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Against the Stream: A Buddhist Manual for Spiritual Revolutionaries

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Overview

Buddha was a revolutionary. His practice was subversive; his message, seditious. His enlightened point of view went against the norms of his day—in his words, "against the stream." His teachings changed the world, and now they can change you too.

Presenting the basics of Buddhism with personal anecdotes, exercises, and guided meditations, bestselling author Noah Levine guides the reader along a spiritual path that has led to freedom from suffering and has saved lives for 2,500 ...

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Against the Stream

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Overview

Buddha was a revolutionary. His practice was subversive; his message, seditious. His enlightened point of view went against the norms of his day—in his words, "against the stream." His teachings changed the world, and now they can change you too.

Presenting the basics of Buddhism with personal anecdotes, exercises, and guided meditations, bestselling author Noah Levine guides the reader along a spiritual path that has led to freedom from suffering and has saved lives for 2,500 years. Levine should know. Buddhist meditation saved him from a life of addiction and crime. He went on to counsel and teach countless others the Buddhist way to freedom, and here he shares those life-changing lessons with you. Read and awaken to a new and better life.

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Editorial Reviews

Mandala Magazine
"An honest, fearless sequel... this is one to thumb through again and again."
Mandala magazine
“An honest, fearless sequel... this is one to thumb through again and again.”
Mandala magazine
“An honest, fearless sequel... this is one to thumb through again and again.”
Publishers Weekly
Levine's first book, Dharma Punx, was the autobiography of a young hell-raiser. Having escaped juvenile hall and drug addiction through the slow discipline of Buddhist practices, the son of Buddhist author Stephen Levine is now a spiritual teacher. In this book he presents what he has learned about and through Buddhism. The compelling personal narrative may be gone, but the disarming, frank tone that made the first book persuasive remains. He writes about the challenge of celibacy, for example, a different kind of difficulty than that posed by intimate relationships. Levine has taken the Buddha's teachings to heart-he would call it "heart-mind"-and clearly returns to such central ideas as impermanence and suffering, giving his thinking simplicity and consistency. Considering there's a lot of Buddhism here, the book is free of a lot of Buddhist-speak. An appendix includes to-the-point instructions for a variety of meditations that relate to essential Buddhist qualities and ideas. Levine's no-frills approach makes this a short book that will be accessible for young adults with little or no experience of Buddhism. Whether the book is about a revolutionary way of life is arguable, but it is an honest book-what Buddhists would call right speech-driven by right intention. (July)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
School Library Journal

Adult/High School-Levine's Dharma Punx(HarperCollins, 2004) tells the compelling story of the author's self-destructive early years, showing him mired in the culture of drugs and violence, and how the principles of Buddhism turned his life around. The author's second book works as a manual that is free of jargon and introduces readers to the most basic concepts of Buddhism: escape suffering, live simply, and treat yourself and others with respect and love. Levine uses these tenets to tackle issues like drug abuse, sexuality, the difficulties of abstinence, and being an active member of a community. Back matter has point-by-point instruction on Buddhist meditation. In contrast with similar titles, like Brad Warner's Hardcore Zen(Wisdom, 2005), this book offers little in the way of cultural references, humor, or other hooks to reel in readers who normally ignore philosophy books. Nevertheless, it is an excellent, concise resource for those who have found other works too daunting.-Matthew L. Moffett, Pohick Regional Library, Burke, VA

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060736644
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/8/2007
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 164,999
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.43 (d)

Meet the Author

Noah Levine

Noah Levine, M.A., has been using Buddhist practices to recover from addiction since 1988. He is the founding teacher of Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society.

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First Chapter

Against the Stream
A Buddhist Manual for Spiritual Revolutionaries

Chapter One

The path of the spiritual revolutionary is a long-term and gradual journey toward awakening. If you are looking for a quick fix or easy salvation, turn back now, plug back into the matrix, and enjoy your delusional existence. This is a path for rebels, malcontents, and truth seekers. The wisdom and compassion of the Buddha is available to us all, but the journey to freedom is arduous. It will take a steadfast commitment to truth and, at times, counterinstinctual action.

You have at your disposal everything you need to undertake this journey. There is only one prerequisite: the willingness to do the work, to follow the path through the darkest recesses of your mind and heart, to stand up in the face of great resistance and fear and continue in the direction of freedom. For those who are willing, ability is a given.

