Victoria Satsang

Circle of Love Inside

Writing prison inmates with Circle of Love Inside – a gift that blesses both sender and recipient
Writing prison inmates with Circle of Love Inside – a gift that blesses both sender and recipient

Circle of Love Inside

Circle in action through photographs  (click to view) -

Some kinds of seva can change your whole perspective on life. Writing to prison inmates is definitely one of them.

Many of us who participate in the Circle of Love Inside have been amazed at the warm friendships we have developed with people who made some big mistakes in the past.

Many of us have also been surprised by what we have learned from them.

Some of us find that hearing the realities of prison life gives us a whole different perspective and gratitude for our own lives and freedoms. When you know that thousands of people not only live in a space the size of the average bathroom, but also share it with a stranger, many of our own hardships just don’t look so bad anymore.

It is also a seva that makes a huge difference to some of the most forgotten and ill-treated people in North America.

One inmate became interested in Amma through the personal stories his correspondent, Mary, shared with him. He said: "I'm so grateful that you were willing to correspond with me despite of me being in prison. Thank you for giving me a chance. Thank you for helping me become a better loving person. Thank you for your knowledge -- for sharing personal stories about our Amma.

"Your letters mean a lot to me. They keep me inspired to open my heart to others. Amma has removed hate and resentment from my heart. I know for a fact that I will never be the same again. And it is a wonderful beginning for me. For this and much more I thank you Mary, Rev. Aikya, the other COLI writers, and especially our beautiful Amma...."

Mary adds: "Alan's letters are so filled with this love for Amma ... week after week. If anyone wants to know if Circle of Love Inside seva really makes a difference, here is one shining example. Yes... it does..."

One young man in prison in Northern California wrote to Aikya, the program manager,"I don't know if you realize the impact you have on people's lives here. Some people go years without ever getting a single piece of mail. When you set them up with a person who writes them, their whole outlook on life changes."

Please note that the goal of our letter-writing is to share a spiritual friendship between equals, not to teach, or to 'convert' anyone to our own beliefs. We support the inmates in their own religious beliefs, whether they are Christian, Muslim, aboriginal, Jewish, atheist or otherwise.

Letter-writers are desperately needed at this time, as many inmates have been waiting for months and the list of those requesting correspondents keeps growing. You need only be interested in spirituality and developing a spiritual friendship, and be willing to follow some simple guidelines.

 

Our letters mean more than we can imagine to these men and women, who are locked away from the world and have little contact with outside life or people. One man said the letters nourished his soul.

And it truly is a friendship. Most of us love both writing and receiving these letters. There is something very special about a snail-mail correspondence. Because of the time it takes to send and receive letters, the 'conversation' is often quite thoughtful and personal. Writing our letters and reading the response can inspire us to keep a more spiritual focus in our lives.

Another writer says: "I am continually so surprised at how much getting the letters from these friends who happen to be inmates means to me. I started out wanting to help them, and in the end they are such a gift in my daily life. It makes me appreciate my freedom and I take less for granted every day. Blessings all around!"

As prison mail systems are often quite slow, you may write only one or two letters a month, though some writers send letters or cards weekly. Guidelines and an information sheet are available to let you know what to expect and help you get started. There's also an email group you can join for information and support from other writers.

If you would like more information about the program, or would like to start writing a new spiritual friend, please contact  Aikya Param.

Please consider joining Amma's Circle of Love Inside. By spending an hour or two a month writing and receiving letters, you could nourish someone's soul…maybe even your own.

 

Writers are required to use a post-office box as our return address. Since September 2008, Victoria Amma Satsang has generously funded a mailbox for the use of Circle Inside letter writers.  Any Canadian COLI writers are welcome to use our mailbox too. You just need to contact us and send us a supply of stamps so we can re-direct the letter to you. Please  contact Tirtha.