Tricycle Film Club

Buddhist films and discussion for the
Tricycle Community

Meditate and Destroy

A Documentary on Punk Rock, Spirituality & Inner Rebellion

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Welcome to the Tricycle Film Club!

 

This month we are offering supporting and sustaining members a look at the documentary film Meditate and Destroy. The focus of the film is on Noah Levine, founding teacher of the Dharma Punx movement and bestselling author of Dharma Punx and Against the Stream. Tattoos, motorcycles and the Buddha are all featured in this take on the convergence of Buddhism and punk culture. By laying out Noah's story, Meditate and Destroy explores the possibilities of finding new paths and opportunity even in our darkest hours. Noah transforms his life from one defined by violence and addiction to becoming a dedicated community leader and meditation teacher whose style and candor inspires people to explore Buddhist teachings for inner transformation. Meditate and Destroy features an engaging punk rock soundtrack along with interviews with renowed Buddhist teachers Jack Kornfield, Stephen Levine, and Ajahn Amaro. 

Join director Sarah Fisher in this month's Tricycle Film Club community discussion. Enjoy!

Meditate and Destroy will only be available to watch on Tricycle until the end of August. To purchase a copy of the DVD or download the movie, please visit Alive Mind Cinema here.

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treegirl's picture

loved this film! and also loved reading the comments - its amazing how we all interpret differently. we must all be greatful to the Noahs of the world who find themselves in a place where they are able to break down some barriers and even the playing field a little!

baldfrog's picture

dear Noah I am a recovered alcoholic and see this finding higher power here and there as a pendulum swinging back and forth perhaps and I hope not.For in compassion your higher power could be anywhere you are right now and not be without your being.so i if your not here none of it is here,so I might embarrass my old ass with saying something so ignorant perhaps,but if we are not present to experience the experience then what are we experiencing.Now I got a lucky roll working the 12 steps and had a sponsor that had researched a lot of the program as well as determinate a lot of things you heard in meetings called "don't work but cute sayings".But the real deal came quite by coincidence while taking a former Jesuit Priest to a Vedanta Society Center.They had came to meet the Swami Shraddhannada of the Center and talk.Well the guy giving the talk was giving a travel log from his trip to India and the Priest I had taken along with a group of People as their driver,sat attentively.Well I was bored as hell so I got up and left and went outside to sit and meditate for a few minutes when the Sri they had came to see walked up and we started talking and he ask had I seen their garden which is beautiful.I said no and did not know it even existed.We smiled and laughed and said he thought the travel log was boring too but I apologized for I did not want to seem irreverent.He laughed and said honestly.LOL So though when I went for that walk and stopped at the foot of one of the Icons,which as you know outside my body though of my Favorite Saint,Saint Francis and had his Prayer on the base that held it.All of a sudden I was overcome with this profound connection and wakefulness where I knew I was a part of and one with everything and all the fear that I had ever held dropped away and sense of utter Freedom rocked me yet I was filled with tears as parts of my past seemed to start melting away,it lasted for quite awhile and I continued my walk stopping at the Krishna's,the Meditation Buddha's to sit and light even some incense left by others but what really was being burned away was all the emotional hate I had carried from seeing what I was a part of.What people choose their experience of something greater than that they THINK is interesting and my shit doesn't stink any better or worse than anyone else's.However from my Experience I know I am a part of everything and that is not a belief but an Experience.So to conclude this rant oration and probably poor piece of whatever,When I have worked with alcoholics trying to recover with 12 Steps. I tell them from the beginning I cannot tell you what your higher power is or what you would have it be or if you even want one.Only they can Experience the Experience they choose,But I do Tell them if they aren't here,then I am not,and you are not,and any other cha cha going on.So I tell them do the work I will help them,I am not going to tell them who god is or is ,the same for a higher power,go for Einstein's Energy Formulas if you want a scientific Higher Power,LOL but get your own experience and decide.It would be helpful if you humble yourself and do the work outlined in the book and if by coincidence you have some awakening Experience and want to call that god,then for god's sake do it.For
as I say also if your not here the Experience of that is not here.What you pass on is the road to Here.and thanks. p.s and don't become addicted to meetings.

Dekyi's picture

As I read some of the other comments, it struck me how difficult it is to move beyond attachment even when what we are clinging to is our own idea how a Dharma teacher should look and behave or how we think it best to practice the 12 steps. I read Dharma Punx and thought it was awesome that here is this guy, tattoos and grit, cursing and pissed off, who is working on spreading hope and compassion to those who feel lost and forgotten. Not all teachers have to be exemplary models of the "good Buddhist." If that were so, no one would acknowledge the impact that Trungpa Rinpoche had on all those pot-smoking hippies or the wisdom he brought while sipping gin out of a jelly jar. What is more important is that the teacher is motivated by personal experience, his/her own realization of the Four Noble Truths, and the desire to help end the suffering of others.
"People who realize that the Dharma is their true home give a home to the world."

