yesterday, i went to terminal island federal prison, near long beach. my second time. i was in there with a few folks called the freedom light ministry. they are practitioners of truth (bad mamba jambas) and offer spiritual guidance and support for the inmates. this is NOT some dusty, archaic, stuck-in-the-mud, dogmatic pleasantry designed to trick you into 'feelin' good' only to set you to crash when noone's lookin'. these people are walkin' their talk and holdin' you in the vibration of the most high, creative, fluid and absolute, calling you out by the essence of who and what you are in all eternity, fully present in love and in beauty. that's the truth. i brought a guitar and sang some songs on a partied on baby grand. i never really know what to expect.
this time is an elective for the inmates, not everyone in there shows up for the service. about 30 or 40 guys. it was later shared what courage it takes to even step foot in the room, that many more of the inmates wanted to participate but were afraid of being derided by the rough n tough testosterone out on the common lawn. "...not something you want to wake up to in here."
we were with traffic and arrived a little late. i entered the room to these men sitting silently in a circle, their chairs lined the perimeter of the walls, leaving the empty center. they were in meditation. i think. we unstacked a few more chairs and found our place against a wall, widening the circle. fluorescent lights and classroom tiles, white painted cinderblock walls. there's a mic and small p.a. , was there a guard?, with the appropriate feedback. what struck me first was how many young guys, 20's, were sitting in here. old guys too. but i guess i would have expected more of that. i'm told some show up (to this room) because they're curious. some for the fellowship. some come for the reading, for the speaker, the music, and some come 'cause there may be women, which there were.
after the evocation and selected reading, the speaker spoke his word. there was a round of questions, specific and general comments and we passed the mic around. everyone shared what was on their heart. we talked about quantum mechanics, ultimate reality, family, katrina, guns, god, gangs and ice cream. then i sang some songs.
each person offered such a totally honest view from where they were in their life, in jail, in fear and in love. bein' a dad, a grand-dad, bein' 22. one guy had lists of names tattooed on his neck and everywhere and spoke in a tough but hesitant voice. he had previously been a gang leader and will be released soon (several months). he commented that with all this talk about love unconditional goin' on in here, he had to stop and figure just what's bein' said. "i didn't grow up with love. i mean, i guess i love my mudder and e'rythang, but i don't know what love looks like, what it feels like, what it is, really. .......(very long silence)...........but i wanna know."
this chrysalis in consciousness was the sweetest place to be, bar none. longing was immediately infused with peace, wisdom, a call to action and fueled by the support of each individual present. and this room was a VERY mixed melody. i could see in his face a change so profound, so sincere in him, that it lifted every single other person in the room simply by his sheer presence of being. and i aint bein' plain soft here. this was a powerful time. heartache, pain, confusion, regret, were all being dissolved and falling away. a seed of clarity showed up through the funk. insight took root and is climbing and reaching higher now. one after another continued to share themselves in a light so real and pure, unhindered and unbroken.
there's a bell that rings every two hours when they all need to go physically check in. everyone gets up in their white sneakers and sweats, looks at their watch, and moves along. maybe a little different. i did.
Robin has been involved with Freedom Light Ministry and more generally with Agape for a long time.
Agape means "love: the highest form of love, especially brotherly love, charity; the love of God for man and of man for God." (Wikipedia). It is associated with what is called New Thought and more particularly Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith.
If you have ever read Rhonda Byrne's The Secret, you must have heard of Beckwith. He is a well known spiritual guide.
He is the founder of the Agape International Spiritual Center in the Los Angeles area. Agape is particularly involved with charitable actions such as helping homeless people. Visiting inmates to offer spiritual guidance is another of those actions.
Beckwith's movement is based on the following notions:
God is good and so is Life. God can do absolutely anything. God is a presence. Every human being, plant, animal... is an expression of God. People are responsible for their own evolution. The universe is infinite. Those principles can be found in many new thought books/movements. Traditional prayer is replaced by meditation, vizualization and affirmations, among other things, because these can enable our spiritual growth.
Robin has been involved with Agape for over 10 years. It's little wonder. Both he and his wife are spiritual individuals who want to make a difference and improve people's lives. They support various causes.
Robin traveled to Africa around 2004 at a time when he didn't have touring commitments and he posted the following picture at robinfinck.com
|Robin with children in Senegal.|
Since then Robin has been an active member at the center. He worked with Ricki Byars Muldrow on her album Supreme Inspiration (2007) which was produced by Agape Media International. (For the record, Byars Muldrow is Rev. Beckwith's wife).
Liner notes, Supreme Inspiration:
Robin Fink appears courtesy of Guns and Roses. (Thanks Robin. And to think that I thought you were just another tenor in the Choir... hilarious.)
Robin is credited on the songs Tapping (track No 10) and Supreme Inspiration (Devotional) (track No 13) as "guitar: Robin Fink" (sic).
As you can see Robin is a very generous person and this is perhaps his most lovable trait.