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.

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.

Throughout last winter, inmates at the men's maximum security prison in Salem and the women's facility in Wilsonville received weekly teachings for the first time since we started our prison program back in 2003. As a result, we were able to present the foundational teachings of Vedanta in a sequential manner that built upon each other. The men at OSP studied the early sections of the Vivekachudamani, The Crest Jewel of Discrimination, whereas the women at Coffee Creek, received a selection of the fundamental teachings of the Hindu dharma, such as: 24 Cosmic Principles, Karma & rebirth, The Four Fruits of Life, the qualifications of the student and the teacher, the Three Gunas, and more. Also during this time a little worship in the form of arati and chanting was initiated, which created a sweetly powerful atmosphere in the prison chapels, and was greatly appreciated by our students there. The students were thus even more prepared for Babaji's visits than ever.

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