Customer Reviews

18
Letters from the Dhamma Brothers: Meditation Behind Bars
Format: PaperbackChange
Price:$13.42+Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on August 14, 2008
Congressman John Lewis: "This book makes it plain that no human being should be considered beyond the reach of redemption." That quote is from the cover of the book.

It seems we don't know how to rehabilitate offenders other than try stiffer punishment. About 1 in 100 adults in the US is in jail or prison. New approaches are needed. Intense (Vipassana) meditation retreats may be one possibility. This book reflects that potential.

The book records the dramatic changes that prisoners experience as they attempt to purify their minds of such impurities as hatred, fear, greed, anger, etc., that have landed them in prison. This book makes it clear that the impurities they carry deep within cause suffering both to themselves and to those around them; and whatever relief they get using the meditation helps both them and others.

Recently, a documentary film of the meditation courses examined in this book, The Dhamma Brothers, has been released in select theaters across the US. The film captures in action what this book reflects on paper.

The question remains: How effective is this program for the convicts over time? That's difficult to say since each individual must try to integrate his/her insights into an environment that may be dysfunctional. But there are indications of overall success.

Vipassana courses have been held in prisons outside the US since 1975, starting in India. The Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, has recognized Vipassana meditation as a technique to reform criminals and has introduced it in all Central Jails, particularly Tihar Prison, New Delhi. A documentary film of a course for 1,000 inmates at Tihar Prison, "Doing Time, Doing Vipassana," won a top award at the 1998 San Francisco International Film Festival.

The time has come to consider that meditation has promise for rehabilitation of prisoners, and this book reflects that potential.

P.S. DVDs of Doing Time, Doing Vipassana and another prison meditation film set in a Seattle jail, Changing from Inside, are available at store.pariyatti.org in both English and Spanish, as is the Collector's Edition DVD of The Dhamma Brothers.
11 commentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2008
"Let him who is without guilt cast the first stone". These were Jesus's words to the crowd that gathered to stone the woman caught committing adultery.

It is easy to condemn others and throw away the key. If you tell a good person that he is evil and remind him about it every day (by locking him up like a wild beast) he or she will become evil.

Mindfulness meditation provides every human the opportunity to still the mental noise and get in touch with the deepest state of pure inner bliss.

All of us have sinned to greater or lesser degree. Crime (like wars) begins in the heart of man and it is only in the heart of man that the path to peace can be found.

The experience of Donaldson's prisoners demonstrates that Mindfulenss meditation is the ultimate secular path to peace at the personal level; the 'sine qua non' to peace in society and the world at large.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2009
This book is absolutely wonderful. Read it in a day. Couldn't put it down. I had seen the documentary "Dhamma Brothers" on TV a couple of months back, I have recorded it and I watch it often. In the meantime I also bought the DVD. It's so great to read the letters of these tough guys, who at long last found themselves by doing Vipassana. I know what they talk about, because
I've started with Vipassana 2 years ago, and went twice for a 10 day course.
I will go on doing it 1x/year. I reccommend Vipassana to everyone. It truly is the greatest gift you can give to yourself. It's a "home-coming". Stepping out of the thinking mind and our ego-thoughts and dropping into peace, love and oneness.
Certainly NOT only life-changing for prisoners. Even we, outside of prison, are somehow prisoners.
And yeah, I still fall into the trap of ignorance and misperceptions and not seeing things as they are. But as Goenkaji says:
START AGAIN, START AGAIN.
It certainly is alonglife journey, to free ourselves totally, step by step by step...

Vipassana is a great way to free the mind and to make peace with ourselves.

Not only reccommending this book but also the documentaries:
"Dhamma Brothers" and 2 other documentaries about Vipassana "Doing Time, Doing Vipassana" and "Changing from the inside".
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 8, 2009
How do the most hardened among us change? By sitting meditation. In this fast paced, digital world where continuous partial attention, or the epidemic of ADHD, rules, Vipassana (Insight) meditation offers another way.

Meditation is a great way, to calm, to center, to learn authenticity.
This form of meditation is non-sectarian. Those who teach it do not require or desire any kind of conversion to a faith. All are welcome to come and learn.