The Buddha isn't a god or deity to be worshipped. He was a rebel and an overthrower, the destroyer of ignorance, the great physician who discovered the path to freedom from suffering. The Buddha left a legacy of truth for us to experience for ourselves. The practices and principles of his teachings lead to the direct experience of liberation. This is not a faith-based philosophy, but an experiential one. The point of the spiritual revolution is not to become a good Buddhist, but to become a wise and compassionate human being, to awaken from our life of complacency and ignorance and to be a buddha. In order to do so, it is helpful to study the life and teachings of the original rebel, Sid—the Buddha.

Sid—The RebelSaint

Let's go all the way back to the origin of this teaching and tradition—that is, to the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama. How is it that we are still studying and practicing what he experienced and taught more than 2,500 years later and on the other side of the planet?

He was born by the name Siddhartha Gautama, but for the purposes of sacrilege and brevity I will refer to him as "Sid" until the point in the story when he wakes up—that is, the point at which he reaches enlightenment and becomes the Buddha.

Sid's father was the ruler of a small kingdom in northern India (now southern Nepal). Sid's mother, that ruler's first wife, died shortly after Sid's birth. His father then married his dead wife's sister, and Sid was raised by his father and his aunt.

There was a sage, probably a fortune-teller or astrologist, who came to the birth and said he'd had a vision: he had seen the coming of a future enlightened being. The sage foretold that this baby would grow into that being, and prophesied that he would become either a great enlightened spiritual master or a powerful warrior-king.

Sid's parents did not want their son to leave them and become a spiritual master, because spiritual masters do not hang out with their families much and rarely go into the family business. He was their only son and they wanted to keep him. They wanted him to inherit the family dynasty and become ruler. Fearing the truth of the sage's prediction, they kept him secluded. The family had three palaces, and he rarely had cause to leave them. Growing up in these palaces, he was surrounded by young, beautiful people all of the time. He never saw anyone who was old, sick, or dying. His parents were really trying to set it up so that he would have no reason to ask the big questions of life and seek answers through spiritual practice. If he thought life was perfect, there would be no reason for him to try to transcend it, right?

Their strategy seemed to work for quite a while. There was an exception, though: it is said that one time in his childhood when he was feeling a little uneasy he decided to chill out under a tree and watch his father, who was plowing a field or perhaps overseeing a groundbreaking ritual. Relaxing as he watched his father, he had a spontaneous experience of serenity. As a kid of only eight or nine, he had an overwhelming experience of peace. Though he went on with his adolescent years as before, he later recalled that experience of mindful relaxation, which I think is best described as an experience of total satisfaction—not needing or wanting anything to be different.

It is said that as a youth he was excellent at everything. Since his father was the king in a warrior caste and Sid was a prince, he was most likely a spoiled kid. There were periods in his young adult years when he was surrounded only by beautiful women; he was the only guy in his part of the palace. It is said that his life was one of access to constant pleasure. He reflected on this later, saying that during that time he sensed something was missing.

Though Sid's parents tried to keep their guard over him subtle, Sid eventually figured out that he was not allowed to leave the palaces on his own. He had everything he wanted in terms of physical needs, but he never got to explore the city without a retinue of guards and royal courtiers. What's more, while he was traveling from palace to palace or on the occasional procession through town, his father had guards clear the streets of anyone or anything that might be unpleasing to the eye. This included all of the elderly and sick.

By the time he was in his twenties, Sid had started to feel like a prisoner in his own home. One day he talked his attendant into sneaking him out of the palace. The two men slipped out and went into the nearby town. Walking for the first time in his life without a royal escort, Sid experienced what Buddhists call "the Four Messengers."

Against the Stream
A Buddhist Manual for Spiritual Revolutionaries
. Copyright © by Noah Levine. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 21 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2008

    But Definitely in the Flow

    I've been studying the teachings of the Buddah for 20 years and have had a daily meditation practice for ten. I found this book accurate and immmensely appealing. The author sums up the key events in the life of the Buddah and the key teachings he has left us in a simple, straightforward, sometimes moving, sometimes amusing way. It's an useful and intriguing guide for beginners and a refreshing review for older hands like me. By focusing on the ways in which this system of thought conflicts with the norms of mainstream society, Levine clarifies the revolutionary and compassionate nature of the practice.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2014

