Dharma Punx

Dharma Punx

by Noah Levine

Paperback(First HarperCollins Paperback Edition)

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Overview

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060008956
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/04/2004
Edition description: First HarperCollins Paperback Edition
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 101,191
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.61(d)

About 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.

Read an Excerpt

Dharma Punx

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.

Dharma Punx. Copyright © by Noah Levine. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

What People are Saying About This

Mike Ness

“This book is a great success story that shows that violence, negativity and self destruction doesn’t accomplish anything.”

Jon Kabat-Zinn

“An entry point for many others into a potentially life-saving practice...an empathic and moving offering.”

Norman Fischer

“Fierce and disarming in its honesty, raw and true in its expression...This is not your average spiritual autobiography!”

Sothira

“Noah takes us through his own personal genocide in this honest and at times unbearably painful account of his journey.”

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Dharma Punx: A Memoir 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 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).
agentrelaxed on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Noah Levine supposedly set out to write a book about bringing Buddhism to street punks; instead he wrote 249 pages of self-congratulatory autobiography. Like many autobiographies, this one fails to portray an accurate image of the subject. When writing about one's self, most of us tend to include our accomplishments rather than our negative impacts on life; Levine is no exception.The first few chapters are only moderately inspiring. Levine takes us through the dysfunctional, privileged upbringing of a child born to hippies. Instead of teaching young, bratty Levine right from wrong, his parents took the approach of allowing him to run wild in an attempt to "find his own way." This led to a life of crime, heavy drug use, dropping out of high school, and violence. Instead of enlightening the reader as to what Levine and his friends were so dissatisfied with, Levine regales adventures he and his friends had breaking into the homes of their rather well off families in order to obtain money for drugs.Levine's famous father, Stephen Levine, often comes to Noah's rescue, showing the reader how easy it is to be a criminal, broke punk, when your father has influence and money. Once the younger Levine discovers meditation while in juvenile hall, the reader is mislead into believing that he will start down a path of righteousness. While Levine clearly believes that, nothing could be further from the truth. Noah spends the rest of the book boasting of his various spiritual accomplishments, claiming that because he has apologized and made amends for all his youthful trespasses, that he is forgiven and free of that karma. He focuses entirely upon every self-gratifying situation, and avoids or gives little attention to the times when he acted like a blatant jerk. Similarly, his treatment of his former fiancé, for which Levine makes multiple excuses, is dismissed by saying that he was in love and foolish. He then makes sure that we know that despite his emotional abuse and contribution to her suicide attempt, that in the end she sought psychological help and forgave him.His lack of detail regarding relationships with other people, are just as self-involved. While he admits to having treated his original Asian traveling companions, Vinnie and Micah, with ill regard, he addresses this in one sentence, while complaining about their actions in several paragraphs. One can only wonder how his surviving friends reacted when having read his portrayal of them. Levine expresses even less emotion and sympathy for his deceased friends than he does for the surviving ones. When his childhood friend, a former addict, is found dead years later, Levine immediately assumes he died of an overdose, though, "they hadn't found any dope or needles" (Pg. 236). Levine then spends the next five and a half pages moaning about how the lack of this friendship affects his life, and feels robbed and betrayed. He even goes so far as to say "My oldest friend in the world was dead. And with him died the only witness to see me both shoot dope and teach meditation. Now I was all alone, surrounded by people who I could tell about my past but who would never really know what it was like" (Pg.238). Levine fails to give thought to his friend's family - his new daughter, girlfriend, parents and friends - and instead focuses upon himself. Perhaps the ultimate sin in his account of his friend's death is the hypothesized charge of death by overdose, without ever mentioning the results of a toxicological report. The reader is instead left to think the worst about his friend, and to be inundated with Levine's woe-is-me account of the giving of his friend's eulogy.Levine's self-pitying attitude and sense of entitlement are prevalent throughout, and though he fails to call his life what it is, the holes he leaves in the reader's knowledge are easily filled. When Levine and his friends decide to pack up their belongings and travel to Asia, it takes them only a few months of planning before t
FNEWLIN on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am currently reading this book. I can relate to a lot of what he talks about...growing up angry and looking for happiness in all the wrong places. Seeking happiness and never really finding it outside of yourself.
misericordia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