This is a technique of positive, personal, change, if these people in prison can do it, we can too.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2009
I met Jenny Phillips a couple of years ago soon after her award-winning Dhamma Brothers film's release and a year prior to the release of this book. I was struck by her awareness, her inspiring wit and dogged determination to complete both projects. That's the kind of determination and belief required to accomplish the remarkable feats Jenny's work has inspired. To get anything done in corrections is daunting enough, to have a meditation course installed at a maximum facility in the deep south... And thriving is mind-boggling.
My hat flies in the air celebrating Jenny's breathtaking work.
You don't have to take my word... do yourself a favor and check out Jenny's website: dhammabrothers to watch/listen to Oprah interview Jenny and O.B. & Grady, 2 of the Dhamma Brothers at Donaldson Prison. This will serve as a wonderful entree before reading Letters from the Dhamma Brothers.
The book is a life-changing testimony with heartfelt sharing, gaining a glimpse of what these men are up against daily and you have the option to decide if the "changes" will last and if the transformation is real or not!
I was personally touched by reading the letters and stories because I have received letters from some of the Dhamma Brothers also.
It's a beautifully crafted book, true to the men's voices and spirits, Jenny has captured the essence of Vipassana and more than that, the beauty and power of love and compassion, forgiveness and hope.
Please read this book and watch the DVD.
Thank you.
Pie Dumas
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2009
I was so moved by the Dhamma Brothers that I did a three week series at my spiritual center. The first week was judgement and reading stories about their crimes, the second on compassion and reading about the backgrounds, and the third on Ho'oponopono healing the part of us that sees the bad in them.
11 commentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2010
I was so deeply moved by the film: The Dhamma Brothers that I enrolled in a 10-Day Vipassana course. It was such a transformative experience that I then ordered the Letters from the Dhamma Brothers. It was through the film, through my personal experience of Vipassana meditation and in the reading of this compelling book that I decided to reach out to one of the featured Dhamma Brothers, Grady Bankhead. Grady's spiritual journey from being abandonded as a child, convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death and his life for the past twenty-three years at Donaldson Correctional Facility in Besssemer, Alabama are featured in the film and book. It is, though, regrettable that while the Dhamma Brothers were encouraged to exchange letters with Jenny Phillips and the Vipassana teachers, they have not been allowed to receive or read copies of the Letters from the Dhamma Brothers. These were their sharings of loss and hope and yet once they were obtained and published, they were denied any access to the book. None of the Dhamma Brothers have actually read the book or the letters that they sent that were published.

While the book talks about the transformative and redemptive power of Vipassana meditation within a prison, the reality is that the men who shared their life stories and personal letters have not been trusted with access to the book. This seems inconsistent with S.N. Goenka's teachings and the supposed benefits of the Vipassana prison movement.
In his letters to Jenny, Grady shares his experience of "life without" in a maximum-security prison. He writes of not receiving any letters, telephone calls, funds or visitors. Because of the film and the Letters from the Dhamma Brothers book, all that has changed for him. He now has contact with and support from new friends and supporters all over the world.
In order to give Grady Bankhead a "voice" in the free world, I designed a web site that presents his spiritual journey from death row to dharma - the path of enlightenment.

Please visit Grady, one of the original Dhamma Brothers at: [...]

Namaste,

Andre
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2009
Just when you think that life is hard you find others who have it even worse and yet they come through with a sense of purpose, a sense of place and an inner peace that defies logic. Humbling and evocative words for anyone who thinks they've learned all they can learn.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2015
I showed this DVD movie, with permission from the director and producer, to our church and my meditation students, family and friends. It generated very touching and interesting discussions after the showing. The Book of letters and feedback from the inmates after the project ended and that was published as a result of the project is amazing and was also valuable! I read some of the letters from the inmates and their experiences which were amazingly insightful! As a meditator and teacher, this was an extremely useful learning and teaching opportunity on so many levels. People who came had so many preconceived judgements about folks in prison until they saw that the inmates participating in this program were able to sincerely break through years of pain and anger and change into more self and other aware peaceful and thoughtful beings. The benefits of vipassana meditation is clearly demonstrated in various ways which is invaluable to budding yogis and yoginis but even beyond that, I recommend it highly for the demonstration of human healing that occurred when people were treated by the teachers and staff with respect and when they were taught skills that were life changing for not only the people involved in the project but even the families of the inmates and staff of the prison. Well worth watching.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2009
Really incredible to read about these prisoners experience with meditation. Anyone can improve their life by waking up to the wonders of each moment. These gentlemen are proof that we all can learn to live in peace no matter our past. And proof that more programs such as the Vipassana course offered at Donaldson should be available & mainstream for prisoners and regular citizens alike.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.