When Taiwanese Bhikkuni Teaches In A Prison

I am a Taiwanese Bhikkuni of Buddhism in Taiwan. I have been ordained for almost 30 years and have been teaching Dhamma to the prisoners who mostly are under a death sentence at the biggest jail in Taiwan for more than 20 years. https://dmc.tv/a3044

Dhamma Articles > Case studies
[ Dec 29th, 2005 ] - [ read : 16352 ]
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When Taiwanese Bhikkuni Teaches In A Prison

Dear Luangphaw (with my highest respect)

I am a Taiwanese Bhikkuni of Buddhism with the Mahayana Denomination in Taiwan.  I have been ordained for almost 30 rainy seasons (years). I am currently a member of the World Fellowship of Buddhist Youth of Taiwan.  My responsibility has been to teach Dhamma to the prisoners at the biggest jail in Taiwan for more than 20 years. The prisoners whom I teach mostly are under a death sentence.  My story to tell you is as follows:

My father, whose faith wasn't Buddhism, didn't object to my ordination.  Later on, he became sick from liver cancer and developed an interest in Buddhism.  He started to chant for Triple Gem veneration on a regular basis.

Due to Chinese people consider the chanting as Dhamma practices.  The night before my father died, there were a number of students who came to do chanting at our house all night long.  The reason was so that my father could think of the Triple Gem and died with a happy face on April 24, 2005 (BE 2548).

My mother is a Buddhist who is strictly serious in her Buddhism.  She has been holding precepts and has eaten vegetarian meals for more than 10 years.  She also holds the precepts of the Bodhisatta.  She is currently 74 years old, so she is not in a good health and often vomits with blood.

I am a real Taipei citizen.  I have three sisters altogether and I am the youngest one.  My eldest sister has died.  My second sister is still single at the age of 54 years. She used to help my mother take care of my nephew, who is my eldest's son.  

I was interested in Buddhism since my youth.  That's because my mother always took me with her to accrue merit and listen to a sermon at temple.
Studying Buddhism since the early age, the words of the Lord Buddha were equivalent to a bright lantern for me to grow up.  

After graduating with a Bachelor's degree in Philosophy, from the best university in Taiwan, I attended Dhamma practice to prepare for ordination to the Mahayana Denomination of Buddhism. I was ordained at the age of 24 years.

Immediately after ordination, I started to spread knowledge of Buddhism.  I began with teaching Dhamma for youth, which I had been doing for a while before being invited from the Government sector to give the Dhamma lecture to prisoners.

That's because the Government found a number of prisoners were causing lots of problems and the Government couldn't find ways for solving this.  They thought that Buddhism may be helpful in solving these problems.  The prison within which I taught is the biggest one in Taiwan.

The prisoners were principally the most ferocious type of prisoners.  They were filed with serious cases such as drug-addiction and murder.  It was only me that the Government allowed to enter the prison.  In the beginning, a number of people objected of this dhamma lecture but I thought

“These people are pitiable.  They made mistakes without knowing of merit and demerit.  If these people are exempted on their prison term, they will be freed and become good members of the society.  If they are executed, then they will at least have merit for their new life.  I also accrue merit for this lecturing.”

I decided to go into the prison to light candles to those prisoners in meeting a light of Dhamma, even though I had to enter alone. Within a week, I taught male prisoners for 3 days and female ones for a day.  The lessons were about the “Law of kamma” as well as Dhamma for every use.  

Entering a high wall, I saw the prisoners chained with a heavy metal ball unanimously coming out for chanting, listening to a sermon, and meditating.  This was a very impressive moment which has inspired me to continuously work hard until now.

Especially, when I heard from the Government that those prisoners going through Dhamma practices had decreased their aggressive behavior, accepted, and increasingly coordinated in complying with the prison's rule.  Most non-religious prisons started to believe in Buddhism religion.  They did the morning and evening chanting on a regular basis as well as read and transcribe the Buddhist Scriptures (Tipitaka).  