    Spiderkit

    Isnt here.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2014

    Ambertree

    *carries spiderkit in and put her down*

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  • Posted April 13, 2013

    Book Review Noah Levine¿s¿ Against the Stream, a sequence to Dha

    Book Review
    Noah Levine’s’ Against the Stream, a sequence to Dharma Punx, serves as a systematic guideline into the practice of Buddhism and a reflection of his life. The plot is to inform the reader about hindrances and addictions, and to instruct them on how to achieve happiness through Buddhism.
    Many religious books summarize the old teachings of good and bad. The purpose of Against the Stream is to serve as relevance between modern society’s temptations and mediation. Levine leaves behind the dogmatic and culturally biased perspectives of Buddhism, which current Buddhist integrates into their practice. He introduces the reader with Siddhartha Gautama’s spiritual revolution, which is now known as Buddhism. He carries his plot on from his first book to show his reader how medication helped with his life achievements.
    Levine wrote the book in first person to emphasize getting into the reader’s mind to connect with them. He does not try to force his religion to the reader as shown in the beginning of the book; he shares his knowledge to those that are interested (Levine, 2007). The reader is given a brief summary of his past for those that have not read Dharma Punx to help understand why he is able to write a manual for meditation. Levine believes there are five main experiences that tent to slow people’s progress on the spiritual path. Laziness, described as sleepiness, can interrupt meditation because most people find it hard to sit still and remain awake. Restlessness is the inability to sit still. Levine quotes his father telling him, “If you can’t be bored, you can’t be Buddhist” (Levine, 2007). Aversion is the anger felt from painful experiences in life. Craving comes from the body and mind’s want for pleasure. The last hindrance is doubt, the feeling of not being able to accomplish what is desired to be done (Levine, 2007). Once the reader understands and relates to these, it is easier for the reader to understand the next chapters, “Boot Camp” and “The Field Guide”.
    “Boot Camp” is the fundamentals of the spiritual revolution. The chapter informs the reader that the external revaluation is just as important as the internal. The person must practice Buddha’s teachings about generosity, compassion, loving-kindness, appreciation, and equanimity. He wrote, “Generosity takes many different forms and can originate in many different motivations” (Levine, 2007). Generosity is meant to alleviate some of the suffering of the world. Compassion works to help free pain instead of bottling it inside, Levine teaches the reader to accept their pain and that of others. Loving-kindness is used to create routines that are more positive. Appreciation balances the joys and sorrows in life. Equanimity is the balance of caring and wisdom. Once these are practiced, the reader can learn to understand the heart-mind liberation; forgiveness and death are important aspects in life and engage in reality. “The Field Guide” confronts the temptations and additions in life and people face and how to overcome these habits. Community is important to learn and teach others from one generation to the next. What people teach their children can be difference in a community stuck in judgment, confusion and fear or love, compassion and kindness. “Sexxxuality” is the strongest of all energies but Levine discusses the subject from other religions and lets the reader know that sex is “neither good nor bad. It is natural. It is neutral. It is just energy” (Levine, 2007). He believes that money is energy because society thrives on it for comfort and pleasure but money is not happiness and not to cling to wealth. Finding freedom is considered breaking these addictions to find peace and happiness in life, the ultimate goal of Buddhism. 
    Noah Levine has changed from an addict and criminal to a bestselling author and highly educated person holding a master’s degree in counseling psychology. Against the Stream compares people in modern day society as fish swimming upstream. His manual focuses on educating the masses about how to integrate the practices of Buddhism in their lives to change and ultimately obtain happiness by understanding the hindrances and addictions they must overcome. 

    Works Cited
    Levine, N. (2007). Against the stream. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2012

    G

    I think the warriors den should be here. And then the apprentices, and then all the training and hunting spots.

    *+*CrystalHeart*+*

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2012

    Skyleaf

    Supports Whitefoot the best she can. Skyleaf

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2012

    Tigerleaf

    Rushes in) okay im here itll be ok(squeezes lavender juice into whitefoots mouth ad then gets her herbs. Puts goldenrod and bidrock root on her wound along with dried oak leaves and covers it with cobwebs. She then squeezes some water inti whitefoots mouth) ~ tigerleaf

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2012

    Whitefoot

    *gasps in pain* "Thanks Tigerleaf." *struggles to get up and limps home shakily in between Tigerleaf and Skyleaf* "Thanks Moonshine!" she called over her shoulder. ~Injured Whitefoot

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2012

    Cow

    MMMMMMMMMOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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