With the Help of the Dharma – Sravasti Abbey


Surprise guest

On one occasion Ven. Chodron brought a guest to a prison I had been detained at for several years. The guest was a teacher who, as a young monk, was imprisoned by the Chinese and held for over 20 years in a small, box-like cell with no windows and unable to stand upright or communicate verbally with others. 

Despite no toilet, adequate food, human contact or other comforts, he managed to deepen his practice and learned to communicate with the other monks imprisoned all around him by developing a system of taps and sounds to share teachings and encouragement.

All the Buddhists in our prison assembled in a large room waiting for this special guest to arrive and when he did the atmosphere in the room changed immediately. He was bent to the side and walking with a pronounced limp from all the years of abuse and living in a cramped space.

Up to this moment I was eagerly awaiting whatever he was prepared to impart, expecting something impactful, and I was not disappointed. As soon as he was seated before us he beamed the most radiant smile ever, looked around and said; “You all are fat!”

I was stunned but laughed with everyone else. I do not remember all that he said 17 years ago but I remember that statement. He was right. We all were well fed compared to what he experienced in that tiny box of a prison that he barely survived. But that was not what he was really to relay.

Comparatively, we were living well. We had three meals a day, TVs in our rooms, a mattress. We were warm and had programs to partake in, and so much more.

Something about this man inspired me beyond anything I experienced before. I felt that if he could go through the torture that he had experienced and still maintain such a positive outlook and do positive things like voluntarily going back into a prison to help others, well, maybe I could too.


Don’t Stop Here

More To Explore


AjPatana Selssy Store
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop