Category Archives: Spirtual

SHARED LESSON

Being on death row has provided many (what I call) lessons and blessings. They have come in many forms and some I’m still trying to decipher. While there are so many that I could name, I’d like to share one of them that has stayed with me in an intense way. Here, the most profound friendships can be made. Men often bond in ways that father/son, brother to brother never can. Sometimes it’s like 2 souls merging and radiating off each other. At other times a soul can just pass through our lives to leave his lesson with us. I had a friend here by the name of Coruthers Alexander. We all called him Big Al. Big Al got to death row around the late 70’s (I forget the exact date.) I met Big Al in 1998 while at Ellis 1 Unit. Right away we became friends as he was originally from Austin like me (and he happened to know some of my older cousins), but also grew up in San Antonio. Al was an elder to us brothers here- a very calm and relaxed brother, master craftsman and artist. In 2000, we moved to this unit after an escape at Ellis and I just so happened to be seated in front of Al. We were shackled like cattle, with chains around our waists, our legs and cutting into our wrists. The hour ride from Huntsville Livingston was painful and spent sliding the cuffs up and down our wrists. I was able to get a good glimpse of Al during this ride. Prison had taken its toll on him even though he was a big bodied guy. Still, I saw the lines under his eyes, the grays in his hair and deep in his eyes, I saw a depth. It was like looking into a universe of its own. It was lives in there. In late 2000, Big Al received a date of execution. Big Al had been charged with a murder and rape of a female and Big Al maintained his innocence until the last day. He stressed that he was innocent and the police framed him through planting evidence. Of course we know this happens all too often in this system. I was hurting for Al. I began sending him as many addresses as I could find. These were political addresses and I urged him to write these people. When he responded told me that he kind of kicked himself in the butt a bit because he felt like he didn’t act on things when he was supposed to. He felt like he let his lawyers have their way for so long that he didn’t capitalize on things that could have saved his life. The fact was Big Al was tired. He had been on death row for 20 years and had seen numerous generations come through. His body was tired, even though his soul was still kicking. While I didn’t know of it then, but I know it now, he entertained me with thinking he’d purse these leads, but in the beauty of the universe he left a divine piece of wisdom with me. He said, “Man, I feel you Foster. I guess it’s not over till it’s over. I see that you believe in Manifestation through Thought, Prayer and Action. I guess it’s time for me to get to work.” I do believe that it was those final words to me that was his final act of faith. It took no time for those words to sink into my being- it was as if a piece of Al had sunk into me. I was captivated by what Al had said- they seemed like some words from an Esoteric manuscript, some hidden piece of knowledge that I had been looking for and you know what…..it was.

 

For years now, I have reflected on those words. I have defined them, dissected them and added philosophy to them that I now abide by in my daily life. I have been able to share this with many brothers and I hope these brothers have gotten something from it. I’d like to share my thoughts with you as well. It’s not only my hope that you will get something from it, but that you will also add a piece to it so that we may build on these pieces of life and spirit.

 

THOUGHT. All things originate with our Thoughts (mind). It is here that all things are concepted. I’ve come to believe that the mind is the most powerful weapon in the world. I’ve always looked at our thought like a ship and our spirit is the captain. I have come to believe that the mind is the most powerful weapon in the world, because while wars are won through weaponry, there’s always a mind behind it who created it and carried out the plan. When hearts are touched by something beautifully made by man (like a painting or a poem) it was the mind, our thoughts that created such. This is why knowledge is power, because to control the mind is to control people and I do believe inevitably effect the universe. You see, the mind is the deadliest of foes, but the most useful of servants. When it turns wild and gets out of control, it heads for certain destruction. When properly awakened and controlled, there is no limit to what the mind can do. It is said that the mind is energy and I do believe that. For those that have experienced psychic ability, telepathy or just felt a strong hunch in their stomach, it’s from the energy that the mind is protruding. Our souls can feel these vibrations. It’s subtle, but it’s always been. If people would only realize the power of thoughts they would never think an ill thing. They have a powerful influence for good when they are on the positive side. If we only knew deeply, absolutely, that our smallest act, our smallest thought, has such far-reaching effects; setting forces in motion; reaching out into the galaxy (the same way Rev. Donna spoke on being at one with the universe); how carefully we would act and speak and think. How precious life would become in its integral wholeness. While I believe we can be inspired and guided by our Creator, I feel that man is the leading figure in his/her destiny. The greatest revolution in our lifetime is that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of the mind, can change the outer aspects of our lives. As a guy named Arthur Eddington said, “I believe that the mind has the power to affect groups of atoms and even tamper with the odds of atomic behavior, and that even the course of the world is not predetermined by physical laws, but may be altered by the uncaused volition of human beings”. That quote in itself says a lot. But it’s within these concepts that we may learn to appreciate and respect the mind and through study and reflection, learn how to use it for the common good. It all begins with our first thoughts.