Dominic Gomez's picture

"this guy, tattoos and grit, cursing and pissed off, working on spreading hope and compassion to those who feel lost and forgotten". Must be a Democrat. ;-)

baldfrog's picture

you have been reading his mail and you would be right,too funny my wife looked at me and said that would be you a 65 year old Dharma Punk Democrat,say what not a too on this body,but known to have an attid too de tattooed in the mind like a weed of crab grass.

mosephine's picture

Hi Noah, my recovery is rooted in my 12-step program and in my practice of buddhism. I have a few comments on how your approach is presented in the film. a)I disagree that the 12-step programs insist that your higher power must exist outside of yourself. It is true that it must be something other than your "small self". But my higher power is not totally outside of me. It is deep within me and all through me, not the small me, but the me that is part of all that is... The Big Book says "We found the great reality deep down within us". This is what allows me to combine the buddhist approach with my 12-step work. b)There is a lot of violence talked about and visually displayed in the film. This could be balanced somewhat by a more in-depth discussion of living ammends. c) There is a big focus on you (ego) and little attention to humility which is so important to our recovery.

Pravah's picture

I found it interesting that the punks found it beneficial and perhaps necessary to combine Buddhist and Twelve Step practice and teachings. Twelve Step would probably be considered "inter-faith" however I would contend that their deferral to a "higher power" puts them closer to Christianity than to Buddhism. Here's some food for thought then. Perhaps Christianity has something to offer of vital importance to Westerners such as ourselves that Buddhism can't supply in this area of recovery and by extension more generally. I should hasten to add though that in my view this does not detract from the value of Buddhism in any way. Here we are seeing the reaping of benefits from both worlds.

Thanks for the film.

Dominic Gomez's picture

Buddhism's higher power would be the life-condition of Buddhahood, wherein the individual, through faith, practice and study, taps from within the hope, courage and wisdom to win in life.

behirab's picture

It's great that Noah is reaching out to an underserved demographic, but how enlightened can he be when he is so full of himself and how compassionate can he be when he hates another demographic group - hippies. Nonetheless it's fantastic he's navigating the supremely difficult road of conquering his demons and helping others do the same. His attachment to his punk identity is a defense he can free himself from as he continues on the path, just as Buddhists in robes have to overcome the limiting form of being "religious."

BrianB's picture

Great film...Experienced a bit of the hippy influenced culture in the late to mid 70's, but the term was "freaks" then not "hippies"....at least in the Midwest. Then punk was big in the late 70's and early 80's...JB's Down - Kent Ohio. Fmodels....local punk band almost a "house band' but more well known bands would play there-.. X for example. Of course Brad Warner was from Kent, but missed him by about a year...he writes about some of the characters I did see around in those days 'Johnny Phelm" and he lived in the Fmodels house...if I'm not mistaken.

It was cool to experience the change.... impermanence.....culture mutating and evolving. Each generation has it's own energy. I see what Noah is doing is very moving...it has power. I can relate to both the older and Noah's generation and how each contextualize the Dhamma.

Big thanks on showing this!

avigael's picture

what crucial work........ thank you, Noah, for brining your truth and caring to do this work.

dtora's picture

Not Right Intention. Lost me with "I got to be paid motherf**ker."

jackelope65's picture

Congratulations, conquering addiction and anger . However, we all must work on attachments; the more we define ourselves (as a surfer, me, as punk, Mr. Levine, or whatever ) , the more we restrict ourselves from all the possibilities of an enlightened Buddha. I started to drink at age 12, and heavily throughout my teens, but with the strong support of my wife, now of 45 years, I was able to become sober and abstinent from drugs. All the men in my family died of alcoholism and my grand mother of both drugs and alcohol. My addiction became surfing but I continued to avoid really addressing my true issues. Through meditation and retirement from being a physician in a broken health care system, I am at peace. I still surf,but within my limits avoiding injury as well as not disappointing my family and friends on important occasions just because the surf is great. Despite being a physician, I never made much money because I gave my patients and team the time they needed. By retiring, we chose quality of life over wealth.( presently we cannot even afford health care.) However, we moved to one of the world's blue zones(noted for health and longevity), in Costa Rica where organic foods are readily available. We chose to ride bikes and walk for shopping and play, avoiding purchasing a car, to reduce our carbon footprint. My wife and I do not define ourselves as anything in particular to avoid attachment and restricting ourselves. We have time to study the dharma as well and gain insight through such thought producing media as this very interesting movie.I think Mr. Levine's persona does allow those punk rock people who are lost to find someone they can accept and from whom receive guidance and introduction to dharma and meditation. It was also gratifying, myself a dad and granddad, to see him connect with his father around both personal history and Buddhism.

