Volunteers Share - Doug Longmore

Isha Prison Program Volunteers Share
Their Experiences

Serenity Surfacing - by Will Griffin's
Humility and Thankfulness - by Rubka Tamarat
Inner Freedom - by Carolyn Reese
Bars - No Bar - by Krishnan Venkatraman

Amazing Grace
by Doug Longmore

"I love you all." With these words and open arms inviting embrace, Sadhguru brought to close two hours of interaction with approximately 250 prisoners of The Orient Correctional Facility, south of Columbus, Ohio. Even as inmates were being dismissed by authorities in an orderly fashion to return to the custody of the guards, individuals and groups of men would walk to the front rather than the rear of the gymnasium. Arms open, Jaggi awaited them, and enveloped them with love and smiles. I sat in the back, tears in my eyes, watching human beings we call "criminals" responding as little children do to the open arms of their parents. Without hesitation, they jumped fearlessly into That which honored the Truth within them, beckoning them to return to It. Freedom, however fleeting it may be for them, glimmered in their eyes and shined forth in their smiles even as they walked away and returned to their "imprisonment."

Imprisonment. Sadhguru told them, "You need to understand. I do not look upon you as prisoners. I look upon you as human beings. Circumstances are such that you are here. You did these things with your hands. But others out there do these things with their minds. The only difference is that you can not see them. They are equally imprisoned by the mind." This shook me deeply, as I realized it could easily be me sitting in the audience, were my thoughts always known or acted upon. Ironically, I would drive away from the place to sleep in the comfort of home that night, longing for Freedom perhaps as much as they.

"Count off by two's." Around us formed a very large circle of men perhaps not familiar with "games", the likes of which they may not have played in decades. This is how Sadhguru requested the event begin. The large circle became two large circles, again halved; one's on the outside, two's on the inside. Let the games begin! Small groups stood on the periphery, aloof. But for the most part, there was action, involvement, and intensity! Round one complete. Now switch sides, and again the intensity. Jaggi ran, dodged the ball, dropped to his knees, to their dismay! They laughed, cheered, clapped. While filing back into the gymnasium to sit for the talk, one of the inmates waiting for water at the fountain said to me, "That was fun!"

Then I watched with great respect the amazing level of attention paid Sadhguru as he spoke with the men, "I see you and I feel great joy, but also pain. I see you and I see my self." He shared with these men the Truth of experiences within the prison system of South India. He guided them to look within at the Inner Situation, to see that It is where peacefulness is born, regardless of outside circumstances. Questions were asked, and answered. He offered himself to them as a means to their taking an Inward step. All of this presented to the men by the Master in such a way that they naturally were moved to go to him, themselves with open arms, in gratitude.

As I close this brief but deeply meaningful glimpse into Sadhguru's first exposure in an American Prison, I contemplate the existence within my self of all of the inmates I played with today, the guards who look after them moment to moment, the prison administration, including the warden, overseeing and guiding the entire facility. Too, I contemplate the existence within my self of Sadhguru, that living Truth, into which I seek to dissolve. Amazing Grace!

July 17, 2000
Doug Longmore is an Isha Foundation Volunteer

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