The Badass Buddhist by Amanda Lauren

Noah Levine, son of renowned mediation and Dharma teacher Stephen Levine, is quite a sight, covered in tattoos with a shaved and a uniform of punk rock t-shirts. He looks like the kind of guy you wouldn’t want to mess with. But if you’re stuck in your own emotional, mental or spiritual dark alley, Noah is the guy to help you.

Seventeen years old, sitting in juvenile hall, Noah Levine, tries and fails twice to commit suicide. A troubled kid, who rebelled to the extreme, became a punk pre-teen and a severely drug addicted and violent teenage criminal who was on the verge of doing time in prison. However, he was already a prisoner in his own mind, serving a life sentence. In a pivotal moment of desperation, Noah calls his father, renowned mediation and Dharma teacher, Stephen Levine, who gives him simple meditation instructions. Meditation can’t change his past, or his current circumstances, but it can change his present state of mind. And ultimately, learning how to meditate changed Noah’s future. He gets sober, travels all over the world and ultimately finds his true calling as a spiritual teacher and psychologist.

In 2008, Noah founded Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society in Los Angeles. ATS offers a variety of programs, teaching meditation and the Dharma by Noah and other known western Dharma teachers. The crowd at ATS consists of punks, drunks, skaters, people in recovery and enough white yuppies to almost make the place hipster. No matter who you are, you can find your place in the sangha(community). But, ATS isn’t about being cool or trendy, it’s about real spirituality tailored to the modern world. It’s about finding Buddhist solutions to first and not so first world problems.

Katherine JenkinsRather intimidating, Noah Levine is a sight and presence to behold. He is covered neck to feet in so many tattoos, even he has lost track. His head is completely shaved and wears a uniform of punk rock t-shirts and shorts. He looks like the kind of guy you wouldn’t want to run into in a dark alley. But if you’re stuck in your own emotional, mental or spiritual dark alley, Noah will help stop you from holding yourself hostage.


In his Dharma talks, Noah uses the word fuck a lot. He doesn’t shy away from mentioning his own shortcomings and carnal thoughts about sex, drugs, crime, gambling, relationships and his very un-Buddha like past. Part of the appeal of Noah is that he isn’t exactly a monk. He may be 25 years sober, but he is still addicted to nicotine. A former vegan, Noah now eats meat. One of my primary introductions to the world of Noah Levine, was after a Dharma talk when he announced the annual ATS Silent Auction Fundraiser. His personal contribution to the auction was a class about using mindfulness techniques to succeed in Texas Hold ‘Em poker. He laughed and said, “This is so wrong.” In my eyes, it was so right.

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