These are letters from the files of the Prison-Ashram Project.
April 15, 1978
I’m writing to ask you about sending a copy of Inside Out, #1 edition, to me and any other issues you have available. I have a copy of Inside Out, but half of it is missing. What I’ve read though seems to be what I’ve been searching for, for so long. I’m searching for my spiritual awakening that so far I’ve not been able to find, but my life has come to a point where I need to find myself before I’m lost in the terrible maze of un-knowing.
Let me take a few minutes to tell you a little about myself and my present situation. Hopefully it will help you to know what it is I’m trying to find. My name is Tommy Creech, I’m 27 years old, born Sept. 9, 1950. I’m presently in the Idaho State prison for first degree murder, two counts. I was arrested in November of 1974, taken to trial, found guilty and sentenced to death, March of 1976. In October of 1977, the Idaho Supreme Court vacated my death penalty, but I’m under review to receive a newly enacted death penalty in May of this year. At that time the courts will decide if I can be given the new death penalty or a double life sentence. These two charges in Idaho aren’t the only ones I have. There are seven more in other states. Please let me explain why I did these cold-blooded, without any mercy, killings. In April of 1974, 11 men entered my home in Portland, Oregon, raped my 17 year old wife, who was three months pregnant at the time, then threw her four stories out our apartment window.
You see, I had been running drugs and guns for some people out of Nevada. My wife had asked me to stop so I tried to get out but they said no. On my next run I kept the goods I was to deliver and told them I’d turn it over to the Feds if they tried causing me any trouble. I never would have but they thought I was serious. Well, they set me up on a phony bust to get me out of the way thinking I had told my wife where I’d stashed the stuff. I never did!
So, when they went to our house, after beating her up and realizing she really didn’t know where I’d put the stuff, they gang-raped her and threw her out the window. By some freak accident she lived for several months after that, long enough to tell me who most of the 11 were. She committed suicide while in a state mental institution, as her body was so crippled up from the fall, she had lost all hope and just wanted to die. In August of 1974, I went after the 11 guys who did it and caught nine of them in several different states. I was unable to complete my death mission and get the last two cause I got caught here in Idaho. Since all of this has happened, I’ve had no inner peace at all. All I can think of is my wife, the only person who ever loved me and all I had in this world. I can see the men I killed and the look of pure fear and disbelief that I’d found them, as I took their lives.
I’m not saying I was right for what I did, and I can’t really say I’m sorry. I only know that I have no peace, happiness, or love, but at times I feel that I can have, but I just don’t know where to look. I need help but I have nobody to turn to. My family has turned from me and I have nobody to write to or to visit me. I can’t carry my burden alone any more, so I ask you from the deepest of my heart, please send me any material that you think might help me. I am in Maximum Security, solitary confinement and have been for almost four years. The only people I ever get to see are those who want to write books about my life or try to make movies.
Really all I want to do is find that something that I know for a fact exists that will free me from all my burdens. I would appreciate any correspondence from anyone who thinks they can help me find my way to a new and better life. Thank you for your time. Please reply!
Death on the Wind
People kill things everyday, From love to idle time; And some things die anyway, From life to idle minds. It couldn’t really hurt to die, No more than it hurts to live; The people left always cry, When there’s nothing left to give. Death is just the final sleep, As dust to dirt we go; In little piles, that dirt we sweep, And the wind outside still blows. And the wind kills time itself, It eats away this earth; And everything once known as wealth, The wind will turn to dirt. To know death, is to know the wind, That whispers through the trees; And death is just another friend, Blowin’ on the breeze.
May 17, 1978
Your letter has touched me and Sita deeply. You’re a beautiful brother and we’re very happy to know you. In one sense, you’re coming from a very unusual place; yet in another sense, you’re in exactly the same place we all are — simply a being who’s becoming conscious of the journey to God, and wondering what you can do to get on with it.
The first step is to begin quieting the mind, and this is what meditation is all about. All the answers you need are already within you (and always have been) but the noisy mind can’t hear them clearly. Noise comes in the form of desire, anger, fear, greed, self-pity, guilt, shame, doubt, unworthiness, pride, selfishness, pettiness, envy, and so forth. The way most of us are raised, our lives are pretty much a confusing combination of such noise from the time we wake up in the morning until we drop off to sleep each night. No wonder we get so tired!
Daily meditation practice helps us to begin hearing it all a lot more clearly, and also gives us the strength and discipline to live in harmony with what we hear. As one of our prison friends often ends his letters, “No one said it would be easy.” But as our meditations deepen and we begin experiencing higher and higher states of awareness, these experiences help us to put our life-dramas in proper perspective. The physical world is not the whole show; this one body and lifetime are not what we’re all about. The game is far bigger than we usually imagine, and every thought, word and deed counts; nothing goes unnoticed and nothing happens by chance. There’s no slippage in the system whatsoever.
