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Dharma Punx: A Memoir

3.76  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,979 Ratings  ·  325 Reviews
Fueled by the music of revolution, anger, fear, and despair, we dyed our hair or shaved our heads ... Eating acid like it was candy and chasing speed with cheap vodka, smoking truckloads of weed, all in a vain attempt to get numb and stay numb.

This is the story of a young man and a generation of angry youths who rebelled against their parents and the unfulfilled promise of
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published May 27th 2003 by HarperOne (first published 2003)
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Jan 15, 2009 Gary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
I noticed that this book gets a lot of one star and a lot of five star reviews. I have read several of these reviews. I decided that the book is very meaningful to someone who can relate to the author and the poor reviews are (seem to be) looking at the book from a literary view. There seems to be a lot of emoting with many of the reviews good and bad. I like this. Divide and conquer, I have read many books that have pissed me off, what power the book must have! When I first started reading this ...more
Aug 09, 2007 Laura rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
It's hard to read a memoir when halfway through you decide the author is a dick.

His message is great -- he transformed his life and began to help others after a horrendous road as a Crusty -- on the street, using whatever drugs he could find, immersed in the CA Punk scene. He got sober, got a teacher, and is now himself teaching Buddhism.

But he's still kind of a dick.
Dec 25, 2007 Max rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A staggeringly bad book. If you can get past all the spelling mistakes and grammatical errors you will find nothing interesting about this privileged son's journey. Another shithead loser who somehow thinks that people need to hear about his adventures in narcissism.
Aug 11, 2014 Spencer rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Much like author Noah Levine, I have also been trying to cultivate a more positive mindset. So instead of a hate-filled review of this terrible, terrible book, here's a picture of a baby unicorn nuzzling a kitten:

Mar 31, 2009 Thorin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I gave up on this book last night. I was on page 190. I can't remember the last time that I did that.

The book starts out in the punk scene of Santa Cruz in the 80's; being from there I found that interesting and enjoyable. I also enjoyed and was even slightly inspired by the transformation that he found with his spirituality. . . Until I got to about page 180. At this point the book becomes (pretty much exclusively) a list of countries and retreats that the author visited—dropping names of the
Dec 20, 2008 Terry rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A seventh grader once told me this was "the best book I've ever read," and I'm one of those sucker teachers who just can't resist that gambit. So, I spent the weekend with Mr.Levine. The first section passed easily, in the way all descent -into-Hell stories are kind of nice - after all, it isn't the reader who is falling. But the rest of the book lacked any substance or immediacy. Levine never allows the reader to understand his appreciation for punk music, or Buddhism, or his fellow man, or any ...more
Socket Klatzker
Dec 29, 2007 Socket Klatzker rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
This book was so obnoxious. I am happy that Noah Levine eventually found his way- but what a pompous ass while doing so. His rendition of Punk rock is devoid of any politics. He comes off at best as a womanizer, at worst a misogynist. Definitely oblivious, not enlightened. I don't buy it at all.
Jan 21, 2013 Allison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemplation
I think it is neither a book about a recovery program, nor a book about Buddhism. It is a book about the life experiences of one man, whom easily can be scoffed at for being different (tattooed punk rocker from the gutter). If you read it as an addict I am sure it can offer inspiration. If you read it as a Buddhist you'll find empathy. If you read it as a punk memoir I'm sure you'll find it interesting at least. I liked it as a person, interested in Buddhism, who picked it up because it IS so di ...more
Aug 26, 2008 Leilani rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nobody
Shelves: not-impressed
I read this book because a lot of the kids I work with have mentioned it as a book they enjoyed reading, especially while in prison. I figured it would be nice to be able to discuss it with them.
Unfortunately, this book is horrible. Noah comes off as vain, and even worse, incredibly boring. He never really goes in depth into much. It reads like a shitty romance novel, total brain candy.
Many things in this book left me seething, the worst of which was his stories of traveling with his Australian
Josh Bisker
Reading Levine's from-the-gutter-to-the-Gotama memoir may make his instructional tract Against the Stream more engaging, as it is hard not to credence the transformative abilities of the Dharma when voiced by someone who was so radically transformed, but there is a lot to not love about Dharma Punx. "Show, don't tell" problems occur throughout, as does a surprising lack of critical reflection about many some problematic parts of his life story, and there is a frustrating void where actual teachi ...more
Sep 14, 2008 Crckt rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Talk about your disappointments. This book is just barely okay. As a formerly drug-addicted, aging punk rock type with a budding interest in Buddhist practice, I thought this book would appeal to me on a deep level. Instead I found myself reading a memoir of a self-important guru-type. There is way too much emphasis on supernatural nonsense, and Mr. Levine comes of like a guy wjo really thinks quite a bit about himself. I could be wrong, I'd probably sound like a dick if I wrote a memoir too. Wa ...more
Andrew Sydlik
Jun 10, 2010 Andrew Sydlik rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: punks, Generation X and Z people into spirituality, young Buddhists
There are many books available about Buddhism, from all the various schools--Theravada, Zen, Nichiren, Vietnamese, Tibetan. There are books about Buddhist ethics, about meditation, about dealing with grief, anger, and depression through Buddhism. But I doubt that there are many books like this, describing the intersection between the rebellious ethos of punk rock and the transformational spiritual practice of Buddhism. There are, as Levine points out, many differences between the two, but they s ...more
Jul 14, 2012 Anthony rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A bit indulgent.

