My Brother's Letter

2013-11-30 16.23.39

Dear Ven. Zhong, Daniel and Shirley Tam;
Thank you very much for your visit to C.C.I. Tehachapi on Sunday, February 9th. I enjoyed your visit very much, and it was very meaningful to me. I already look forward to the next time you have the opportunity to visit.
I have been studying Buddhism for only the past 9 months. Initially, I was only interested in learning mediation practice. However, as I learned more about Buddhism, the more I found a sense of spirituality that I could identify with. I grew up in Protestant Christianity. I went to Christian schools, graduated from a Bible College, and served in the ministry for several years. In Christianity, I always felt like I was trying to be someone different whom I was never able to be no matter how hard I tried.
What I find so refreshing in Buddhism, is complete acceptance of ourselves exactly the way we are. I find the practice of mediation to be a more practical way of dealing with the mind, than relying on some supernatural. Force to change our minds for us.
I have been in prison since 2002, and my expected release is in 2022. I truly believe that the practice of Buddhism can be very beneficial for me during the last 8 years of my incarceration. I have recently started doing my chanting and mediation practice every morning from 4 am to 5am. It is a time when the dormitory is always quiet, and, after a night’s sleep, I am alert and ready for meditation.
My predominate source of information about Buddhism is from the books we have in our Chapel. Every Sunday afternoon, our sangha meets for meditation and Dharma talks. Every week I check out books and CD from the Buddhist Library. Every day of the week I spend time reading Buddhist literature and listening to Dharma talks on CD. The information I have gotten from books has been an invaluable help in my meditation practice and in understanding the Dharma. With the information I have read, I have been able to choose a practice for myself.
After your visit to C.C.I, I was very encouraged to continue in my study and in my practice. I hope to stay in contact with I.B.S. throughout my incarceration and be an active member of your sangha.
Zachery Raymond

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