American Buddhist teacher, author and counselor known for his philosophical alignment with Buddhism and punk ideology. Identifies his Buddhist beliefs and practices with both Theravadan and Mahayanan traditions. Holds a masters degree in counseling psychology from CIIS. He has helped found several groups and projects including the Mind Body Awareness Project], a non-profit organization that serves incarcerated youths.
Son of American Buddhist author Stephen Levine. Trained by Jack Kornfield of Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, CA. He also lists as teachers His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Ram Dass, Joseph Goldstein, Sharon Salzberg, Norman Fischer, and Sylvia Boorstein.
He is the founder of the Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society, with two centers in Los Angeles and over twenty affiliated groups in North America and Europe. (www.againstthestream.org) Noah leads Dharma and vipassana meditation retreats and workshops across the United States and Europe. An important aspect of his work is with inmates in juvenile and adult prisons where he combines meditation techniques with psychotherapy—“exploring 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.” Noah Levine is a member of the Prison Dharma Network.
Levine’s work with inmates is fueled by his own past; as a youth he had several periods of incarceration. His first book, Dharma Punx, in large part details Levine’s teenage years filled with drugs, violence, and multiple suicide attempts - choices fueled by a rebellious nature and identification with punk rock and culture. His substance abuse started early in life - at age 6 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.
One notable aspect of Buddhist Dharma is the path of our choices, the actions past and present and the intention for future action – (ref. 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". Readers will find it written in a style consistent with the "disarming, frank tone" from his first book and, also, free from the typical "Buddhist-speak" found in comparable works; Levine "clearly returns to such central ideas as impermanence and suffering, giving his thinking simplicity and consistency". The author claims that this work is for '"true spiritual revolutionaries" who are looking for both "inner and outer spiritual rebellion"'.
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