Introduction and Afterthoughts by Tonen O'Connor, Resident Priest Emerita at Milwaukee Zen Center
The three inmates doing time for violent crime recount their early lives, their crimes, their lives in prison, and their slow progress towards a new horizon....
They hope that the fact that they have found a way to lead positive lives within the prison walls, to some extent due to their practice of Buddhism and Taoism, will be encouraging to others inside, and will help those outside remember that there are real people inside.
Speaking of the authors of this book, Brad Warner, author of Hardcore Zen, says, “The men in this book have faced themselves in ways most of us can’t even imagine.” Two of them incarcerated for first degree intentional homicide and one for first degree sexual assault, these three prison inmates recount their life stories: how they grew up, how they went wrong, their crimes and how their lives have changed within prison as they encountered the teachings of the Buddha and the Tao. Told with sometimes shocking honesty, these stories bring to life a struggle to build a life of positive action within the sea of negativity that surrounds them “inside.”
Vivid pictures of prison life illustrate the ups and downs of men slowly finding a Way that offers them stability. Described in their own words, their encounter with the teachings offered by the prison program of the Milwaukee Zen Center over a period of more than ten years offers a window into the lives and struggles of members of the prison sangha. Says Grady Hillman, director of the Southwest Correctional Arts Network, “Buddhist disciplines provide an amazing perspective that transcends years of pain and anger. True journeys that can help us all.” An Afterthoughts section offers insights from Tonen O’Connor on working within correctional institutions.