The sound of a prison gate closing is distinctive and final, according to Bhante Kassapa Bhikkhu, a Buddhist monk who travels to the federal prison in Beaumont each week.
But by passing through that door over the past year, the monk has nurtured a relatively small but dedicated number of inmates who want to participate in the weekly meditation sessions. The group has grown in number from about seven to around 15 and sometimes more, said Kassapa, an American-born monk who lives and practices at the Buumon Buddhist Temple in Port Arthur.
“I don’t think many of them would have been Buddhist before they came,” he said.
Prisoners have a lot of time to fill, he said, which encourages some to explore new ideas and faiths. Any faith, he noted, is likely to make incarceration more bearable, but some have found that the solitary, reflective nature of Buddhism suits their circumstances particularly well.
“There’s solitude and quietness found in Buddhism,” he said. …