Well, there’s been an unintentional theme of evolution vs tradition this week and astute spiritual practitioners know that yoga isn’t the only practice that experiences this. Buddhism, for example, comes up against the tension between adhering the traditional expression of the practice while being relevant to the lives of modern practitioners (it has a little advantage, though, because it’s not as easy to commercially exploit since it doesn’t guarantee a sexy hot physique).
One teacher who walks the line with authenticity and integrity is Noah Levine, whose Dharma Punx movement is drawing in a new generation of Buddhists by approaching the ancient teachings with a punk rock attitude. And those of us in Montréal are lucky enough to have the opportunity to study with him in a couple of weeks, thanks to the hard work of the Dharma Punx Montréal sangha.
Noah Levine will be in Montréal on September 25 and 26, offering an evening discussion (Friday night, 7 – 9pm) and a day-long workshop (Saturday, 10am – 5pm). And as a special bonus pre-event event, there’ll be a screening of Meditate and Destroy, a recently released documentary about Noah Levine’s life and work, on Sunday, September 20, 5 – 7pm at Casa Del Popolo.
Here’s a little of what Noah has to say about the parallels between Buddhist meditation and punk rock:
As I began to meditate and it really worked, I thought, “Actually, most people aren’t doing this. This isn’t mainstream! This isn’t selling out. This is the punkest thing I’ve ever done.” To learn to tell the truth after living a life of lies, to learn how to be kind to myself and to other people, that was the most rebellious and difficult action I have ever taken. This isn’t buying in. This is waking up, waking up from this delusion that I have been in. And it is rebellious to do it.
I found a teaching where the Buddha said that practice is “against the stream,” or an act of rebellion. Most people are suffering and don’t even know it. They are so attached to pleasure and seeking pleasure all of the time that they will never wake up. So, I understood that teaching, because my whole life has been against the stream! There was a resonation, a deep knowing and reminder of something that I already knew. So I began integrating the punk ethic – that anti-establishment acknowledgement of suffering in the world – with the Buddhist philosophy that awakening, happiness and freedom are possible by acknowledging suffering and its causes, and cultivating awareness, morality and wisdom. [via an interview in ascent magazine, 2004]