"Mindfulness and Meditation allow us to open our hearts, relax our bodies, and clear our minds enough to experience the vast, mysterious, sacred reality of life directly. With Practice we come to know for ourselves that eternity is available in each moment.

Your MMM Courtesy Wake Up Call:
Musings on Life and Practice
by a Longtime Student of Meditation

Thursday, June 12, 2014

You Say You Want a Revolution?

“We have the ability to effect a great positive change in the world, starting with the training of our own minds and the overcoming of our deluded conditioning. Waking up is not a selfish pursuit of happiness; it is a revolutionary stance from the inside out, for the benefits of all beings in existence.”
Noah Levine, Against the Stream: A Buddhist Manual for Spiritual Revolutionaries

"There's a rebel within you.  It is the part of you that already knows how to break free from fear and unhappiness.  This rebel is the voice of your own awakened mind.  It's your rebel Buddha, 
the clear intelligence that resists the status quo."

Noah Levine
My brother Hal and I played a doubleheader Wednesday evening.  After sitting with the Prairie Wind Sangha at Windsong Innerspace, we stayed around to sit with Refuge Recovery, a nascent OKC group inspired by the teachings and work of Buddhist teacher Noah Levine, the self-described "Dharma Punk" founder of Against the Stream Meditation Society.  

It made this old hippie/yippie child of the 60's heart glow.  

I came across the work of Noah Levine a couple of years ago and got my hands of a copy of Meditate and Destroy, a documentary film featuring his life -- and his life's work with incarcerated youth and drug addicts in Los Angeles.  As the old saying goes, "it takes one to know one."  

The son of Buddhist teacher Steven Levine, the years of Levine's youth had been immersed in drugs, violence, incarceration -- and attempted suicides.  As he hit emotional rock bottom in a padded detoxification cell at age 17 he turned toward the meditation practices that he now shares widely.  Going forward to obtain an MA in counseling psychology and train with meditation teacher, Jack Kornfield, Levine's blending of the traditional Buddhist teachings with the process of Recovery continues to touch thousands of lives.

Although there were some tatoos in evidence, the Oklahoma City group was much more diverse in age and appearance than I may have guessed.  I think that this speaks to the widespread appeal of Buddhist practice to members of the Recovery community.   Hot off the presses, Levine's book Refuge Recovery was the central focus of the meeting which also included a period of guided meditation and a period of personal sharing.  I was impressed to the point of tears by the clear-eyed sincerity and openness of the ten or so folks gathered to share Practice.

Not unlike the 12 step Practice of AA,  a central piece of the process of healing detailed in Refuge Recovery is a comprehensive self-inventory of the many ways which we create our own suffering.  The unflinching exploration of the deep, unconscious attachment to the myriad cravings that operate to control our lives is, of course, the essence of Buddha's 4 Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path.  Although, the extreme form of suffering that can be involved in alcoholism and drug addiction is the focus of Refuge Recovery, I think the outline of Practice offered by Noah Levine and Against the Stream Meditation Society can be universally helpful to anyone who is committed to Awakening. 

The language of Revolution offered by Levine, resonates deeply with me, of course.  The roots of my
own spiritual inspiration are implanted deeply in the civil rights and anti-war movements of my youth.  We had our eyes set on Revolution: the creation of a world based on Love, Peace, Service and Spirit.  

Although the outer vestiges of the Dharma Punx of Levine's tribe are certainly different than the hippies of my youth, my work with teenage "punks" back in the 80's made it clear to me back then that each of these forms of rebellion were a reaction to the greed, hatred and delusion of the mainstream culture.  There was a deep aspiration for peace and kindness within and beyond the mosh pit.  

Moving past the understandable knee-jerk reactivity of violence in both eras, True Revolution calls for a deep personal transformation -- nothing less than the cultivation of the Compassion and Wisdom that lies at the heart of our True Nature.  Noah Levine's work articulates that clearly,  and I feel blessed to have crossed paths this week with some of his folks at a special time, their first reading of the newly released Refuge Recovery.  ( I just ordered my copy. )

In formal meditation and through a commitment to self-awareness across the gamut of our lives, the Practice calls each of us to be Revolutionaries, to move past the self-centered individualism and materialism of the mainstream culture. The greed, hatred and delusion that constitutes the status quo isn't just wrong --it simply doesn't work!  It promises a life of unending suffering.  

Buddha saw that.  Jesus saw that.  Looking closely at life as it is, we can see that, too. 

You say you want a Revolution? Join with some other folks and commit yourself to do what you need to do to engage life with a full, open heart and a clear mind. It's an exacting discipline.*

It takes Practice.

(* Don't forget to have some fun in the process.)

For more information:
Oklahoma City Refuge Recovery: http://rrokc.wordpress.com/
Against the Stream Meditation Society: http://www.againstthestream.org/


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