Journal Entry: John Dalaly-11/17/2023-Christianity and Buddha

Journal Entry

As I draw closer to the day of my surrender, my heart and mind are filled with reflections on the sources of inspiration that have shaped my journey. While my faith as a devout Chaldean Catholic remains the bedrock of my existence, I’ve also sought wisdom from other corners of the world, including the teachings of Buddhism and the story of Siddhartha. These lessons have enriched my perspective and will undoubtedly play a crucial role in helping me grow stronger and create meaning during my time in prison.

My unwavering faith in Christianity provides me with solace and guidance. Daily readings from the Bible and the comforting rhythm of praying the rosary have been my constant companions, offering me strength and spiritual nourishment. It is through these practices that I have come to understand the importance of faith as an anchor in turbulent waters.

For example, this morning I read from the Book of Psalms, where I got a message I needed, instructing me that I should turn to God in times of trouble and find solace in His presence. In Psalm 46:1, it is written:

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

What takeaway would you have from such a message?

For me, the message conveyed that God is our refuge and source of strength, especially during challenging moments in life. When we face difficulties, it is essential to remember that we can turn to Him for comfort and guidance. This lesson reminds us of the importance of seeking God’s presence and relying on His strength to navigate life’s trials. It encourages us to trust in His unwavering support, finding solace and courage in our faith.

In addition to my Christian faith, I have grown stronger from the teachings of Buddhism. For example, in a book on Siddhartha Gautama, I learned how he embarked on a profound journey in search of enlightenment. His life story and teachings hold valuable lessons for anyone seeking wisdom and meaning, irrespective of their religious background.

Siddhartha’s journey to attain enlightenment is a testament to the human spirit’s capacity for growth and transformation. He relinquished the comforts of his princely life to seek answers to life’s fundamental questions. While my own journey is vastly different, the quest for personal growth and enlightenment is a universal aspiration that transcends boundaries.

One of the central tenets of Buddhism is the concept of the Middle Path. It advocates for balance and moderation in all aspects of life. This principle resonates deeply with me as I prepare to face the challenges of prison. In that environment, I must exercise discipline to find equilibrium and avoid extremes. This commitment will be crucial to my well-being and the positive impact I hope to make.

Further, Buddhism places great emphasis on compassion and service to others. Siddhartha’s own journey led him to a profound understanding of the interconnectedness of all living beings. This recognition of our shared humanity and the importance of extending a helping hand aligns with my own commitment to creating value in the lives of those around me.

Mindfulness, a practice rooted in Buddhism, involves being fully present in the moment and cultivating self-awareness. I’ve written about being “present” in my earlier journal entries. I’ll use this tool to navigate the challenges of prison life with clarity and resilience. By staying mindful, I can better understand my own emotions and thoughts, which in turn will enable me to provide support and guidance to others in need.

As I prepare for this unique chapter of my life, I carry with me the lessons learned from both Christianity and Buddhism. These teachings remind me of the importance of faith, balance, compassion, and mindfulness. They reinforce my belief that even in the most challenging circumstances, we have the capacity to grow stronger and create meaning.

I will continue writing these messages once I surrender to the federal prison camp in Hazelton, and I hope to inspire those around me with a message of hope. With the other people around me, I’ll embark on a journey of self-discovery and growth. Together, we’ll draw strength from our faith, find balance in the middle path, and extend compassion to one another. By practicing mindfulness and seeking enlightenment in our own unique ways, we can transform this chapter of our lives into a meaningful and purposeful experience.

Just as Siddhartha Gautama’s journey led him to become the Buddha, the awakened one, I believe that within each of us lies the potential for profound transformation and enlightenment. With faith as our guide and the wisdom of the ages as our foundation, we can navigate this challenging path with grace and emerge as beacons of light in a world in need of hope and inspiration.

May the teachings of both Christianity and Buddhism continue to illuminate our way, and may we find strength, meaning, and profound growth during our time in prison.