After spending 21 years in prison for murder, Sean Walker was released in 2014. Since then, he has been working to help others. And Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has cited Sean’s successful rehabilitation as a sign of what’s possible when inmates are offered the supportive programs they need to re-enter society and live productive lives. In this letter, Sean writes about how the Peace Education Program (PEP) helped him get his life on track.
In 1993 I committed the most horrific act imaginable. I took the life of another human being. Not only did I destroy this life, the lives of the victim’s family members, and the lives of my own family members, but I also destroyed mine.
I started my journey for answers. How could I have allowed myself to get to the point where I believed it was okay to commit this crime? My search began with God.
Most of the answers I received were from spiritual teachers. They informed me that the human spirit was naturally evil and that my evil nature eventually took over my consciousness. Once this happens, we are controlled by unchecked emotions, and it causes us to sin or commit acts of sin. In other words, it was natural to do wrong.
This didn’t sit well with me. I concluded that if it was natural to do wrong, then doing wrong would make you feel good. But it doesn’t. Doing wrong makes you feel horrible—full of regret and remorse. So doing wrong must not be natural. Doing good makes you feel good, so good acts must be natural. So then I equated good acts and feeling good with peaceful acts and feeling at peace. So peace must be natural.
I started to look for the word “peace” in my spiritual search. I discovered that the operative word that the Hindus search for is “peace,” that Jesus greeted his disciples with “peace” after he was resurrected and before he ascended. Jerusalem is the “city of peace.” And not only does every Muslim greet each other with a phrase that means “peace be upon you,” but the Arabic root word for Islam is “peace.”
So peace was the answer. It’s what I didn’t have. It was what I lost. It was what was needed. It was part of my nature. It was my nature.
So I read and studied and prayed for peace. I fasted for peace. I sacrificed for peace. I learned the word “peace” in different languages. I tried to create peace in my prison dorm, on my detail, and between other inmates. I was given the title “The Peacemaker” by correctional officers and by correctional staff including wardens. I was able to bring peace to everyone but myself.
It wasn’t until I was introduced to the Peace Education Program that I realized I was looking for peace in all the wrong areas. I was looking everywhere but inside of myself. Prem Rawat told me that real peace was inside of me. And this is where the journey starts.
So I started looking inward and haven’t stopped. After I was released from prison, the lessons of peace in the program were so powerful that I wanted to share it with my brothers who were still incarcerated—the ones who hadn’t yet been introduced to the peace that laid dormant inside of them.
I am honored to now be a facilitator of the Peace Education Program. This inner quest for peace is the only true freedom, and I am compelled to spread this message to as many people as I can.
Thank God for PEP.