I got out of prison in the minimum amount of time for my offense. About six months.
Many people leave prison broken, raped, badly injured. I left stronger.
Out of all the drugs that I had done prior my incarceration the only drug I craved was caffeine — specifically the caffeine found in Coca-Cola. I took the $10 I was given and bought a bus ticket, and with the change, bought a Coca-Cola. It tasted damn good.
When I got home, I washed out the water cup and dusted the butsudan area. Gongyo was a cool drink to a thirsty man. I thought about my friends still in prison. The Daimoku came easy. I savored the sight of the Gohonzon.
Later that week, I reported to my parole officer. Mysteriously, he had lived in China and Korea. He read Chinese. I showed him my Gongyo book and he taught me the meaning of the Chinese characters. I looked forward to our visits. Life itself had become my teacher. A university without walls.
A few years later, a highly edited version of my prison experience appeared in the World Tribune. Every so often after that, people would approach me, and ask me my name. Then they would pull out a dog-eared copy of that World Tribune, and tell me that their sister, mother, or aunt had sent my experience.
Then they would tell me that my experience encouraged them to chant, and that chanting had saved their lives in prison, or helped them get out. My experience had become a liberator.
Telling others of your benefits magnifies them.
Mr. Williams told us that with most things the more you give, the less you have; with Buddhism the opposite is true.
Mr. Williams was right.