“The world changes for the better with every act of kindness,
and for the worse with every act of cruelty.” – Bo Lozoff
I’ve heard a powerful teaching attributed to the mystic/philosopher/spiritual teacher, George Gurdjieff. It goes something like this: “A person cannot get free of a prison if he doesn’t know he’s in one.” Incarcerated men and women are reminded 24/7 that they are in a prison by the bars that limit their movement. Those of us on the outside are mostly blind to the imprisonment defined by our self-limiting beliefs and narrowed vision of reality. Who then is in a better position to do the work aimed at inner freedom?
My dear friends, Bo and Sita Lozoff, created the Prison Ashram Project in 1973 to help prisoners make their time behind bars one of spiritual awakening through yoga, meditation and a wide range of wisdom teachings from the East and West – to make their prison an ashram for their spiritual awakening. They were inspired and supported by Ram Dass and their project has grown into the largest prison ministry in the U.S. reaching tens of thousands of incarcerated men and women. It is now renamed the “Human Kindness Foundation.” In addition to ongoing letter exchanges with prisoners, they have visited and held workshops in prisons all across the country while distributing free copies of books to prisoners. The Village Voice called Bo’s book, We’re All Doing Time, “one to the 10 books everyone in the world should read” and has over half a million copies in print.
Sita Lozoff is a wise and deeply spiritual person with a warm and loving heart. She happily took a supportive role to Bo’s very dynamic leadership and teaching activities until Bo’s death in 2012. She has now stepped into a greater leadership role herself as the spiritual director of HKF and I was very happy to have a recorded conversation with her which you can now see on YouTube or listen to as a podcast (links also below).
Human Kindness Foundation, like most non-profits, depends primarily on small donor contributions and I encourage you to consider making a donation if you want to support their mission. As you know, mass incarceration in the U.S. is enormously destructive and unjust. It is inflicted disproportionately on people of color, with little benefit towards rehabilitation or restoring justice. Nonetheless, while in prison, facing the injustice of the system and the often brutal reality of life there, individuals have transformed their thinking and way of being with the help of HKF. You can see more about their projects and make a donation here: https://humankindness.org/
May all beings be free.
With love and blessings,
YouTube video of conversation with Sita: https://youtu.be/NUbD05sRsOA
Website of Human Kindness Foundation: https://humankindness.org/