Dharma Punx Book Review
Book Title: Dharma Punx – A Memoir
Publisher: Harper San Francisco
Amazon Price: $13.42
This book is a very candid autobiography written by Buddhist teacher and punk rocker Noah Levine about his struggles with addiction that led to his spiritual awakening.
Noah Levine has been practicing Buddhism since around 1988 and was trained by the eminent Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield. He continues to lead meditation groups and workshops and even visits prisons to teach inmates mindfulness. He holds a master’s degree in counseling psychology and has studied with many teachers in both the Theravada and Mahayana Buddhist traditions.
This book is very much about Noah Levine’s search for meaning that “led him to punk rock, drugs, drinking, and dissatisfaction”. But after he ended up incarcerated as a young man, he began to see that these alone did not address the problem of his suffering.
During his recovery he came to see the uselessness of such an approach and looked for positive channels for the anger he felt at the injustices and suffering going on in the world. This ultimately led Noah to Buddhism which he studied under the Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield.
In an interview by LA Yoga Magazine, Levine said, “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.”
Since I come from a similar background as Noah in terms of addiction and punk rock, I could definitely identify with the author’s story. And like him (and anyone else for that matter) I suffered greatly during that period in my life before finding solace in Buddhist teaching.
I loved his punk rock approach to Theravada Buddhist practice by likening the Buddha’s realization of enlightenment with punk rock rebellion.
The Buddha’s teachings went against the paths of the Brahmin authorities at that time in India so I think this is a very apt comparison. The Buddha himself taught very revolutionary ideas and led a spiritual rebellion against ignorance, anger, and greed and all of its forms.
I first read this book it had a massive positive impact on my recovery and gave me hope that I too could one day find peace and serenity and relief from suffering of addiction.
His no-nonsense informal approach is very refreshing and honest and his approach to Buddhism is stripped of its religious trappings and presented in a way that can be understood by all.
The only issue that some might have with this book is that it contains some foul language so it may not be appropriate for younger audiences.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is currently struggling or has struggled with addiction in the past. Anyone who follows the Theravada tradition (e.g. Burmese and Thai traditions) will love this book. Overall, I think this book deserves a 5/5 rating.
Thanks for reading my Dharma Punx Book Review, and feel free to leave your thoughts or comments below.