[A number of prisoners in the United States are taking Theosophical Correspondence Courses. The following excerpts from several of their letters attest to the aspirations and spiritual hunger of many behind bars. — Eds.]
I am writing after receiving my recent order of the Secret Doctrine, Index, and Invitation to the Secret Doctrine. I want to thank you and the others for the prompt and courteous service I have been given.
I note inside the cover of the S.D. there is a label which discusses, briefly, the correspondence course for prisoners and the S.D. I am very interested in this course and would like to know more about it.
I also want to thank you for the complimentary issues of Sunrise I have received. I ordered several back issues which I have studied in depth and greatly relish. I have also passed them on to others of a like mind here. It is amazing, but there is almost like an underground railroad of reading materials here. It is like a loop that always comes back. Due to our incarceration some types of materials, those the institution does not provide, are in limited supply and numbers. It is amazing how many of the inmates actually respect the limited materials we get. I know the seven issues of Sunrise that I have myself have been read and reread to the point of the colors being worn off the covers, and I have only had them for a few months, if that. I would like to know what the total price would be for the available back issues of Sunrise so I can work on gathering the money to purchase them and donate them to the chapel library here. I think there are more inmates here who would benefit from them than any of us realize.
I also want to thank you and all of the T.S. staff for the way I have been treated. As an inmate, I run into barriers that are sometimes almost insurmountable. Sometimes we do feel like "just a number" because of the ways we are treated or disregarded. It is nice to know that someone still thinks we are human and have feelings. Thank you. — C. S., Minnesota
There seems to be what I choose to call a theosophical explosion happening at this institution. People from every religion are inquiring about theosophy. I presently have a theosophical class on Saturday and Sunday from 8:30 am to 11:00 am. What have I gotten my "Self" into! Most of my brothers are reading materials from the United Lodge of Theosophists. This is largely due to the fact that they offer a "free" book titled Universal Theosophy by Robert Crosbie. I am beginning to see this book on the compound more than the Bible. I guess I'm witnessing first hand what Mr. Judge called the "Amalgamation" of the races. I must be the first to say that I love it! At the weekly Islamic service, I was the speaker. I said something that really shocked myself. I said Christianity and Islam have failed humanity. I wish you could have seen the expressions on the people's faces. The primary reason that I cited for such failure was "dogmatism and creedalism." I feel extremely comfortable today with a "theosophic mind." Instead of seeking to convert others to my way of seeing the world, I "help" them to see the Ancient Wisdom in their own religion. This attitude assumed by me has really opened heretofore closed doors. — W. T., Florida
I haven't had many experiences around children, but I know they think with their hearts and see things for what they are. Recently on visiting day here, I was standing at the microwave oven heating a sandwich when a young child came over and stood looking up at me. I asked her if she was scared the first time her mom had brought her here to see her dad. She said she was at first, but not now. I asked why, and she said that we had just made a mistake and weren't mean people, we were just like her dad. Then she asked me if I was scared. I said the same thing. At first, but like her dad, the men here had made mistakes but are still good people. She said, "I know," and went back to her dad and mom.
It made me smile. She saw us with her heart, not her eyes. Big guys all wearing the same thing, most with tattoos on their arms, some on their faces. She had the right attitude, and it changed mine as well. — W. M., Colorado
Cause and effect best describes karma. The time between cause and effect, well, that could take quite a bit of explaining. The best I can do is equate it with stepping on a shovel and getting hit with the handle. This is instant karma, while in contrast, imagine having hundreds of feet of water hose. You stand right next to the spigot and turn on the water. Now you know water is flowing through the hose, yet nothing is coming out, so you put your eye up to the end to see what is going on, only to get an eye and face full of water. Knowing you have no reason to get irritated, you still sometimes do. This is how karma usually works. — S. B., Minnesota
I am incarcerated in the State of Oklahoma where there is a deep prejudice toward anything relating to the occult. When Life's Riddle and the first two lessons of your Correspondence Course arrived, I had to do paper work, battle with security and staff before I was even able to receive these. Still, I was under constant scrutiny: guard after guard confiscated my book; claimed I was affiliated with Devil worship and even put me into solitary confinement.
I had to speak to the chaplain and others, but finally with patience I won the battle. Life's Riddle is now in my possession, I have attained a lower [security] status, and I am ready to proceed with the Ancient Teachings. The officials of this institution have assured me that I am able to continue with no further complications. I will not yield until I can learn. — R. C., Oklahoma
(From Sunrise magazine, February/March 2002; copyright © 2002 Theosophical University Press)