Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Mini Book Review: Dharma Punx

Some weeks ago I had had seriously bad and potentially career-changing day at work, and decided to splurge and buy myself a new book. I had been eying Noah Levine's book, "Dharma Punx: A Memoir," over the previous several months, hoping to find it at my semi-regular visits to my favorite used book store. But, I never did, and so when ever I found myself in a retail bookstore I would sneak-read a few pages of Dharma Punx. But then came The Bad Day: I threw all of Green Bean's excellent advice and restraint out the window and made a bee-line for the first bookstore I could find. It was a big box store and I didn't even care, I just bought the book, brand new. And my eyes and brain devoured it, page by page.

I suppose it is fairly ironic to have used a book about buddhism as a way to avoid thinking about my Bad Day, but I am certainly glad I bought the book, even under those less-than-admirable motivations and circumstances. Noah Levine has a way of making Buddhist ideas come alive, and showing how piercingly relevant they are in our society today, regardless of any other spiritutal/religious beliefs you may or may not have. His Dharma Punx book is an exposition of how he went from being a seriously drug-addicted young person frequenting jail, to a clean and sober maturing person living a life of compassion and service to others. It is a stark, blunt, riveting and yet ultimately joyous book. He has since written a second book, called "Against the Stream" which outlines the teachings of the Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama) , whom Levine affectionately refers to as "Sid." I really want to read that book too, but I am doing my best to wait for it second hand -- so far so good!

As a result of reading the first book, I stumbled on to Levine's two websites. On these websites are several of Noah Levine's dharma talks, in podcast form. I have been enjoying these down-to-earth talks immensely as I attempt to wait patiently for a chance to read Against the Stream. I see it is availabile through inter-library loan via my local public library branch. In the meantime, I will happily listen my way through Levine's podcasts on topics such as money, patience, meditation, impermance, relationships, forgiveness and women and Buddhism.

Now to check out those library hours....

9 comments:

Heather @ SGF said...

Thanks for the great review. I'll put it on my reading list. Right now I'm reading Zen Heart. It's one of those books where you have to stop every few pages to meditate. I'm loving it!

Eco Yogini said...

i read that post on GreenPhoneBooth and have also caved to the big box stores... sigh. I LOVE books.

i'm sorry to hear about your BAD DAY. :( I hope that you are feeling better. It is amazing how sometimes we do exactly what we need on our very bad days without even stopping to consider why.

I also think it's cool that Thai Chi instructors are volunteer! :)

Theresa said...

I will have to look up that Zen Heart book Heather - thanks!

EcoY - I am a confirmed book-aholic, no doubt about it! Ya, the tai chi assoication is all non-profit, which I really like.

EJ said...

sorry to hear about your bad day but isn't it a bit too harsh on yourself to say: less-than-admirable motivations and circumstancesjust for buying a book?

SoundHunter said...

I'd like to read this book too, sounds really good!

SoundHunter said...

btw, I recently bought "The Tao of Willie". It's by Willie Nelson, maybe you'll find it interesting too, I'll prolly review it when I'm done.

Theresa said...

EJ - perhaps it is. On the other hand, its these smaller situations and the decisions we make about them that form the 'practice' for any bigger decisions that come along. All I can do is keep practicing and be mindful about it though...

SoundHunter - It's a really frank and honest book - brutally so in places - I quite liked it for that reason: it just tells it like it is without any candy coating. I hadn't heard about the Tao of Willie book - I look forward to your review!

kale for sale said...

I love that he calls Buddah, Sid. That's too funny and all the encouragement I need to pick this book up and give it a look. Thank you! I'm glad it made your day better too.

Theresa said...

Kale, yes, he is very much down to earth like that - very engaging! I spent much of today listening to Noah Levine's podcasts while weeding out at the CSA farm, and all of his dharma talks are just so approachable and matter of fact. Would love to hear him speak in person some day...