Home Grown Buddha: Getting at the Roots of Addiction

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All illusions are on a spectrum of addiction. We could also call it a spectrum of neurosis or compulsions. Meditation practice teaches us how to increase our capacity to stay with our negative emotions without acting out or repressing. Life has suffering in it, the First Noble Truth.

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Can we be present to our life as it is? Can we plant seeds of goodness in our current conditions, one day at a time, that will manifest positively in the future? Changing my relationship to suffering, which is a basic teaching in Buddhism, has radically changed my life. Sections openDemocracy Free thinking for the world. Through your years as an addict, were you questioning the idea that addiction was a disease you were suffering from?

Fears of this sort are probably closer to compulsions, as they involve simple stimulus-response conditioning. We may have suffered more than most, but we come out burnished, in some way more beautiful than we started. I agree that meditation just feels good after awhile.

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Addictions to me are doorways to higher consciousness. Buddhist practice and step recovery are very complementary. They each deepen the other. Their strengths lie in different areas. Kevin Griffin is a Buddhist teacher and author of numerous books including A Breath at a Time — Buddhism and the Twelve Steps as well as a leader in the mindful recovery movement. This can help the addict see the ways they are undermining themselves with thoughts, with obsessive thoughts, with reactive thought patterns. So, we can see that in mindfulness practice we can respond in a more intentional, conscious way to those habitual negative patterns and really question them.

This describes, in a way, the cognitive-behavioral practice of challenging thoughts. If these methods are understood and practiced in the context of a recovery program, they will help you understand and realize your spiritual nature, which is the true mission of the 12 steps.

The darker side of Buddhism

AA has no monopoly on reviving alcoholics. Regina Walker is a licensed psychotherapist in NYC. She has written for multiple publications and is an avid photographer. You can find her on Linkedin or follow her on Twitter. Nothing less will do. Our present economic system institutionalizes greed; our addiction to militarism institutionalizes ill will; and the corporate media institutionalize delusion.

Built into these systems is the belief that they must keep growing, or else they will collapse. But why is more always better if it can never be enough? Who is responsible for this collective fixation on growth? All of us participate in one way or another, as employees, consumers, investors, and pensioners. The problem is that we rarely take personal responsibility for results that are collective: Consider the stock market, high temple of the economic system. On one side are many millions of investors, mostly anonymous and unconcerned about the details of the companies in which they invest, except for their profitability and share price.

If they invest in mutual funds, investors rarely know where their money is invested anyway. On the other side of the market, the desires and expectations of those millions of investors become transformed into an unremitting pressure for growth and increased profitability that every CEO must respond to, preferably by maximizing short-term results.

Corporations are legally chartered so that their first responsibility is not to their employees or customers, or to the members of the societies in which they operate, or to the ecosystems of the earth, but to their stockholders, who with few exceptions are concerned only about returns on their investment.

Dr. Mark Epstein offers fixes for some common roadblocks to being mindful.

One example of ill-will at work is the punitive legal system of the USA, which incarcerates vast numbers of people, mostly those on low incomes and people of color. White-collar criminals rarely end up in prison, at least for very long. An even more forceful example is our obsession with military spending and the weaponization of security. Measured by the power of its armed forces and the resources that are devoted to them, the United States is the most militarized society in world history.

Each year in the USA, as much money is lavished on the armed forces as in the next six or seven largest economies combined. To justify that colossal expense, the military needs an enemy. This is already by far the longest war in US history, and it may never come to an end. In a brief phone call, Levine referred requests for comment from Jezebel to his lawyer, Joseph Leveroni.

Leveroni ultimately declined to comment on the record. Even as the internal investigation at Against the Stream was ongoing, and without directly acknowledging the reasons for his leave, Levine resumed teaching his weekly meditation classes in June. They are now being held at Refuge Recovery, the for-profit treatment center, of which he owns a controlling share. But insiders familiar with the workings of Against the Stream and Refuge Recovery tell us that in recent months, multiple women have stepped forward to accuse Levine of assault.

Josh Korda and his wife Kathy Cherry, are, respectively, a Buddhist teacher and a dharma facilitator. They were on a call about the allegations with Against the Stream teachers, facilitators, and trainees, about 30 people in all. Their rules around sexual misconduct are also clear and uncompromising. Earlier this year, ATS publicly broke ties with a teacher after he was accused of sexual misconduct.

Following the allegations, Levine and Ferraro rescinded that empowerment. Both the allegations and the investigations—the police one and the internal one at ATS—have created a complex, painful set of emotional impacts. Many people credit Levine and his programs for their recovery from addiction, their turn towards meditation, and the betterment of their lives. He has an ability. The allegations have also set in motion a complicated financial and business-related chain reaction, and what could be beginnings of a nasty divorce.

Levine is the son of Stephen Levine, a well-respected Buddhist teacher and author who died in But Noah, according to his memoir, struggled with addiction, periods of juvenile incarceration and years of feeling lost, even as he discovered meditation for himself and started to embrace Buddhism. In Dharma Punx, he writes frequently and frankly about struggling with lust and dysfunctional relationships, among his other addictions.

