Finding the Zen in prison
Walker State Prison in Rock Springs, Georgia isn’t your average prison. Housing 444 inmates at maximum capacity, it’s described officially as a “Specially designated Faith & Character Based prison that provides a pro-social, programmatic environment for change to those offenders who voluntarily request to participate in the program. Fosters moral character development and cultivates pluralistic spiritual enrichment.”
For more than a year, the Chattanooga Zen Center has been participating in an outreach program at Walker State, sometimes leading a class on Buddhism for groups of inmates, and, once a month, providing a voluntary zazen (meditation) sitting group for anyone interested.
And there has been interest. Not always consistently (particularly when the prison is also hosting a concert in the gym), but enough to make the effort to continue the program worthwhile.
But the prison has no money for zafus (the round black cushions Zen practitioners sit on), or for more books, CDs and DVDs on Buddhism. So the Chattanooga Zen Group has launched a drive to collect old, no-longer-used zafus and books or other materials on Buddhism to be donated to Walker State. Donations can be brought to ClearSpring Yoga, 105 N. Market St, from noon to 2 any Sunday until Dec. 22. No need to stay for sitting, but you are always welcome.