Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Against the Stream. Buddhism for a new, punk generation.

As most of you will remember, your favorite Blackberry loving, laptop toting, big city blogger spent several days of her November at a Buddhist monastery in the mountains--surrounded by nuns, unplugged from her MacBook Pro, and without a phone to phone home. And as beautiful as my time down there in the mobile-dead zone mountains was, I found the experience lacking certain key elements I might look for in a spiritual community. First, it should be noted that our teachers at the monastery were monastic. Let me spell this out for you. These folks take their vows and then never leave. There are also key components like brown robes and celibacy that didn't really resonate with me. (Not that brown's not my color.) So while the trip sparked my interest in Buddhism, it did put me on a search for teachers who looked like me (i.e. prefers jeans over robes), talked like me, and wanted the same things out of a community as me. And I recently found that right here in LA. More specifically--on Melrose. Just a couple of miles from my apartment. Whowouldathunk.

Against the Stream was founded by Noah Levine, author of Dharma Punx, less than a decade ago. Noah, and many of his congregation (is that even the word? I'm perhaps mixing up my Jewish speak with my Buddhist speak.) are young, fully inked, and have a rough past. Okay, I may have just one small tattoo and my past does not include jail time, but I can relate. And this past weekend I began a year long class on Buddhism. This is not a conversion, nor a religious pursuit. [I'd like to think] this isn't part of any quarter life crisis. This is just an education. And so far it has been wonderful. From learning that the Buddha left home at 29 to begin his journey toward enlightenment (hey, I'm 29--there is still time for me!) to meeting a large group of people, from ages 25 - 65 who still just want to learn, it's been quite a ride so far.

I'll keep you posted as the year goes by if I have any deep, spiritual awakenings you should know about. But though that's unlikely, I do hope to gain a deeper sense of mindfulness and compassion. And these are aspects of ourselves which most of us have left underdeveloped.

Curious about Against the Stream? Pop in for one of the sangha's weekly classes on the East Side (what what!) or the West Side.

Against the Steam
4300 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA
(at Heliotrope)

1001a Colorado Avenue
Santa Monica, CA

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