The National Buddhist Prison Sangha (NBPS) is a nationwide network of Buddhist volunteers whose mission is to support inmates' spiritual practice by corresponding with incarcerated practitioners, visiting prisons, and leading practice groups. Originally formed in response to the request of a New York State prison inmate, the Mountains and Rivers Order Prison Program began in 1984 following a court battle for prisoners' rights to religious freedom. As a result, NBPS was the first Zen practice group in New York State Correctional Facilities.
NBPS activities include:
- Practice advice from senior lay students through personal correspondence with inmates
- Prison visits by senior monastic and lay students who lead zazen periods, conduct liturgical services, and give talks on Buddhism
- Periodic intensive meditation retreats led by MRO senior monastic and lay practitioners
- Assistance to chaplains and inmates in the establishment of Buddhist meditation groups (NBPS is part of a religious advisory group reporting to the commissioner of prisons of the NYS Correctional System)
- Donation of dharma books and other media
In 2013, NBPS was formally incorporated into the right action work of Dharma Communications (DC), the Monastery's educational and outreach arm. The Monastery Store provides teaching materials and discounted practice supplies for inmates and sitting groups, as well as free cushions for former inmates. Incarcerated practitioners receive a 15% discount on all store purchases.
If you would like to support NBPS's work:
• Consider sending us your old zafu and/or zabuton. Learn more about our cushion donation program.
• Send us a check made out to Dharma Communications
• Make a secure PayPal donation; please mark your donation "NBPS."
We are happy to answer your questions. Call us at 845.688.7993 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo courtesy of The Dhamma Brothers.