Lotus flower. flower of Buddhism

“Jamie” by Sonni Quick copyright 2014
Sept 9,2013

Incarcerated since late 2005

I don’t understand much about Christians. I really don’t plan on digging too deep because the Bible repeats itself. Also because it talks about sin, yet it has a lot of sin it. It tells you it is ok to do things concerning your kids and your wife that are just plain wrong. Now a days people just pick the parts of it they want to believe in and forget the stuff they know is wrong. So why is part of it right and part of it wrong? Then they say that God says this or that when he didn’t. They try to figure out what God was really saying and it’s just  what they think it means. It’s screwed up.  So I feel this is something I will pass and not rack my brain on why this was allowed and that wasn’t. How so many people have been brain washed I just don’t understand. I’ve never understood. It’s not common sense.  They want you to believe stories actually happened that science says is impossible. They just want to say is a miracle. No, I can’t wrap my brain around that. I’ve tried but something always comes up. There are a lot of questions that could be asked but you won’t get an answer to all of your questions, of you’ll get the same answer but with different wording. Crazy. The Bible has too much sin in it for me to believe it. I don’t pay attention to what the Bible says is a sin.

When I got arrested there was no way I could blame anything on my cousin, the one who had the gun. I have my own mind so whatever was going on it is my fault. No ifs, ands, or buts.  A lot of people don’t want to be responsible for their own problems. They don’t want it to be their own fault. Especially in here. They want what happened to be someone else’s fault. Many people don’t care about the actions that brought them unhappiness. They don’t take responsibility. My cellie tells me it’s all part of “God’s Plan”. Like God planned for him to be here. He’s 50 and he’s been here since he was 22. I don’t know what is wrong with this nut. Maybe it’s the only way he can deal with it.

No one knows what happens after you die. I’m not afraid of dying. But it hurts me to think that I know that I don’t know my son yet and he don’t know me, either. It’s hard for me to understand when I speak to others about different religions. It’s because each religion is different but they have some of the same people in it but they all say they are bright and everyone else is wrong. The Chaplain in here doesn’t like you if you aren’t a Christian.

SGI World Tribune ,Nichiren Buddhist
Nichiren Buddhist weekly newspaper. This is what has helped him stay sane and have hope.

Mom,I got my first two issues of the SGI-USA newspaper, The World Tribune and an issue of the magazine, Living Buddhism.  Maybe they will help me with some of the questions I have about my life. Thank you. Everyone should treat people the way they want to be treated.

Christianity talks about that but I don’t see people really trying to live that way.  In this Buddhism you talk about it seems they take it more seriously. They tell you why you should treat people the way you wanted to be treated.  They don’t just tell you that you should do it. And no one thinks about when they are doing something.  They get caught up in trying to show off.  It’s always that this person or that person isn’t cool so let’s do something to them. They don’t think about what happens when they do that.  It’s  just like living for the moment and not caring about what happens next.

A lot of people are suffering in many ways.  Yes, I help others, but what about me? I’ve wasted more than seven years of my life.  To be truthful, I don’t know anything.  Yes, obstacles. I understand that they keep you down.  Things happen that try to keep you from being happy. How do we get away from that?  I guess I got a long way to go.  There is a lot I need to accept.  Starting with the fact that me and Jamie will never have a real bond.  I have to accept that, which is why I let him live his life.  He’s happy, so good.  Writing won’t do no good.  You and I both know this.  I have come to learn to accept everything.  As I said before, my life is a waste, always has been.  So tonight I’ve learned to accept it all from day one. Ill try chanting “nam myoho renge kyo”. Maybe it well help change things. I’ve learned a lot from you.  You’ve cared for me.  But I finally snapped and realized I’m not ready.  I’m not coming home no time soon.  I LOVE YOU.  Please give me some time to think.

(Sonni’s note:  It has taken awhile for Jamie to understand his life has value. He still slumps into that space that makes him want to give up – thinking they will never let him go. It’s not uncommon for any of us to have days like that, but inside prison, they way you are treated is intended to break you. You are at their mercy, and mercy is something that has no meaning in prison.

It is hard for him to remember there is a reason why he is going through this and that reason will make him a better man and father. What he is learning because of this will change his direction. It is painful He can’t see it now but he will later. Nothing happens by accident. Everything that happens is the effect of a cause. This past year has seen him make many improvements and come to a better understanding of who he is.

