“You can’t take the divinity out of a human being. It may be distorted, disfigured or disguised but it is there. The role of those who have a spiritual dimension is to try and create a space, which has sanctity, dignity, compassion and forgiveness, where all that is divine about a person has room to flourish.” –Alan Ogier, Methodist and Free Church Superintendent for Prisons, UK
The Brahma Kumaris’ currently work within places of detention with both staff and detainees.
The Brahma Kumaris recognise and appreciate the contribution which those who work within offender management make to society, often under very difficult circumstances, and offer them support in a variety of ways. Value-based seminars, workshops and courses are provided on such themes as Stress and Anger Management, Positive Living, Self Management Leadership and Meditation.
The bulk of the Brahma Kumaris work within centres of detention has been with detainees. It has been found that they respond well to practical courses in positive thinking, meditation and self-esteem, through which they are able to re-evaluate their approach to life and make meaningful and useful changes. Such courses complement the existing available services.
The teaching activities are backed up by a variety of books and tapes, a number of which may be available, in some countries, from prison libraries.
“Before meditation came along I was dumfounded and confused. The BK teachings turned my outlook around. I am now more conscious of being a child of God the Supreme Soul. I am more detached from all that I see and yet so deeply in love that every moment seems to be living life from within the meditation, seeing nothing but good at every second."—Julian, a 17-year practitioner of Raja Yoga meditation, recently paroled after serving 27 years in a Florida prison.
Around the world
In some countries, for example Brazil, Denmark, India and the UK, meditation courses have been run since the early 1990’s. In other countries such as Iceland, South Africa, Spain, and Suriname courses have started within the last twelve months.
In Australia, for 16 years until the end of 2004, the Foundation Course in Meditation was taught on an ongoing basis in Sydney’s Long Bay and Silverwater Correctional Centres.
In Mauritius, Positive Thinking has been incorporated into the training programme at the Prison Officers’ Training School.
In Poland, residential training programmes for staff began in 2004.
In Thailand, staff and detainees at a total of 76 provincial and local prisons welcome instruction in meditation and host a variety of on-site BK programs. For the past three years, the country’s entire correctional system, representing 160,000 detainees, has collaborated with the Brahma Kumaris in arranging programmes to officially commemorate the UN’s International Day of Peace.
In the UK, a joint working group of offender management staff, members of voluntary organizations and Brahma Kumaris teachers organise residential and non-residential seminars and workshops. More than seven hundred people, working within offender management, have benefited from these seminars since they started in 1994. Please visit http://www.bkwsu.org.uk/spiritualityinprison/.