Part Four – The Spiritual Warrior Awakens
Chapter 18 – When Love Stepped In
By Ghost Dancer
What the prison officials didn’t understand was that by keeping me in this utter isolation, they were truly allowing me to tap into my inner spirit to find the strength and power available to me. When these tactics didn’t work, they eventually tried others. They placed me in a cell block. I noticed how everyone kept staring at me when I came in and went to my bed. I watched from the corner of my eyes as guards called certain prisoners to the cell block gate and talked to them. I felt them all looking at me. The guards opened the gate and passed in a box to these guys. They immediately left and went to their bunks. More and more prisoners gathered around them and I saw them turning their heads to look at me, all grinning and laughing. I saw liquor bottles come out of the box the guards passed to them and the prisoners all drinking and smoking. I was not stupid; I sensed what was to come.
While they drank, I casually prepared myself, softly singing my prayer songs and eventually my death song. If this was to be, it would be a good day to die. I would die as all my ancestors had died, as a warrior. After the lights were cut off for the night, I could hear them getting louder and drunker, building up their courage with the alcohol. I would be on my own which gave me the advantage that I could strike without worry of hitting any friends or allies. I made my body armor, prison style, from magazines and books in my personal property, using Ace bandages to hold them in place around my body and both my arms. I filled three pairs of socks with radio batteries, so basically, I had a pair of very powerful weapons. I took my shoes off; bare feet are more comfortable and would help keep my balance. They would attack in groups. I could not afford to lose my balance or get knocked down. It would be over if I did. Neither could I let any to get behind me. So, in the dark, I studied everything, planned my strategy, and kept my prayers going. Why these guys would sell their honor to do dirty work for the guards I did not know, but it would cost them dearly.
My religious beliefs do not call for me to just lay there and be stabbed or beaten to death. When they came, I was ready. Out of the bed I rolled and charged them, swinging those socks full of batteries, and knocking heads and faces in. I never stopped; just kept going after all of them, screaming out war whoops, then singing a good day to die song. I kept swinging and beating until none were left anywhere around and screams filled the cell block. I was splattered in blood, but I didn’t think any of it was mine.
I found the two leaders laying there all messed up. I grabbed them by the hair and lifted their faces to look into my eyes. I told them they had sold out their souls for nothing and to be thankful I was sparing their lives. I told them to let everyone know that if they come for me, they better come prepared to die, because I was already ready for death. I slammed their heads back into the concrete floor and was standing there when the guards came and began trying to beat me down, so I fought them too. I woke up naked and back in the hole again. I knew my jaw and nose were broken. My ribs felt like they were broken too; I felt like I had been kicked and beaten from head to toe. I gave thanks to Spirit for protecting me and for my spirit helpers for giving me their courage and strength to battle.
This would begin yet another pattern of force the prison used against me. They started passing the word out to prisoners telling them I was a devil worshipper and all kinds of stuff to rile them up against me. They would beat me terribly and refuse to feed me, then when I was so weakened, they put me in cell blocks where they had made deals with prisoners to try to take me out. I came to look at it as a routine. I knew I would not have much energy or strength, so whatever I had to do, I did quickly to make my point very clear. When these tactics didn’t work, and prisoners began refusing to follow the guard’s orders towards me, back to solitary I went. While I had been out in population I had begun teaching what I had been taught and learned about traditional Native American religion. Guys out there were beginning to see for themselves that my religion was not something evil or anything like what they had been told or had seen on tv or movies.
Many other inmates began respecting what I was doing, standing up for my people and our religion. I began doing ceremonies in my solitary cell, singing the songs, visualizing doing the pipe ceremony. I prayed for everyone, even the guards and others who had been beating me, and for those who were ordering these things done to me. This isolation and starvation gave me plenty of time to focus on my spirit quest, to find my inner spirit. This allowed me to become more and more connected to all my spirit helpers, by seeking visions and seeking deeper and higher understanding of myself and how everything is connected to us all, as being one with everything.
I reached out for outside help in every way I could and was so blessed to find many wonderful people who came to my aid and touched my life in one way or another.
