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Letters From Dhamma Brothers

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By Jenny Phillips
When the first ten-day Vipassana meditation course came to a close at Alabama's Donaldson Prison in 2002, twenty men were faced with the possibility of a new chapter in their lives. Many have life sentences and most have been deeply acculturated to the life of violence and abuse that is all too common in prisons. In letters written during a four-year period after this course, 15 inmate-meditators offer direct and intimate access to their thoughts, struggles, dreams and triumphs after taking part in this intensive, voluntary program. Corrections officers, wardens, judges and others ask: "Can this program really reform such hardened inmates? Will the changes last?" These letters will help you decide for yourself if their transformations are real or not.