Finding Freedom: How Death Row Broke and Opened My Heart (Paperback)

Finding Freedom: How Death Row Broke and Opened My Heart Cover Image
By Jarvis Masters, Pema Chodron (Foreword by), Melody Ermachild Chavis (Introduction by)


There are many forms of liberation—some that exist at the mercy of circumstance and others that can never be taken away. In this stirring and timely collection of stories, essays, poems, and letters, Jarvis Jay Masters explores the meaning of true freedom on his road to inner peace through Buddhist practice. He reveals his life as a young African American man surrounded by violence, his entanglement in the criminal justice system, and—following an encounter with Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche—an unfolding commitment to nonviolence and peacemaking. At turns joyful, heartbreaking, frightening, and soaring with profound insight, Masters’s story offers a vision of hope and the possibility of freedom in even the darkest of times.

About the Author

Jarvis Jay Masters is an inmate on death row at San Quentin prison after being convicted of conspiracy in the murder of a prison guard in 1990. The author of That Bird Has My Wings: The Autobiography of an Innocent Man on Death Row as well as numerous articles, he won a PEN Award in 1992 for his poem "Recipe for Prison Pruno." There is a large-scale campaign to advocate his innocence and work within the legal system to free him.

Praise For…

“This is one of my favorite books, which I have often referred to in my teachings. I am delighted that it will have a wider publication now so that more people can read these wonderful heartfelt stories.”—from the foreword by Pema Chödrön
“It is a privilege and joy to read Jarvis Masters’s account of his spiritual struggle to find freedom at the edge of life. Everyone should read this book.”—Robert A. F. Thurman, author of Essential Tibetan Buddhism
“An inspiring, even exhilarating teaching on the life of a peacemaker in the midst of rage and despair, and in the shadow of the execution chamber.”—Bernie Glassman, founder of Zen Peacemakers International
“As he finds some measure of freedom inside a maximum security prison, Jarvis teaches me how to find freedom in my unfenced life.”—Susan Moon, coauthor of What Is Zen?

“Above all, the revelation Masters asks readers to contemplate is the acceptance that 'all of us live in a prison' of cyclic existence and suffering. This is a remarkable testament of personal transformation and spiritual awakening.”—Publishers Weekly

“This book is a must-read for all those who believe in prison reform and should be required reading for those who do not. It is a gentle reminder that all voices matter, that all stories deserve to be heard, that all life is precious, and that hope is real.”—The Tattooed Buddha 

Product Details
ISBN: 9781611809114
ISBN-10: 1611809118
Publisher: Shambhala
Publication Date: July 14th, 2020
Pages: 176
Language: English