Khalil Osiris knows all about prison – he spent the first half of his life in one and was finally released when he was 40 years old. But he says anyone can be incarcerated in their own lives because imprisonment is much more about a state of mind than a time and place.
“It took me being in prison for me to find my freedom,” says Osiris, author of the book A Freedom That Comes From Within (www.khalilosiris.com). “When I finally understood that my thoughts and values were the source of my imprisonment, then I was free. With inner work and soul-searching, I learned that I could have faith in myself again.”
It was a long, hard road to get to that realization.
Osiris’ path to prison started when he was 17 years old and was arrested for armed robbery. He spent a few years in prison, was released and committed another robbery before he turned 21. He was sentenced to up to 75 years in prison. He did not know if he would ever get out.
“Prison was like gladiator training with each person reduced to full-on survival mode,” he says. He was stabbed by members of a white supremacist group, and while he was lying on the floor in blood, he heard one of the guards gleefully sayOsiris would soon be dead.
“I realized it was not racism or injustice or a mistake that led me back to prison,”Osiris says. “Instead, it was the effect of my many choices. I was the one who had chosen this path.”
Osiris decided to change his life after he had a life-altering experience; he heard his son’s voice for the first time during a phone call in prison. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees while incarcerated and became pen pals with Makaziwe Mandela, the oldest daughter of Nelson Mandela. The foreword of his book is written by Dumani Mandela, the grandson of Nelson Mandela and a South African author.
After his release, Osiris dedicated the rest of his life to helping people stay out of jail, whether it’s a physical jail or the prison of misguided thinking. Osiris says these are the prisons that keep people from living their lives to the fullest:
- A prison we construct by using our doubts, fears and limitations as prison bars.
- The prison we reinforce every year by the lack of trust in ourselves and a lack of faith in the basic goodness and rightness of the source that created the universe.
- The prison that deludes us into thinking nothing more is possible for us than that which we see right now in our own life.
- A prison that robs us of our dreams, of our belief in possibilities, of the motivation and inspiration to recreate our life and change it for the better.
Osiris says it was only through his prison journey and subsequent transformation that he realized that anyone can incarcerate themselves by limiting their pote