An important episode, which allows people to know me more, is about one fierce prisoner that did horrible things to Taiwanese. He was a teenager prisoner. He was addicted to drugs and killed his parents in order to get money to buy more drugs, according to his friend suggestion.  

During his stay in jail, he had a chance to listen to Dhamma and to retreat. That allowed him know more about merit and demerit and he then turned to respect Buddhism and listen to Dhamma with frequent retreats.

He seemed like he had a new life, even if only for a short period. Before his execution he wrote a letter to me, which stated that he felt guilty that he had committed Anantariyakam (five heaviest demerits). He also felt happy to have a chance to know Buddhism from my teaching. He intended to draw the picture of Guan Im, the Mother Earth, to me. He compared me with Guan Im that helped him to know Buddhism.

This letter has encouraged me to continue to spread Buddhism, until the newspapers wrote about my story in their headlines. “If prison still has prisoners, then Bhikkuni MeawHui will not go to Nibbana to be the Buddha.”

Normally, I like to meditate and wish to learn Buddhism in the Theravada way in Thailand because it is very similar to Buddhism at the time of Buddha.

I cut one photo from a newspaper that has many Theravada monks carrying out meditation under the Bodhi Tree and also has the Buddha statue as a president. I put the photo in the frame and placed it in the Buddha image's room to worship everyday, and also make a wish that “One day, I will have a chance to know the Theravada monk and have a chance to invite him and accrue merit.”    
13 years later, I learned from the Secretary of World Fellowship of Buddhist Youth that the Theravada monk from Dhammakaya Temple spreads Buddhism and teaches how to meditate at a retreat center in Taipei. When I knew about it, I felt very happy because I never thought that my wish would come true.

I also knew that the photo that I had cut from newspaper was the photo of a monk from this Dhammakaya Temple. I did not hesitate to invite the monk from Taipei retreat center immediately to give the offering of necessities to the monastic order at my Temple.

Even though I am the one who broadens Buddhism in the prison but I have never been discouraged and wish to continue doing this until I die. I intended to have a chance to go to Dhammakaya Temple to learn about Theravada Buddhism and to greet the abbot once in my life.  

My 26 years old nephew, is the son of my eldest sister. He was orphaned since his childhood. His father died from nasal cancer in 1997 (BE2540), and his mother died from breast cancer in 1998 (BE2541).  

My second sister and my mother raised him. He has hot tempered character also, when he becomes angry, he will destroy all things.   

He never was too interested in Buddhism. After he came back from the army, he complained that he had a headache and fainted so often. After examining him, the doctor diagnosed that he had a tumor in his brain.   

The doctor immediately scheduled an emergency operation. Before the operation, the doctor explained that the surgical outcome was uncertain. Even if he survived the surgery, he may remain comatose. I performed the merit of casting 300,000 Buddha images, and released fishes for my nephew.    

He survived the operation and wasn't comatose but, unfortunately, lost body coordination. He can't walk, as a normal person.
and can't help himself for doing things. My mother and my sister have to take care of him.

Later on the doctor found another two brain tumors, which were very deep within his brain. The doctor hesitated to do the operation, but finally decided to operate again.

After the surgery, my nephew was blind one eye, also his hand and leg were paralysed. He currently stays in the hospital and has undergone physiotherapy for at least one year.
1. After my father died, what realm did he enter? I cast the Buddha image with his name on. Will he receive this merit? Would the merit from casting the Buddha image help his life better?

2. How did my mother and my second sister ever have former deeds with my nephew? Why do they have to take care of my nephew as their own child and also have to be patient for his angry emotions?

3. How does merit from my dedication of casting Buddha Image help my mother and second sister when they are still alive?

4. What kamma made my mother unhealthy, vomiting with blood although she is a good person holding precepts, and having a vegetarian diet? Will she recover from this? What should she do to have good health again?

