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Against the Stream: A Buddhist Manual for Spiritual Revolutionaries Paperback – May 8, 2007


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Against the Stream: A Buddhist Manual for Spiritual Revolutionaries + Dharma Punx + The Heart of the Revolution: The Buddha's Radical Teachings on Forgiveness, Compassion, and Kindness
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne (May 8, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006073664X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060736644
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 7.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #81,009 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Levine's first book, Dharma Punx, was the autobiography of a young hell-raiser. Having escaped juvenile hall and drug addiction through the slow discipline of Buddhist practices, the son of Buddhist author Stephen Levine is now a spiritual teacher. In this book he presents what he has learned about and through Buddhism. The compelling personal narrative may be gone, but the disarming, frank tone that made the first book persuasive remains. He writes about the challenge of celibacy, for example, a different kind of difficulty than that posed by intimate relationships. Levine has taken the Buddha's teachings to heart—he would call it heart-mind—and clearly returns to such central ideas as impermanence and suffering, giving his thinking simplicity and consistency. Considering there's a lot of Buddhism here, the book is free of a lot of Buddhist-speak. An appendix includes to-the-point instructions for a variety of meditations that relate to essential Buddhist qualities and ideas. Levine's no-frills approach makes this a short book that will be accessible for young adults with little or no experience of Buddhism. Whether the book is about a revolutionary way of life is arguable, but it is an honest book—what Buddhists would call right speech—driven by right intention. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

Free of Buddhist-speak, with to-the-point instructions, Levine’s no-frills approach makes this book accessible for young adults. (Publishers Weekly)

“An honest, fearless sequel... this is one to thumb through again and again.” (Mandala magazine)

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 26 customer reviews
This book helped me change alot of perspectives on life.
E. Hockenberry
If you're tired of looking for answers and getting magical thinking and cheap mysticism dressed up as "the truth," this book is for you.
Culver J. Harrison
Although this is nothing like Levine's "Dharma Punx", he still has quite a way with words that makes the basics of Buddhism quite simple.
Jaes

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Michael P. Maslanka on June 5, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Cutting through the White Noise, Levine just does not just explain the basic tenents but applies them to the lives we all lead. Dealing with sexual temptations? "Sexual suffering is caused not by the energy itself, but by our own inability to understand and skillfully deal with that energy." He suggests ways to do just that, all the while adhering to Sid's(short hand for the Buddha) blessing that while his finger may point us to the moon, his finger is not the moon. Forgiveness? Peel away the actor from the action. "An action from a confused and suffering being in the past doesn't represent who that being is forever;it is only an expression of the being's suffering." To lash out at those who hurt us because they have been hurt and are in pain only continues the cycle. A worthwhile contribution.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Spunk Monkey on December 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
A fairly simple and straightforward explanation of the tenents of Theravadian and Mahayana Buddhism from a "punk rock" perspective. Although perhaps too simple for most non newbies, I really appreciated the moral clarity and seeming earnestness of author Noah Levine's vision and got a lot out of it.

A former punk rock junkie/ thug turned spiritual/ meditation teacher, Levine found Buddhism conducive to his anti authoritarian mentality (as we can see from such section headings as "Defy the Lies," "Serve the Truth," "Beware all Teachers," and "Question Everything."

Levine takes his title from a quote of the Buddha where he claimed that spiritual path was a revolutionary one, which went "against the stream" of society which is founded on and valorizes hate, bigotry, greed, violence, oppression, and lies.

Levine appreciates the counter cultural bend of Buddhism, especially where the Buddha said as he lay dying to, "Be a light unto yourself." Similarly Levine implores us to not "Believe anything based on tradition or charasmatic presentation. Don't even believe the Buddha, and certainly don't believe me," and "Nothing must be accepted on blind faith. If any aspect of these teachings doesn't make sense when thoroughly investigated, reject it."

In the end, this text implores us to be revolutionaries in this world by practicing generosity, self compassion, have a willingness to protect others and alleviate oppression, to break our addictions, to attempt to see the world with open eyes and clarity, to face our personal demons and fears, and to explore our minds and emotions so they don't tyrannize us.

I found his explanations of the Four Noble Truths and the Eight Fold Path useful.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful By E. Hockenberry on July 9, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was blessed by receiving this book as a gift from my wife. This book helped me change alot of perspectives on life. I enjoyed the stories and the techniques taught in this book. Being young and rebellious were things I held dear, now that I am getting older, I found that I can still shake up the norm just by being buddhist and respecting all life. Great read. Thank you Noah! --Eric H. Pittsburgh PA
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Ryan on November 24, 2007
Format: Paperback
I've started several books on Buddhism (and never finished.) This is the first one that I felt was really accessible to someone like me, who hasn't studied with a Buddhist teacher, and who's easily overwhelmed by "The Fourfold This" and "The Twelve-Fold That."

There's a grit and realness to Mr. Levine's writing that's totally refreshing, compared to other books on Buddhism. My copy is full of dog-eared pages, and it's the only book I give to people who are just starting their journeys of trying to understand Buddhism. I strongly recommend it if you're just beginning to explore Buddhism, if you need a refresher, or if you've been studying Buddhism for awhile, and it just hasn't quite clicked.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Culver J. Harrison on July 12, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Understaning our primitive instincts get out of ocntrol is the essence of both recovery and the Buddhist "way" of approaching one's life as the real work of life. And this book is a great introduction/guide an dsupport for the journey.
If you're tired of looking for answers and getting magical thinking and cheap mysticism dressed up as "the truth," this book is for you. It presents a realistic way to bring spirituality into every aspect of your everyday life and helps you find some serneity and contentment along the way.
It enhanced my 27 year old recovery and I gave it to my 19 year old son.
It's hard to be human and this helps.
Challenging a culture that seek to stoke one's desires and that also pormotes agression is the ultimate rebellion. And this book is the field manual.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By John L Murphy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 14, 2011
Format: Paperback
This "Buddhist manual for spiritual revolutionaries" may appeal to the tattooed and shaved crowd that the author and cover beckon. Levine sums up how not to be a Buddhist but a Buddha. He emphasizes actual experience, not book learning, so this is short on the usual history and cultural contexts other introductions provide, but this is not a shortcoming. He suggests a few sources, but Levine conveys dharma directly.

Good books by Buddhists tend to tell their message clearly and concisely. His 2003 memoir (summed up as a preface) "Dharma Punx" (see my review) narrated on his own rebellious quest and travels in Asia rather than give substantial content about the dharma. This 2007 follow-up covers little about his own struggles. Instead, Levine puts the knowledge he shares into action.

He distills the Buddha's message: "Pain is unavoidable. Suffering is self-created." (19) Levine demonstrates how we can overcome attachment to the cravings that inevitably arise that keep us tethered to things, people, and concepts that prevent us from growth and tempt us away from insight. He teaches, but free of jargon, Theravadin Southeast Asian-Sri Lankan "insight meditation/vipissana" traditions that he's studied for twenty years. He conveys them in calm, but forceful tones.

"Against the Stream" is counterinstinctual; this phrase from the Buddha means to go "against our very human instincts to accept pain and not chase pleasure." (100) As one in recovery, Levine conveys the difficulty of breaking patterns of how we react to pleasure and avoid pain. "Our conditioned tendency is to push or pull or grasp or run.
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