aewhitehouse's picture

Loved the film on its artistic and narrative merits, but Santa Cruz, CA is so far removed from my personal experience that it was hard for me to internalize any inspirational message the documentary or the younger Levine may have to offer. It is wonderful for the Northern California punx who are in real need of help to get that spiritual frame of reference, but I have found that region to be so insular and unique that his message may be lost on those of us in flyover country or even back East.

earthtrickster's picture

Fantastic. Nice to see a dharma teacher speaking faster than four syllables in ten minutes give a dharma talk. I am a fan of expletives and it's great to hear someone talking about fucking compassion in the language most of the people I know, young and old, highly educated and not, use. I was also appreciative of how this film pushed buttons for me and allowed me to look past the tattooed hands in gasho on the cover of his book that had always annoyed me - basically to force me to see that sometimes there is truth in advertising that is more than the hook to get you to buy, and that being honest and investigating ones self is truly a life time of work. Lovely film.

trishharman's picture

its sad but noah has become the epitomy of the dharma for profit and commercialization of buddhism in the west..i believe he has a lay teacher program for $5000, at least last year..myself and a few others are beginning a public forum on those profiteering from teaching the dharma here in san diego and california, commercializing buddhist practice and dharma with merchandise, for profit retreats, etc. Unfortunately, Spirit Rock is a leader of this movement..we are not condemning but we do hope to prevent possible buddhist inquirers or those just entering the path out of curiousity to be daunted by the costs of entering the path...it is becoming a field of western psychologists, adding buddhism/mindfulness as a way to draw in more clients and list meditation/mindfulness on their curriculum vitae to reel in more clients..those of us that are concerned hope to spread the word that buddhism is for all, not just for the well-educated, high income folks, who can afford expensive retreats..we all look to Ajahn Geoff, Gil Fronsdal, and many other monastics and lay persons who have the integrity to follow the buddhist original teachings regarding the practice of dana, donation only, and not make a profit off of the dhamma..i hope i am not breaking "right speech" but i think this needs to be discussed and addressed in the west before it gets out of hand..with metta to noah and all those teaching the dhamma..lets reconsider

earthtrickster's picture

I find it interesting that you chose to reply to my post with your take on the dharma for profit issue. Regardless, I think this is a timely topic, or perhaps timeless topic would be more appropriate. The high cost of a lot of dharma activities has troubled me for a long time, it was actually a factor in my hesitance to taking refuge for about a decade. Money in its various guises have been part of buddhism since the time of the Buddha; how about all those sanctuaries he and his monks stayed in? That being said, the dharma itself is free. Whether a person checks out a book from the library, or avails themselves of a local group to sit with that only asks for donation, there are many avenues for a person to follow and seek guidance. Tricycle is a great low cost option. The teachings cover the spectrum of buddhist sects, and it often has a meditation "doctor" to offer advice. Basically, I agree with you, but I also recognize that when a retreat costs $1000 dollars for a week, that covers room, board, helps maintain the organization that offers it (having taken a volunteer role in a group that can barely make rent I understand how much money even a shoe string budget needs in a big city), and etc. Being broke, I truly appreciate your concerns and know that I share them, but I also know there is more to the price tag than simply making a profit.

About the western psychologist taking over buddhism - full disclosure here, I am starting graduate school in existential phenomenological psychology this Fall - I am not sure I can agree with your assessment that the shrinks are just trying to get more clients. Rather, and here I am speaking for myself, the life of the mind is what attracts me to both buddhism and psychology, the two overlap in many many ways, which isn't a surprise. Also, a part of my decision to pursue my degree was a desire to help people while also doing more than just scraping by with $5 in the bank just before each paycheck. It is a part of right livelihood really, that's all.

Do know that as far as I am concerned you have in no way broken "right speech", you are speaking truth to power, and that is a very important thing to do. I really appreciate it.

Be well.

hjtapdancer's picture

This morning I watched a Barn Swallow. they are Sparrow-sized birds, upperparts dark steel-blue, underparts creamy buff, throat and foreheads kind of rusty. Born very tatooed. they are very fast flying birds but very graceful. Some say Barn Swallows do it their way and may fly 600 miles a day in quest of food to serve to their young.

I think they might be the "Dharma Punx" of the air. After watching your excellent film I will make sure to have bird seed in my back yard feeder.