I heard about Bo Lozoff and the Human Kindness Foundation, so I wrote to him. Bo sent free copies of his books and put me on the list for the HKF newsletter. Here was a person who for more than 30 years, shared his experiences, knowledge, and friendship with thousands of prisoners around the world. Bo was a practicing Buddhist and he shared with all of us the story of his life journey as he walked and learned his path, from his successes to his failures. His heart was pure and good and full of life.
Many times, I would be down and so hurting from the beatings or so starved I was thinking of eating my own fingers or toes. I would pick up one of his books and read another teaching. Many times, people can read something and still not see the teaching or understanding what is truly there. For this you must open yourself up to receive it and discover profound lessons. This is what Bo Lozoff’s books did for me.
Bo Lozoff and his wife, Sita, started the Prison-Ashram Project with Ram Dass in 1973. Bo’s first book, We’re All Doing Time, is to this day widely referred to as the convicts’ bible and has been named as one of the ten books everyone in the world should read. I would encourage everyone to read it with the understanding that in some way or other, we all are bound by chains, even if you are not surrounded by walls, guards, fences, razor wire, gun towers, or bars. You are locked up just the same unless you free your own mind and set your true spirit free.
Bo came to see me once, even though I didn’t know it at the time. A guard later told me some Buddhist monk had come to see me, but they wouldn’t let him in, so he stood outside in the parking lot and chanted for me. I was not able to hear him since I was on the other side of the prison, but it meant the world to me to know he had come.
Bo’s books have touched the hearts and spirits of millions of prisoners around the world through the individual stories of people he has worked with. Bo had a gift of getting right down to street level and conversing with even the most hardened hearts in language they could understand. So many prisoners believe they are the only one suffering or experiencing these same thoughts and feelings, and think there is just no hope of things changing. When you read the words of so many others who are going through what you are, you realize you are not alone, that you aren’t the first or even the last who will feel this way. You still have power and Bo helped people see that what you do, how you think, how you see things, will be up to you. Each one has to decide what changes you can make in your own world, your own mind, your own spirit, your own heart. Bo’s words of encouragement to all of us, meant so much.
Bo died in 2012 in a motorcycle accident. His wife, Sita, still carries on their life’s work through the Human Kindness Foundation, now the largest interfaith ministry of its kind in the world. Bo’s spirit is still spread across the universe to help us all. I encourage everyone to read all of Bo’s books and to support the work of the Human Kindness Foundation.
Another beloved mentor was Michio Kushi, a man I had only heard of. Professor Kushi was a Japanese scholar who introduced the concept of Macrobiotics in the USA in the 1950s. He and his wife, Aveline, founded The Kushi Institute in the early 1980s and he served as a director of the East West Foundation for Macrobiotics.
In response to my letter, Sensei (Elder or Teacher) Michio Kushi sent numerous books to help me in my time of need. One was called Budō. I began studying Budō, which is one of the martial arts, while in solitary. He also sent numerous books and instructions on other forms of martial arts and wrote letters of encouragement that helped to lift me. Even while I was being beaten, I could hear his words and block out all the pain and abuse.
Professor Kushi also put me in contact with other people who sent helpful books and wrote to me. None of these people judged me or ever asked any questions about my past or why I was in prison. They only talked to me about the present and the future and what I was going to do. They inquired about my interests and were all willing to provide materials to keep my mind occupied with studies. I devoured everything they sent. Some people may not understand how important this was to me, but let me tell you, when you are kept naked and alone 24 hours a day, seven days a week, week after week, month after month, year after year, in a filthy tiny cell with nothing to do but wait for the times they come to abuse you, this kind of support is life-saving.
These are the people who helped keep my mind busy and active. People placed in solitary who do not have mental stimulation literally go insane, suffer permanent psychological and mental problems, or attempt to commit suicide. My study of martial arts as a kid helped me understand the principles of all the different teachings that Michio Kushi shared with me. Even until this very day, I still practice and use these teachings that helped me so much.
There is no way I could ever thank Sensei Michio Kushi enough for all the help he gave so generously. He didn’t have to do any of this, but his heart was true to be a spiritual person and a real teacher. I recently learned that Michio Kushi passed in 2014, so all I can do is honor and share what he did for me and strive to live as he taught me.
