Last week we announced that a very special guest teacher will be coming to lead an insight meditation retreat here at New Life next year – Dave Smith from Against the Stream Nashville meditation centre.
We’re really excited about having Dave here to teach because many of us at the New Life community can relate very well to his journey as a recovering addict. In fact, many of the teachers from the Against the Stream Meditation Society, which started as the Dharma Punx meditation group in California, are recovering addicts who have found practicing Buddhism and meditation to be beneficial in their struggles against addiction. The tradition is based on ‘going against the stream’, a notion which captures the Buddha’s teaching that the path to awakening is one of subversion and rebellion against greed, hatred, and delusion.
This approach to Buddhist practice is something that resonates with us here at New Life, especially as so many of us are here as a result of disillusionment and dissatisfaction with a society and a status quo which offers almost everything besides spiritual contentment.
Dave’s main teacher is Noah Levine. Noah’s story, as chronicled in his memoir Dharma Punx, involves drugs, violence, and multiple suicide attempts before dharma and vipassana meditation offered him the tools to find a way out. He went on to found the Dharma Punx and Against the Stream meditation movements in the U.S. and has just written a new book, Refuge Recovery: A Buddhist Path to Recovery From Addiction, which we’re looking forward to checking out. Noah Levine was himself was trained by Jack Kornfield of Spirit Rock Meditation Center, another one of our favourite teachers! Both Dave and Noah do some amazing work bringing counselling and meditation to prisons and vulnerable youths and adults with the Prison Mindfulness Institute.
The Going Against the Stream retreat with Dave Smith at New Life Foundation will explore the many ways that true spiritual practice is an engagement with life that goes against the stream of the confusion of this world and is therefore an act of rebellion. Dave will lead us in focussing on mindfulness and loving-kindness meditation techniques and learning how to develop a greater sense of care for ourselves and for our world through the revolutionary practices of the Dharma. By allowing us to view addiction and attachment as cravings in the mind and body, these practices will guide us to a path of meditative awareness, which can alleviate and ease suffering, thereby awakening our own wisdom and compassion.