Dharma Punx Book Review

Dharma Punx Book Review

dharma punx book

Dharma Punx Image: www.dharmapunx.com

dharma punx book

Noah Levine Image: www.dharmapunx.com

Book Title: Dharma Punx – A Memoir
Publisher: Harper San Francisco
Pages: 253
Amazon Price: $13.42
Rating: 5/5

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.

Book Summary

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.”

My Critique

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.

dharma punx book

Buddha and the Brahmins

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.

Click here to get your copy today!

More information can be found at Dharma Punx website as well as at Against The Stream Buddhist Meditation Society

Thanks for reading my Dharma Punx Book Review, and feel free to leave your thoughts or comments below.

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8 Responses to Dharma Punx Book Review

  1. Matthew says:

    Having lived in a Buddhist country I am aware that Buddhism is one of the best religions out there. I think Buddhism has some interesting viewpoints though I have never really gotten to know it well. Would you recommend this book as a starting point for people interested in Buddhism even if they don’t struggle with addictions?

    • Ian H says:

      I think this would be a good book for beginners to read because it documents Noah Levine’s encounter with Buddhist teachers. My other recommendation is “Buddhism Plain and Simple” by Steve Hagen

  2. Caito Junqueira says:


    I confess I have very little knowleadge or acquaintance with buddhism..

    Anyways, your article is very well ariten and, above all and thankfully, clean.

    Many people make the mistake of apreading too much chaotic information all around, but your text is very readable and compelling.

    One other thing that I do like is that its not over long. The size seems right for people that don’t know much and are also potential buyers.


    • Ian H says:

      Hi Caito,

      Thanks for the comment and for the feedback! I try to make my articles easy to follow since some of the topics and ideas can be complex.

  3. Jamie says:

    Great review of this book. I have always been familiar about Buddhism and this book sounds like a fantastic read. I have never had problems with alcohol or drugs, but know family has. I certainly have been depressed and think some Buddhist practices can help with my occasional depression. This book seems like it would teach how to be peaceful with oneself, and that would help overcoming addiction. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Ian H says:

      Hi Jamie,

      Thanks for the comment! If you have suffer from depression then I would also recommend this book to you as well. At the end of the book, there is a guided meditation called the “soft belly meditation” where one focuses on the navel and with every breath imagines the belly softening the tension and darkness. It’s really useful, and I’ve used it myself on multiple occasions.

  4. Carlton Gonder says:

    Wonderful Review!
    I truly delighted in this book. It’s basically told, and has a measure of genuineness to it that I don’t discover in more cleaned works. This is Noah’s story, with all his perplexity, outrage, puzzlement, blemishes and disclosures imparted to us. Having grown up hippy-trippy on California’s Central Coast, I heard echoes of my own encounters in deduction everyone was truly too valuable for words when they discussed Zen and Buddhism, or mantras or tantras or whatever. I truly valued the creator’s eagerness to impart his own particular polarities to us in one scene he portrays undermining an inn proprietor with a wooden stick, while he was on a trip hunting down internal peace. I heard different echoes of my own experience too: the longing to have peace and quietness to think on things, yet rather getting furious and fretful once the open door is within reach, the need to feel things strongly but then the desire to be discreetly serene, or even the yearning to have no craving. I read this verging on like understanding some individual’s REAL diary, not some altered and tidied up scholarly perfect work of art. The book helped me see that the way toward illumination begins wherever you are for Noah it was a cushioned cell and taking his dad’s recommendation to do some breathing activities just to traverse it all, fair to survive.

    A word on a portion of alternate surveys: I don’t believe it’s important who Noah’s dad was-I have a few companions who have been on comparative excursions to religious communities, seen the Dalai Lama, and so on who have no associations, and the creator was exceptionally in advance with his cooperations with his dad great and awful.

    At last, this is Noah’s story, however, I likewise discovered echoes of my own encounters. I thought that it was quick, fair, and unadulterated.

    Yours truly,

    • Ian H says:

      Hi Carlton,
      Thanks for the comment! Noah does share his own spiritual journey in very candid terms that most people can relate to.

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