Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation
Photo by Ringo H.W. Chiu for the LA Times
The LA Times recently profiled Noah Levine, punk rock Buddhist teacher and author of the books Against the Stream and Dharma Punx.
The article looks at how Levine has brought that punk anti-establishment ethos to meditation in his Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society, with centers in East Hollywood and Santa Monica and more than 20 affiliated groups across the US. He explains his approach:
"The first noble truth of Buddhism is that there is suffering in life, that there is an unsatisfactory quality to living in a world where everything is constantly changing, and to living in a world where there is so much greed and hatred and delusion. Punk rock's foundation is dissatisfaction, acknowledging greed, hatred and delusion and rebelling against sexism, racism, political corruption and war."Levine, once a homeless dropout addicted to crack, recovered from his addiction through meditation and a 12-step program. At the age of 20, he began studying Buddhism and 10 years later was certified to teach. He decided to create a scene for people who look like him, listen to the same music and want to find some peace within themselves. So in 2003, his Dharma Punx group was born in NYC's Lower East Side. He then moved to LA and founded Against the Stream last year but does travel, offering retreats across the US.
Check here for the retreat calendar.
I picked up Against the Stream when it came out in 2007, and it's a great introduction to the basics of Buddhism with practical exercises on guided meditation. It's a fast and easy read, particularly compelling with personal stories of his own struggle. It didn't change my life. I'm still a frazzled New Yorker, but I do find myself using some of the breathing and relaxation techniques in the book, especially in the subway during rush hour -- a place more brutal than any mosh pit.
Pick up the book on Amazon for $12.59.