Welcome to the Movie Night
Title: The Dhamma Brothers
Date: May, 5
Time: 7:00 PM
Where: Buddhanara Temple (Monastery) (Tel: 314-993-0185) 874 Berick Dr. St. Louis, MO 63132
The documentary about prison inmates in Alabama who took up
Buddhist meditation to help themselves change.
The Dhamma Brothers tells a dramatic tale of human potential and
transformation as it closely follows and documents the stories of the prison
inmates at Donaldson Correction Facility who enter into this arduous and
intensive program. This film, with the power to dismantle stereotypes about
men behind prison bars also, in the words of Sister Helen Prejean (Dead Man
Walking), "gives you hope for the human race."
The Dhamma Brothers
As co-directed by Anne Marie Stein, Andrew Kukura, and Massachusetts-based
psychologist anthropologist Jenny Phillips, the documentary The Dhamma
Brothers relays one of the most astounding recent tales of social evolution in
contemporary America. The events in question began circa 1999, with several
lifetime convicts incarcerated in Alabama's Donaldson Correctional Facility who
commenced regular Buddhist meditation sessions in that institution.
intrigued by this unusual sociological development, Phillips traveled to the
penitentiary in the fall of 1999 to interview the men, and -- incredibly -- found
that the meditation sessions prompted the group to look inward, facing their demons
and the direct causes of their criminal activity; the sessions thus inaugurated an
authentic, deep-seated healing process in each individual.
Two teachers of Vipassana, known in America as "insight meditation," teach a
nine-day retreat at an Alabama maximum security prison renowned for its
harshness and violence. The teachers actually move into the prison, living and
sleeping there. They inform the prisoners that the retreat, in which strict silence is
required, will be more rigorous and disciplined than their regular schedule.
results are pretty miraculous. The participants find emotional wellsprings opening
up, and their descriptions of the experience of intense meditation are extremely
moving. Many of these men, who have committed crimes like murder and rape, will
never see the outside again, and so the only prison they have a chance to escape is
the one the mind creates.
They even win over the skeptical guards (one says he
has not heard this much silence "since kindergarten"!). With success comes
controversy, as the Bible Belt southerners react against the "witchcraft" of the
Buddhist converts. With Buddhism take increasing root in America, hopefully we
will see more movies like this one about the practical application of a Western
brand of the Dharma.