One City

One City

I.D. Project Members Get Big Press

posted by Ethan Nichtern

Two articles just came out in major media outlets about I.D. Project community members!
This first one is the piece about Noah Levine and myself. I think it’s a great article, well-written by a friend of mine. I definitely have some thoughts about it (especially about why it had to be written the way it was written to get published – as a trendy “hipster dharma” piece when there is so much more deep and important stuff to focus on about both the Dharma Punx and I.D.P. communities), but would love to hear what everyone thinks. Be sure to post a letter and a comment.
The second article is in The Nation, by our very dear friend Senator Eric Schneiderman about Transformative Politics. It’s a big publication for him, so check it out!
Happy Thursday.

Comments read comments(9)
post a comment
Ellen Scordato

posted February 22, 2008 at 12:26 pm

Schneiderman’s article ROCKS. An obvious yet all-too-often ignored part of the argument – we progressives need to look at the framework of the questions, the underlying assumptions, before refuting the arguments of conservatives.
We do get into relativism there – who decides what language to use and what the words mean when discussing social and economic problems? The conservatives do, for the past 30 years. Ceding the political lexicon to conservatives has not served the progressives well.
And I have two quibbles with the article:
1. Its description of the IDP discussions and teaching trivializes them.
2. Frankly, I don’t know why Jeollado, a large, well-lit, clean and friendly sushi joint, had to be turned into a dive bar. Cuz, like, that’s all there is in NYC, right? and those are the only places people under 30 go, right?
But I liked the discussion for pointing out that American buddhists are an aging bunch. Also appreciated the note that buddhism doesn’t need to be cultural imposture – the decoration of Japanese culture on Zen and Tibetan culture on Tibetan buddhism are just the remnants of previous cultural filters on the teachings – just “makeup on space”.
So our makeup is Jay-Z and iPhones. Cool!

report abuse

Ethan Nichtern

posted February 22, 2008 at 12:37 pm

Here’s a good letter response to the Salon article from the site. Not sure who wrote it…
The ID Project is not Hipster Dharma
Also as a member of the I.D. Project, I have to say this article misses the boat on what we do. We are a serious activism, arts, and meditation organization rooted in Buddhist philosophy and contemplative education. If you’re interested in activism, ecology, writing, visual arts, film, a great community, and you also want to learn about meditation, then check us out.
Ethan does use some pop culture references to discuss philosophy, but that’s because he’s a geek and he wants to be funny…
…He doesn’t like to view himself as a teacher, rather as a community organizer (and it is an amazing multifaceted community we have started to organize)…

report abuse


posted February 22, 2008 at 12:51 pm

I thought the Salon article was a great, if only surface-level, exploration of the the ID Project and Dharma Punx. But it sure spawned a lot of discursiveness in the comments section! There’s a certain percentage of people who adopt the (idiotic) Gawker-snark response to everything they read, and a bigger percentage of people who will reflect judgmentally on things they don’t understand, having experienced neither group personally. Hipster dharma? Please. Dharma Punx saved my life. Reading people post crap about either group is definitely pissing this meditator off… but, as the saying sort of goes, if even one person who reads this article is moved to check out meditation when they wouldn’t have otherwise considered it, it will have done its job.

report abuse

Ethan Nichtern

posted February 22, 2008 at 1:16 pm

Yeah, Eva, We Buddhists do have a tendency to get pretty ornery and catty in online conversation for some reason. Glad that hasn’t really happened yet at this blog.
Also, there was a fair amount of “Speaking from the Direct Experience I haven’t bothered to attain about this subject.” This is another trap We Buddhists seemingly should fall into less than others, but often seem to fall into as much as or more than others. Go figure.
And one dude said his sangha had a ton of people age 12-30. I really want to know where that is. :~)
Btw, the average age of an ID Project participant, according to our recent survey of regular participants, is 33.5
So we’re not really that young!

