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Dharma Punx

Dharma Punx

4.3 26
by Noah Levine

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Fueled by the music of revolution, anger, fear, and despair, we dyed our hair or shaved our heads ... Eating acid like it was candy and chasing speed with cheap vodka, smoking truckloads of weed, all in a vain attempt to get numb and stay numb.

This is the story of a young man and a generation of angry youths who rebelled against their parents and the


Fueled by the music of revolution, anger, fear, and despair, we dyed our hair or shaved our heads ... Eating acid like it was candy and chasing speed with cheap vodka, smoking truckloads of weed, all in a vain attempt to get numb and stay numb.

This is the story of a young man and a generation of angry youths who rebelled against their parents and the unfulfilled promise of the sixties. As with many self-destructive kids, Noah Levine's search for meaning led him first to punk rock, drugs, drinking, and dissatisfaction. But the search didn't end there. Having clearly seen the uselessness of drugs and violence, Noah looked for positive ways to channel his rebellion against what he saw as the lies of society. Fueled by his anger at so much injustice and suffering, Levine now uses that energy and the practice of Buddhism to awaken his natural wisdom and compassion.

While Levine comes to embrace the same spiritual tradition as his father, bestselling author Stephen Levine, he finds his most authentic expression in connecting the seemingly opposed worlds of punk and Buddhism. As Noah Levine delved deeper into Buddhism, he chose not to reject the punk scene, instead integrating the two worlds as a catalyst for transformation. Ultimately, this is an inspiring story about maturing, and how a hostile and lost generation is finally finding its footing. This provocative report takes us deep inside the punk scene and moves from anger, rebellion, and self-destruction, to health, service to others, and genuine spiritual growth.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This honest, page-turning confession is also a measure of the adaptability and usefulness of the Asian tradition of Buddhism for the young and the restless of contemporary America." ---Publishers Weekly

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Dharma Punx

By Levine, Noah


ISBN: 0060008954

Chapter One

Suicide Solution

Waking up in a padded cell, my head bruised and bloody, I scream with rage at an unknown assailant. My wrists are raw and tender from the previous evening's suicide attempt. The padded walls and cushioned floor are trapping me in here with my worst enemy, myself. Death seems to be the only solution; kill the one who has created so much suffering for so long. Destroy the body that has done nothing but crave more of the substances that make me lie, steal, and fight every moment of my existence. There is no shelter, no refuge, no hope for redemption. The only thing I have to look forward to is more of the same and it's just getting worse and worse. I have no strength to continue this battle and no will to live. I must annihilate this evil mind and worthless body to ever find peace.

The years of violence and street life have finally caught up with me. There is nowhere to hide from the life of addiction and crime that I have created. I have failed at being human. I have even failed at taking my own life. Thrown in a cage to protect the world from my evil actions, the walls are padded with a hard rubber to prevent me from punishing myself. The dim fluorescent lighting gives me no clue as to whether it is day or night. I am lost in the Bardo, between worlds, unable to die yet no longer alive.

This is it, the bottim, the final depths of a teenage junkie. I have lost all touch with reality, with love, even with the hatred that once fueled my punk rock rebellion. I have nothing left to live for. I once had the fury of the anti-authority, anti-establishment, anti-everything ethic -- punks versus the world -- running through my veins. But all that was pushed out by the dope, crack, and cheap booze that have consumed me, which have become my only friend and my traitorous enemy. I traded in my mohawk, Doc Martens, and leather jacket for a fucking crack pipe. I traded in my belief in anarchy and the revolution for a ride on the Night Train express, head rush after head rush, nod after nod, heading nowhere, doing nothing and being no one. Pain and the fleeting rushes or comforting numbness that breaks up the monotony of the suffering is all I know.

I lie here tortured by the memories of a life only half lived yet almost over. Seventeen years old and dying. Institutionalized, locked in a rubber room crying and screaming. Deluded by the haze of forced withdrawal, poison oozing out of each cell in my being. In and out of consciousness, the walls are breathing through my broken spirit. I'm too tired to breathe, too broken to continue, too weak to fight.

Curling up into the fetal position, holding on to what's left of the once innocent child who took birth all those years ago, now as before, ready to do it all over again. Just let me die.

Sleep is as close to death as I can come, but the drug dreams are worse than the cell. The toxic horrors torment my slumber, no rest for the wicked, no escape from the hungry ghost and demonic guardians of the underworld that fill my dreams.

Rousted by Tim, the guard I know all too well, I'm told that my father is on the phone. He looks at me with suspicion and concern, says I can take the call but he will have to go with me.

My father listens to my rants and cries for help for a while and then speaks of his own youth of crime and time in prison. He speaks of his own search for meaning and offers me some simple meditation instructions, saying that it is the only thing that has ever worked for him. I listen as well as I can and thank him for not giving up on me.

