I gave “We Are All Doing Time” by Bo Lozoff to my Unitarian Minister in the late 1980s. He said the book changed his life which surprised me because it changed my life, too.
Bo, partner Sita and Ram Dass started the “Prison Ashram Project.” Their goal was to help convicts view their prison cells as ashrams and do time as “prison monks” rather than societal outcasts. After all, we are as we think we are, or in this case, where we think we are. This past year of pandemic isolation and now in a self-imposed retreat with a virtual Sangha, I don’t want to go back to a Willie Nilly life devoid of creativity and silence. My home is my ashram and sanctuary. My inner life takes precedence over the outer.
Students of “A Course In Miracles” know and continue to deepen the awareness of connection, love and forgiveness towards all people. Those who pose challenges to inner peace are said to be revealing the rough edges needing attention and playful vigilance. When we feel separated from our fellow Beings, we suffer. Negative karma is created. The cops who kill people of color lack connection to the people they’ve killed. Racial injustice is a result of lack of connection to those that are hated: us versus them, the greatest duality created in the mind.
Karma and reincarnation baffles my intellect, but I’ve decided to stop analyzing it, and from the vantage point of the living breathing now, let it go. The final inning of my life is being played out. It feels like the most impactful inning I’ve played so far. Tomaso’s last breath, the pandemic, all of it has served to quiet my mind, serving others, try and feed people (I’m a terrible cook), and simply have faith in my ability to be free.
“The prison is in the mind and so is the freedom,” as family friend Ammon Hennacy famously remarked while in prison himself for refusing to pay the War Tax in WW1. At the time he made this proclamation, he faced an abusive prison guard. Ammon made the decision to be free. How? By flipping the switch and deciding to love his abuser, instead. His remaining days in prison were a 180 degree perceptual experience, a heightened spiritual awakening.
As we deepen our connection to others, Ammon’s realization becomes our experience, as well. We are all One, in the eyes of Divinity. OM
Photo Credit: Gretel Gammach