report abuse


posted February 23, 2008 at 12:40 am


posted February 23, 2008 at 4:52 am

The direct link to the article is:
Four comments:
1) The article seems to imply (unintentionally I think) that Ethan and Noah are giving a selectively filtered version of the Buddhist meditation tradition; one which ignores the historical context and the suttas, in favor of western terminology. I know of some *psychologists* who teach meditation that way (Mindfulness based stress-reduction, and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy — and there’s nothing wrong with that) but that’s certainly not my experience with IDP or DP.
2) The comments aren’t all that bad. They are judging based on the article, not based on having experienced the real thing themselves. A few of the comments are pretty self aware, like the one that concludes by saying “or maybe it’s a false dichotomy…”
3) DP offers as much of a “traditional meditation hall” as anything. We sit in silent meditation for at least 40 mins. And then do metta. Regularly.
4) I’ve also spent some time with the Goenka sangha, both at retreats and in the weekly NYC sits. I’d suppose that Goenka’s is what the article would call a traditional teaching, that supposedly turns off the younger generation. Well, the NYC Sangha is mostly late-20 to 30-somethings, not too different from IDP. At retreats I’ve noticed that most of the new students are younger than me (twenties), and that most of the experienced meditators and teachers are 30s and up. Committed practitioners who volunteer at the centers (often for 10 days at a stretch) vary in age, but are mostly 20s-30s I’d guess.
Contrary to the article’s premise, you don’t necesarily have to name-drop Saul Williams or Minor Threat in order to attract young people to serious meditation.
Personally, I love participating in all three groups (IDP, DP, Goenka), cuz they each have different flavors, but they each offer me rather deep sustenance. And it allows me to attend a group sit six days a week (and sometimes Sunday too) if I choose. *smile*
4.1) ^^^ Wrong metric Ethan. :-p You want the median age, not the average.

report abuse


posted February 23, 2008 at 5:19 am

I should add one thing that *is* different about new(er) young(er) sanghas that the Salon article didn’t mention: how they deal with sex.
In some of the more traditional theravada communities sex is treated with, well, a sort of “don’t ask, don’t tell” fashion.
Noah’s memoir treats sex like it treats just about everything else: it happens. Often with painful honesty.
And I’ve found that the Interdependence Project is overtly queer-friendly to an extent I haven’t seen at other spiritual or yoga groups that aren’t specifically targeted for gay practitioners.
Ethan is also very gender-inclusive and often refers to a female Buddha-to-be.
In those two respects, IDP does explicitly differ from some more traditional communities. It’s one thing to be silent and not exclude people. It’s a whole other thing to open your arms wide and say “you are very welcome here”.

report abuse

“Dive-bar Dharma” in Salon « Tricycle Editors’ Blog

posted February 23, 2008 at 9:04 am

[…] THE SECOND: Ethan responds to the article on the One City blog, and in the comments section, he and other I.D. Project members discuss how they feel the article […]

report abuse


posted February 23, 2008 at 12:00 pm

Hi Tao.

report abuse

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting One City. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Most Recent Buddhist Story By Beliefnet Most Recent Inspiration blog post Happy Reading!

posted 2:29:05pm Aug. 27, 2012 | read full post »

Mixing technology and practice
There were many more good sessions at the Wisdom 2.0 conference this weekend. The intention of the organizers is to post videos. I'll let you know when. Here are some of my notes from a second panel. How do we use modern, social media technologies — such as this blog — to both further o

posted 3:54:40pm May. 02, 2010 | read full post »

Wisdom 2.0
If a zen master were sitting next to the chief technical officer of Twitter, what would they talk about? That sounds like a hypothetical overheared at a bar in San Francisco. But this weekend I saw the very thing at Soren Gordhamer's Wisdom 2.0 conference — named after his book of the same nam

posted 1:43:19pm May. 01, 2010 | read full post »

The Buddha at Work - "All we are is dust in the wind, dude."
"The only true wisdom consists of knowing that you know nothing." - Alex Winter, as Bill S. Preston, Esq. in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure"That's us, dude!" - Keanu Reeves, as Ted "Theodore" LoganWhoa! Excellent! I've had impermanence on my mind recently. I've talked about it her

posted 2:20:00pm Jan. 28, 2010 | read full post »

Sometimes You Find Enlightenment by Punching People in the Face
This week I'm curating a guest post from Jonathan Mead, a friend who inspires by living life on his own terms and sharing what he can with others.  To quote from Jonathan's own site, Illuminated Mind: "The reason for everything: To create a revolution based on authentic action. A social movemen

posted 12:32:23pm Jan. 27, 2010 | read full post »

Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.