In between each course is a down time of 2 to 3 days. Some students stay back to volunteer and assist in sweeping out each meditation hall, puffing up the pillows and laying them out for the next course.
This is a welcoming time, and my favorite during courses. The whole complex, whichever meditation retreat center you are staying at, becomes 'yours'; you sleep, meditate, contemplate, pray, and eat at your own pace while cleaning with a small team. It feels good to recover from the last retreat, and you feel quite Holy, caring for the complex's arriving students and meditating whenever you wish.
It was during this downtime when a student mentioned, "Hey, I have a copy of "The Dhamma Brothers", let's round up all the sevaks (those who volunteer for 10-day courses) and watch it together in one of the halls.
I hadn't heard of The Dhamma Brothers, and I was happy to see a movie, so I gladly said Yes.
We huddled up in the women's main hall, about 20 of us, sitting quietly, some westerners and the rest, people from India. The movie began and I was so happy to learn it was all about bringing a Vipassana 10-day retreat to an American Prison in Alabama to hardened criminals to observe the effectiveness of the technique.
The movie for me surfaced a deep emotion which came out of left field. It was the first time since I had arrived to India that I actually felt like flying home immediately to begin helping underprivileged and incarcerated prisoners to rehabilitate them from the inside out.
I hadn't felt the urge to leave India until then, so powerful is the movie. I was in tears, and quite shocked that I was half-way across the world, and they were talking about an Alabama State Prison so close to my hometown of Houston, Texas.
Watching the Dhamma Brothers helped me realize how disconnected our system is in incarcerating Americans; a system that thrives on recidivism and cheap labor. I had just finished my own 10 days in silence, personally experiencing the power of vipassana, so i knew the real possibility of rehabilitating anyone from any affliction, as I had been to hell and back over the previous 6 years, and I was beginning to feel quite uplifted about life again, much in part to Vipassana.
I also knew that my excitement to fly back to the US was an emotional reaction triggered by the movie, and if it was real, I'd observe it and see if it would last a few days before acting on it. I ended up staying in India another 11 months, being invited to spend a long sabbatical at a retreat center to meditate and volunteer. This helped me uncover and heal years of depression and to understand my mind for myself, something i value highly.
It's now been a few years since then, and a follow-up video to The Dhamma Brothers has been featured on Oprah's Spiritual Super Soul Sundays show. I've even written to one of the prisoners in the movie asking them that if they ever get out, to come join our Vipassana New World ministry, because they are such Light-filled inspirations for their fellow inmates.
And that's a great question we all seem to be scratching our heads about these days.
I believe many of us are ready to allow for the old to crumble and for a new to pop up in its place. What is the new, and what major calamity would take place to topple such a massive current infrastructure?
Vipassana and all advanced forms of personal development allow for each of us to uncover our own truths, to be strong in our integrity, to abide by the Laws of Nature, to live good lives, and to give to others from our heartspace. By continuing to spread such a wonderful technique of self-Awakening, we live the Laws of Nature. We let go of the past hurts and we welcome here and now, this present moment.
One main law of our universe is that we naturally receive more of what we focus on. If we all align ourselves little by little with our higher selves, in pursuit of our joyfilled existence, then we'll naturally let go of what isn't working, and we'll all shift into the creation and support of "what is working", whatever that may be.
In truth, we all inherently know what that is. The rulebook of how to live a purpose-filled life is in each of us, and it's been written many times. We know what promotes peace, community, health, sustainability, and inspiration, and we know what promotes war, greed, suffering, lawsuits, and ill-health. We've all done this before. When speaking about joy, peace, and our path to healing, Gandhi once said, "It's as old as the hills."
I believe in our great nation. When I feel myself and when i speak one-on-one to people in life-coaching sessions, the amount of hope and motivation and strength is each of us is profound. I believe that in the coming decade, we will see a great shift in our world that will begin to align more with the Laws of Nature. No more 3 Strikes Your Out. Rather, society will give you a chance again and again and again, as life does. And we'll watch out for our brothers and sisters all around us, as "I am you and you are me", and when you suffer, we all suffer.
If we set out to redesign our System with these goals in mind, while promoting daily, consistent personal development, this vision of our compassionate, peacefilled, prosperous, wealthy, and healthy society will become our reality sooner than we think.
So for those of you who haven't watched The Dhamma Brothers, and for those of you in the health and wellness fields and social programs this movie, along with "Doing Time, Doing Vipassana" may help rekindle your Light of passion and purpose for you.
Wishing you the Best in stepping forward with courage, action, and faith,
Vipassana New World