Stafford Creek Correctional Center, Aberdeen, Washington.
The inmates at Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Aberdeen, Washington conducted their annual Buddha Day Celebration on April 22. Several representatives from area Buddhist groups attended in support of the prison Dharma program. Among the visiting sangha members were the four monks from Buddhangkura Buddhist Temple of Lacey; Koro Kaisan Miles of Open Gate Zendo, Olympia; Doris and Lenny Reed of Plum Mountain Refuge, Aberdeen; and Jeff Hadashi Miles of both Plum Mountain and Open Gate.
After inmate leaders made introductions, Phra Ratsamee of Buddhangkura Temple led the opening service and dedication which included an incense lighting ceremony, accompanied by a liturgy in which a dozen or so inmates participated. Phra Ratsemee and Koro Kaisan Miles each gave a short Dharma talk while the room was being prepared for lunch service and after lunch programs conducted by the inmates.
Several inmates performed a short play reenacting the Buddha’s passing and his final words to his disciples. Another group performed a skit called “The Gambler” about a man who loses everything important to him through gambling before turning to Buddhism and finding redemption. The afternoon wound down with multiple performances that included Polynesian Dances and ethnic music and songs performed by Chinese, Filipino and Vietnamese inmates.
The Buddha Day festivities at Stafford Creek are not only a special time for inmates and their families to get together, but an opportunity for the area sangha members to get to know and interact with the Stafford Creek Sangha on an informal and personal level.