OK, I bought this book for its cover. I mean ¿Dharma Punx¿ tattooed on the edge of ¿praying¿ hands, how can you not be intrigued by that cover? Well the cover delivered an intriguing book. ¿Dharma Punx¿ is the memoirs of Noah Leivine, child of 60¿s parents. I am not sure who polices whether something is a memoir or autobiography, but either classification of this book would seem applicable to me. It¿s the story of his drug and alcohol addicted childhood and his slow rise to Buddhism adult teacher. In the first few chapters the phrase ¿so we stole their weed¿ appears enough to be comical. But, for me it became the key to understanding. Leivine never blames anyone, but himself, for his drug and alcohol abuse. He gently points out most adults¿ failure of character which left an open path to his abuse. The notable adult that doesn¿t have ¿weed to steal¿ is his father Stephen Leivine. When Leivine hits bottom the one person he reaches out to is his father. Through out the book his father is the go to guy. Slowly, over the course of the book, Leivine find his greatest and single most important teacher in his father.The book is written in a very flat style. There is little if any simile or metaphor, to describe things and situations. This style brings a certain charm and believability to the book. He describes shooting up heroine and meeting the Dali Lami with about the same enthusiasm. The description of both encounter¿s aftermath are described with same style the result is dramatic. This style also prevents the book from get preachy. You learn about how Buddhism and meditation lead him away from his abusive nature. Yet, you would be hard press to explain exactly what Buddhism is after reading this book. The book is more about the possibilities of grace, than the details of grace. Another example of this, is the twelve steps of alcoholics anonymous. Leivine discusses working the twelve steps. What the twelve steps are is never discussed. There is description about the accepting a higher power instead of God, step. There is discussion about making amends step. Never, are the steps outlined and checked off. I don¿t even think alcoholics anonymous is actual ever mentioned. There is one exception to this, the basic description of how to start meditating is clearly written out. The simple detailed description stands out making it a key message in the book. Then there is the Punk rock. Leivine relationship with punk is complex and simple. It is at the root of everything. It is at the escape from rules and hypocrisy of his youth. It is the bedrock of his adult purpose. Punk rock even gets endorsed his Buddhist teachers. There are names of dozen of punk bands. There is even a pretty excellent history of punk rock. If you don¿t get punk rock already maybe after reading this book you might just learn to understand it.I am neither a recovering alcholic nor drug user so I can¿t honestly endorse the book for help with those issues. I can recommend it for a compelling read for anyone interested in a story about struggling to be a better person.
funkendub on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The spiritual rags-to-riches genre is an ancient and venerable one. The earliest example may well be St. Augustine¿s Confessions, in which he writes of his misspent youth as a sexually active ¿pagan¿ (the Latin word meaning ¿redneck¿ or ¿country bumpkin¿), and his conversions, first to the wrong brand of Christianity (Arianism), then, finally, to the correct brand, now known as Roman Catholicism.Noah Levine¿s Dharma Punx is a fascinating, if somewhat repetitive, account of growing up as a punk-rocking drug addict. As the son of Jack Kornfield, the noted Buddhist teacher, Levine was exposed early in life to the ¿dharma¿, the law of Buddhist spirituality and right living. But his early years were also marred by his parents¿ divorce, his mother¿s multiple and sometimes abusive boyfriends, and the drug use of all these adults. Levine, filled with anger as a boy, stole pot from the adults in his home, traded the pot for harder stuff, and just generally indulged in the ¿underworld that fill[ed]¿ his ¿dreams¿.Levine isn¿t a great writer, but he has a great story and he tells it competently and passionately. He doesn¿t preach in Dharma Punx; he simply recounts the facts as he recollects them. Indeed, it¿s amazing he remembers as much as he does, considering the variety and quantity of dope he¿s done. From a dope-addled youth he headed downhill: he stole; he got busted several times; he spent time in jail. He nearly overdosed several times. Death is the great provocateur, he discovered. He found Narcotics Anonymous and began to bootstrap himself into sobriety. As so often happens to those of us of have fallen so far down it looks like up, Levine found religion. The amazing thing is that it was Buddhism he found. And that¿s what makes Dharma Punx so compelling and unusual. Where so many recovering addicts become narrow-minded Christians, Levine found the dharma, the four Noble Truths and the Eight-fold Path.The Buddha said that life is suffering because we are so attached to the things of this world. Chemical attachment is one of the hardest to let go of, but then, so is sobriety and the desire for spiritual attainment. Levine traveled to Asia looking for answers from the spiritual masters in the Buddhist monasteries of Thailand. But no one, he learns, can give us the answers: there are no answers, only the ongoing work of meditation and service.Levine is now working for others who have fallen. He leads mediation groups, works in criminal facilities, and, to anyone who will or has a need to listen, tells his story of the depths of depravity and the heights of redemption. Through it all, he finds solace in his music, punk rock, and Levine¿s story in some ways parallels that of punk. From anger and violence and nihilism to political and spiritual engagement, punk has matured, mellowed and come to serve the world it once so deplored. Hat¿s off to Noah Levine for pulling it together and providing us with this account of the great elasticity of the human spirit.[Originally published in Curled Up with a Good Book]
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.. 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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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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