Triple Gem Prison Sangha

Triple Gem Prison Sangha (TGPS) provides Buddhist service for inmates. Service consists of taking Refuge in the Triple Gem and chanting the Five Precepts in Pali. A Dhamma talk is given to the inmates, along with instructions on calming the mind and body, yoga, relaxation exercises, and various meditation techniques. TGPS also provides spiritual counseling, books,literature, audio cassettes and videos to the prison chaplains or the individual inmates upon request. Wherever possible, TGPS also donates Buddha statues, meditation cushions, Buddha flags, posters, Buddha medallions, and malas for inmates. These donations are made possible by the support and generous dana of benefactors.

The Buddha once said:
"There are people among us who do not have the same capacity as we do. They do not have the capacity to act rightly or to speak rightly.  But if we look deeply, we see in their hearts that there are good seeds, and therefore we have to treat those people in such a way that those good seeds will not be lost"

A prison sangha is a community of inmates practicing the dhamma together in order to bring about and to maintain awareness.  The essence of a sangha is awareness, understanding, acceptance, harmony and love. Prisoners are uprooted from their families and their communities; they wander around, not quite treated like human beings.  Many inmates feel rejected by family, friends and community; they live on the margins of prison life without home or anyone or anything to belong to.  Loneliness, the feeling of being cut off, alienation, division, the disintegration of family and the disintegration of life itself - are their daily companions. 

Without sangha, without the support of a group of friends who are motivated by the same ideal and practice, no one in prison life can make much progress on the path to liberation and transformation.  A community of practice - a prison sangha - can provide a second chance. A sangha can be a place for prisoners to practice transformation and healing of self - where they can be transported - like on a boat - across the ocean of sorrow.

The role that sangha plays in prison life is one of support, protection and nourishment. The good seeds that the Buddha refers to are in the elements of mindfulness, concentration and insight; those seeds are always there in everyone.  If there is a sangha that can help prisoners touch those seeds and help them grow, then they will have the best kind of refuge for the support, protection and nourishment of those seeds.