Prison Dharma

About this section:
Imagine trying to generate even the slightest bodhicitta -- the intention to become fully enlightened in order to benefit all sentient beings most effectively -- in a prison environment. It's similar to generating compassion in hell! Although we are all prisoners of our negative karma, negative emotions, and disturbing attitudes, we still have this precious human life. Nothing can ever take away our Buddha potential. Ven. Chodron and the prisoners with whom she corresponds offer practitioners insights into how they can benefit themselves and others in even the most difficult situations.



Teaching Anger Management

by Steven Vannoy©
Mid-America Buddhist Association, 24 Mar 02

Part 1 of 9
Steven talks about how he met Venerable Chodron and started volunteering in Seattle, which led to his path as a counseling psychologist. He started working with prisoners by volunteering with the Buddhist Pen Pal program. He attended workshop with Geshe Sopa and then moved to Madison, Wisconsin, and started working in the local jail system. [5 min] : Download | Listen

Part 2 of 9
Demographics of American prison system:
There are 6 million people under supervision: incarcerated, or on probation, or on parole. There are 2 million in prison. The US has the highest rate of incarceration in the world, except possibly for China. Most of the people there are average people, and are good to work with.
[8 min] : Download | Listen

Part 3 of 9
Specifics of working with prisoners:
Steven started out with a program called "Stress Management for Women," using meditation as a stress management technique, and also some silent meditation and a subset of Lam Rim meditations (attachment and aversion, etc.), and some purification (the 4 Opponent Powers). This was all framed in non-Buddhist terminology, and there was lots of discussion. He started working with men with a course called "Anger Management." [7.5 min] : Download | Listen

Part 4 of 9
Steven talks about some of the people incarcerated in the county jail, which is a very stressful place.
[6 min] : Download | Listen

Part 5 of 9
Q: What about the guards and their training?
Steven talks about the training and demographics of the guards.
[2 min] : Download | Listen

Part 6 of 9
Graduate work and masters thesis:
Steven talks about how, without credentials, the meditation work was tenuous. He went back to school to get a degree in counseling psychology, and did his masters thesis on evaluating anger management techniques. He did measurements on anger, empathy, narcissism. [7 min] : Download | Listen

Part 7 of 9
Anger management tips based on techniques Ven Chodron taught. [1.5 min] : Download | Listen

Part 8 of 9
What it's like to work with the people. People who self-select for the program are just the sort of people you want to sit and talk with. How to talk about love. [3.5 min] : Download | Listen

Part 9 of 9
Some details about the study. Results of the study.
[1 min] : Download | Listen


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