One could be confined in a prison and yet be a worker for the cause. So I pray you to remove from your mind any distaste for present circumstances. If you can succeed in looking at it all as just what you (higher Self) in fact desired then it will act not only as strengthener of your thoughts, but will act reflexly on your body and make it stronger. – Helena Blavatsky
Look up the word service and you’ll see theosophists. Get a bunch of theosophists together and they light up the room, as was demonstrated this summer when I attended the 15th Annual International Theosophy Conference in New York. TSA Vice President Ed Abdill led a dynamic discussion and talked about the Prison Mentor Program and someone I greatly admire, Dora Kunz:
Dora had no great facility with language. In fact, she was sometimes dreadful at communicating what she wanted to say. She would seldom finish a sentence, often say the opposite of what she meant, and frequently make her audience collapse into laughter by using the wrong words. Dora was giving a talk to a large room of dignitaries when she announced, “We have over 1000 theosophists who are prisoners.” At the same time, Dora had an enormous vocabulary, and her lack of language skills did not block her great intelligence, practical knowledge, and wisdom.
When I returned from the Conference I contacted TOS National Secretary David Bruce who heads up the prison program. David explained how powerful it can be to witness the extraordinary regenerative effect of theosophical education on these men and women; healing their minds, restoring their lives, and helping them reconnect with Divine Source. For a year now it has been my honor to serve as a mentor for four prisoners enrolled in the program. Theosophy study takes commitment and dedication. At times the teachings weren’t easy to grasp. But once I got it I knew it would never be lost as it permeates my being and takes over as a divine inner compass of natural law. Through working in the program I’ve deepened my exploration and reaffirmed my committment to the core teachings. When one gives he cannot help but receive. It only takes one second of disconnection to fall into darkness; a second that changes a life forever. That’s where theosophy comes in and can light the way.
My words fail miserably to describe how Divine Wisdom can light up the path for those without hope; Martin is well equipped and steps up to the task brilliantly. His letter just blew me away. Martin’s an ex-prisoner who was enrolled in the program for several years and describes in his own words what theosophy means to him. He was released in July 2013 and has been keeping in touch with his mentor and the National Secretary ever since and has recently renewed his TSA membership. It is very important to him.
For more information or to make a donation to the Theosophical Mentor Prison Program contact the National Secretary (firstname.lastname@example.org)
An open letter to those involved in the Theosophical Society’s Prison Outreach Program;
The TSA has provided a resource of invaluable measure to inmates throughout the country. It is a resource that not only gives one the opportunity to have another glance at world religions and philosophy’s from a higher more unique angle or to have a more profound inner glimpse into the inner workings of one’s own self, but also an occasion to connect with a mentor more settled in the subtle themes of theosophy.
The insights I gained from having come in contact with theosophy and the interchange of thoughts and ideas about it with a guide definitely matured me. Along side of the poems, essays, character building exercises, and the most welcomed letters from my mentor that helped me weather one of the most darkest and violet emotional storms in this life (i.e. incarceration,) I was also gifted through the TSA’s prison outreach with having the consciousness heightening experience of cultivating an outlook of at-one-ment with all of existence. I was often encouraged to awaken to the spiritual truth that not only was there an intimate relationship between me and the Universe but that I was intimately related to all that was presently in my environment. If someone is having trouble discovering the delicate differences between the two let me explain. Being One with the Universe is a concept that is so beautiful and lofty that it is almost certainly beyond the untrained minds ability to comprehend. Though even attempting to align myself with a statement such as, “I am one also with all that exist in my present environment,” forced me to begin to consider how I interacted with, felt about, or even spoke about prisoner’s I may not have liked, or my jailers, or “the system altogether. Not only that but being imprisoned within the virulently racist California Dept. of Corrections I had to daily re-evaluate the essentially human nature that I share with other people groups. Not to mention the fact that I was permitted the chance to uncover simultaneously twisted notions I myself had towards other social groups. Beside that is the fact that the jail and prison officers can many times act in ways that are cruel and unusual. This tendency gives space for prisoners to react with hateful emotions towards those in authority. The mystical application of oneness to all things, including correctional officers and jail guards, dramatically interfered with any hateful attitude I might have been tempted to stew in towards them.
Alongside these wonderful benefits there were the numerous revelations that flowed from participating in the encouraged daily self-reflective training. Being someone who has a sort of thinking that had landed him into a harsh place of confinement I realized there was a need to snoop out what was perverted in that thinking process. What I saw inwardly was that if one’s fantasies degraded, dehumanized, or lowered the worth of oneself or another them truly a deep sickness had grown where it should not be and must be extracted at all cost. The Society provides space for people considered by our world to be the wretched of the earth to rise to heights unimagined. These are just a few of the immeasurably valuable benefits I received by participating in the theosophical society’s prison outreach program.
On a personal level I have maintained sobriety, extracted myself from unhealthy relationships, made intimate connections with people who genuinely care about me, am a part of my children’s lives, am satisfying my sense of achievement in many areas of life, acquired gainful employment, and lost it wrongfully, as well without behaving in a self-sabotaging way. Today I have a vibrant, saner mental, emotional spiritual life thanks to my application of theosophy. Most importantly I have remained separate from the vicious cycle of recidivism that seemed not so long ago to have been the lifestyle I had been fated to live. I have done my best to remain connected to the society and my mentor during all of this, I know full well that many of the tools that theosophy has equipped me with combined with my ever choosing to utilize them is responsible for where I am at right now in life.
There are jewels, treasures, storehouses of knowledge, wisdom, and blessings to be found in the halls of theosophy.
Having said all that brings me to the point of putting this letter together, in the first place. Plato said it like this, “Those having lamps will share them.” What that says to me is that someone who has received as much as I have from the TSA’s prison outreach program bears the heavy responsibility of giving back, by encouraging others to share in the consciousness raising energy inherent in connecting with the mentors, correspondence programs, and literature; that means reassuring those who are participating already to keep up the good work, they will bear fruit in due season. Know that there are jewels, treasures, storehouses of knowledge, wisdom, and blessings to be found in the halls of theosophy. Your perspective will be expanded, old destructive patterns will be shattered irreparably, compassion and universal love will stretch the capacity of your hearts responses within interpersonal relationships, your intuitive nature will be aroused and strengthened, all that and more should one choose to connect with and apply the teachings that are shared.
I will conclude by thanking the TSA’s Ntl. Sec. David Bruce, my theosophical mentor Clare, and all the members of the society who have contributed the time, resources and spiritual energy into making this program vitally effective in touching as well as changing the distorted lives of so many, at giving them the chance to stand up and rise to their true stature as human beings. Thank you so much.
TRUTH AND PEACE
Martin L. M.