After a rather long, drawn out pat on the back about how badass the author fancies his rough (RE: Relatively privileged) childhood, he eventually gets to the point, which is that he has a very addictive personality and Buddhism seems to be his latest vice. He writes with the depth and clarity of mind of a know-it-all college freshman after a few weeks of intro to world religions. There is almost no wisdom, almost nothing to actually be gained from this book. I can see how if he'
Mar 29, 2016 Damien rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am not sure what I expected out of this book. I think that I may have been looking for some background on how Noah Levine came to develop the Refuge Recovery model. And in some ways, that's what this story gets to, but it takes a long time to get there. I think I was also looking for an alternative to the 12 steps. What I found is that Noah got sober using the 12 steps and then came to find Buddhism as his spiritual path.

It is a memoir, and so one should expect it to be a story of one man's l
Jason Kolowski
Dec 21, 2010 Jason Kolowski rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I can get past the fact that Noah Levine is a poor (at best) writer who apparently didn't employ an editor at all.
My problem with Dharma Punx is that I found myself waiting for this guy to become "spiritual" in any sense of the word.
I don't believe that he did.
I found him to be very close-minded all the way through, judging other people on ludicrous and materialistic bases.
I also found there to be heavy tones of pride when recounting his former, unsavory behavior patterns.

I was recommended this
Aug 17, 2015 Epicurus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Punk and Buddhism

This book is a great story and celebration of what Noah Levine has been through to get where he is. As a younger generation punk rocker born in 88 when Levine was just starting to get sober I tried to appreciate all of the things the older generations of punks have gone through. I felt like I could relate to Noah's inner revolution. The epilogue was my favorite part of the book.
Mishaela Meadows
This book is brilliant and really inspiring. I actually live in Santa Cruz and attend Dharma Punx talks and meditations at the Insight Santa Cruz Center with Jason Murphy. I listen to Noah Lenvine's talks on youtube and he is so inspirational and compassionate. Buddhism has helped me with overcoming my addictions as well. I would recommend this book to anyone as well as any of his other books. I bought it several years ago, and just picked it up again and finished the book. This is a fantastic, ...more
Patrick Taylor
Let me start with this: if you are looking for an introduction to the dharma or Buddhism, or the twelve steps, or punk rock philosophy, or how to combine all three, this is not that book. It is not meant to be that book. Like it says, it is a memoir, and as the title suggests, it is inspired by Jack Kerouac's Dharma Bums, which was also a memoir about a lost young man searching for something more.

Also, this book is not well written. I don't mean that to be a hater, but to be honest. I've seen N
I went back and forth a lot with this book. There were moments of profundity to which I related on a spiritual level but there were also moments of extreme douchery on the part of the author. By the end of the book I had the sense that he is very pleased with himself - "look at me, I'm so clever, I'm so punk, I'm such a non-conformist, I'm so humble" etc etc. Also, I think the message of him being in recovery and not making meetings more of a part of his life is a dangerous.

I have never been no
Dumpster Baby
It started off well. But then as the story went on it just got weirder and weirder. Though there were some good points to it. I consider myself to be as punk as he is, (hahahaha what a joke term.) And I too struggled with addiction. So this book came to me at the right time when I decided to get clean and attend NA meetings and work the steps. But e spends so much time name-dropping of bands he knows, trying to solidify his coolness, that's trying a little too hard. And then having rich well kno ...more
Sep 08, 2012 Christian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dharma Punx is one of those rare, truly inspirational books that comes along and speaks directly to a generation. As Noah Levine tells the stories of his youth; the good & the bad, and his spiritual journey through challenges to find who he is and what he plans to do, you feel as if you're walking the path with him.

