1971 (age 46–47)|
Santa Cruz, California, U.S.
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Noah Levine (born 1971) is an American Buddhist teacher and author. As a counselor known for his philosophical alignment with Buddhism and punk ideology, he identifies his Buddhist beliefs and practices with both the Theravada and Mahayana traditions. In March 2018 he was accused of sexual misconduct and results of the subsequent investigation are pending.
He has written the books Dharma Punx: A Memoir (2004), Against the Stream: A Buddhist Manual for Spiritual Revolutionaries (2007), The Heart of the Revolution: The Buddha’s Radical Teachings on Forgiveness, Compassion, and Kindness (2011), and Refuge Recovery: A Buddhist Path to Recovering from Addiction (2014).
Noah Levine is the son of American Buddhist author Stephen Levine. His parents had a history of addiction and, when he was very young, they divorced. He states he has had a "core distrust of authority" his whole life, which led him to reject the teachings of his father. At the age of five, Levine began exhibiting suicidal behavior and the next year began smoking marijuana. He discovered punk rock through the boyfriend of his older sister and the first time he heard the Sex Pistols "was like hearing the voice of God" because it expressed all the dissatisfaction he felt. His teenage years were filled with drugs, violence, multiple suicide attempts and detentions at juvenile halls, which was encouraged by the punk scene. In 1988 and after three felonies and one suicide attempt while jailed, he hit "an emotional rock bottom" and "realized" his addiction; in a desperate attempt to relieve his fear and uncertainty he tried to apply the anapanasati techniques his father taught him, and saw for the first time how this practice worked. Shortly afterward, he became highly involved in the straight edge scene (a hardcore punk associated movement whose members avoid drug and alcohol use), attended the twelve-step program and began a meditation practice.
He was trained by Jack Kornfield of Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California. Later, he earned a masters degree in counseling psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies.
He currently leads Dharma and vipassana meditation retreats and workshops across the United States and teaches weekly meditation classes in Los Angeles. A member of the Prison Dharma Network, Levine works with juvenile and adult prison inmates, combining meditation techniques with psychotherapy. He "[explores] how they can have a deeper understanding of what has happened and what they need to do in order to be free, on many levels—free from prison, free from the trauma of the past."
He has helped found several groups and projects including the Mind Body Awareness Project, a non-profit organization that serves incarcerated youths, and Refuge Recovery, an addiction recovery community .
In March 2018, Against the Stream released a statement that they were investigating allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of Noah Levine. "It is with great regret we announce that we have received reports of sexual misconduct by Noah Levine which require an investigation. During the investigative process we are required to suspend Noah’s teaching activities with Against the Stream and his membership on the Board of Directors." Levine denied the accusations, stating "This never happened."
Books and beliefs
One notable aspect of Buddhist Dharma is the path of our choices, the actions past and present and the intention for future action (Buddhist Law of Karma). Levine's past—addiction, incarceration, violence, initial rejection of Buddhism and meditation—are all defining characteristics of his writings and teachings. "We all sort of have a different doorway to dharma or spiritual practice. Suffering is a doorway. For me it was the suffering of addiction, violence and crime which opened me at a young age, 17 years old. I was incarcerated, looking at the rest of my life in prison and thought, 'Maybe I will try dad's hippie meditation bullshit.' Suffering opened me to the possibility of trying meditation."
In Levine's second book, Against the Stream, released in April 2007, "he presents what he has learned about and through Buddhism" and "clearly returns to such central ideas as impermanence and suffering".
- Levine, Noah (2004). Dharma Punx. HarperOne. ISBN 978-0060008956.
- Levine, Noah (2007). Against the Stream: A Buddhist Manual for Spiritual Revolutionaries. HarperOne. ISBN 978-0060736644.
- Levine, Noah (2011). The Heart of the Revolution: The Buddha's Radical Teachings on Forgiveness, Compassion, and Kindness. HarperOne. ISBN 978-0061711244.
- Levine, Noah (2014). Refuge Recovery: A Buddhist Path to Recovering from Addiction. HarperOne. ISBN 978-0062122841.
Subject of documentary
Levine is the subject of the feature-length documentary, Meditate and Destroy, directed by Sarah Fisher of Blue Lotus Films. The documentary was shown in film festivals and independent screenings from 2007 to 2008. Meditate and Destroy was released on DVD in 2009 by Alive Mind Media.
- Dharma Punx find inner peace, The Globe and Mail (Canada), March 17, 2006 Friday, The Globe Review 7: British Columbia; Going Out: Events; Pg. R5, 543 words, Sarah Efron, Special to The Globe and Mail
- Rod Meade Sperry (2018-03-30). "Against the Stream to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct by founding teacher Noah Levine; Levine issues response". Lion's Roar. Archived from the original on 2018-04-02. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
- Rasheta, Noah (2017-08-31). "49 – Addiction and Recovery w/Noah Levine" (audio and text). Secularbuddhism.com (Podcast). Retrieved 2018-03-23.
- Keli Lalita Reddy (2017-05-05). "Punk Rock Meets Spirituality: Noah Levine". Mythrivemag.com. Retrieved 2018-03-23.
- Cernansky, Rachel (October 2003). "The Buddha Was a Punk Rocker". Satyamag.com. New York. Archived from the original on 2005-02-08. Retrieved 2018-03-23.
- "Dharma Punx". Retrieved 2018-03-23.
- "LA Yoga. Teacher Profile: Noah Levine". Layogamagazine.com. Retrieved 2012-04-19.
- "The Mind Body Awareness Project". Mbaproject.org. 2012-03-28. Retrieved 2012-04-19.
- "Refuge Recovery". refugerecovery.org.
- Against the Stream: A Buddhist Manual for Spiritual Revolutionaries, Publishers Weekly Reviews, April 23, 2007, REVIEWS; Nonfiction; Pg. 47, 240 words, Staff
- Meditate and Destroy
- Blue Lotus Films
- Noah Levine's Official Website
- Noah Levine audio from the DIY Dharma website
- Zen and the Art of Slam Dancing article by David F. Smydra, Jr. in the Boston Globe, 9/19/04.
- An article about sexuality and desire on the spiritual path featured in ascent magazine.
- An interview with ascent magazine.
- Audio Interview Series on Buddhist Geeks
- Meditate and Destroy- Documentary film website
- Daphne L. Rankin. "AGAINST THE STREAM BUDDHIST MEDITATION SOCIETY". Virginia Commonwealth University.