In this issue’s offering, a student residing in Oregon’s only women’s correctional facility writes to one of her Vedanta mentors.  As spiritual aspirants, we all struggle with seeing God in others.  For most of us this struggle takes place in our family and work place.  For others, this struggle takes place in the prison community, sometimes under dire circumstances. 

I live with someone who is….well…a bit different?  It is crazy.  Six years ago there would not be anyone who could force me to share a cell with this person. A lot of times I get frustrated with where I “think” I am spiritually, and where I actually am at.  I feel as though I have not grown.  I want a spiritual breakthrough.  I get irritated with sitting for meditation as I struggle to get 45 minutes in, let alone an hour.  Or eight!  I experience much chitta (restless thoughts).  I have wanted to know what it is like to “see” through the eyes of the Divine.

Living with this person has brought me some subtle confirmation.  I found in my own experience that spiritual breakthroughs are not one-time occurrences, and will come in many different forms.  But all are “my own.”  No one else can tell me about them.  Only my Self knows.  It is such a freeing feeling to “know.”  I know these are all “just” an inkling or a taste, but I have come a ways from where I was some ten years ago.

One word I remember you told me once in one of your letters – “perseverance.”  In all honesty, it is a practice I do not always care for.  I do, however, work at it.  I’ll tell you a story.  True story.

The Oregon prison system has 14 prisons located throughout the state.  Only one of these is for women.  Babaji currently teaches at:
  • Coffee Creek Correctional Institute for women, Wilsonville
  • Two Rivers Correctional Institute, Umatilla
  • Deer Ridge Correctional Institute, Madras
  • Oregon State Prison, Salem

During Babaji's last visit to Oregon, he gave classes at TRCI in Umatilla, DRCI in Madras, OSP in Salem, and the women's prison, CCCF, in Wilsonville.  Notes from these wonderful classes — 26 hours of classes in all — follow the article below.

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