BUDDHIST FAITH FELLOWSHIP OF CONNECTICUT

BUDDHIST PRISON FELLOWSHIP

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transforming lives, giving hope

 

ABOUT US

The Buddhist Prison Fellowship (BPF) is a non-profit national organization, founded in 2010, by the Buddhist Faith Fellowship, the flagship sangha and headquarters of the North American Shin Buddhist Association (NASBA), located in Middletown, Connecticut

OUR MISSION

Our mission is to be a catalyst for spiritual healing and transformation through the power of Great Compassion as conveyed by the Shin Buddhist teachings and practices.  Our ministry assists incarcerated men and women to uncover their inner potential of understanding and compassion, through the Light of Other Power and also to give them the support in handling the spiritual struggles and challenges of prison life as well as their eventual release into the community.

WHAT DO WE DO?

Our Fellowship works with incarcerated men and women throughout the United States so that they may understand the deep roots of their suffering and resulting choices, and to experience the transformative Light of the Great Compassion and Love that ceaselessly seeks to liberate all of us.  This light is not of our own design but is the graceful and liberating Light of Other Power, symbolized by Amida Buddha, Through exposure to the teachings and deep listening to the Light within, prisoners will be enabled to cope with the challenges of incarceration and be better prepared for release back into the community so that they think, act and live in a new way, from their authentic selves, for the benefit of all sentient beings.

In order to carry out our mission, the Buddhist Prison Fellowship uses the successful courses from our affiliated educational organization, the New England Institute for Buddhist Studies, located in Middletown, Connecticut. The courses run sequentially starting with Be Free where You Are, a small booklet that tells how to be free even behind walls.  The courses create the environment to let the transformative Light of Other Power shine forth and to help prisoners develop the spiritual tools and life skills that can increase their chances to become fruitful citizens in and outside the correctional system.

After prisoners are released, the Fellowship continues to help them walk the lay Buddhist path while facing the stigma and challenges of the outside world. In this phase, our ministry freely offers spiritual support to Fellowship members by helping them maintain and grow in their faith and practice with the goal of preventing relapse.

MENTORS

The importance of a teacher or guide is paramount to successfully walking the Buddha’s path. In the spirit of the Pure Land (Shin) tradition, prisoners are given a kalyanamitra, good spiritual friend, who serves as a trusted guide and contact, who gives compassionate support and assists in promoting the inner spiritual/religious growth of the prisoner.

Volunteer mentors are all certified instructors from our affiliated organization, the New England Institute for Buddhist Studies.  BPF mentors are dedicated to take the compassion of Amida Buddha, and the teachings of the dharma behind prison walls.

THE COURSES

All courses come from the New England Institute for Buddhist Studies. After reading  Be Free Where You Are, we start our prisoners off with the Buddhism 101 Course in which they learn about the life of the historical Buddha, the examples of his disciples, the Eightfold Path, mindfulness and prayer practice, Zen meditation and the teachings of Shin Buddhism which are geared for lay people.  Later, if the student wishes, there are other courses to take that will deepen the knowledge, practice of and experience with the dharma. 

Courses are via correspondence only. Mentors send the assignments via mail or email (if available to prisoners).  Once completed, prisoners send back the finished assignment to the mentor and the process continues until all of the books and assignments are done.  The Buddhism 101 Course has a 6 month duration but due to many challenges in prison life extensions are accepted

To learn more about the Buddhism 101 Course and other courses offered at the New England Institute for Buddhist Studies, visit its web site at http://dharmaquest.bffct.net/

THE COST

For our prison community, the courses are free of charge.  Mentors are certified volunteers from the New England Institute for Buddhist Studies. Course books are donated by family members, friends and/or our prison fellowship.

HOW TO GET STARTED?

If you know of an incarcerated man or woman who is open to learning and practicing the teachings of the Buddha, please have them contact us directly and/or through your generous support.  In addition, if you wish to know more about our prison ministry, feel free to contact us. We will do whatever we can to help your friend or love one get started in receiving the transformative teachings of the Buddha. Our email address is nortonsleeper@hotmail.com