by Steve Champion (Adisa Kamara)
What are you responsible for?
What do you take ownership of?
I can probably list a litany of things, but what most concerns me is being responsible and taking ownership of my spiritual growth. When I reflect on my life, spiritual growth is an area I can honestly say it’s on me either to squander or elevate it, depending on the choices I make.
No-one should rely solely on another person for spiritual growth. The truth is, as an adult, it is your responsibility and no-one else’s. No-one can do the work for you. You have to take ownership of it yourself.
What enables you to grow spiritually, whether it’s daily prayers, consistent meditation, reading self-help books, learning to forgive and let go of past transgressions, or opening your heart, you must see yourself as an engine and vessel that makes it happen. Because that’s exactly what you are.
Spiritual growth, like with most things, occurs with practice. But not just with practicing the mechanics of ritual. Don’t get me wrong. Ritual is important because it does reinforce and reaffirm in your spirit and consciousness what you believe.
However, spiritual growth happens not when there is serenity and calm, but during tumultuous and stormy times. When life tests and places you in crossroad situations and how you respond becomes a measure of where you are spiritually and how much work needs to be done. Every spiritual challenge you overcome increases your spiritual awareness and growth.
But the one thing you must remember is, no-one is in charge of your spiritual growth except you.
Steve Champion (Adisa Kamara)
San Quentin Death Row
by Steve Champion (Adisa Kamara) - San Quentin death row
Finding your Sacred Place
Finding your sacred place in a world where everything seems to happen instantaneously and where people are conditioned to expect results as fast as a microwave oven can cook food is a problem. People want a quick fix to problems, and when they don’t get it, they become frustrated and sometimes give up on life.
The creation of the internet is a wonderful thing. It continues to be instrumental in bridging the world, just like boats, trains and airplanes did when they were created. The internet offers a way to communicate and interact with people without the baggage, as some people would say, of physical contact. People can connect or disconnect from each other with the flick of a switch. It is a highly depersonalising and anti-spiritual way to live life. But in fast pace technological societies it’s becoming the norm.
Many great spiritual teachers of the past found sacred places to take refuge. What Akhenaton, Moses, Krishna, Buddha, Lao Tzu, Jesus, Prophet Muhammad and many others taught humanity in the past, is the same message spiritual teachers are teaching humanity today, the sacred place lives within you.
To find your sacred place, it doesn’t matter where you live. I live at San Quentin prison, on death row, in a four-by-ten-foot cell that is smaller than your average bathroom. But when I close my eyes and meditate I am transported to another place, another time as if I am not here. Wherever you are, you must be an agent responsible for finding your sacred place. The Tao Te Ching say, “those who overcome their opponents are powerful; those who overcome themselves are strong.” Your sacred place is where you are standing. It is there you will find strength, solace and inner peace.
The self – an aspect of our being that defines our essence – is the vehicle for finding a sacred place in your life. No one can give or take it from you, because you were born with it.
In a sacred place, the hustle and bustle of life ceases to exist. There are no parents, no spouse, no children, no siblings, no relatives, and no friends. No boss, no job, no bills, no pain and no worries. No identity or responsibility, except oneness with universal consciousness. In a sacred place, you just are. You can just “be”.
Despite what your life is or isn’t, a sacred place is where you can bring forth what and who you are, or what you might be. You come to realise the unity of life and the real truth of your own life. You are able to nourish your creative imagination in your sacred place. When you find your sacred place, you will find tranquillity, just as the Buddha found enlightenment under the Bodhi tree.
Every person needs a sacred place. It requires space, both mental and physical space, and a time during the day to be alone, a time to heal the mind, body, and spirit, and to realise you must take ownership and be present in your daily life.
A sacred moment might last only a minute, but it will be a minute where you see and experience the whole world in a temporal moment.
a.k.a. Adisa Kamara
PO Box C58000
San Quentin State Prison
Poetry, writing & Lessons in Life from San Quentin death row