Finding Treasure Inside a Jail
John Snyder, a volunteer helper with the Peace Education Program (PEP) at Dominguez State Jail in San Antonio, describes the liberating effect of the program on one of its participants.
Lisandro has been in prison several times. His father was a nightclub owner on the Mexican side of the U.S. border back in the early 80's. Growing up, his family used to take periodic vacations together, and it was only later in life that he realized those trips were not just for family fun, but also served a drug business.
When he came of age, Lisandro found himself working in the family nightclub where he was introduced to the world of drugs and cocaine. There he began to intensify his personal drug use. His habitual addiction ushered in the criminal behavior that would eventually characterize all three of his arrests and subsequent incarcerations in the Dominguez State Jail.
While serving his third and final sentence, he felt like his luck was finally changing. It was there that he was introduced to Prem Rawat's message of finding peace within. Looking back, he says that encounter was really the defining moment in altering the course of his life. Listening to videos of Prem Rawat speaking to people all over the world helped him to discover a side of himself that he had never known, a perennial peace that had eluded him at every turn in the road.
Lisandro became a regular student in the Peace Education Program, known as the Inner Peace class at Dominguez, where his understandings began to deepen and take root. He learned that out of the thousands of jails and prisons in the U.S., the Dominguez facility (at that time) was the only one that even offered such a class. Considering those odds, he felt that he had finally hit the jackpot. Later he reflected that it seemed ironic that he had to go jail to find the real treasure. His gratitude for the class continued to grow and the bi-weekly meetings became a kind of sustenance for his heart.
After his release from prison he returned home to Brownsville, Texas. In the months that followed he began to have a new type of withdrawal. This time it was not from drugs, but from the peace he had come to know from regularly listening to Prem Rawat in prison. One day he called Roberto and Chantal, the class founders, and said that he was afraid he was starting to lose the feeling he had come to know from the class. They sent him some videos and literature and continued to inspire him to keep listening.
Now it was his turn to make his own efforts to stay involved and continue the inner pursuit. Through this process, he says he gradually began to shed the layers of his acquired masks. He believes that coming to know his original self has been the greatest gift of his entire life.