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"The Buddhist On Death Row" | Reviewed by Joan Kletzker

“The Buddhist on Death Row,” by David Sheff, is a book infused with hope, honesty and transformation. It is a spiritual, inspirational and miraculous read.

Jarvis Masters has been in San Quentin State Prison, on death row, since 1990—a total of 30 years. He was framed and convicted for the murder of a prison guard. This story is about how Masters, a violent, angry young man matures into a practicing Buddhist. It is a profound and deeply moving story about the power to change one’s heart and mind.

In the years of his incarceration, Masters has counseled thousands of people who have written to him. He has helped numerous people in prison to learn and live by Buddhist principles, thereby finding meaning in and for their lives. Masters believes that all of us share in the same humanity—joy, suffering and everything in between. He sees the “us” and not the “we versus them” in our world.

Many people have helped him—Buddhists who taught him Buddhism, people who have advocated for his release, and for prison reform, and others who have believed in him. He feels they are amazing people in their own right.

Please read “The Buddhist on Death Row.” You will be renewed with hope and compassion.

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