Noah Levine (born 1971) is an American Buddhist teacher and the author of the books Dharma Punx: A Memoir and Against the Stream. 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. He holds a master’s degree in counseling psychology from CIIS.
1 Early life
5 Subject of documentary
6 See also
8 External links
Levine is the son of American Buddhist author Stephen Levine, and received teacher training from Jack Kornfield of Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California. He also lists the 14th Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Ram Dass, Joseph Goldstein, Sharon Salzberg, Norman Fischer, and Sylvia Boorstein as his teachers.
As a youth, Levine was incarcerated several times. His first book, Dharma Punx, details teenage years filled with drugs, violence, and multiple suicide attempts-choices fuelled by disillusionment with American mainstream culture. His substance abuse started early in life-at age six he began smoking marijuana-and finally ended in a padded detoxification cell in juvenile prison 11 years later. It was in this cell where he hit ‘an emotional rock bottom’ and began his vipassana practice ‘out of a place of extreme drug addiction and violence’ While incarcerated, he saw for the first time how the practice his father taught him gave him the tools to relieve the fear and uncertainty that pervaded his life.
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 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.
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’.