 

PRAYER. AS spiritualist prayer is and should be a major part of our lives. Prayer is a merger of our minds and spirit speaking a common language. I don’t think people in churches now days understand prayer, its purpose or the power of it. The most powerful form of energy one can generate is prayer. Prayer, like radium, is a luminous and self-generating form of energy. Prayer is a process of centering our energy, consolidating it to begin a mission. It’s kind of like being at a beach and you start gathering the sand into one big pile and then you build some sand castles. Often, prayer is looked at as a means to seek mercy, to get away from something. If one is using it for this, they are using prayer wrong. Prayer is not flight; prayer is power! Prayer does not deliver a man from some terrible situation; prayer enables a man to face and master a situation. Supply does not come through prayer. It comes as a result of an attitude of faith, a condition of mind and heart/spirit, in which the Invisible is depended upon solely for all things necessary, instead of upon the visible and earthly. Prayer in the form of begging and beseeching God to kindly answer our request is not capable of producing supply itself. It is immature to think of prayer as personal gain. It takes from one the responsibility of conditions of one’s life. Everything in creation is based on universal laws. Cause and effect work perfectly in accordance with this law. Yet mankind attempts to escape the hurt brought on by his disobedience to higher law by praying to God to violate his own laws. We must reanalyze prayer. I smile at the saying of “People pray to have a mountain moved when all they need to do is climb it.” Prayer can be a tool of good for us. It coincides with our thoughts- that energy we send out to the world. Let us remember that we are but drops in the eyes of the Creator. Prayer is about humbling ourselves to something so great and divine that we can’t even comprehend. Thus, prayer is not an easy way of getting what we want, but the only way of becoming what God wants us to be. Here we find the path we should be on and here we gain all the power and insight we need to make the journey.

 

ACTION. Action is the final piece to this puzzle. Knowing is not enough; we must apply it! As a man of African heritage and one knowledged of my people’s plight, I am familiar with how religion was once used as a weapon of oppression instead of the tool of liberation it’s supposed to be. Once it was given to us to simply get on our knees and pray, hope for that big “pie in the sky”, to sit around and be idle. I’ve never agreed with this methodology. We were given minds, bodies, muscles, etc… for a reason. Perpetual motion is the eternal law of life. Action is the single most effective antidote to many ailments. I’d think it’s hard to be depressed and active at the same time. Through actions we’ve created civilizations and societies. The only way to know truly is through practical experiment and experience. Theory and speculation, if they are not followed by trial and demonstration, are useless! Knowledge itself is of little or no value if it does not lead to action.

 

I’ve presented us with the 3 most paramount things to manifest. First, we think of it. Second we pray on it and ask the Creator to guide us, to guide our actions for a greater good. Thirdly, we go to work. Through these three things we will manifest, we will make things happen. All people have a purpose in life, it’s up to us to discover it and manifest it. I’ve found my gift through socio-political activity and so I follow these three steps in carrying out a greater good. Each step is dependant on the other. Thought and analysis are powerless to pierce the great mystery that hover over the world and over our existence, but knowledge of the great truths only appears in action and labor. I do pray that ones like us will send this energy to the universe and have it sprinkled down to mankind. SO BE IT!

SHOWING I APPRECIATE IT

I caught myself off guard when I asked myself – „why fight to get off death row when death is inevitable? “ That was a difficult question simply for the thought process it inacted.

 

Death – such a controversial subject for the human. In our world today we’ve become so attached to it and the material pleasures it brings that the mere thought of death causes ones to feel as if their being robbed of something. Should this be a natural or unnatural feeling?

 

Death row has become a boxing match with death, we’re face to face, literally in an enclosed ring (ie-cell), battling our way with this “adversary.” But should this process be more like shadow boxing where this “other half” should infact be conditioning us for the journey up ahead ?

 

I’ve analyzed my own self in the face of this and have come to the realization that the answer to this enigma of facing death will have a different outcome for every individual, but perhaps we can venture into my own realm of facing the valley and shadows of death and emerge with answers of peace, understanding and assurance.

