A Prisoner with Shining Eyes: “These Words are My Roots Now”

I keep the book you gave me in my room and read it all the time,” said “S”, in his 30’s who has committed a crime and was serving time in prison. It had been a while since Ogura last visited S at the prison.

The book is Something You Forgot Along the Way which S was referring to, and which he keeps in his room. That was last fall when Ogura visited. To get from the law firm in Kanagawa, you need to take a limited express and bullet train, then take a bus for about 30minutes through countryside, before finally arriving at a gray building surrounded by a tall fence. There was a sign of “such and such prison” next to the gate.

S was very excited about Ogura’s surprise visit and talked like a machine- gun, full of smiles. “Ogura, it has been years!! I am very thankful you came all the way. I thought I would never see you again. It might sound a little awkward, but I have been spending a productive time here. There are so many things that we need to memorize in order to operate the machinery here, and I try to memorize one every day. So I’m glad there are many things I can do here.”

“And not long ago, I watched a program on TV and it was about this guy who had been released from prison, but he didn’t have a job and ran out of savings and didn’t have anyone to ask for help so he shoplifted and was sent back to prison. I do not want to be like him.”

“Actually you can get some certificate here in the prison. So I will study hard to get as many qualifications as I can. When I get out I would like to be able to support myself. I don’t want to be a burden on anyone. Ogura, you taught me so many things. “A seed planted will surely grow”; these words are my roots now. When I feel down, I always remember them.” Ogura’s eyes were filled with tears. When Ogura first met S, S could not admit responsibility for the crime he had committed. S expressed hatred toward other people and society. He felt abandoned and even thought of committing suicide. Ogura visited S many times and told him about the law of cause and effect again and again.

“If you plant a good seed, something good will come and if you plant a bad seed, something bad will come; either way anything that happens to you is the result of what you yourself have planted. So nothing good will come out of hatred. We need to change our lives by changing the seeds we plant.” At first S resisted accepting the law of cause and effect, but eventually he thought over what he had done and started seriously thinking about how to change the seeds he is planting in the field of his life.

Ogura feels very fortunate to have met S and thinks that Amida Buddha led him to S: “Your life changes based on the people you meet in your life. I find great pleasure in my work when people I defend are willing to go towards the light by even one step,” said Ogura.

Yuji Ogura (Professional Chapter), Lawyer

Source: The Buddhist Village Times #26, A Prisoner with Shining Eyes: “These Words are My Roots Now”

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