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Military Police Meets Zen Buddhism

In Brazil, the government uses an ancient philosophy to train police officers

Mauricio Soares
Mauricio Soares on June 1, 2010. @mausoares
Mandalah-Banner Military Police Meets Zen Buddhism

The government of Espírito Santo, a state located in the southeast of Brazil, is experimenting with a new training routine for some of its military police officers. Instead of learning about new combat techniques, policemen are developing interpersonal relationship skills, emotional balance and discipline in a Zen Buddhist monastery, located 70km from the state capital, Vitória.

Accustomed to the rigid vertical hierarchy of the military, the participants are immediately confronted with the horizontal dynamics of the monks. Everyone, commanders and subordinates, are subject to exactly the same routine, with the same tasks. They start their day practicing meditation, in silence, a radical shift from the traditional morning environment of police headquarters. After meditation, they carry on a number of activities, which range from the creation of ikebana flower arrangements, ceramics, tai chi chuan and even participating in a tea ceremony.

The officers who have gone through the training say that they feel more prepared to deal with their duties in a non-violent way. By better understanding themselves, their colleagues, and how everything is intrinsically connected in the Buddhist philosophy, policemen can reduce the level of stress in their jobs, and consequently become more effective at keeping the peace.

Espírito Santo

[via Globo News]

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