So I wake up after having fallen asleep at the wheel and crashing head-on into a tractor trailer in a 120 mph collision. My body is heavily damaged for the rest of this lifetime, at the age of 18. My choices are to regret, to “cope,” to bitch, or to simply see things exactly where they are and plan my strategy accordingly. Remember, no “accidents.” You’re in a similar position, waking up after having murdered nine people. You may never be allowed to live on the street again in this lifetime, which imposes certain physical limitations on you much as my wreck did on me. Your choices are similar too. Funny thing is, though, that my wreck and your murder rap were the events that spurred us to get on with it. At some very deep points in meditation, we begin to see the irony that the parts of our lives which we had always considered our greatest tragedies were those parts that moved us closer and closer to God.
Besides meditation practice (which you can easily learn from the enclosed materials), I suggest you study the principle of Karma. For people with particularly heavy life-stories, I think it’s important to understand Karma as clearly as possible. It’s far different from sin/guilt/repentence, and in truth there’s not really such a thing as “good” Karma or “bad” Karma. Karma is simply a bundle of unfinished business which results from the things we do, think and feel. Part of the spiritual journey is first to recognize, then to accept, then to resolve, our Karma. Since acts done consciously and without attachment create no Karma, the strategy becomes a matter of working through more Karma each day than we create. In this way, our bundle, or burden, becomes lighter all the time until we finally become “enlightened” of it all and are free beings like the Christ.
Of course, all of this is much easier said than done. Have compassion for yourself and be patient, and remember “no one said it would be easy.” In fact, it may be the second hardest journey in the world. But the hardest is to live in any other way at all. Nothing really makes it except to become whole. As another friend in prison always writes, “Pleasure and pain, loss and gain, all the same.” Much, much Light for your Journey to freedom; please keep in touch.
May 26, 1978
Dear Bo & Sita,
I just received your most beautiful and encouraging letter and I was so happy to hear from you. I also received the book you sent (Inside Out #2) and the pamphlets you enclosed. I have also received three books from the study group department of A.R.E. The books I received are: In Search of God, Many Mansions, The Way of Holy Affection, and the handbook for A.R.E. study groups. All of these are really going to help me. I just know it. Thank you so very much!
I’m not always an emotional person as far as letting my feelings show, as my past life style required that I never let nobody get close or at no time let anyone know what I was feeling at any time. But in these past few weeks since I first read the Inside Out that I found, I’ve been coming aware of myself and of other people more each day, and I’ve been experiencing feelings that I had all but forgotten. Then today when I got your letter and the books something happened to me that I never would have dreamed possible.
Since that first day that I picked up the half torn up copy of Inside Out and began to read it, I felt that at last I had found what it was I had been looking for all my life. And something told me to write and find out more of what this had to offer me in my search for my spiritual awakening. At first I was pretty skeptical because I had been through so many other trips, and had been let down so many times. But something kept telling me not to just read this to help pass the hours away but to read it and keep it in my heart and mind. So, each day I’ve been applying some of the things that I read to my daily life, and I’ve been like a new person. When I got your letter today, I noticed my hands were shaking as I was taking it out of the envelope. Well, as I started to read I felt a warmth come over me as I have never felt before, and a voice within stilled my fears and seemed to say that at last you’re coming home and you have no need to fear ever again. As I read on I noticed that I kept having trouble seeing and my face felt like it was on fire. So I reached up and started to rub my eyes and it was only then that I realized that I had tears in my eyes and running down my face. Then they came freely as I knelt and thanked God for that little book and for you and all the others that are trying to bring the world together to live in harmony with each other and with God.
It has been a long time since I was able to let my heart open up and let myself really be free and feel again. I sincerely believe that this would not have been possible had it not been for the prison ashram project and for people like you. What can I say except, I thank you and you have my undying gratitude and friendship. Not only because you have come into my life and touched me, for the many others that I know you have touched and helped to find that wonderful road to a new and better Life, the only Life!! Thanks Bo, for the letter and for sharing a part of your life with me. May God give me the strength, faith and courage to continue on this journey that I have been fortunate enough to find. Now I’m happy again and it’s been a long time, but it sure feels good . . .
With Love and Respect,
Your Friend and Brother,
I am very high. Not from drugs but from God and Truth. I am sure you know the feeling. Your beautiful letter added to the fire. You said “share what you are — not so much what you know.” That’s beautiful. And it’s funny because now I feel I’ve known it all along.
Hey Bo, as a matter of fact I did get caught in the riot. That is something I want to rap about. While all of this stuff was happening I was high in the spirit. I said the hell with it, I got more important things to do, so I sat down and meditated by my bed. And no one disturbed me. I really don’t know why I was so calm, but I was. Well after things died down, people asked me about my practices in yoga. It was like my being calm turned them on. Anyway, one night (during the riot) I had a dream. In this dream everyone around me was killing each other and I was getting paranoid because I felt like I was tied to my bed and no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t get up out of bed. And I thought “What happens if someone jumps me while I’m laying down — how will I defend myself?” People screaming, blood flying, police yelling for us to break it up. And then I managed to sit up in bed. That’s when I woke up. I sat there amazed. Where were the guards, and the blood and bodies? Nothing! Everyone was in bed asleep. It was as quiet as a church. And then it hit me that it was all a dream. And I got real calm and then something really far out hit me: even this was unreal, just like a dream, illusion. God really got me high that night. It seems a matter of time before I awaken and I’ll say, “Wow, I really wasn’t writing a letter to Bo” — it was another dream or something.
