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Dharma Punx Paperback – May 4, 2004

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; Reprint edition (May 4, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060008954
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060008956
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (119 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,659 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"Buddhism and punk rock," writes former skate punk, drug addict, and petty thief and current Buddhist meditation instructor Noah Levine in his memoir Dharma Punx, "obviously have some huge differences." No argument there. "But," he continues, "for me they are both part of a single thread that has been stitched through every aspect of my life." Judging by Levine's childhood, it's amazing there's any salvageable material with which to stitch. He was suicidal at age five, smoking pot and drinking beer while crashing headlong into the Bay Area punk scene by the 8th grade, and in and out of jail as a wayward teen who stole VCRs from neighbors to finance a crack habit. After he hit bottom and embraced a Buddhist path similar to that endorsed by his father, author Stephen Levine, the trappings of his previous life were largely rejected. Except for the punk rock, which Levine channeled into a Buddhist worldview. The firs! t section of the book is harrowing as Levine details his descent into addiction and does so with a simple matter-of-fact approach that makes his tale all the more compelling. Levine is a potent central character, always sympathetic even when he's neither likable nor completely forgivable. Later sections lack the same impact and consist largely of travelogues of the author's journeys around the world in search of spiritual satisfaction along with attempts to reconcile the disparate worlds of punk and Buddhism. Nonetheless, it is satisfying to see Levine return to the juvenile halls where he was once incarcerated, this time as a counselor. While there is nothing especially unique about the literary genre of reformed addict memoir, it's a genre that rarely involves punk rockers or Buddhists. Levine's unique and skillfully related journey will appeal to punks, Buddhists, and anyone interested in the idea of redemption. --John Moe --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Like father, like son: Levine, son of Buddhist teacher and author Stephen Levine, updates his father's path to enlightenment in this engaging memoir. The 32-year-old author spent his youth in what Buddhists would call the hell realm-here found in addictive drugs and alcohol and criminal behavior, beginning at age six with marijuana and culminating at age 17 with detoxification from alcohol in a padded cell in juvenile hall. His father's meditation instructions opened a door out of the son's psychological and spiritual prison. From that turning point the younger Levine began his own spiritual journey, starting with 12-step recovery and on to the meditation cushion, to monasteries in Asia and climactically back to the same juvenile hall where he was imprisoned, only this time to offer meditation instruction. This young-life drama plays out with a punk rock soundtrack, Levine having discovered, also at an early age, the vehicle of punk music to express vital energy. He uses a natural, conversational voice to relate his story, which makes it easier to maintain empathy not only for him but also for other troubled and benighted people-not all of whom live, as Levine has, to tell the tale of transformation. This honest, page-turning confession is also a measure of the adaptability and usefulness of the Asian tradition of Buddhism for the young and the restless of contemporary America.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Really enjoyed this book and have now read some of the recommendations that came out of it.
This book is written in a clear manner that moves more or less chronologically, except for a few occasional falls into the past, through the author's life.
He shows the reader that in life, one can follow a path of spirituality in their own way and be successful.
Todd E. Kushnir

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Joshua Ramey-Renk on December 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed this book. It's simply told, and has a measure of honesty to it that I don't find in more polished works. This is Noah's story, with all his confusion, anger, puzzlement, flaws and discoveries shared with us. Having grown up hippy-trippy on California's Central Coast, I heard echoes of my own experiences in thinking everybody was really too precious for words when they talked about Zen and buddhism, or mantras or tantras or whatever. I really appreciated the author's willingness to to share his own dichotomies with us-in one scene he describes threatening a hostel owner with a wooden stick, while he was on a journey searching for inner peace. I heard other echoes of my own experience as well: the desire to have peace and tranquility to think on things, yet instead getting angry and restless once the opportunity is at hand, the need to feel things intensely and yet the wish to be quietly placid, or even the desire to have no desire. I read this almost like reading somebody's REAL journal, not some edited and cleaned up literary masterpiece. The book helped me see that the path toward enlightenment starts wherever you are-for Noah it was a padded cell and taking his father's advice to do some breathing exercises-just to get through it all, just to survive.

A word on some of the other reviews: I don't think it's relevant who Noah's father was-I have several friends who have been on similar trips to monasteries, seen the Dalai Lama, etc. who have no connections, and the author was very up-front with his interactions with his father-good and bad. He even talks about some of the negative things he experienced when people disliked his father's writings.

In the end, this is Noah's story, but I also found echoes of my own experiences. I found it insightful, honest, and pure.
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36 of 41 people found the following review helpful By D. Lawrence on February 2, 2009
Format: Paperback
Unlike some, I read the whole book before writing my review. The story resonated with me, but I'm the audience. I'm about the same age as the author, like a lot of the same music, and have my own experiences with using, recovery, and spiritual seeking. I don't know how the book would read to you. I'm not you, you know?

But I didn't expect a textbook on Buddhism. For that I'd probably get a, I don't know, textbook on Buddhism. Instead I got a story from a contemporary of mine who told his story with honesty, humanity, and heart. It gave me some f-ing hope and that's something for which I'm always grateful. Thanks fellow trudger along the path of happy destiny. Pax.
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36 of 46 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I wanted to like this book, and still somehow believe Levine's heart's in the right place, so to speak. But although Dharma Punx tries at times to bypass the author's apparent total self-absorption, it consistently fails. I imagine if I met Levine, I'd be forced to re-evaluate, but alas, there's only this poorly written book trying hard to convince me he's so punk, his tattoos so cool, his early [quite privileged] life so difficult. Acceptance of one's mistakes can be the result of great wisdom, unless such "acceptance" always falls short of the willingness to interrogate one's active role in one's own suffering: in Dharma Punx, "acceptance" amounts to (probably accidental) self-glorification, with consequent sometimes subtle blaming of everything and everyone else the whole way through. It's as though you smashed your own knee with a hammer, blamed the pain on the hammer or its manufacturer, blamed the neighbors for not stopping you, and yet somehow managed to still hope to convey how cool it is to have smashed one's knees with a hammer (how punk!).
Read HARDCORE ZEN instead.
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50 of 65 people found the following review helpful By C. Perry on September 28, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Noah Levine supposedly set out to write a book about bringing Buddhism to street punks; instead he wrote 249 pages of self-congratulatory autobiography. Like many autobiographies, this one fails to portray an accurate image of the subject. When writing about one's self, most of us tend to include our accomplishments rather than our negative impacts on life; Levine is no exception.
The first few chapters are only moderately inspiring. Levine takes us through the dysfunctional, privileged upbringing of a child born to hippies. Instead of teaching young, bratty Levine right from wrong, his parents took the approach of allowing him to run wild in an attempt to "find his own way." This led to a life of crime, heavy drug use, dropping out of high school, and violence. Instead of enlightening the reader as to what Levine and his friends were so dissatisfied with, Levine regales adventures he and his friends had breaking into the homes of their rather well off families in order to obtain money for drugs.
Levine's famous father, Stephen Levine, often comes to Noah's rescue, showing the reader how easy it is to be a criminal, broke punk, when your father has influence and money. Once the younger Levine discovers meditation while in juvenile hall, the reader is mislead into believing that he will start down a path of righteousness. While Levine clearly believes that, nothing could be further from the truth. Noah spends the rest of the book boasting of his various spiritual accomplishments, claiming that because he has apologized and made amends for all his youthful trespasses, that he is forgiven and free of that karma. He focuses entirely upon every self-gratifying situation, and avoids or gives little attention to the times when he acted like a blatant jerk.
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