Today I started reading through old letters I sent Jamie. This one is six months old and it was written at the time after he had just lost his new privileges of being able to make phone calls and have contact visits – for three weeks. It was devastating to be sent back to lock up again after it took him another two years to reach a level where it was allowed. It happened because of lies by guards and no one would listen to you. The guards are always right and the inmates are always wrong – every time. If a guard does not back up whatever another guard says he, himself, will be retaliated against. When that happens it is hard to keep your anger from making you lash out.
I mention daimoku which is a Nichiren Buddhist chant – Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo. Like meditation it allows you to have better control of your mind, your thoughts. Practicing Buddhism has been very good for Jamie. It has been part of my life for a very long time. I started teaching Jamie Buddhist concepts and how to apply them at least 6 years ago. Being in prison is more difficult than you can imagine, knowing the years you lose, you will never get back, and the abuse you will have to take will be humiliating, because it is wrong and there is nothing you can do about it.
Chanting, with the deep breathing you have to do, lowers your stress level. High stress also makes his epileptic seizures more frequent. This allows the person inside to shine. We have to understand the right thing to do, instead of responding emotionally. But chanting doesn’t mean you will always do the right thing. We are human. We learn from our mistakes. Changing our habits and our reactions is a life long battle with ourselves. But I believe – asking someone or something outside ourselves to fix our problems that cause us unhappiness. Change must come from within. Chanting gives you time to think about your life and take responsibility for your actions. It is about gaining the wisdom to make the right decisions to change your life – to see things in a different perspective.
Living in a prison is about as close to the concept as hell as you can get. Buddhism does not look at hell as a place you go to when you die, but rather a life condition you live in here on earth. What better describes that life condition than a maximum security prison.
This letter was sent using jpay.com, a system set up for most state prisons, not federal. I can type an email letter, or send money through them. To send a letter costs one “stamp” per page. To send a picture is one stamp. Two pictures is two stamps. The advantage is they get it faster, and my typing is easier to read than my handwriting! I do write, though, because I know it is a more personal connection.
|Date:||5/11/2015 5:18:10 PM|
|Sent To:||JAMES CUMMINGS|
Just a quick letter today. I wanted you to know that I did talk to Ms Johnson in classification. She said you had to go to the UCC (prison court) on May 12 for a case. She said she didn’t have anymore information. She said after that you would be released, but she didn’t say released to where. Jamie, you can’t fight them. I know this is so hard. You worked so hard and waited so long for your privileges but they always find a way to knock you down even if they have to lie to do it. I know they didn’t do you right. You need to keep the bigger picture in mind and put all the rest of the garbage out where it belongs – in the trash. I know it’s hard.
You probably won’t get this letter in time – but chant daimoku (Nichiren Buddhism) before you go to court. Center your mind. Stay calm. You have grown so much and learned so much, but that doesn’t mean we don’t make mistakes sometimes. The harder we try to change, life throws curve balls at us to keep us down. But if you remember there is something to learn from everything, you will be okay. This will be over one day. It will be behind you and you will have a chance to live again. Have faith in that. You will have a life and it will be a life you will be proud of. All of this you are going through is making you the person you are. A person with compassion. A person who will always know what it is like when the chips are down. You are learning things through all of this. I will be chanting for you tomorrow to be strong. Have no doubt, Jamie. Keep your dreams in the front of your head.
You might find this a bit funny. You REALLY upset Bill (my egotistic brother-in-law who uses his knowledge of the Bible as a way to feel important, but doesn’t apply any teachings inside the covers to his own life) with that plastic Christian remark you called him. If the shoe fits, wear it. My sister and family had a field day ripping you and me to shreds because of how much he “helped” you, and you had the nerve to expect him to follow through with the things he said he could do for you,. I should have known better. You bruised his inflated ego. If it weren’t true it wouldn’t have bothered him so much. He knows what he did – he just didn’t want anyone else to find out about it. He said were ungrateful. It must have made him feel good to rip apart our relationship. Well, I hope he enjoyed himself. After all he is such a sincere Christian. You are a much better man than he is. The law of cause and effect applies to him as well. Hearing those words, “Cause and effect” makes him go berserk with rage. But isn’t it the same as, “You reap what you sow”?
On that note – write me asap and let me know what’s up. What a mess this all is. I love you. Never forget that.
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