Letters

Letters 09-07-2015

DEJA VUE Traverse City faces the same question as faced by Ann Arbor Township several years ago. A builder wanted to construct a 250-student Montessori school on 7.78 acres. The land was zoned for suburban residential use. The proposed school building was permissible as a “conditional use.”

The Court Overreached Believe it or not, everyone who disagrees with the court’s ruling on gay marriage isn’t a hateful bigot. Some of us believe the Supreme Court simply usurped the rule of law by legislating from the bench...

Some Diversity, Huh? Either I’ve been misled or misinformed about the greater Traverse City area. I thought that everyone there was so ‘all inclusive’ and open to other peoples’ opinions and, though one may disagree with said person, that person was entitled to their opinion(s)...

Defending Good People I was deeply saddened to read Colleen Smith’s letter [in Aug. 24 issue] regarding her boycott of the State Theater. I know both Derek and Brandon personally and cannot begin to understand how someone could express such contempt for them...

Not Fascinating I really don’t understand how you can name Jada Johnson a fascinating person by being a hunter. There are thousands of hunters all over the world, shooting by gun and also by arrow; why is she so special? All the other people listed were amazing...

Back to Mayberry A phrase that is often used to describe the amiable qualities that make Traverse City a great place to live is “small-town charm,” conjuring images of life in 1940s small-town America. Where everyone in Mayberry greets each other by name, job descriptions are simple enough for Sarah Palin to understand, and milk is delivered to your door...

Don’t Be Threatened The August 31 issue had 10 letters(!) blasting a recent writer for her stance on gay marriage and the State Theatre. That is overkill. Ms. Smith has a right to her opinion, a right to comment in an open forum such as Northern Express...

Treat The Sickness Thank you to Grant Parsons for the editorial exposing the uglier residual of the criminalizing of drug use. Clean now, I struggled with addiction for a good portion of my adult life. I’ve never sold drugs or committed a violent crime, but I’ve been arrested, jailed, and eventually imprisoned. This did nothing but perpetuate shame, alienation, loss and continued use...

About A Girl -- Not Consider your audience, Thomas Kachadurian (“About A Girl” column). Preachy opinion pieces don’t change people’s minds. Example: “My view on abortion changed…It might be time for the rest of the country to catch up.” Opinion pieces work best when engaging the reader, not directing the reader...

Disappointed I am disappointed with the tone of many of the August 31 responses to Colleen Smith’s Letter to the Editor from the previous week. I do not hold Ms. Smith’s opinion; however, if we live in a diverse community, by definition, people will hold different views, value different things, look and act different from one another...

Free Will To Love I want to start off by saying I love Northern Express. It is well written, unbiased and always a pleasure to read. I am sorry I missed last month’s article referred to in the Aug. 24 letter titled, “No More State Theater.”

Home · Articles · News · Features · The Enlightened Punk: Former...
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The Enlightened Punk: Former Drug Addict, Current Buddhist Author Comes to Northern Michigan

