M.A. Center New England

Circle of Love INSIDE

Write a Letter to a Prisoner

Circle of Love Inside is Amma’s prison outreach letter-writing program. You might wonder, who are we? And why do we write to prisoners? Most of us who have joined Circle of Love Inside probably ask ourselves these two questions from time to time, not just at the beginning of our inmate seva. Our answers will evolve according to our natures and our experiences, as our friendship with an inmate deepens.

We all need inspiration and support as we journey through life’s difficulties. Imagine men or women who’d gotten in with the wrong crowd by force or otherwise, or who were raised by drug addicts or abused as children, and then wound up in prison. Most of the inmates we write to are living with remorse for whatever they did that got them incarcerated, and are now seeking self-understanding and inner well-being. They seek to raise themselves up, to feel good about themselves, to find the courage to live meaningful lives while in prison.

Our primary task as Circle of Love letter-writers is to support inmates in their personal growth efforts and in whatever spiritual path that gives them inspiration and courage—Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Native American. We letter-writers are encouraged to share about Amma, but not for the purpose of convincing the inmates to become devotees (though some do become Amma devotees). Amma tells us Hers is the religion of Love, and so Circle of Love Inside welcomes letter-writers, inside and outside, from any spiritual path.

Evidence that our Circle of Love Inside seva is valuable will be found in the letters we receive from our inmate friends; they often tell us how our letters ease their loneliness, brighten their days. By the same token, we letter-writers are often changed by the meaningful exchange, the baring of souls, the joy of telling funny personal stories; and on the opposite end of the scale, learning of the sad and often cruel conditions inmates endure. Little by little, over time, we come to know and trust one another. We share the ways our spiritual practices help us in all aspects of life. We discover the miracle of making a difference in another person’s life, offering hope in spite of or because of the most impossible of conditions.

Here is an excerpt from an inmate’s letter:

Next to visits, mail is gold in prison. You should see the men who wait with expectancy to receive something, only to receive nothing from no one. It breaks my heart daily to see the reality of the abandonment of priceless human souls that just needed someone, anybody, in their corner.

We Circle of Love Inside letter-writers are not counselors or gurus, nor do we give spiritual advice. We offer compassion for whatever the inmate might be going through. We share. There are several ways to reach out in addition to our letters. We might send magazine photos of nature, or useful information that comes from Aikya Param, our Circle of Love Director, such as advice for fathers in prison. We are encouraged to ask Aikya to have Amma books sent for free, one by one, from the Amma Shop. We might then encourage discussions with our inmates about the Amma books, or other spiritual or self-help literature. We write to serve and to do our best to be instruments of Amma’s Love.

If you are interested in joining Circle of Love Inside please write to our New England Coordinator Savitri Bess - savitrib@earthlink.net. She would be happy to answer any of your questions.