Bo, things are happening — things that I can’t put my finger on. Like one time I came in from work and I was very uptight, it was a bad day and all. So I sat down on my blanket and put all my energy into cooling out. I got very calm, my body began to relax. While I was meditating, a close friend of mine made me a cup of coffee. He knows I usually meditate for an hour or more, so he heated the coffee until it was scorching hot. Well, just as he sat the cup next to me I came out or back or whatever you call it. He told me to let it cool before I drank it. Well, I don’t know why I did it but I reached over and put my finger in the cup. I was aware only of a slight tingling feeling — but there was no reaction. I’ve tried it after that and I burnt the hell out of my finger. It’s like sometimes I am calm and other times I am a wreck. I do know that so long as my mind is on God I stay calm and loose. But man, I take my mind off God for a minute and I am lost — like he’s my lucky charm or something, you know?
But there are other things too. Like all my life, going way back to when I was eight or nine years old up to now (I am twenty-six) this thing would happen to me, and I am not sure I can explain it. But once in while this thing happens — I lay down in bed and it’s quiet and I close my eyes and it hits me. I remember one time it felt like I was on a motorcycle blindfolded riding down a highway about 100 mph. I was really scared. The only way I can explain it is, it seems to be something huge like space and it calls me or something. It gets closer and closer and I feel like hiding so I open my eyes (I am never asleep, as this keeps me awake), and look at things that I can identify, like the bed, or ceiling, or wall, but I can’t. The walls, ceiling, bed, a picture, anything I look at is distorted in shape and size. And I sit up in bed and sometimes it takes a half hour or more before things get back to normal. Oh, another thing I forgot — sometimes I look down at my legs stretched out on the bed and they are even the wrong shape or size. The reason I mention this is I feel in some strange way it may be a spiritual thing related to my sadhana.
What do you think, Bo? It doesn’t happen often — maybe once in two years — sometimes three or four times in one year. I never really gave it much thought — but now that I am on this spiritual journey it seems to have some significance. It happened this Christmas. And you know — I never told anyone about this before now.
Hey, I’d better end this letter or I’ll need a publisher or something — I don’t usually write so much. Oh, Reidsville is located about 80 miles southwest from Savannah, Georgia. That’s about all I know because I’m from New York City. I was just visiting Georgia when I got busted. I don’t get any visits so I don’t know what to tell you to expect if you do visit. I want you to know you don’t have to — I love you anyway. You allowed God to use you as a funnel for his love and care. I picked up your vibrations through your letters.
May God’s love guide you and surround you through the new year.
We are one,
It’s always beautiful to hear from you; glad the riot went around you. I don’t know when we’ll have a copy of the Gita, but someone is taking over the book project soon, and I’ll put your letter in the file for her. As for the malas I can send however many you feel are useful, including a thread from Mahara-ji’s blanket with each one. But I want to make really sure that the packages won’t get “lost” or refused, before I send them. Check into it and let me know. As for donating money to the project, people send it directly here. But we really don’t need or expect donations from people still in prison; you have tough enough money karma as it is. I deeply honor the spirit, though.
As for your experiences, they sound very similar to stuff that I’ve gone through all my life too. I used to wake up in the middle of the night feeling very strange (started when I was a kid) and I would look around and not be able to see the size of anything at all. My dresser and the walls and bed would appear as big as the universe and as small as an ant, simultaneously. I’ve had several experiences where I’ve left my body completely (in bed, but not dreaming). I felt a lot of fear the first few times, but then I was able to just let go and float. One time Maharaj-ji rode me on some sort of horse or lion or something, and the ride became so fast that I freaked a little, and came back to my body. It was a lot like you described about the motorcycle ride. When I came out of it I felt that he was helping me to become more liberated, and I wasn’t quite ready to give up as much control and ego as he was forcing me to give up (by the speed that I had no control over). I was very disappointed. Later on I heard that Kali, the wrathful form of the Divine Mother, who comes to slash all your impurities to bits, often takes people riding on the back of a lion to force out all of their fears. Perhaps this is the sort of thing that was happening.
Practically speaking, it all means nothing as far as you sadhana goes. You’ll have periods of frequent experiences; enjoy them while they’re happening, but don’t spend too much time analyzing or remembering them. Then you’ll have periods of no experiences at all, when all of your spiritual practices are no more rewarding than brushing your teeth. At those times you just keep it up, same as before. It’s all part of what you so perfectly realized is this giant dream of living. That’s all it is, a grand dream.
The walls, the bars, where are they??
I love you, brother,