On Freedom and the Precepts….by J.W.

Recently, one of our prison sangha members wrote me an essay on the precepts and why he wished to receive Jukai. Here is an excerpt from his letter:

“A man used to tell me, ‘America this and America that. Hey ya’ll should travel, really see the world, go to Europe. It’s so great and ya’ll can do whatever ya’ll like. Real freedom!’ he say. Well I haven’t traveled that far yet, but can’t help see that being in these far away lands didn’t stop their suffering. So I guess in a way I traveled far enough to see that much. I often wonder if these other places were so great….why are all these people back here with me, in America?

I’ve always had a very subtle very insistent feeling that I don’t belong here. I’m not at home. I’m not in tune with the Precepts. There is a word often used in the Bible: ‘Sojourner’. ‘I’m a sojourner as were my fathers before me.’ It helped me to realize that this subtle feeling is not new. Known or not, it is indeed common among men. Little heard, seldom understood, and less yet answered is this subtle cry within us all. We are alive and not yet one with the Source of Life, boundless as it is, we brush against, touch, constantly unaware, yet have such difficulty embodying what’s all about and all within. This is the way I see the Precepts; this is the way I see my life. There is no going back for me; this is why I wish to receive the precepts. This is my life.”