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Noah Levine

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Noah Levine
Born1971 (age 52–53)
OccupationVipassanā instructor
Prison outreach
Senior posting
TeacherJack Kornfield

Noah Levine (born 1971) is an American Buddhist teacher and author, son of Stephen Levine. 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.[1] He has written several books on Buddhism and Buddhist practice including Refuge Recovery: A Buddhist Path to Recovering from Addiction.

Early life[edit]

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.[2] He states he has had a "core distrust of authority" his whole life, which led him to reject the teachings of his father.[2][3] 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.[3] His teenage years were filled with drugs, violence, multiple suicide attempts and detentions at juvenile halls, which was encouraged by the punk scene.[3] 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.[2][4] Shortly afterward, he became highly involved in the straight edge scene (a hardcore punk associated movement whose members avoid drug and alcohol use), attended a twelve-step program and began a meditation practice.[3]

He was trained by Jack Kornfield of Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California. Later, he earned a master's degree in counseling psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies.[5]


He currently leads Dharma and vipassana meditation retreats and workshops across the United States and teaches weekly meditation classes at Against the Stream Meditation Center in Los Angeles.[6] A member of the Prison Dharma Network, Levine works with juvenile and adult prison inmates, combining meditation techniques with principles from Western psychology. 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."[4]

He has helped found several groups and projects including the Mind Body Awareness Project,[7] a non-profit organization that serves incarcerated youths, and Refuge Recovery, an addiction recovery community.[8]

Allegations of sexual misconduct[edit]

In March 2018, Against the Stream (ATS) released a statement that they were investigating allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of Levine.[9] "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,[10] stating in a letter to the community "This never happened."[11]

The ATS Grievance Council retained attorney Roberta Yang to independently investigate the accusations against Levine. In August 2018, ATS released a statement announcing that Yang and the Board of Directors had concluded that the preponderance of evidence indicated that Levine had likely violated the Third Precept of the ATS Teacher's Code of Ethics, which requires teachers to "avoid creating harm through sexuality", with multiple women. Levine was removed from the ATS Board of Directors, and the Board announced that its centers in Melrose, Santa Monica, and San Francisco would close[12] as a result of financial difficulties stemming from the allegations against Levine.[13]

In a Facebook livestream shortly following the announcement of the closing of ATS, Levine clarified that there were no accusations from ATS students.[14]

The report prepared for ATS was leaked in fall 2018 and some details appeared to contradict Levine's claims.[15]

While it is true that no students in the report accuse Levine of assault, two anonymous students interviewed by the report’s author, investigator Roberta Yang, described inappropriate encounters with Levine in which they believe he used his position to get their contact information and made them “uncomfortable". The report also quotes former ATS senior teacher Mary Stancavage as saying that Levine admitted to having sex with a student whom he met at the Esalen Institute, a well-known retreat center in Big Sur, California. Levine reportedly revealed this to the ATS Teachers’ Council at a meeting on February 7, saying that the student had “pursued” and later “seduced” him “after he attempted to resist”.[15]

On February 20, 2019, Spirit Rock Meditation Center's Ethics and Reconciliation Council (EAR Council) released a statement that the organization and Dr. Jack Kornfield rescinded his authorization to teach.[16]

It is the unanimous view of the EAR Council, Senior Teachers, and the GTC [Guiding Teachers Committee] that Mr. Levine is no longer part of the Spirit Rock teaching lineage, no longer enjoys the support of its teachers, and may no longer claim any association or connection with Spirit Rock or Dr. Kornfield. We further recommend that Mr. Levine cease all Buddhist or meditation teaching and dedicate his energy to the rehabilitation of his own heart. Mr. Levine’s repetitive and continued behavior, outlined by multiple sources, would be completely inappropriate for anyone, let alone an individual privileged to be an authorized Spirit Rock teacher. The EAR Council was established precisely to interrupt and prevent Spirit Rock teachers from causing such harm.

The investigation, completed in August, concluded that Levine had likely violated the Third Precept, “to avoid creating harm through sexuality” and was followed by the dissolution of ATS. The EAR Council then “conducted its own investigation, a long and careful process of collecting information from numerous sources in order to determine Mr. Levine’s fitness for teaching."[17]

As of December 2023, Levine has refused to recognize the legitimacy of both allegations and has continued teaching.[18]


  • 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[edit]

Levine is the subject of the feature-length documentary, Meditate and Destroy,[19] directed by Sarah Fisher of Blue Lotus Films.[20] 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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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
  2. ^ a b c Rasheta, Noah (2017-08-31). "49 – Addiction and Recovery w/Noah Levine" (audio and text). Secularbuddhism.com (Podcast). Retrieved 2018-03-23.
  3. ^ a b c d Keli Lalita Reddy (2017-05-05). "Punk Rock Meets Spirituality: Noah Levine". Mythrivemag.com. Retrieved 2018-03-23.
  4. ^ a b 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.
  5. ^ "Dharma Punx". Retrieved 2018-03-23.
  6. ^ "LA Yoga. Teacher Profile: Noah Levine". Layogamagazine.com. Archived from the original on 2012-02-05. Retrieved 2012-04-19.
  7. ^ "The Mind Body Awareness Project". Mbaproject.org. 2012-03-28. Retrieved 2012-04-19.
  8. ^ "Refuge Recovery". refugerecovery.org.
  9. ^ Sperry, Rod Meade (2018-03-30). "Against the Stream to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct by Noah Levine; results..." Lion's Roar. Retrieved 2019-01-21.
  10. ^ Atwood, Haleigh (2018-04-05). "Refuge Recovery addresses sexual misconduct allegations against founder Noah Levine". Lion's Roar. Retrieved 2019-01-21.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ "After Noah Levine sexual misconduct investigation, Against the Stream centers to shut down;..." Lion's Roar. 2018-09-01. Retrieved 2019-01-21.
  13. ^ "Against the Stream confirms sexual misconduct by Noah Levine; centers to shut down". Lion's Roar. 2018-08-25. Retrieved 2018-08-25.
  14. ^ "Noah Levine". Facebook.com. Retrieved 2018-08-28.
  15. ^ a b Abrahams, Matthew (November 1, 2018). "Leaked Against the Stream Report Challenges Previous Accounts". Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  16. ^ Jack, Kornfield (February 20, 2019). "Spirit Rock Meditation Center" (PDF). Spiritrock.org.
  17. ^ Sperry, Rod (February 20, 2019). "Spirit Rock, Jack Kornfield, withdraw Noah Levine's authorization to teach". Lionsroar.com.
  18. ^ Gleig and Langenberg, Ann and Amy (Winter 2023). "Sexual Ethics and Healthy Boundaries in the Wake of Teacher Abuse". Lionsroar.com.
  19. ^ "Mediate and Destroy". Meditateanddestroy.com. Retrieved 5 September 2020.
  20. ^ "Video Production for Health and Wellness Businesses". Bluelotusfilms.net. Retrieved 5 September 2020.

External links[edit]