During the first year after this letter was written he began studying the philosophy of life called Nichiren Buddhism. His attitude about his life improved and he has gained a sense of his self worth and a determination to succeed; a desire to have a good life and be a father to his son. He wanted to understand what propelled him the direction that led to prison. Buddhism puts responsibility for your life squarely on your own shoulders. No plan laid out for you by an entity who loves and punishes you. Only the effects of the causes you made yourself are what You are in the driver’s seat.

It does not mean life is smooth sailing and everything is a bed of roses. Try to change, and the obstacles increase andbtest your determination. But Jamie now is getting a better understanding of why things happen to him, and he is learning to make better decisions in his life. He is seeing how his emotions govern how he feels about his life, especially anger. Regardless, if he is in prison, he still has the right and the ability to be happy. But it is always two steps forward and one step back.)

4 thoughts on “Why Am I In Prison? Christianity vs Buddhism

  1. To Jamie: I myself have never been in prison physically. I have known many that have, and I understand the importance of letters, of showing up to visit when you say you will, of meaning what you say to an inmate. A very long time friend of mine spent some time in the prison system in my state, and I know how important it was for me to keep my word about visiting (they were often the only thing he had to look forward to; other people said they would and never did). I also understand how important my letters to him were and how important it was for him to write back. It kept him “sane”.

    I live in a prison you can’t see, feel, touch or quantify. It is abstract and intangible; it is called mental illness, Bipolar Disorder I and PTSD are my main problems. I know this in no way compares to the experience of being physically unable to go where you want when you want, but it does mimic the feeling of being less than, of being not worth someone’s time or affection, of people being afraid of me. I have a strong sense of guilt and shame that I somehow brought this on myself, and have inflicted my pain onto my friends and family. Below is a quote from a post I wrote on my blog:

    “I look at pictures of myself as a little girl, and I see this sparkle in her eyes. I see a little girl who wanted to be an astronaut, a fighter pilot, a doctor, a researcher, and for some weird reason that is only know to that little girl, a Playboy bunny (go figure). I see unlimited potential and intelligence in her eyes. I look now, and that sparkle is gone along with a lot of other things; naivete is replaced with jaded cynicism and a profound sadness and anger at a disorder that kills relationships, that causes a person to isolate to the point that friends stop coming around. I rage impotently at something I cannot see, that I cannot touch, that is abstract and intangible. I wonder when that little girl got so lost. Where did she go? And why did she leave?”

    Your “mom” read that post, and recognized that the title “Deep Blue Indigo Funk” was a reference to Nichiren Buddhism. Her response to me was so caring and warm (as many Nichiren Buddhists are) that I responded to her comment. Even though you and I are experiencing life in very separate ways, I wanted to share my response to her with you. Nichiren Buddhism is probably the strongest life line I have in this tempest they call life. Medication is helpful, therapy is helpful, but Buddhism soothes my soul, my spirit, and the raging demons in my head.

    “I did not know that *** had practiced with Nichiren Shoshu in his teens. I came in long after the split (2008) so I have about 7 years under my belt. I am a District leader and have been for about 6 years for a group of people that I love dearly. I have friends in other Districts as well. So far, This Buddhism has really worked for me. I am calmer, grounded (most of the time), and feel much more centered than I have previously. I love the r3esponsibility of being a District leader, and my Chapter leaders are just wonderful: one is good at talking me down, and the other is good for a smack upside the head 🙂

    I would highly recommend that people who have mental disorders (really hate that word) find some grounding in a faith they are comfortable with. I think it is absolutely necessary for your spirit/soul/energy to be healthy in order for the mind to return to some level of normalcy; medication can only carry you so far.

    Since I grew up with no real religious belief in my house, I took to this Buddhism like a fish flowing with water. I had few, if any, Judeo-Christian ideals to unlearn which left me a sponge for knowledge and information. I am currently working on reading the Lotus Sutra with the help of the WLS study books. It is intense!! I try to pattern myself off Bodhisattva Never Diparaging; I definitely do not succeed most f the time, but there are moments where I just get how he was. I find that as I age, I become more mellow….you can call me a name or slur, and I am likely to say thank you rather than going off like I used to,

    Nichiren Buddhism has been one of the biggest “blessings” I have encountered. I consider just being able to practice this Buddhism a priveledge, and being a WD District leader even more so.

    So far, I have had more victories than failures, and I live by the words “Never Give Up” because for me giving up is life or death. Bipolar is a cruel and difficult taskmaster. It is chronic, and it can be fatal. You never really know when you wake up what kind of wave you will be surfing that day.

