Sunday, April 14, 2013

Dharma Punx by Noah Levine

After a few books mostly about Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, I wanted to read about Eastern religions. This memoir describes addiction recovery through spiritual awakening. Levine's father Stephen is somewhat famous in American Buddhist circles, but punk rocker Noah dismisses that "hippie stuff" until drugs, alcohol, and attempted suicide bring him to a point of desperation where he is open to meditation. This leads him on a spiritual journey, and eventually he becomes a Buddhist teacher.

I really like parts of this book though sometimes it reminds me of a dozen other recovery memoirs I've read (perhaps that means I've read too many). I don't quite "get" the fusion of Buddhism and the punk rock ethos, but I guess it's important to Levine that Buddhism didn't make him into some kind of New Age pussy (I was never much into West Coast punk; maybe that's the problem). His travels throughout Asia are very interesting, however, as is the way he synthesizes various Buddhist traditions into something that works for him (a concept quite foreign to someone raised in theologically rigid Catholicism).

I don't know whether it's the Buddhism or the "recovery theology", but sometimes I can't connect with Levine. He says a lot of things that just don't resonate with me—not things that I think are wrong, just things that don't work for me personally. Maybe he would tell me I need to find my own path. This book makes me want to experiment with the "mindfulness meditation" that changed Levine's life, and he thoughtfully includes instructions at the end of the book. Alas I haven't actually tried it yet.

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