Tim says I can move into a normal cell if I want to. Big fucking deal, one cage to the next. In my cell I think about what my father said about meditation. How is that hippy shit going to help me now? Suicide still seems like the only solution. I need to shut up my head; I can't deal with the torture any longer.

With no means of destruction I lie on the hard plastic bed and stare at the graffiti-covered walls. With nothing else to do and nowhere else to turn, I try to pay attention to my breath.

A week or so later some young guys come into the Hall, offering a meeting about how to stop taking drugs and drinking. I used to smoke crack with one of them so I go check it out, knowing that I have to stop, wanting to stop, but not knowing how to stop. One of them tells my life story, a hopeless junkie who used to be a punk, now he's clean and sober and says that he just wanted to die, until he found out that it was actually his addiction that was trying to kill him, and that now his life was pretty good. He doesn't want to die anymore, now he really wants to live and he is trying to use his life to help us live too. They gave me some kind of sober bible, I told them I was not interested in any religious shit but took the book anyway.

In my cell that night I read their stupid book and try to do my dad's dumb breathing meditations. I might as well be dead if I have to do all this fucking bullshit in order to become human again. But I am locked up and there is nothing else to do, so what the fuck, might as well check this shit out. Nothing I have been doing has worked, and there is nowhere else to turn, so I guess this is my best bet. The meditations do seem to help a little, at least a few seconds here and there; when I am able to focus on my breath I feel better and forget that I'm locked up. The book is confusing and talks a lot about all that God shit but I like the stories at the end. People talking about drinking and taking drugs the way that I do, out of control. There is one part that I like where it talks about getting to the point of "pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization." I don't know what that means but it sounds like the way I feel every time I use drugs, drink, steal, or fight.


Excerpted from Dharma Punx by Levine, Noah Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author

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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Dharma Punx: A Memoir 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am skeptical when it comes to religous books, and religion for that matter. However Mr. Levine shows the reader his transition from where many of the youth lie today to the ideal person he is trying to be in society. I love how he goes back and forth from his bad punk rock ways to the path of buddhism. His emotional tug of war is an intresting perspective to consider. It shows the reader that he is just as human and skeptical as we all are. And that there is hope for those who are all 'dead'. I would definatly recomend it to anyone who is skeptical about religion or likes punk rock
Guest More than 1 year ago
If awakening is a path, Noah is hacking his way through a dense jungle. He crosses the path a few times, but never actually follows it. His machete of an ego and sense of self is sharp and hard, it cuts deep into all that get into his path. It may not be wise to follow the trail he blazes, as it seems to go in circles. This book is a struggle to read and almost impossible to motivate yourself to finish. I wouldn't say it's a waste of time. Even though, Noah never seems to learn anything himself during his adventures. You can learn a great deal, from his vast collections of wrong turns, which make up this book from beginning to end. The author may miss the point over and over, the reader doesn't have to. Do I recommend reading this? Not really. If you do read it, just realize it is a 'memoir'. It says so right on the cover. Don't expect from the use of 'Dharma' in the title that it will impart any knowledge of reaching awakening. Be somewhat like expecting 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' to instruct you in fixing a motorcycle (that however is a book I do recommend).
Anonymous 3 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
.. my name is dharma
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Egghead-8 More than 1 year ago
I also grew up in the 80's punk rock scene and can relate to many of the situations the author went through. It can take a lifetime to really know who you are and I am very happt that Noah has found himself. I really enjoyed reading this book and also The Heart Of The Revolution, which inspired to buy this book. I have not read Against the Stream yet but have it on my shelf.
Karmicrelief More than 1 year ago
This book in so many ways mirrored my young life. Now, as an adult and beginning my spiritual walk, this book spoke loudly to me about compassion, forgiveness, mistakes and simply trying. I would highly recommend this book to anyone taking those first, tentative steps into spiritual awakening. Thank you, Noah.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this quickly, it could have done with a bit of editing but overall i really enjoyed it. Its nice to see a tattooed punker in a role of spiritual leadership
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This was an awesome book to read... It was recommended to me by my brother who works at a bookstore. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a spiritual path. Or anyone who is just having a hard time with drugs and alcohol. Any young kid or adult could relate to this book, espescially if you are in the punk rock scene.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I experienced many of the emotions that Noah described involving Punk Rock. And though I did not travel the same path involving drugs and alcohol, I gained insight through his twelve step journey. I recommend this to anyone starting a spiritual journey, anyone looking for a way to help themselves out of the dark pit of drugs and alcohol, and anyone who enjoys learning of and from someone else's life story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a great story of remarkable change. I would recommend it to anyone who is struggling with where they want to go in life or for anyone who is in a rough spot that they want to get out of.