Andy Taylor - July 8th, 2004
Very few people can claim to have traveled a road that takes them from being a drug-addicted, teenage punk-rocker to a well-adjusted adult with a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. Even more unique is Noah Levine, who has walked this path, but also teaches Buddhist thought and meditation.
Levine knows the depths of pain and depravity as well as anyone, but instead of resigning himself to a life of drug use, he pulled himself out of prison with the help of meditation and the Buddhism that was so special to his father, the famous author Stephen Levine.
“Buddhism and punk rock obviously have some huge differences. But for me they are both part of a single thread that has been stitched through every aspect of my life. My search for happiness, which first led me to drugs and punk rock, is the same search that eventually brought me to spiritual practice. The truth is, going against the internal stream of ignorance is way more rebellious than trying to start some sort of cultural revolution,” Levine says in his book “Dharma Punx.”
In 2003 Levine released a memoir “Dharma Punx” in which he traces his life from his roots in punk rock, anarchy and violence to his newfound peace. “ ‘Dharma Punx’ is my story and it’s a story about my generation: the punks, the kids all around the world who searched for meaning and liberation in the age of Reagan, Thatcher, and the Cold War’s constant threat of total nuclear annihilation,” Levine says in the preface to the text.
Levine was brought to his sobriety through a combination of meditation tips from his father and the help of a 12-step program to stop addiction.
The 12-step programs are known for their success and other famous punk rockers have been through this type of therapy and come out with a heightened sense of spirituality as evidenced by the life of John Maurer. Maurer played bass guitar for Social Distortion in the late ’80s and ’90s and became a Christian after going through a similar program. Levine says,
“I think that, mostly, 12-step programs offer a spiritual solution to addiction and how one chooses to interpret that thought is personal. I turned to Buddhism partially because I was raised with more of an Eastern perspective. I think that part of my punk ethic with an anti-religion thought made it easier to go toward Buddhist thought, since it is less of a blind faith. It is not a faith-based tradition, but it is a verified experience tradition. Buddhism fit much better for me. I felt like it was more realistic. I think it just comes down to what resonates as true.”
He has spent time studying under some of the foremost minds in Buddhist thought, including the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Ram Dass, Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein, Sharon Salzberg, Norman Fischer and Sylvia Boorstein. Kornfield states, “Noah makes us feel the painful alienation and suffering of modern youth, and discover as he did the liberation of spiritual practice that can ultimately heal.”
Even the punk rockers are intrigued by what Levine has to say as Mike Ness from Social Distortion says that Levine’s book is, “ . . . a great success story that shows that violence, negativity and self-destruction don’t accomplish anything.” Sothira of California puck rock outfits Crucifix and Proudflesh, says that the book inspired him to reflect on the impact that his life has had. “ ‘Dharma Punx’ inspired me to look back at my own life and to see where I might be able to grow spiritually,” Sothira comments.
Since the release of his book, Levine has been keeping busy. “In the last year I have been traveling and teaching meditations and doing workshops. I also finished a master’s in psychology. I am integrating meditation and psychology,” he says.
Levine is also the co-founder of an organization in San Francisco called the Mind Body Awareness Project. The MBA is a group that teaches at-risk youth meditation and yoga in order to help them curb tendencies toward drugs and violence. The goal is to show young people how to reduce stress, manage anger and avoid violent situations.
He has also done quite a bit of traveling throughout the world, including a trip to Asia. “I was five years into my spiritual practice and recovery: very into the intensive stage of my own growth and healing. I took a vow of celibacy. I was on my way to Asia for a few months; that turned into a couple of years and ended in about 1997 or 98. Since then I finished grad school and wrote the book and have transitioned into the teaching practice.”
Levine says that his goal is to remove certain biases from Eastern thought and to take it into the world. “There is another aspect [to meditation] which is cultivating loving kindness, forgiveness, and compassion while learning to relate differently to pain and suffering in ourselves and in others. This is not a selfish thing but is about using it in the world to bring about positive change. We’re trying to take away the Hippie stigma that comes with Eastern thought.”
A style of insight meditation referred to as Vipassama is what Levine teaches mostly. “There are a lot of levels to meditation. There is basic stress reduction that is universal. There is also introspection that helps with anger management. [The main goal is] seeing the truth within one’s own mind-body process. The foundational practice is present-time awareness; feeling emotion and thought patterns. This is not just mindless awareness but is using the critical aspect of the mind to analyze existence,” Levine says.
Levine will be at the Leelanau Center for Contemplative Arts on Friday, July 9 from 4-7:30 p.m. He will be speaking about his life’s journey and will be leading a meditation practice on the art of “just sitting.” For more information contact Sandy Carden at UNION/YOGA by calling 231-256-2100 or visit www.unionyoga.com. For information on Levine’s current book tour, visit his web site at
www.dharmapunx.com.


 
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