    I love my practice though, and have made some really good friends who are aware of my conditions and are able to help me with rides and stuff (I have no car; just a bicycle and a bus pass).

    So, I live as simply as possible. NMRK.”

    I do hope that you try chanting and learning the Gongyo. Even just reading Living Buddhism can be a wonderful source of guidance and strength. Nichiren Buddhism has enabled me to live with my demons, and given me the strength to conquer the new ones.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for writing that. I will send it to him. I really do understand the concept of being in a different kind of prison that is out of your control. Jamie helped me through a long 4yr illness spent mostly in my bed. I needed and got a liver transplant. recovery wasn’t easy. It ruined my bones. I still have to limit how much I can stand up. But I’m alive. I can play my Piano and write music. ( have a post with 15 pieces I recorded ) I can grow things in my garden, writing a book. My illness taught me how to appreciate my life and keep dreaming. I know Jamie suffers from depression. I can tell from his handwriting. WhenI feel his sadness I write music. Someday he will get out and will be able to hear it and read everything. I don’t like to see someone suffer and sit and do nothing. NMRK is the reason I’m still alive. I know it

      My mom and I just started having meetings in my house. We have to drive pretty far. Kosenrufu gongyo is an all day trip. group meetings 85 mile round trip. District even farther. So it’s time to start one in our area.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, please do pass the comment along to him. I wrote it for him largely so he can see what NMRK can really do. It has literally changed my whole life from one of abject despair to one where there is hope.

        Happy to hear that your mom practices either with you or introduced you to Nichiren Buddhism, and that you will be starting a group in your area. We also have people who drive in to the city from towns that are hours away. It is very rural where I live. Sounds like you have the same issues.

        I cannot even imagine what the recovery from any transplant must be like. You sound like a very courageous and determined person. It is amazing the things we can do when we have to, and people almost always come through them with a very different view of what it means to be alive and actually live.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I firmly believe i wouldn’t be alive today if I hadn’t had this practice. I was 20 the first time I went to a meeting but I was so arrogant. I thought I could take care of my own life without it. ( boy was I wrong) For me the problem was drugs. Five times someone shakabukued me. Once I got to the front door of a meeting and when I heard the chanting inside I ran away. Strangely I didn’t remember these times until the 5th one and i started chanting and then it all came flooding back to me. I practiced near the world culture center in Santa Monica so there were a lot of Buddhists around me! I stopped doing street drugs the day i started chanting, but it was from the hard drugs i did from age 19-22 that I got Hep C. Every single thing that could go wrong -did. So it went from cirrhosis to liver cancer to extreme osteoporosis which fractured my back and 7 ribs after surgery and I got every infection known to man. I had never known such never ending pain that lasted at that level for months. I was ready to check out. cirrhosis screws up your brain with too much protein and lost the ability to even hold a pencil. I had to learn to walk again. I couldn’t talk more than a whisper. My butsadan was in my bedroom so I would try to lay there chant. I screamed daimoku in my head a lot. i woke up in surgery but I was paralyzed and couldn’t make them know it, but there was no pen then. But I could hear them talking about me.

          I’m 61 now. 3 years post transplant. Life is a struggle still with issues. I have another surgery scheduled for aug 5 for my spine. When I think what my life would have been life without everything I have learned and the wonderful friends I have made I just don’t I would have had the determination to make it this far. I brought my mother into the practice after I had been in only one year. Because of our understanding about life and being able to go to meetings together and talk about things on a level I know she doesn’t have with my sisters. She is 82 in body and 22 in spirit and so full of life. It is everything Sensei has said about how our senior years should be. She is such an inspiration for me. I am so fortunate. After living away from her for most of my adult life and this illness brought us together and now we live only one block from each other. This is just one benefit from my illness. I’ve written music my entire life and after the surgery when my fingers could work again, my writing changed. I don’t know if i gave you the link to my post with all my music. You can find it near the bottom of the pages list by tapping on the menu button. I know this is a strange explanation – but now I crawl inside the music and let it play itself. I don’t know what I’m playing until I listen later, I usually wait at least a day or two. It is my emotions in a tangle form.

          Everyone struggles, but we just can’t see it. We all have our burdens to bear. Even every wonderful life we think we see has pain somewhere they hide and try not to show. It takes bravery to come out and tell the world about yourself because so many people are judgmental, so hats off to you!


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