and reprint it today because Melvin has been to see Jamie recently, four times total. It has been such a lifeline for him. I have overwhelming appreciation for this man whom I have never met in person, but feel there is such a heart to heart connection. The cause was made by Jamie to have this man enter his life. There are no coincidences in life. No luck and no miracles. Only causes we don’t understand. You cannot have an effect without a cause. It isn’t logical. Buddhism is reason, not fantasy. Fantasy isn’t real no matter how much you want it to be.

I know they chant together which is important for someone who is just learning. You need to hear how it sounds. Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. Melvin has encouraged him to keep going. Two weeks ago he told me that Jamie found someone else in the prison who also chants and they’ve been chanting together in the yard. Jamie has told me that most all the inmates make determinations to be better when they get. They want to have a better life. But just wanting a better life is not enough. They need to change the way they process their environment. Because they can’t, they get sucked back into the life they lived before and many end up right back inside. I realize that there are inmates that don’t go back in but far too many do, and the next time is usually worse. After that, they lose all hope of having a life outside the prison with people and events they can be proud of.

Jamie has never had a life. His karma was set before he was born. If it hadn’t happened then, something else would have happened. It was going to happen. I know that anyone reading this who doesn’t understand what Nichiren Buddhism is and what it does for you, wouldn’t understand how it is affecting his life, but little by little things are changing and you can see that change as you look back. I want so much for him to be able to change things for the better and that when he gets out he will be able to change the direction of his life. He will understand himself better and know that there is value in his life. Nichiren Buddhism gives you hope. It gives you the power of determination and it gives you the power to change the things that make you unhappy. You also learn that by helping other people you are helping yourself.

Most faiths try to teach you how to be a good human being and how to live your life right. In Christianity there is the phrase, you reap what you sow. In the secular world the phrase is, you get back what you dish out or what goes around comes around. In Nichiren Buddhism it is the law of cause and effect. But in Nichiren Buddhism we take that phrase very seriously and consciously try to make good causes because there is an effect for every cause that is made. Good and bad, by thought word and deed. And why do we believe in this? Because we want to be happy.

The law of cause and effect is absolute even if we don’t understand or realize that we even made a cause. It is absolute whether you believe it or not. Being in prison is being in the state of hell. But even in prison you can find the state of happiness, even if that state is only there because you finally understood something about yourself that has caused you unhappiness. Every change on the inside shows on the outside. If this change caused you to react to your environment in a different way you’ve made a change.

There is a saying, ” If you continue to do what you’ve always done then you will continue to get what you’ve always got.”

This is my prayer for Jamie. End Sonni’s note.)

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