But Dharma Punx has a happy ending, to some extent: Levine lost friends and lovers to addiction and incarceration, but eventually, he thrived. A small group of Buddhist punks he gathered together—the Dharma Punx—grew into the more organized Against the Stream, based in Los Angeles, with a secondary location in San Francisco and affiliated groups all over the country.

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The Dharma Punx NYC meditation group still operates under the original name, run by Korda and a group of other teachers and facilitators. That term is one that a former employee picked up on derisively , in a spoken-word piece where she alleged he was a nightmare to work for. Levine even coined an irresistible slogan, a mashup of the language of dharma and skate culture equally: Meditate and Destroy. He uses profanity like I do.

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I liked the fact that he represented a different direction. A lot of other people liked it too: By all accounts, Levine brings in large audiences and a lot of revenue for any organization that hosts him, which has included most of the major Buddhist retreats and Zen centers in the U. His main business dealings, his religious practices, and his friendships are also deeply intertwined. Some of those ATS teachers also lead classes at Refuge. Both organizations, as well as Refuge Recovery.

Dozens of people make some portion of their living in ways that are ultimately connected to Levine. Those things left many people feeling conflicted over talking to a reporter about a community matter.

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But over the course of several weeks, Jezebel spoke with 14 people currently or formerly employed by Refuge Recovery or affiliated with Against the Stream. We also spoke to several other people in the broader Buddhist community with knowledge of the situation, looking at the meeting minutes of the nonprofit Refuge Recovery, and spoke to one woman making an allegation of harassment against Levine. The same rumors regarding the nature of these allegations were repeated to us by several people independently. Jezebel is not reporting them because they are not direct claims from people who say they were victims of misconduct.

It is undeniably true, though, that serious claims have widely circulated within the affected communities. The institutions that Levine is affiliated with are aware of that: At the end of March, the Refuge Recovery nonprofit board called an emergency meeting. According to the meeting minutes , executive director Jean Tuller wanted to make the board aware of the conversations around the allegations that were happening on social media.

A few isolated details on the allegations against Levine can be reported out, though. But I was uncomfortable.

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I had to push him off me. At the end of March, Against the Stream announced that it was investigating the sexual misconduct allegations against Levine. Several people told Jezebel that Against the Stream went public with some amount of reluctance, after pressure from Buddhist Recovery Network, another AA-like Buddhist group. ATS leadership told Jezebel they were legally unable to comment for this story.

Like many we are letting it all settle till the upcoming statement from ATS. On March 9, BRN received a letter from a Zen teacher that one of her students had filed a police report alleging sexual misconduct by a former BRN board member and a key figure in the Buddhist recovery movement.

Whether these allegations are true or false, everyone who has been affected is suffering. I hope we can re-educate ourselves about the things which are no longer acceptable behaviour in society, like racism, sexism, ableism, classism, genderism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny and sexual harassment and assault. Korda and his wife Cherry, the Dharma Punx facilitator who was also on the call, both expressed frustration with how the announcement was handled. They made this announcement and then no information was forthcoming and everybody for the subsequent months and months has been essentially guessing and trying to fill in the blanks.

Refuge Recovery, the nonprofit, met for their emergency meeting on March According to the minutes, both Levine and his lawyer Joseph Leveroni were present. Levine also spoke. He also stated his preference to continue to serve as President of Refuge Recovery. Yang did not respond to requests for comment. Joshu Sasaki, a year-old revered Zen teacher, was accused in of harassing female students for decades, and Eido Tai Shimano, the founder of the Zen Studies Society in New York, was accused of a similar, decades-long pattern of harassment and abuse in , when he was Sasaki never publicly responded to the charges, which an independent panel found credible, and died the following year.

Shimano resigned in disgrace from his position at the Zen Studies Society but continued to teach elsewhere until his death in February. Improper sexual relationships as well as outright sexual assault—most frequently between male teachers and female students—were so common that they were the subject of anguished conversations among Buddhists well before MeToo.

Home Grown Buddha: Getting at the Roots of Addiction Home Grown Buddha: Getting at the Roots of Addiction
Home Grown Buddha: Getting at the Roots of Addiction Home Grown Buddha: Getting at the Roots of Addiction
Home Grown Buddha: Getting at the Roots of Addiction Home Grown Buddha: Getting at the Roots of Addiction
Home Grown Buddha: Getting at the Roots of Addiction Home Grown Buddha: Getting at the Roots of Addiction
Home Grown Buddha: Getting at the Roots of Addiction Home Grown Buddha: Getting at the Roots of Addiction
Home Grown Buddha: Getting at the Roots of Addiction Home Grown Buddha: Getting at the Roots of Addiction
Home Grown Buddha: Getting at the Roots of Addiction Home Grown Buddha: Getting at the Roots of Addiction

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