Lessons from San Quentin

As part of the Insight-Out program at San Quentin, participants sought to answer the question: what does it take to leave prison before we get out?

They came up with eight guiding principles. Their words are ones of wisdom and insight.

Which ones speak to you from where you currently are?

  • We’re learning to say thank you a lot, as a proven guide to find our place in the scheme of things.
  • That love is not just a feeling but a quality of being present.
  • We are learning that being human is having entered a contract to learn how to listen. That learning to listen is the first duty of love and that deep listening is the truest expression of worship.
  • We’re learning…that true forgiveness is not an action after the fact but an attitude with which you enter each moment.
  • To accept each person and every situation as our teacher.
  • To appreciate how true freedom lives in understanding, that this moment is all that there is, just as it is.
  • That the cure for the pain is in the pain as Rumi says. That in healing every wound is also a movement that cuts me open. And that if I don’t show up for the pain of the cut, neither will I receive the blessing that comes through that opening.
  • That being free isn’t just a geographical fact. It’s not just the other side of the gate. At the heart of being free is not knowing where I am but discovering who I am.

These principles were mentioned in a recent dharma talk at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City: http://www.audiodharma.org/talks/audio_player/6425.html.

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