The Tibetan word Rangjung has many meanings, from ‘self-arisen’ to ‘spontaneously present’. It is often used to describe the very nature of our being at its core.  In the context of the Rangjung Prison Dharma Project it refers to the Buddhist idea that everyone of us has the potential to experience the expansive, awakened, and directly free nature of mind regardless of who one is, or where one may be.  This experience of awakened mind allows us the freedom of seeing in what way our thoughts and feelings inform the way we react to the world around us.  The insights born from this exploration provide useful tools that can aide in the reduction of high risk behavior, foster a sense of greater ease with whatever arises in our experience of life, and develop a sense of inner-empowerment that can provide a solid foundation for greater spiritual and emotional well-being in a way that allows existing spiritual traditions and personal inner-orientation to nurture and foster inner growth and greater confidence in one’s abilities.

 

Inspired and loosely based upon a presentation of learning to train and get to know the mind unique to the thousand year old Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, this program offers training in two forms of meditation, one to help still the mind, and one to help initiate the process of inquiry surrounding our thoughts.  These techniques aide us in helping to explore more deeply what feelings are present for us, our reactions to these feelings and thoughts, and the qualitative nature of our emotional/spiritual baseline.  Through gaining a greater awareness of how our minds work, we also explore the possibility of experiencing greater freedom  from the experience of permanence and over-identification with our thoughts and emotions. These meditation sessions, twenty minutes each are then followed by a thirty minute discussion group.

 

These topically themed discussion groups create a forum in which participants can openly explore what happens during each session; a dynamic of trust and mutual support is encouraged.  The discussion groups encourage participants to engender a greater sense of curiosity about what arises for them, how the techniques of stabilizing the mind and engaging in mindful inquiry can be employed outside of meditation sessions in everyday life, and also creates as a safe forum for discussing difficulties and places of ease within the context of this training.  Various models, stories and insights developed within the lineage of this training will be shared in a way that is open, supportive and relevant to the experiences of the participants to help them ground themselves.

 

This program, while inspired by Buddhist meditation techniques, is aimed at the general empowerment of its participants so that they can develop new skills that aide them in bringing insight, an appreciation of simplicity, and a sense of ease to an environment that can be difficult, harsh and challenging.  It is our goal to create the atmosphere through which inmates can find a firm footing within themselves as well as a greater sense of clarity and mastery of discovering what brings them meaning and connection regardless of their individual faith tradition.