The book particularly spoke to me as I felt so much kinship with the author having grown up with so many of the same "type" of kids in the book, knowing the bands, experiencing th
Jul 20, 2011 Nora rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Finally read this one after maybe 15 years of meaning to get around to it. While Noah's message is great, it's not very well written, and horribly proofread--I don"t know how they published this thing with so many errors in it. Anyway, because the writing wasn't so great, and because there was a streak of immaturity in this that surfaced from time to time, I couldn't help but think a lot about the power of nepotism at work here (Noah's father is famous Buddhist teacher Stephen Levine, and he cop ...more
A very readable recovery story, perhaps precisely because the book is not schmaltzy or cloying and says nothing about Jesus carrying someone on a beach. Written in a very conversational and direct way, starting from a violently rebellious punk and ending with a Buddhist who still feels an allegiance to the power of punk. (Having read a few other reviews, I wonder if I've forgotten some obnoxious aspects of the book --- it's possible! It has been a while since I read the book, and I took no notes ...more
Kerry Bogert
Oct 17, 2010 Kerry Bogert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Is it well written? No. But it's a very easy read and deeply fascinating.

The way it is written, and it's level of engagement is not the point, however.

This is a raw, honest, bare-to-the-bones memoir of a punk gone monk, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Does he go off on tangents? At times.

Does he seem to go off track? At times.

Is his story empowering, touching and real? YES...and THAT is what matters.

I think the people who gave this book 1-2 stars are missing the point and are elitist jerks. Find so
May 11, 2011 Christopher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The people who rate this book a 1 because of stylistic quirks are missing the point of the memoir. If you aren't moved by this book, you weren't a punk in the 80s. Those who rate it a 1 with comments about a priveleged kid have more of a point. However, you are missing the larger point that material wealth does not bring happiness. Levine had many more opportunities than many, but those didn't save him. Far from being a perfect book, Dharma Punx speaks to many people who may otherwise channel di ...more
Mar 24, 2009 Mwoodsh rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
this was one of the worst books i've read in a while. the author seemed to have no depth or understanding of 'spirituality' as the book was full of judgement of difference and self praise. one part that really bothered me was during one of the trips to thailand, after being denied a place to stay and being verbally abusive to the homeowner, the 'enlightened' author laughed as his friend defaced the thai man's sign to his house. i guess that's punk rock peacefullness, and i hope the children he t ...more
Aug 02, 2015 Iris rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Sexist, privileged, annoying.
Jul 25, 2015 KM rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: california
Having some familiarity with the punk scene, Santa Cruz, and Buddhism, I enjoyed this book. Noah Levine really opens a window into the early 80s punk world from the perspective of a teenager who would be most parents' worst nightmare. But despite his atrocious behavior, I ended up understanding his motives, caring about him and rooting for him whenever he took a step away from that ... because I knew that guy. Not Noah, but various characters like him that came in and out of my life.

His perspec
Jun 14, 2015 Quiet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: allegedly-real
Unexpectedly excellent book. I was recommended this by a punk friend and having absolutely nothing to read hesitantly accepted. Glad to say I'm very happy I did, because this brief and thrilling memoir expresses an abundance of creative and original idea while also maintaining a certain casualness that refutes the typical arrogance found in most other memoirs.

At it's basic this is a street-kid come-uppance story. Noah Levine was a Punk-Rock kid who acted out and eventually came to a point where
Dominic Tiberio
Aug 04, 2014 Dominic Tiberio rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
It is not often I write a review for a book I didn't finish, but this is certainly one of those times and quite worthy. I was (and still am) a massive fan of a lot of punk music, and most of my teen years were centered around that world, so this book has been on my reading list for a number of years but I just never got around to it. I'm sorry I did. This is just disastrous. The writing is atrocious and almost impossible to get through no matter the subject, and the subject matter is almost non- ...more
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meditate and destroy 1 46 Aug 18, 2008 09:31PM  
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American Buddhist teacher, author and counselor known for his philosophical alignment with Buddhism and punk ideology. Identifies his Buddhist beliefs and practices with both Theravadan and Mahayanan traditions. Holds a masters degree in counseling psychology from CIIS. He has helped found several groups and projects including the Mind Body Awareness Project], a non-profit organization that serves ...more
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“It's easy to hate and point out everything that is wrong with the world; it is the hardest and most important work in one's life to free oneself from the bonds of fear and attachment.” 60 likes
“The inner revolution will not be televised or sold on the Internet. It must take place within one's own mind and heart.” 26 likes
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