Prison Chaplaincy Guidelines for Zen Buddhism

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Prisoner denied access to book on Zen Buddhism
at Gowanda Correctional Facility, New York State, USA
New York State, Reverses Gowanda Correctional Facility book ban!

Prison Chaplaincy Guidelines for Zen Buddhism: A Sourcebook for Prison Chaplains, Administrators, and Security Personnel is intended to provide valid information to prisoners, correctional and judicial professionals about the practices of Zen Buddhism in prisons and jails. Zen is one of many schools in the Buddhist traditions; it is not the only one. The information presented here is primarialy about Zen but can serve to illustrate, in a general sense, Buddhist practice in prison. The example of liturgy and descriptions of monastic practices contained herein, however, are representative of a Rinzai Zen Buddhist sect and do not necessarily mirror those of other Buddhist sects.

Terms used throughout this book originated in the Sanskrit, Pali, Chinese, and Japanese languages. No attempt has been made to provide in-depth definitions of these terms other than their usage relative to this text. Buddhism is growing at a phenomenal rate in American prisons, and this trend can be expected to continue for the foreseeable future. We trust this book will help to foster the ability of prisoners to engage in contemplative spiritual practice while incarcerated. We welcome comments and feedback from correctional professionals about their experience with Buddhist prisoners. The Engaged Zen Foundation is happy to provide assistance to correctional departments and prisoners on a case-by-case basis.

Paperback: 88 pages
Publisher: Engaged Zen Foundation
ISBN: 096777750X $17.95 + $3.50 Shipping

Zen Karmics™

Zen Karmics was designed to impart useful instruction in meditative practice for prisoners in a culturally relevant manner, accessible to those who might be poorly educated or illiterate. The illustration to the right is a panel from a Zen Karmics installment. We are grateful to Duncan Eagleson for his art work in Zen Karmics.

View the full Zen Karmics Collection

Zen Karmics Strip

Gateway Journal

Gateway Journal magazine was created in response to the enormous volume of mail we receive from prisoners nationwide inquiring about meditative training. We published five issues which are available here on line. Due to funding and staff shortages we have had to discontinue publication.

Gateway offered advice on practice and features articles for prisoners by teachers of various traditions. Articles by Buddhist prisoners were a regular feature. An installment of Zen Karmics appeared in each issue. Gateway Journal was free to prisoners. The needs and concerns of prisoners were addressed in a letters to the editor section. Issues of prisoner religious rights and legal commentary were presented. Assistance in establishing prison practice communities and networking to provide volunteer support for them took place through the pages of Gateway.

The Journal presented a variety of styles of written material, helping us in communication with a wide audience. We introduced the first Zen Karmic project installment in the premier issue of Gateway (Summer 1995.)