Academic Master


Review of Documentary/movie entitled Doing Time, Doing Vipassana, by Ariel and Menahemi

The movie brings out a clear demonstration on how Vipassana lessens anger, greed, hatred and the feeling of revenge in a prisoner. This documentary critically asserts hope, strength and peace of mind to prisoners, which seemingly keeps them at par with criminal activities within the environment of their detention. It shows how assessment is conducted to the specimens of study and impact of this Vipassana meditation to the prisoners (Bradley, 158). Despite the success of Vipaassana, the documentary however shows the feeling of hopefulness in rare occasions does not endure in the follow up period when the majority of the meditators became more hopeful on their future life.

From the movie, it is evident that most of the realised criminals who went through Vipassana are very positive. Vipassana enables the criminals to cohere faster in the society after their life in prison. It implants the sense of being responsible I them making them to restrain from criminal activities again. They completely forget about their past criminal life and decide to start a new journey with their life in the society. The documentary also demonstrates how they open a new chapter by finding new relationships giving up their filthy habits of drug abuse. A precarious look on the impacts of Vipassana on criminals, who are likely to released and integrate in the community, it is clear that a good number of them reform finding themselves a new life in the society hence hard for them to re-enter the criminal life.

The film also demonstrates how Vipassana meditation brings about an ultimate alteration on the behaviour, thinking and the attitude of the police certainly by grounding them into a given code of morality or rather ethics strengthening their mentality to go through challenges of their work, the hardship averting them from expending their duty in an upright procedure. Vipassana provides an opportunity to the police with an outset to portray superior judgement. It makes them behave in a more ethical and impartial way (Bradley, 161). They cease to think of erroneously incarcerating acquitted citizens and imprisoning them due to fear and ulterior motives of serving their self-interest. Through this, the police are able to save innocent people from serving prison sentences because of crimes they did not actually commit since jailing innocent people makes them adopt criminal conducts and inclinations, which is naturally a result of subjecting someone to the punitive environment in the prison.

The movie portrays in a wide range how Vipassana meditation makes the wardens and even the police acquire a more compassionate attitude towards the prisoners and through this, the negative effects on most prisoners disseminated by the environment in the prison are controlled and reduced. The movie shows how Vipassana meditation manipulates the attitudes and the behaviours of individuals practicing it in regular occasions. Notwithstanding if, the individual is a police officer, a prison warden, a prisoner or anybody in the society, there is a comparative similarity in their experiences and pattern of changes observed by people within themselves and as well the environment they live.

The film presents a generated data showing how Vipassana decreases the undesirable feelings and such emotions as anger, anxiety, hatred, greed, and hopelessness. The generated data also shows that Vipassana meditation has augmented the efficiency of individuals making more alert and active. It also shows that Vipassana meditation has instilled moral principles plus positive feelings amongst people in general.

The film director was very straight in his interest of how Vipassana brings changes upon an individual. The film shows that one can sharpen his mind through practicing ‘Anapana’, which makes him aware of the present and current reality. The awareness towards the natural flow of the breath on how it passes through our nostrils increases the level of concentration in the mind, which is naturally a pre-requisite in the practice of Vipassana and doing Vipassana itself enables one to gain insight to the mind-matter phenomenon by direct observation and even experience to himself (Erik, 32). Once in this condition, he is bale to learn that any single time a defilement crosses his mind triggering two activities in the physical level. The first one being breathe losing its normal rhythm making respiration abnormal and the second one happens at the subtler level where biochemical reaction occurs resulting to a sensation that is manifested in the whole body. Almost all defilements in the body leads to a sense of discomfort in the body and this brings out the fact that all reactions of the body to different situations are as a result of the subconscious mind’s reaction to body sensations. It is from this phenomenon where it is shown in the film that when any unexpected situation arises in life, human beings react to them by either aversion or craving hence making them begin generating negativity hence losing balance of the mind leading to wrong action.

This documentary shows that diverting the attention of an individual in this state will only suppress the negativity in him giving the negativity an opportunity to multiply itself into several gaining even more strength and the power it all requires to subjugate the mind. It shows that mere observation is the only solution once the mind is affected by unwanted sensation since it makes the sensation lose the strength it requires in overpowering the mind. An instance is where a person develops anger, which appears in the body inform of physical sensation. Observing this sensation is proven in the film to result to either of the two one, aversion and the second being craving. The movie shows that the more craving or aversion one becomes the more physical reaction he generates and the stronger this sensation becomes (Erik, 36). The movie then connects this to Vipassana where observation of the sensation with equanimity gives it zero chances of developing to neither aversion nor craving but an experience of the risen sensation having passed away besides its defilement. This brings the mind to a state of balanced required for sensitive decision making hence he is able to know the right positive action necessary and helpful.

People practicing meditation in most cases gain a high sense of awareness to sensations and respiration, which are both physical manifestation of defilement. The movie portrays the above statement as of essence in a condition where he is having a little conversation or chat with a colleague and he gets angry in the process, he will be able to know that anger is taking control. Being aware of the reality within him through observation of the sensations with understanding of impermanence alongside equanimity, the anger within him certainly melts away leaving the mind in a peaceful and calm state for perfect decision-making.

Works Cited

Braun, Erik “Obituary: S.N. Goenka, Pioneer of Secular Meditation Movement, dies at 90,

Clough, Bradley, “Mahasi Sayadaw of Burma,”in Buddhism: Understanding Buddhism through the lives of practitioners, edited by Todd Lewis (Wiley Blackwell, 2014), 157 – 163.

Schedneck, Brooke Schedneck, “The History of Modern Vipassana,” page 31 – 39.



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