Buddhist Recovery Network book review
“Doing Time Doing Vipassana”
(Vipassana in Tihar Jail, New Delhi)
www.vri.dhamma.org Distributed by Dhamma Books.
© 1997 Karuna Films Ltd / Vipassana Research Institute, Dhammagiri, Igatpuri – 422403, India., 1997.
DVD (English), 53 Minutes..
“Continuous awareness of physical sensations, without reacting, is the core of the Vipassana practice. Every sound, vision, taste, smell, everything that contacts the body, instantly produces some sensation. The technique focuses on natural physical sensations, as the crucial link between mind and body, the key to understanding human behaviour. Through Vipassana, one realises that one’s own attitudes and addictions, suffering and happiness, are not caused by the outside world. It is the reactions to pleasant and unpleasant sensations the world evokes within the body that dictate one’s actions and conditions the mind.”
“I’m here now doing Vipassana... Is your way of life the way you talk to people, the way you think, the way you act, the way you do things for people or don’t do things for people? The ‘art of living’ they call this.”
“There was one question one time I asked Kiran Bedi. I asked her... ’Madame, how many people in this world... you think... they believe they’re here in this world just to do good? What is the percentage?’ She looked at me, and there was maybe twenty/thirty people sitting there. She said ‘you’re the percentage. It’s you people, it’s you who can make this world a better place.’”
© 1997 Karuna Films Ltd / Vipassana Research Institute
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Like the Jack Kornfield entry, this is on the margins of the genre, but it does mention addiction (see the excerpts above), and it is an inspirational film. This website should really be about inspiration, collecting together resources that inspire us to practice, and which are specifically relevant to those recovering from alcoholism and addiction. This is one of those resources. I once wrote to the Australian National Council on Drugs, asking if they were aware of anyone using Buddhist practice to help those recovering from addiction. Just about the only thing they could mention to me was the use of the Vipassana program “which has operated in prisons around the world, including NSW prisons. This program deals with violence as well as dependence issues and their website address is www.bhumi.dhamma.org.” Doing Time Doing Vipassana is a moving testament to the power of meditation. The prison population are of course at a crossroads in their own lives, coming to terms with mistakes, and emotions such as guilt and anger. Drugs and alcohol are entwined in many of their stories (though only trafficking is directly mentioned in this documentary). The video opens with the quote from the Dhammapada “As the archer aims an arrow, as a carpenter carves wood, the wise shape their lives.” The ‘art of living’ aspect of Vipassana is nicely conveyed in the film. The film’s heroine is Kiran Bedi, a diminutive dynamo converting a very harsh prison into an ashram, a place of personal development. In 1993 and 1994 she introduced ten day Vipassana courses, which had a profound effect on some of the participants. It is moving to see hardened criminals emerge from the meditation hall on the morning of the eleventh day, and collapse, weeping, into the arms of the Superintendant. Although this was not the first time Vipassana had been tried in Indian prisons, the extent of the program at Tihar (1,000 people on one course) eventually led to it becoming enthusiastically adopted throughout India. This success has seen it spread internationally to prisons around the world. I ordered my copy of the DVD through Dhamma Books in Australia.
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