5. How different and similar kamma do my eldest sister and her husband have? Why have they both died with cancer but on different parts of body? Where have they been reborn? Have they received the merits from my dedication?

6. How is cancer from the Inner Dreams Kindergarten School's view in any way different from a doctor's view?

7. What retribution made me preach to prisoners in the jail?
How does preaching to prisoners receive the merit or demerit?
If receiving merit, what should I do to obtain the fullest merit?
Should I continue preaching to prisoners in the jail?
If not, then what suitable duty should I do if I leave this current duty?

8. What kamma made my nephew have tumors in the brain? Will he ever recover to be normal? What should he do to resolve it and what merit should he make? Has the merit from casting Buddha Image helped him?

9. How did my family and I pursue perfection with Dhammakaya community in the past life?
Why have I become a Bhikkuni who met Buddhism but in a different denomination from Dhammakaya community?

Luang Phaw's Dream

I closed my eyes, dreamed and woke up with these answers.
When you tell anybody the story like a tale, it will make anyone know more about retribution (Law of Kamma)

1. After your father died, he became an air sprite, having a silver mansion at the first place.  It looked like Chinese architecture, which was similar to the one during his human life.  Air sprite typically has mansion far away from human earth by 16 km. 
  • The reason he became an air sprite was his clear mind by chanting and thinking of the Triple Gem merits during the ending period of his life.  Though he did not perform any generosity, hold precept, or do meditation, he did chant with his clear and believing mind.
  • Merits from inscribing his name will increase his angelic treasures; for instance, his silver mansion turns to be mixed with gold as well as his food is increasing.  He does not have retinue since he neither lives in heaven nor persuades others to accrue merits.

2. Your mother and your second sister needed to take care of your nephew as their real son and take all of his moody emotions because, in one past life, your nephew was a son of your mother and a brother of your sister.  At that time, he acted as a paid hooligan to make a living.  He was debt collector and hurt others. 
  • In that life, he took care of his mother and sister with these earnings.  His mother and sister also knew his way of earning, but did not stop him since it was a source of income.  This was indirectly supporting him.  Their result of this retribution is to take care of him and accept all moody emotions from the nephew.
3. Merits from Buddha image casting for both of them when they were alive could also lighten its retribution.      
  • Buddha image casting should however be acquired for your nephew since he has a number of retributions.  In fact, he had just been released from Purgatory (Yamaloka).  Now, he is just born as a human and he has moody emotions in him from being tortured at Purgatory (Yamaloka). 
  • If he is born in Purgatory, hungry ghost, monster, and animals respectively, these will help reduce his level of moodiness.  The level of moodiness is even less than the one right now.  You should cool your mind during his moody time.


4. Your mother is not healthy and is often vomiting with blood, though she is good person receiving precepts and having vegetarian diet because of her past kamma.  In that past life, she was born in an agricultural family and regularly killed animals for food. 
  • It is not her present retribution.  She will get better and recover if she is not too worried about her nephew, as well as always take precepts and has vegetarian diet, which will make her mind relax.

5. Both of your eldest sister and her husband died from cancers in different areas because of results of killing and adultery kamma.  Your sister killed animals and was promiscuous in her past lives.
  • Her husband killed animals for living and selling as well as hurting others in his past life; for instance, he had fight with his neighbor and hurt him with a cudgel at his nose.  These retributions together with a killing retribution from other lives result in him having nose cancer.
  • After death, your eldest sister and her husband became normal earth sprites (Bhummadeva).  Later on, they received the dedicated merits.  This allows them to have a better living, e.g., food, accommodation, clothes, etc.  They also have a house located next to each other.

