Prison Dharma

Bakes Mitchell introduces the July 2024 issue of Lion’s Roar.

4 June 2024
Photo by Bernard Hermant.

The most rewarding aspect of our work at Lion’s Roar is being able to reach out to those who are searching for the dharma, who seek deeper understanding of themselves and the world, and who hope to make a difference. 

To the greatest extent possible, we want to enable everyone to have access to the teachings of the Buddha. We exist in order to support people on their path. And whether it’s through donating, subscribing, contributing teachings and other content, advertising in our publications, or some other form of support, we exist because of you, our large and loyal Lion’s Roar community.

One recent project that has inspired and enriched all of us at Lion’s Roar is our Prison Dharma project. Life in prison isn’t easy, and access to the dharma, working to understand one’s heart, mind, and path, is limited. People who are incarcerated do not have access to the internet, so for many years, Lion’s Roar has provided free print subscriptions to prison libraries and individual residents. However, until recently, our reach was limited to those who contacted us to request material.

With the help of various prison chaplains and volunteer organizations, we’ve occasionally been able to make bulk shipments of magazines to extend our reach (and save on shipping costs, which can be high). Still, even at our most successful, we were previously only able to deliver a few hundred copies into the prison system each year. 

Then in the spring of 2023, one of our prison dharma friends told us about a nonprofit organization called Edovo that makes content available in prisons on dedicated tablets that are available at many correctional institutions. The tablets are not connected to the internet but are updated regularly. Lion’s Roar tested a small amount of content on the Edovo learning platform to see if there was interest. The test was an overwhelming success, and by October 2023 we began uploading more content.

In the nine months since our content has been available within correctional institutions, almost 10,000 people in 338 institutions have read Lion’s Roar and Buddhadharma magazines and our special guides. And they’re not just browsing—it appears that the dharma we’re sharing is of great interest. Altogether, they’ve read almost 2 million pages of our work.

It’s gratifying to know that we can help support people in prison on their path, and it’s gratifying to know that this work has such support from the Lion’s Roar community. How can we convey the depth of our thanks for such support?

All we can do is continue. We’ll continue to use our limited resources as skillfully as we can in order to reach as many people as possible, wherever they are in their lives. We’ll continue to evolve and face new challenges, meet new people in new ways, give a platform to new teachers, and reach out to new communities who are seeking the dharma. 

And we’ll continue to do all of this with support from you, our loyal Lion’s Roar community.