Sometimes society seems to think boys, teenage boys or even young men should be tough and don’t need that care, that love, that healing.
Often boys will strike out in some way because of the pain, sometimes even long afterward, at things or those around them though they do not mean to hurt those they love and those who love them. Many turn to alcohol, drugs, or become something they are driven to. These are pure cries for help. But no one sees that, no one hears the cry of the boy who suffers this way. Sometimes this leads to more problems, such as rebelling against their parents or society, doing things that could be dangerous, or just wrong. Why? Because they are hurting inside. You can never change a person unless the person wants to be changed . You can never help anyone unless they want help. It is like leading a mule to water but you can’t make them drink.
I knew a boy once who was a promising young mind. Gifted with almost total photographic memory, very talented, hard-working and strong as could be, an amazing athlete who loved to compete. When he was a young boy, he could have grown up to be almost anything he wanted to be. But circumstances and bad things happening, he fell into the habit of holding all his feelings about everything inside himself, becoming confused and injured in the head. Life changed so fast and he found himself cast into a world of concrete, steel and chains. Never again would that boy be the same.
That innocent young man, ripped from his family and life is just one of thousands in this world. He was a boy who lived in four worlds all simultaneously. Oh, but how could that be? Well the boy lived with his mom in one world. He lived with his dad in a different world. He lived in the harmony of nature with all the natural things. And he lived in the spirit world, in which none knew he traveled so easily. He knew things he should not have been able to know. He was given gifts that people would frown upon or point fingers at him if they had only known.
He was hit in the head with a sledgehammer and his worlds all went black. He began blending and mixing up worlds all at the same time and in this confusion someone he trusted came to him and asked for help. The boy who believed in honor, and family could not deny that request. He knew it was wrong – oh yes! he surely did – and it broke his heart to do it, but he did. And he did it again and again. He dreamed something was going to happen and it surely did. He knew it would be bad, but never could imagine so much as this. How do I know? I know because I was that young boy, a boy who became a man, and suddenly faced life and death every single day.
That young boy was literally beaten, torn and thrown away by society. He was tortured because of his unwillingness to deny his beliefs, beaten and left to starve, naked, in darkness, having to stand in his own human waste. Still, this young boy would not break his faith. Driven by a promise he made when he was just a boy of 9 years old, to bring back to his family the things that were stolen from their lives: their history, heritage and ways of life. Subjected to every means of torture human evilness could dream, those inside the dark place were the only ones who could hear the terrifying screams. He screamed inside of himself, not letting those who were doing this to him win by seeing his pain. Never did a sound leave his lips so they could rejoice or proclaim they won.
The young boy’s mind let go; his body numbed to pain. The tears he let flow, no human would see. BUT SPIRIT SAW AND REACHED DOWN AND WIPED HIS FACE CLEAN. NO OTHER MAY KNOW WHAT WAS FELT ALL THOSE YEARS, BUT SPIRIT KNEW, AND THE BOY’S HEART WAS HEALED.
I share this with you all so maybe one day you will truly understand that all people in here are crying if you just listen and open your heart. In the lodge where it is totally dark, men, who are really little boys inside, can release their pain without fear of anyone seeing them or seeing their tears. We cry always for those in the world that no one hears. I empty my heart each and every time to the One who can heal always, every time. LOVE IS THE ONLY CURE I KNOW THAT WILL HEAL THE MOST BROKEN OF HEARTS AND SOULS.
I cannot speak for all the children who have been abused or done wrong. I can only speak from where I have come, what I have experienced, and what I have grown to be. From out of all that pain came a man who knows only love, who only wants beauty and harmony. In this world we all have hidden places inside ourselves, a place we retreat to and say, if only this could be, or if I had of done this or not done that. But let’s face the truth, we are part of all these things – the good, the bad, the future, the past.
We only have to feel love deeply to move on past all the painful memories and tortures within ourselves, to truly come to be more than we can imagine we ever could be! I know, I have done this each and every day for all these years, and so can everyone! Ghost