6.    Cancer from Inner Dreams Kindergarten School's view is basically different from doctor's view.  In our school's view, this disease is resulted from a retribution, which is an individual's retribution and no one ever takes for others. If the parent and a child have the same level of retribution, the retribution will cause the child to have the same fruit of kamma.  It is not inherited!  
  • Cancer is caused by much retribution, which can be primarily from a killing kamma and secondarily from other kamma.  For instance, ovary cancer is resulted from killing and adultery kamma.  Leukemia and bone cancer are resulted from killing and stealing kamma.  
  • Tongue cancer is resulted from killing, lying, harsh speech, and scold kamma.  Liver cancer is resulted from killing and drinking kamma.   
  • To be able to resolve these retributions or not, all depends on their criticality and availability of merits from both present and past.  It's quite complicated! Thus, the best thing to protect and avoid such retribution is to take the 5 precepts purely!
7.    You have to give Dhamma lecture in the prison because you have Bodhisatta predisposition from the past lives to help humans and all lives. You don't have any retribution with you but you presently pursue perfection by giving a Dhamma teaching.
  • The fruits of giving Dhamma lectures to prisoners are having wisdoms- knowledgeable both in worldly and Dhamma, no enemies in wherever you are, being loved by everyone, born in right view family supporting you to do good things, being well known, etc.    
  • You should do 2 things which are:
    1) Protect good people from bad things; such as, teaching people to know about merit, demerit so they won't break both morality and laws which will lead them to hell and prison.     
  • 2) Correct bad people back to be good; such as, teaching prisoners as aforementioned to know about merit, demerit so they can live right and correctly either in the prison or after leaving the prison as well as make the death row inmates mind clear so they will go to better place after death.

8. Your nephew has brain tumor because in the past life, he was a paid hooligan being hired to threaten people to collect debts or harm people. Once, he was hired to smash a person's head and body many times and these are the consequences.
  • To resolve this, your nephew has to give generosity (Dana), hold precepts (Sila), meditate (Bhavana) and regularly free animals and fishes as well as dedicate merits to the person he threatened so heavy kamma will become light kamma.
  • Merit from casting Dhammakaya image will close the way to Hell for him in this life from the kamma that he has done to his grandmother and his aunt. However, it's not enough, he has to accrue other merits as well.

9. You and your family have pursued perfection with Dhammakaya community for many lives. Your family was supporter while you were the monk to spread Dhamma.    
  • Later you were apart from our community because you conflicted with other members of our community so you often wanted to leave our community but you didn't really do that. You just complained every time when you conflicted. This results in missing our community in the life.
  • You have to be a Bhikkuni in different denomination of Buddhism because, in the past life, you were a monk with our community, and outreached Buddhism in the remote areas since the last Buddha Era. You liked this duty a lot. 
  • You made a wish to be a part of spreading Dhammakaya Buddhism team but the adultery kamma in many past lives causes you to be a woman but having monk predisposition and being accustomed to ordination in Theravada denomination from the last Buddha Era, therefore, you like monks in Theravada denomination every time you see.
  • In this life we meet again, you should pursue perfections fully in every merit. Make a wish to follow our community to Tusita (the 4th level of heaven), in the special merit zone and never stay away from our community.


Case study in real life

The Law of Kamma (Pali:Compared to "Karma" in Sanskrit) segment or "Case Study" is one of the prominent sections on the Dream in Dream kindergarten program, conducted by the Venerable Phrarajbhavanavisudh, also known as, Luang Phaw Dhammajayo of the Dhammakaya Temple in Pathum Thani Province, Thailand.

Each individualized "Case Study" is based on the timeless Law of Kamma (the Law of Cause and Effect) which examines the reasons for many situations and complex inter-relationships people find themselves in. Viewers from around the world write personal letters to Luang Phaw wanting to understand the karmic reasons for many special circumstances in their life.

This program is not intended to convert anyone to Buddhism or any other religions persuasion. Rather the goal is to help spread genuine peace, happiness and understanding here in Thailand and around the world. By first discovering and cultivating inner peace within ourselves through meditation, we can help spread love and kindness outward, helping to make our world a better place for everyone.


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