Letter #5 (written originally in Hebrew, translated into English):
Shalom to you dear man!
I would like to tell you a few anecdotes from the last few days.
As you know I have stopped physically participating in the meetings of the workshop you are holding in prison.
At first I thought the same as you did, that it's a pity that I didn't continue coming, but…all of the sudden it had occurred to me that "How come it's a pity?" that's exactly what should happen! The proof is that after only few meetings and reading the book "loving what is" by Byron Kathleen Reade, the "Work" has sprouted in me, perhaps even to a greater degree then with those who have come to all the meetings of your workshop. The only real conclusion is, therefore is that what happened is the truth! I even wanted to apologize for my "story" of my handwriting being unclear, with all the scratching since I am in a cell with no table or chair to sit on and I am sitting on a stairway and writing on 3 pieces of card board, one on top of the other that keep shifting position all the time, but I will not apologize, because this is how it should be, and only the thoughts that I am not comfortable are what's disturbing me.
The tale of the events that took place is as follows.
In my room lives also a 72 year old man. We have 2 bunk beds. This man was ordered by an intelligence officer to leave the lower bunk and to climb up to the top bunk, the lower bunk was given to a man at least 30 years younger then him who received this "privilege" because he and his friends were informers who helped this officer. This poor man, and I care for many of his needs, I buy him food, make sure he gets cloths and help him in general, was pacing back and fro in the room, weeping, murmuring "how can they do this to me? This country is so wicked, abusing an old man like me; my bones are breaking from climbing up and down from this top bunk being sick and all". Needless to say , I was furious at this reality which we live in and I was trying to change it by first arguing with the warden and then with the security officer and in return they warned me not to get involved, but I insisted, coming from a place in me of social justice. I continued and even spoke to other prisoners of injustices, I especially spoke badly in regards of the security officer and his methods of dispensing privileges on the expense of old inmates, and I presented him in a negative light.
Since reality is more powerful then me, I was punished for this and moved to another ward, and since I argued with this reality as well (I refused to move) I was tied to the bed with 4 pares of handcuffs and put in solitary confinement, unable to move, not able to even pee all night. I screamed all night and resisted the iron on my hands and feet and as a result I had deep cuts caused by the handcuffs. This immediate, tangible helplessness (hell, I couldn't even scratch my ass!) is what has sprung the "Work" of Byron Katie to my mind, and in that very second a huge roar that lasted 2 minutes erupted from my throat. The might which I felt I received in that moment I attribute to the happiness I was experiencing in that moment, it was an expression of the contempt I hold towards all the thoughts which are the cause of all my suffering now. I just mocked the suffering, so to speak, and I felt completely free.
Right away all the officers on duty ran over to me asking what had happened, and I just want to say that I had screamed throughout that whole night and no one came, but from this roar, everyone came in an instant, and for some reason, as everyone were standing around me looking concerned for my well being, I smiled a big calm smile and asked: "Who called you?"
I am not sure why, they were not satisfied with the answer I gave them, and decided to release me from the handcuffs (they went against the orders of the warden's instructions that were: "call me only if he's dying"). They gave me water, allowed me to pee and handed me a cigarette. After 15 minutes they gently handcuffed me back to the bed and I fell asleep for the first time!
They thought I screamed in pain, but this last scream was like saying a long ahhhha…, when you understand suddenly something you didn't understand for a long time. This deep and profound insight that I had realized happened as I was being tied down. I really got that what is-is, and I can't changed reality. It was so powerful in that moment, that it had affected everyone else also. God willing, the next morning they summoned the officer in question to the main offices, put me across from him and he asked me: "so, how do you feel now about my methods and ways of operation?" Laconically, I said: what was was suppose to be, and you did what you had to do". He straightened up in his chair not believing his ears "but you think differently, and you criticized me" he exclaimed, as though he was trying to find a foothold for his theories regarding inmates who are anti-establishment and have a criminal mind. I explained to him in length that I have no more arguments regarding his ways neither of operation nor with reality in general for that matter, and when I sank into that awareness and internalized it is when I was able to fall asleep that night. His tone became soft; I have no plans of provoking inmates against him, his ways of operation or using any of the personal events that happened against him.
He looked at me doubtfully; nevertheless, his tone was placated, because he felt what was beyond the words was the peace that was surrounding me, which is why he said: "I am not taking your job away, you can return to the same job you had at the prison's factory, I am not taking you out of your participation in the educational activities. But I can't totally let you go unpunished you will move to another ward! However, I give you my word that if you will be OK, very shortly you will return to your original ward. I bid him farewell in a placated tone.
I couldn't of course explain the Work to him in such a short time but I noticed that when things are in balance within me, there is no way that my close circle wouldn't feel it immediate and will not respond favorably.
The added value of the "Work" that was revealed to me (and maybe Katie speaks on that and I haven't noticed) is that when you accept reality as it is it smiles back at you!
