The birth of freedom


Jarvis Jay Masters grew up in conditions characterized by hatred and violence. As a teenager, he was sent to the notorious San Quentin State Prison in California for armed robbery in 1981; in 1990 he was sentenced to death for aiding and abetting the murder of a prison guard and has been on death row for more than 30 years, although he maintains his innocence to this day. In prison, he began to meditate and study Buddhism under the guidance of the well-known Tibetan teacher Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche. In an environment of massive violence, abuse, murder, arbitrariness, despair and the hopelessness and hopelessness of death row, he undergoes a profound personal transformation, opens up to his pain and discovers humanity, compassion and freedom in himself and his surroundings. At the same time, he begins to write. His book contains stories about his experiences in prison and reflections on the changes brought about by his Buddhist practice. A contribution from the campaign for Jarvis Jay Masters' release provides information about the (failed) efforts to date to obtain a retrial and about the next steps. The campaign is supported by many well-known spiritual personalities and cultural figures. I often think to myself, if Jarvis can experience the breakthrough and find the light even in this darkest of places, there is hope for us all. Pema Chödron, Buddhist nun, teacher and author About Jarvis Jay Masters Jarvis Jay Masters was born in Long Beach, California, in 1962. He is an African-American Buddhist author and the author of That Bird Has My Wings: The Autobiography of an Innocent Man on Death Row. His poem "Recipe for Prison Pruno" won the PEN Award in 1992. For two decades he has maintained a lively correspondence with teachers and students across the country and his work is regularly discussed in elementary school and colleges. Since taking refuge vows with H. E. Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche in 1991, Jarvis has also been guided by the Venerable Pema Chödrön, with whom he has a long-standing friendship. David Sheff's biography was published in German in 2021 under the title Gefangen und frei - Ein Buddhist in der Todeszelle.

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