Noah, may you be happy and all those you serve be happy!

joetheplumber's picture

Has anyone listen to "Siddhartha" by Hermann Hesse? Its a recored book with four cd's,i got my copy at Barns & Noble.Its so good i couldn't stop listening to it until i listen to the whole book.

beatrice's picture

Bravo, Noah and the same to your producers! It is with heartfelt awe that I say I am so grateful that Spirit moves so freely to unbind hearts. May you continue on the path for yourself and all those you are inspiring is my deepest prayer.
Namaste'

glg222's picture

Come down off your cushion and join us Noah. The teaching works when you're down here. The New Yorkers resonated truth- the truth of their felt experience allowed me to feel the truth of my experience. Drunkalogues and the story of "me"- not so. Thank you for making the film- sorry I couldn't get past the "story of me..."

hmrosen's picture

Seems like waited and waited to find people like Noah & Josh... didn't realize - or was never exposed to- teachings coming in such "packages"... so truly splendiferous for one who respects irreverence & has impatience with bulls... Just refreshing, inspiring, healing & another gift fom The Universe. Grateful. Tears, laughter, whole spectrum of reactions to experiencing this film. BLESINGS TO ALL

MarkG's picture

Quite a trip. Your film destroys any notion of a perfect buddha, presuming that we all have buddha nature. I was taken from laughter to depths of sadness, from anger to feelings of compassion and love. This guy may or may not be as you have displayed him. I'd like to think he is really like this. Great film.

nimbleberry's picture

Such an amazing film, thank you. Helps with the perspective of how much dharma can embrace, and helps me to loosen up identifications I can easily get with the outward forms of teachers and the source of the teachings. Maybe we need more symbols for dharma that are inclusive of the daily things we see.
I know they are already there and dharma is all embracing, but for me to fully realise this on a gradual path is....well...not quite there yet. So this is helpful. It helped me
to feel more self accepting. Thank you.

Sarah Fisher's picture

So great to hear your perspective! Thanks for keeping an open mind. Blessings, Sarah

gribneal's picture

Well done documentary. I found it so positive for young people. I want to buy a box of Noah's books and distribute them to recovery and youth centers. Thanks to Noah for his service and to Sarah Fisher for such a powerful film.

Sarah Fisher's picture

So glad you enjoyed it! Sure, the more dharma books, the better in dharma centers everywhere! LOL :-)

williamperkins0's picture

I found many parts disturbing, which is exactly why I liked it .
Very refreshing, if the dharma is going to take root in the American Underground it has to have a vehicle. Noah is that vehicle.

Sarah Fisher's picture

Thanks for your honesty, William! I like to think the purpose of film is to push us out of our comfort zone. The world needs more of it! Blessings, Sarah

Supernaut1978's picture

Thanks so Much for making this the Film Club selection for this month. Noah and his punk rock buddha message with his story of recovery is what got me to give meditation a try. I am so grateful to hime for lighting the path I am on. Much Respect.

Sarah Fisher's picture

Woo-hoo!!!

littlehandsstudio's picture

In a way I feel like the message of the film boils down to these two lines:
"I'm glad he don't look like all of the other teachers"
"Noah makes it hip"
The film evoked a lot of mixed feelings for me because I'm so used to the Dharma being couched in the aesthetic of a lot of current western teachers who went to study in the east during the 1970s. There are several points where I felt a sense of "NOOOooooo!!!", but now I realize that I've taken the aesthetic as part of the practice, even though I've been consciously trying NOT to become involved in Buddhism that is too enveloped in Asian culture. In that sense I'm glad the film woke me up to my own attachment to the western cultural trappings of the Buddhism as it's been presented to me. The idea that Noah has rebelled from the "hippie" Buddhism sort of freaked me out but now I get it and I'm glad the film presents its ideas as it does.

I hope it doesn't put too much pressure on Noah to be so intensely portrayed because I really feel like he has so much to offer. He probably doesn't need more stress. I'm ultimately really glad that he puts a different face on Buddhist practice, but I think the young woman who talks about the difficulty of maintaining punk and practicing Buddhism has a really significant point.

Sarah Fisher's picture

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and being so honest that his rebellion freaked you out! It's great to challenge our beliefs no matter how young or old we are, right? Blessings, Sarah

mdemmer's picture

wow wow what an inspirational coragous punk rock guy. Iam so happy to have seen this movie. I hope it could be seen in schools and everywhere where there is young minds brewwing and experimenting with the hope that their life can be change by finding themselves.... I hope this young man continue doing what he is doing he does not have an idea of how much goooood he is really doing.....may you spread the peace

Sarah Fisher's picture

We would love to have it in schools everywhere! So glad you enjoyed it! Blessings, Sarah
http://www.meditateanddestroy.com

reignition's picture

Thank you for making this available to us. Funds have been tight, and I have to pick and choose what I can buy. My sustaining membership pays for itself over and over again. Noah is one of my teachers and I've been wanting to see this for awhile now. After years of being on the Buddhism fence, it was Dharma Punx that pushed me over :). Much gratitude. _/\_ - Scott

Sarah Fisher's picture

Excellent, Scott!!!! So glad you connected with the film on so many levels!! Blessings, Sarah
http://www.meditateanddestroy.com

mpoliver's picture

As someone who struggles with the hungry ghost nature I found this documentary very accessible, thank you.