And now I will continue to describe to you the rest of the events that happened afterwards.
During the seven and a half years in which I am in Jail I have learnt from experience, that man to man is like a wolf, there is no real friendship here, and everyone takes care of himself at the expense of others. If you have friends, all of them down to the last one, it's because there is something in it for them and the second they find no need for you any more they will hurt you, even take pleasure from it, especially if their respect is rising as a result of crushing a weaker inmate, and this a validated every day reality here. In all fairness there is always an exception to the rule, but for the most part this is how everyone behaves including me.
When an inmate such as myself is expelled from the ward, all his belongings are subject to the good graces of the other inmates, and usually that's the time to rob him of his stuff, and he has no way to retaliate, unless he is a gangster and is being "respected" and I am not like that at all and I have no "respect" given to me at all within the hierarchy of the prison's inmates, therefore, my stuff was a free source for stealing to all while I wasn't there.
When I came down from the office to pick up my stuff, I was weak, very drowsy, and had bleeding hands and feet. Every moment I had to sit down from exhaustion and I was looking for a trolley (the kind they use in jail to move garbage cans around) so I can upload my stuff and couldn't find one. Having no other choice I came in to the ward and began collecting and picking up my stuff in fragments, yard by yard, to my present ward and my stuff consisted of blankets, clothes, silver wear, TV, DVD, fan, guitar and 8 big bags that had books and other stuff that was tied to the bed and I had to untie while I was in a state in which I could hardly stand on my feet. I had no idea how I was going to do all that.
I was in an amazingly calm and cheerful mood, since I just came down from the placated conversation with the officer and I told myself that I have no reason to argue with reality no matter what will take place that this is the right and true way.
I opened the door to the ward and to my great surprise; a huge trolley was standing in all its glory loaded with all my stuff completely ready to be moved to the other ward. Upon entering a few of the inmates immediately ran over to me and each of them took pride in telling how carefully they packed my stuff so doesn't break or damage.
I leaned back on the trolley and smiled a big smile. The inmates around me sounded to me like a soft pleasant music, I felt reality was singing its placated sweet tune to me.
I believe that my acceptance of what is is what affected the environment that has to do with my life at that time and inspired it to come together and help me.
I don't know if anyone else "out there" can comprehend the immensity of this occasion, the zero chance of any such event to ever take place in reality. I pushed the cart through the backyards and the dark corridors all the way to my new ward.
As for the looting of my stuff, what I described in the previous cell was twice as true for this new one. It is inhabited with Palestinian Arabs who came from the occupied territories and they control everything here from the food distribution, times on the phone, walk times. The Jewish inmates here tip toe around and speak with very "low voice". Stories I heard told of Jewish inmates being robbed in each and every possible way, from their reception in the ward, 5 or 6 of them come and just take the person's bags and distribute them in their rooms, break into closets, and one story even told of one time when they came in and just took the whole closet and moved it with the stuff in it.
As I entered this ward with my cart, 5 or six Palestinians hovered over me and each put his hand on a different bag. To pick a fight with them I was physically obviously unable to but I had a stillness that exuded an amazing power. In a sound and safe voice I said: "no one touches my bags" They were surprised at my confidence and said they just wanted to help. Again I said—coming from the space of trusting reality—"you lie, you want to take my bags and distribute them in your rooms and loot them".
The clear and direct way in which I expressed myself (without beautifying anything) has impressed them deeply, although I had blamed them for wanting to steal my stuff.
But my words resounded with a decisiveness that came from accepting reality for what it is; this is why I was not emotional at all.
To my surprise, their Sheik, a man with a bird, approached me, touched his bird and swore to me that if anyone of them will open one of the bags, and he emphasized, that he is speaking in front of them to ALL of them and that he is giving his word of honor, that he would not live through the night, all bowed their heads and listened.
He instructed them to right away to organize my stuff carefully by the officer's door, padded me on the shoulder and said: "you look like you don't feel so well so if you need anything please come to me".
I shook his hand, and felt how stillness is protecting me! Of course I could walk around care free without having to worry about my stuff after such a welcome. Still, this ward has its own rules within the prison, even the authorities of the prison consult their superiors on how to solve problems there on a daily bases. So, now, when I am facing in an explosive situation with them I inquire into every thought that comes up and I ask if they, who are considered my enemies, truly wish to hurt me? And very often the answer is "no". And I am able to live fearlessly amongst them while I see the feeling of terror on the faces of the other Jewish inmates.
The "Work" has definitely given me an advantage!
I summarized everything, although it seems like a detailed description, there is more and I may be up for it later. If my words will benefit someone who might live in a pressure cooker with his sworn enemies, to live without suffering, I'll be happy to know. As always you are welcome to post it all because it's all for the good!!!
Regards to Katie and Karen.