We can look to 3 things to enlighten us about death

 

1)     ancient civilization

2)     religion

3)     science

 

Two ancient civilizations come to mind, both being firmly rooted on the earth before religion or technology as we know it today and both viewed death in similar ways: The inhabitants of Egypt and the Native tribes people of the West (what’s known as North and South America). Both of these cultures embraced death in a very arcane way. First of all, death was only viewed as a transition and because these people knew the essence of life they embraced it wholeheartedly and even prepared lavish tombs and had beautiful ceremonies for the departure. Did these people possess a knowledge that we have failed to grasp hold to? When we specifically view these 2 cultures we find that the similarities of their esoteric behaviors didn’t cease with death rituals, but they both were masters of medicine, mapped the stars in science and with structures (namely pyramids) and their structures were so captivating and flawless that man today still cannot phantom their creation at the time they were built. So apparently there was an arcane knowledge of unbelievable measure that we’ve truly became very separated from.

 

Most religions have confirmed to us that we must live our lives today in an righteous way so that we will find peace and life in the hereafter. While many religions may vary on what that after life is, man is settled strongly on the fact that there is something.

 

Before religions became firmly established with their modern day names and beliefs we had many prophets walking this earth that exemplified the same characteristics.  We find in these prophets the most sublime of spiritual advancement. From Abraham to Moses, to Jesus, to Muhammad we find that they weren’t attached to the world. They saw themselves as servants, they interacted with the sick and poor and put their lives in the line for God. All taught to seek knowledge over wealth and that this world will perish. This was a divine knowledge and man has lost touch with this supreme understanding.

 

Lastly, science in its simplest terms teaches us that our bodies are made up of undetectable  particles. It is only one particle in the universe that can be found in All forms of matter (whether solid, liquid or gas) and that is the Atom (of course Atoms consist of sub –atomic particles: protons, electrons, and neutrons. At the nuclei of the Atom resides the protons and neutrons and outside of the nuclei revolving around them are the electrons). This tells us that we have energy particles in us that are non-destructible. If I was to tell you right now – close your eyes and think of a flower, the ocean or the color green – you could. But how? Your eyes are closed. It’s undeniable that we have a force deep within us. A brain is only tissue, thus it must be composed of greater elements that allows this phenomenal brain power. Could we reason with this by saying the creator has composed this “inner–self” (perhaps in other words – spirit) with an intricate design of Atoms that creates our mind and intelligence? It seems logical and being that the Atom is in all things and indestructible that would basically make it infinite, and if the Atom is infinite and it makes up our true self wouldn’t that make our composition eternal? It seems scientifically so and this should cause us to think greatly about our lives and how we feed this energy within us.

 

Viewing the analysis, even in brief, of these 3 things should have our minds open to something very deep. On death row it has not been a choice to if we could avoid this lesson. Here, it stares us face to face and challenges us to question it, seek to understand it and should I say …befriend it.

 

So the question remains, “why fight death if its inevitable!?!” I’ve come to voice that it’s easy for a man to die yet very hard to live. No matter how ones situation on death row is argued the conclusion is still the same: Life is precious. Why? Because the creator has taken a special time for all his creation and could anything He made be without purpose?! We find that practically all living organisms serves a purpose, even if only part of the food chain, and as man has been given reign over the earth would not his purpose be magnified 100 times more!?!

 

Death Row has been the rose among the thorns – even among the harshness beauty had bloomed. Through this struggle we’ve had to break ourselves down: the ego, immaturity, anger, ignorance and lack of spiritual nourishment. We’ve had to seek knowing our selves, then to love it so that we could allow others to love us. The love others have given us has been the water to our growth. It has encompassed us like a pool of warmth submerging us from head to toe. Through this breakdown process we have seen the value of man and realize that we still have worth and purpose.

 

Many here are discouraged by the affliction we face, but this is where we fail to see that it is absolutely necessary for life to unfold. Sometimes pain and hard times are not meant to be removed. You can’t second-guess God. Rather then praying for it (pain, hard times, etc.) to go away its often wiser to pray that you learn as much from it as you possibly can. For those of us here who have attained this understanding I feel safe in saying that it is not death that frustrates us but the enlightenment that we have achieved in knowing what role we should have been playing in society. Philosophers, teachers, counsellors and much more have been molded here and the reality that these lives may never be lived does act as a disappointment. It’s not in rejecting death but in rejecting this forced death. When ones mind floats to those here that have committed acts against humanity we must stand on the concept that forced death multiplied by forced death can only manifest destruction. We can’t lose grasp of the ability for man to change into a better being. When we think of how man has taken reign as judge, jury and God let us ask ourselves is man pure enough to take lives so easily and consciously. I feel like when a man can create life, and I don’t mean by intercourse or sampling DNA, I mean making DNA itself, making Atoms and Universes, maybe then he can have the power to take lives. All societies need discipline, rules and fair punishments for wrong, but murder in any form can’t be the solution to get peace or growth in life.

