Why Am I In Prison? Christianity vs Buddhism

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.)

Another Day In Ad Seg – Unintended Consequences

unintended consequences
photo source:
genewhitehead.com

December 15, 2009

PURE PAIN      by Sonni Quick   copyright  2015

(Sonni’s note: Will Jamie be able to get out of prison some day and be able to put this experience behind him? Will he be able to adjust to a “normal” life he has never experienced? Will the damage be too great? Will he be able to adjust? Chances are not in his favor if he doesn’t have enough support. My thanks again to everyone who sent him a message at mynameisjamie2@gmail.com when I asked about a week go. I’ve sent off to him.)

Dear mom,

How are you? Blessed as well I pray.  As for me I’m doing okay. The property man brought me my things to me today. I have everything, except I still have no mattress. I’m sorry to have worried you, mom. It’s just things are hard in here. I’ve been stressing myself to a point. There’s a dude telling me I love Megan too much and that later down the line she will turn  on me. I don’t pay him no mind because of the stories he’s told me about how he’s treated women. However, this is what hurt mom. Later that day the deputy called me and gave me child support papers. So I’ve been stressing on that. Not hearing from Megan haven’t made it no better. I wrote to her grandmother’s address and asked why. Nothing, I’m still waiting. I’m just going to have to write again. All I can do is pay she writes back.

Then on top all that I just got a letter telling me my great grandmother passed. I’m holdin up but I was upset because my family hides  a lot of things from me. It’s like they don’t want to tell me anything until it’s all over. It hurts me that Megan isn’t writing me. I’m sure is because of this man she’s with. He’s the kind of man that uses a woman. I can tell. Me and him will cross one day. As for the new little one he’ll have a birthday in a few days. One year old. It’s good that you’re able to talk to little Jamie. I wish I could call and talk to the kids again. We had fun together at that one visit we had. I wish I could get a visit for Christmas our my birthday next month. Ill be 27 mom.

It’s hard to believe Megan got laid off. I couldn’t see it happening to her. It’s good she filled an appeal. Mom this is all my fault. Megan and the kids shouldn’t be going this. I blame myself for everything. I messed up her life and the kids lives by leYou're not to blameaving them alone. As for her anniversary, I didn’t know she was still married. She told me she had gotten a divorce. How can that be? The same goes for BJ. She choose to have a life with him, and that didn’t work. Now, if he’s not trying to have a relationship with his son then he’s no good. I remember you said you cried when she got pregnant again. Oh I know you love little Ben, but since it didn’t work out it was just so much harder for her.  I know one thing mom. Mine or not, Ill keep a relationship with them. I love them just like I love their mom. Even if they aren’t all mine.  So you see, it really worries me about not  hearing from her.  And I don’t understand the child support papers. It would have been different if she did that when I came home. Well, I guess there is a reason for everything.

I have to go for now. Take care, mom

Love you, your son

P.S. Thank you for the present you are sending Jamie for me. And Merry Christmas!

(When I think of my life and the many twists and turns I’ve gone through and I look at those same years Jamie has gone through I can almost interchange the dates of his prison letters no matter how many years apart they are. Nothing changed except Megan’s letters began to get further apart.  All he has is his memories because anything else is not something he wants to remember. All he can do is escape into his mind. He still loves a woman that in his mind never changed – never went on without him, although she is on her third or fourth “serious” relationship since he went in. She cried so sincerely she would wait for him. She meant it at the time but there was no way she could continue to raise her children by herself with her income potential. She went on with her life looking for elusive man who would be a good father for her children and good to her, as well.  She even got married again and she had another child. Four children with four fathers and another one is in San Quentin.

Jamie is not responsible for her happiness or her unhappiness. He should not be carrying the guilt by himself.  Megan’s life was set in motion long before she met Jamie, and so was his.  Their lives collided.  Because of the way they made their decisions is the reason for the outcome.  Many different choices could have been made along the way.  But when there is no thought of the consequences life just slaps you around and you spend more time running around picking up the pieces instead of moving forward. it doesn’t mean they would not have ended up in the same place.  It means another path would have gotten them there.  Megan would have met someone else to have a baby with, just like she met yet another man and did have a fourth child.  Her causes for her life were made long ago.  And Jamie, just because he might not have met Megan, doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be in prison right now, but it could be for a different reason. 

Things don’t happen by accident.  But unless you have a way to learn these lessons about life you don’t realize the power you have to change the things that cause you unhappiness.  That is why, some years ago I started to teach him the principles of Nichiren Buddhism – the law of cause and effect.  Where you are today is the effect of previous causes and where you will be tomorrow comes from the causes you make today.  Simple.  A plan is not laid out for you for mysterious reasons – you make your own plan.  It’s just easier to think you didn’t make that plan.  God did. When you think like that, life just keeps knocking you sideways, until learn to make a different cause  This is why many people really don’t start searching for answers until their life is a mess and you are willing to listen.  For some people – inmates in this case – they find God.  There is chaplain in every prison.  There are many good things to learn through Christianity. This is not a slam on Christians.  I grew us in the church, but I didn’t see people living what they were being taught.  It was easy.  Do what you want and ask for forgiveness.  That didn’t work for me.  I wanted better answers, so decades ago I started searching.  Christianity does teach you how to be a good person and the reward is heaven.  If the lessons are applied they will be in a better place.  Buddhism teaches a lot of the same lessons, but it also explains the real consequences in your life today as you live it.  Some inmates find the Islamic faith, which Jamie tried for awhile.  That faith in prison teaches peace, not violence, but in the end it still didn’t have the answers he needed. He grew up knowing Christianity, but even that never explained the law of cause and effect even though it teaches – you reap what you sow – but it doesn’t teach why.

My purpose here is not to get into a religious discussion.. But what I see in society is a lot of very judgmental Christians who aren’t good people to people who don’t think like them.  I do NOT see that in the Buddhist community. I have used Buddhist teachings to show Jamie how to understand why his life is the way it is and to apply them to his life so it makes sense.  Then he can work on changing it.. What he knows now he didn’t know before.  Even so, it doesn’t make the struggles go away.  Things don’t change just because you want them to. And nothing “out there” is going to give you a benefit without you first making a cause for it – you reap what you sow – period.  Buddhism has helped him keep his head on straight and to be able to pick himself up when he falls.  There will always be obstacles – because that is how you learn and grow, All of us needs to respect others choice of faith.  That alone will make this world a better place to live.  Respect.

**************************************************************************

Megan has been with someone now for a year and a half and so far she seems to be happy.  But she is still in the “getting to know you” phase.  The work hasn’t even started. But while Jamie still loves her like time stopped, she doesn’t care about him anymore and gets angry if I mention his name. She won’t take “their” son to see him so the last time was when I visited him at the prison 2 years ago. Some men don’t want to be a father. Jamie does. How will their son feel when he grows up knowing she could have made the 3 hour drive to the prison, but won’t. I can see the possible effect of that, but she isn’t thinking of that. I’m not saying it should be all the time, but maybe his dad’s birthday? Father’s Day? I think this will have unintended consequences – a word I tried to teach many times.)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you would like to be on the email list for the book I’m writing “Inside The Forbidden Outside” please fill out the contact form below. If you would like to read a few random chapters, go to: http://insidetheforbiddenoutside.wordpress.com