Ruben Carter After His Release From Prison

[The Less Told Story of The Hurricane]

Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, the former champion boxer spent almost 20 years in prison and came close to being executed for a crime he didn’t commit. You may be familiar with the song about him by Bob Dylan, or the movie version of his life starring Denzel Washington.

Carter studied Gurdjieff and Ouspensky in prison. In particular, he read “In Search of The Miraculous.” It provoked an unusual experience, a revelation. He spent a lot of time — about a decade, if you can imagine — in solitary confinement because as an innocent man, he refused to play by prison rules. He says all that time spent in the darkness eventually led to his coming to see a deeper level of reality, to his waking up. An excerpt from a book about him:

“One very hot day, I decided to go out on the yard. The yard at Trenton State Prison was built over a paupers’ cemetery. It was rectangular, one-eighth of a mile long, and barren. Just dirt. No shade. Gun towers all around. The sun beating down. I walked around the yard once. That was the longest I’d walked in five years, and I was tired. I leaned against the wall to rest.

“While leaning against the wall, I looked across the yard at the wall on the other side, a thirty-four-foot-high brick wall. I saw a pinprick of light in that wall. As I stared at that pinprick of light, it began to quiver and get bigger and bigger. Eventually, I could see through the wall. I could see cars passing by in the street. I could see schoolchildren walking to school. I could see all of that through this wall. I thought, I wonder if anybody else sees this. And just as suddenly as the hole had appeared, it disappeared.

“But it left an indelible impression in my mind. Maybe that would be my escape, I thought: through that hole. I became determined, right then and there, to find that hole in the wall again. I was going to find it, and this time I was going to walk right through it, even if that hole would deposit me somewhere in infinity. Even if that hole would sear the flesh off my bones, even if that hole meant instant death, I was going to walk right through it. Because anything was better than what I had.

“When I went back to my cell that afternoon, I got rid of all my law books. I had been immersed in law for ten years. My case was the longest-litigated case in the history of New Jersey, and I did a lot of the legal work myself. The briefs that were filed to get me out of prison, I wrote. But I gave my law books to other prisoners. One prisoner was shocked. He said, ‘These are your law books. This is what you’ve been studying for ten years!’

“I said, ‘This is not my way out. My way out is finding that hole in the wall again.’ And I found it. That’s why I’m sitting here in Toronto with you today.”

Reuben Carter realized that not only was he in prison, he was in a prison within a prison. And when he knew that, he knew he would one day walk free. He changed himself and that changed his outer world. Perhaps he even escaped both prisons…