Iven-Ra, ADL Ministerial Student Mentored by Rev. Theresa Crabtree Iven-Ra received his ministerial books the last week of June, 2017. When he read the ADL goals on the first page of the book, he was inspired to write an article about how these goals could have a positive impact in prison. Please read his article below. Ironically, the same day that Iven-Ra received his ADL student handbooks, Rev. Theresa Crabtree received a letter from another inmate with whom she had been communicating. He will be released within the next few months and expressed an interest in becoming a minister upon his release. Ruhroh, here we go!
An ADL Mission: The Impact of "Our Goals" in Prison
The Alliance of Divine Love has opened its doors to its very first prisoner in its 40 years of existence. The ADL appears to be facing the challenge head on with its philosophy of coming together in a Spirit of Oneness with the Greatest Degree of Love. I have been incarcerated since December of 1992, and I immediately recognized and acknowledged the fact that this prison experience was part of my spiritual journey. Along the way, I've paid attention to Divinity and Its many phases and forms of manifestations. I realized over 20 years ago that prison was to be my incubator and cocoon. In 2001, I was led to form and begin a Study Group that dealt with philosophy, culture, religion and even politics, etc. It was called Each One, Teach One, or EOTO (ay-oh-toe). Since 2001, I have been to two other prisons and also led EOTO in those. The Study Groups have been helpful by giving prisoners who truly seek to educate themselves and come together with other like-minded men, a forum for expression with an opportunity to learn and share what they are learning. Often, I've had to lead the Study Groups and guide them into different spheres of enlightenment to ensure that everyone was indeed growing, not only with education, but mainly, spiritually. So, I've had plenty of experience with being a positive and effective leader and guide to others. Thus, I see the impact positive programs can have within prisons, especially "Our Goals" of the ADL. I would like to deal with each one of the four goals in turn to show what impact each separately will have, independent of the others, then as a whole.
FIRST: To pursue unity and a common purpose so that our energies and time will be well spent.
Most prisons are known to be ridden with violence and negativity due to hatred of self and others, along with the disconnection or being unaware of divine and spiritual guidance. Prisoners have a lot of idle time on their hands with no positive ideas as to what to do with such time. Some often long for rehabilitation with hopes that the prison itself would offer the opportunities, while not realizing that rehabilitation begins from within one's self. With the proper guidance, a great deal of prisoners will be willing to better themselves and their environment. Being led to pursue unity as a common purpose to meet the criteria to better self and environment will produce ideas effectuating ways to assure collectively that their energies and time are well spent. The majority of prisoners long for a positive program of action to express themselves individually and as a whole.
SECOND: To seek and share knowledge that promotes spiritual and mental growth while insuring stability and balance.
This goal assures powerful intermingling through active communication on the part of each prisoner in the environment by not only looking for ways to better the self and the environment, but also by sharing the knowledge of the different ways to do so while raising the overall awareness of the immediate environment. The applicability and promotion of spiritual and/or mental growth will guarantee stability and balance from one part of the prison to others. It basically allows prisoners to be able to learn at once that they hold the power to determine the rate of positive change within the environment independently of any assistance from the prison staff or prison administration. The prisoners will begin to notice that the true keys of inner peace and freedom already exist within our hearts and minds. This is the only way by which progress truly begins, especially within a negative prison environment.
THIRD: With wisdom and joy, teach and put into practice a philosophy of life that inspires and brings out the true beauty of the soul, sharpens the mind, and renders us masters of our destiny and of greater service to our fellow man. Wisdom entails the proper application of knowledge; this, combined with a complete willingness through happiness found within, while being an example to others to see the effects of how a positive mind and attitude can get more accomplished, will cause others to reflect within the confines of their own minds to come to an overstanding that each one of us has a duty and responsibility to bring out the beauty of ourselves first, then, within our environment. And in doing so, it doesn't make one weak, but on the contrary, it makes one indeed stronger, which strengthens the entire collective, only to reflect truth that we are and have been the masters of our destinies all along. We should therefore acknowledge our greater service to our fellow man through positive manifestations of upliftment with courage and strength. I've learned that through my willingness to help others, those I help in turn are willing to help others.
FOURTH: To learn and share the secrets of the purest kind of love that leaves no room for fear, adds fulfillment and quality to life, and perfects each individual.
We learn by trial, error and correction, while making the proper adjustments along the way. If we begin by taking notice of the state of the environment and the needs of the prisoners at hand, and set out to meet those needs effectively by developing constructively based ideas and theories, combining such theories with practice, we'll begin to lift the awareness of other prisoners in the environment, that it is up to each one to uphold their part of the responsibility to better the environment. This in itself will be the revelation of the purest kind of love that removes all possible fear without even having to be openly acknowledged by every single prisoner to be a positive expression of the Greatest Degree of Love. Each prisoner can sense their own personal fulfillment and what life is worth while offering an opportunity to work to perfect these secrets continually within Self, continually within the environment. The personal recognition of the levels of change within each prisoner will reveal much, causing other prisoners to search for the cause of such changes. Collectively, these four goals can initiate a chain of events within prisoners truly seeking to rehabilitate themselves, which in turn will cause those prisoners to effectuate positive changes in the environment. They not only clinch unity by causing active and constructive communication amongst the prisoners, but they also offer a glue that will bond us perpetually in the pursuit of a higher common cause. These four goals offer a program of action that can be applied within any prison environment where prisoners exist with an urge for rehabilitation without having to wait on prison authorities to create one. The four goals offer positive affirmations for a continual individual awareness of purpose for the striving and the maintaining of spiritual and mental growth of each prisoner involved. As each prisoner expresses fulfillment of each goal according to his own particular unique ability, we pretty much guarantee and secure the elevation of the environment, which amounts to fulfillment of Divine Love in the overall setting regardless whether or not it's acknowledged to be through the Greatest Degree of Love that automatically transcends concepts of space and time. Therefore, I indeed see the impact that the ADL's "Our Goals" can and will have in prisons. That's not even yet considering any other aspect or principle offered through ADL's Ministry Course. So imagine the effect the complete program will produce within the minds, hearts and spirits of prisoners, and the possible reaches within the prisons where the ADL is welcomed. By going to the lowest depths of humanity that are confined within the prisons -- outcasts from society -- most assuredly reflects the Greatest Degree of Love. By seeking to also uplift the bottom of humanity, at the same time infects it with the same Love offered to it, causing it to reflect, reciprocate and fulfill an Alliance of Divine Love.
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