The Dhamma Brothers explores the impact that a life-changing retreat had on a group of inmates at the highest level maximum-security state prison in Alabama. The 38 participants in the first-ever intensive, silent 10-day program inside the walls of a corrections facility-many serving life sentences without parole-detail the range of their experiences, the depth of their understanding of the Buddha’s teachings gained by direct experience, and their setbacks and successes. During the Vipassana meditation program, they face the past and their miseries and emerge with a sense of peace and purpose. This compelling story shows the capacity for commitment, self-examination, renewal, and hope within a dismal penal system and a wider culture that demonizes prisoners.
Our guest, Jenny Phillips is the producer of this film and author of the book Letters from the Dhamma Brothers: Meditation Behind Bars. Jenny is a cultural anthropologist, filmmaker, writer, and psychotherapist. For the past 20 years, she’s been providing mental health services in Massachusetts, specializing in crisis intervention, family therapy, behavioral medicine, hypnotherapy, and mindfulness training. She has worked with men in state and county prisons, teaching emotional literacy skills and mindfulness meditation. Jenny has been interviewed by Oprah on her Soul Series broadcast and has appeared on an Oprah.com webcast as well. Letters from the Dhamma Brothers received an award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.