Vipassana in North American prisons - update

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom

Vipassana in North American prisons - update

Postby Ben » Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:26 am

Hi all

I just received the electonic copy of the international Vipassana Meditation newsletter, and thought I would share this interesting article on the development of meditation courses in US prisons.

Vipassana in North American prisons

Since 1997, the North American Vipassana Prison Project has brought over thirty 10-day residential courses to more than 250 participants at five correctional facilities in North America. These include more than six courses at the Donaldson facility, a maximum-security prison in Alabama and the location for the film The Dhamma Brothers.

An AT who conducted courses at Donaldson in the early days returned there recently and was amazed at the changes in many of the inmates. Even a corrections officer spoke of radical changes evident in some of the most challenging inmates. The course program at Donaldson continues to be a source of inspiration to the outside world and an example to other prisons. The warden of the prison is very enthusiastic about continuing and possibly expanding the program in Donaldson.

Supervising the courses is the North American Vipassana Prison Trust. The Trust holds annual retreats to plan its activities and provide training. It is developing a website linked to the international prison website. Donations may be made on-line for prison activities in either the USA or Canada; income tax receipts can be issued for either country. Both meditators and non-meditators may donate. The website will eventually feature articles, research papers and other prison-related materials.

Visit: http://www.prison.dhamma.org/en/na.

-- VMC International Newsletter
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Heraclitus


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Re: Vipassana in North American prisons - update

Postby BlackBird » Mon Mar 01, 2010 8:48 am

This is good news. Last I heard the prison in question had gone through a few chief-wardens and that one of them had been strongly anti-meditation, shutting down the whole programme. Fortunately the position seems to have past on to a more open minded individual :anjali:

metta
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'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: Vipassana in North American prisons - update

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Mar 01, 2010 11:17 pm

Greetings,

BlackBird wrote:Fortunately the position seems to have past on to a more open minded individual

Or even if not, they're sensible enough not to argue with the old adage "you can't argue with results".

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Vipassana in North American prisons - update

Postby Avery » Mon Mar 01, 2010 11:35 pm

I was surprised to learn recently that the Vipassana Project is only part of the meditation programs popping up around the country. I guess prison chaplains don't often make the news, but I met a Tibetan monk who teaches vipassana at his prison in rural Michigan. In such a closed environment, I think meditation can make a big difference :)
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Re: Vipassana in North American prisons - update

Postby bodom » Mon Mar 01, 2010 11:42 pm

Well i figured out how I can finally get the time off of work to do a retreat. Ill get arrested!
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Vipassana in North American prisons - update

Postby Ben » Tue Mar 02, 2010 1:21 am

bodom wrote:Well i figured out how I can finally get the time off of work to do a retreat. Ill get arrested!


Nice one Bodom!
But I would recommend making a decision with strong determination to create the conditions whereby you can attend a retreat outside of prison. Gawd knows, we all have shackles aplenty in our own mind. No need to add more!
In my experience, it is easier to negotiate the time for a retreat when you have a young baby and before they start running around.
metta

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Heraclitus


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Re: Vipassana in North American prisons - update

Postby bodom » Tue Mar 02, 2010 1:48 am

Ben wrote:
bodom wrote:Well i figured out how I can finally get the time off of work to do a retreat. Ill get arrested!


Nice one Bodom!
But I would recommend making a decision with strong determination to create the conditions whereby you can attend a retreat outside of prison. Gawd knows, we all have shackles aplenty in our own mind. No need to add more!
In my experience, it is easier to negotiate the time for a retreat when you have a young baby and before they start running around.
metta

Ben


I better get cracking then cause she is already up on hers knees and ready to crawl so it wont be to much longer until im up chasing after her.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Vipassana in North American prisons - update

Postby Monkey Mind » Tue Mar 02, 2010 5:00 am

Watched Dhamma Brothers recently. It was very moving.
"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.

Sutta Nipāta 3.710
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