 

So the answer comes to: We must let life continue to feed life. Life should be allowed to take its natural course so that adverse effects do not spread from multiplied evil acts. If a man can learn to live and nourish life it would be abominable to cease that. So it’s not about being afraid of facing death, but embracing every bit of life.

 

As I sit here on death row for a crime I did not commit I ask why? Why me? Why should I fight? Then I think of all the strugglers and martyrs that carried on even in the face of unimaginable things. They knew they were serving a purpose and to lay down their lives as quitters would insult their entire being. It wasn’t until I read a very simple yet extraordinary saying by Minister Louis Farrakhan that truly gave me peace in my heart towards my difficult journey. It assured me of all my affords to live and strive having purpose.

 

He said:

“What we are experiencing now is the chronic disorder of the breaking down of a world that will give birth to the order of a new world. So this chaos is absolutely and vitally necessary to create the motion toward order. Out of death comes life, out of darkness came light, out of nothingness came everything so out of what seems to be only chaos comes order.”

 

This assured me (even in these universal terms) that all we’re doing is vital for what will come. I’m blessed that I have been able to reach people and share with them and all my friendships have bloomed like a great garden. We cannot fear death and also we cannot run and hide from life. Both are companions, both will call us and both will demand every ounce of our being. Lets learn to embrace in peace and understanding what is natural for us. This is why I fight and this is why I will continue to fight to have every breath I’m supposed to have because I know as long as I am alive I have a purpose to serve.

AN INNERVIEW

Can facing death teach us to live stronger? From birth there is only one thing we’re promised and guaranteed in life and that’s death. Personally, I don’t recognize this process as dying, rather merely a transition, but this is not the time to express my after-life beliefs though I’ve come to grips with death on a far more personal basis than most human beings. Death row is a purgatory of sorts. Purgatory is defined as “supposed place or state of expiation of sins after death before entering heaven; place or state of temporary suffering or expiation”. Definitely, death row seems to be a twin image of this “middle ground”.

 

The most grueling experience I’ve encountered on death row was not coming face to face with other prisoners or even aggressive guards, but the process of making friends. Being next to men preparing to die is probably the most profound spiritual experience and struggle known to man, because here, you have no choice but for face this reality and tackle it (thus becoming liberated) or be tackled (and face a life of misery and pain). So, while living your own personal and piercing journey you inevitably experience the journey of others; the most profound ones being those of your friends whom you’ve come to care for and ultimately love like family.

 

Imagine for a moment, if you will, having to line up your father, brother, uncle, cousin and even your son for a murder that you know is coming and there’s nothing you can do about it. How vicious and tormenting would that pain be? Well, this is the pain we feel daily!

 

I’ve experienced this pain numerous times at different degrees. My first challenging experience was when a friend of mine (James “Jamil” Means) was scheduled to die in 1998 (at the time I had only been on death row a year and a half). While being on death row for over 20 years Jamil had become a student of the Buddhist lifestyle and had attained a knowledge and inner peace that most people only read about and/or dream about. Through our friendship he planted seeds of enlightenment about the depth of the humans spirit in me. As we looked eye to eye that day I knew a great being was leaving us (physically) and I cried for that loss like a man cries for his own blood brother.

 

In 2000 the execution date of my friend Coruthers “Big Al” Alexander followed. I looked upon Big Al like an elder and in the parody of his execution taking a deep toll on my life it also provided me with one of the greatest gifts ever and that was the lesson of manifesting things in ones life. In Big Al’s last days he left me with the valuable gift of through Though, Prayer and Action we ultimately Manifest. These have been steps I have followed in my life.

 

While these were two of my close friends there have been many men here that affected my life. Seeing ones like the the reformed and spiritually grounded Napoleon Beasley created a great sense of admiration in me yet despair in regards to this system as it because obvious they are ruthless and bloodthirsty. The causes of men like Desmond Jennings, Ponchai Wilkerson, Shaka Sankofa and Emerson Rudd fighting fervently until the end instilled in me a deep feeling of love, respect and appreciation for my God given right to life.

 

One by one, each of the souls that have faced slaughter in this State has touched my life in paramount ways. From each of the persons here I have incarnated different pieces of truth, balance, strength, knowledge and love. So, while I still remain in the middle of this journey steadily watching the pendulum of death sway from excruciating to enlightening I find myself learning how to survive. When the day comes that I must embrace the beyond and unknown I can look back on the pieces of wisdom I’ve gathered from these souls and fully accept that the act of dying is truly one of the natural acts of living. Because of this, and the way these men have faced their destiny, I walk forward with no fear, venturing trough each day wiser that the last, realizing that whatever I manifest tomorrow will only come to be from how strong I live my today.