Our Tradition

Against The Stream Buddhist Meditation Society has sprung forth from the heart of Buddhism in America. What is coming to be known as American Buddhism has its roots in many traditions and lineages of the ancient schools of the Theravada (Old School) and Mahayana (New School), But I believe that the emergence of American Buddhism will in some ways depart from the Ancients. We are in the process of founding a new tradition, one inspired and influenced by all the wisdom and compassion teachings of all of the Buddhist traditions. 


Against The Stream Buddhist Meditation Society is at the forefront of these changes. Having started as a handful of committed spiritual revolutionaries in Northern California, named The Dharma Punx, the movement has grown to thousands of engaged compassionate Buddhists around the world. This movement away from traditional Buddhism and toward an alternative expression of modern anti-establishment rebellion is a necessary one. Much of traditional Buddhism, in both the northern (Mahayana) and southern ( Theravada) is in an awful state of degradation, corruption and delusion. We now have a chance to leave behind the problematic issues of the sexist, classist and racist politics that have corrupted the wonderful non-oppressive teachings of the Buddha.


 Our core guidance comes from the Pali Sutta’s, not from the Theravadan’s in Thailand, Burma or Sri Lanka nor the Mahayanan’s in Tibet, China or Japan. But from the oldest and most closely connected teachings to the Buddha. We do not have blind faith in doctrine, even within these documents there seems to be a lot of additional folklore, mythology and corruption of the Buddha’s Dharma. 


Against The Stream Buddhist Meditation Society is founded upon the empowering and self-revealed teaching of original Buddhism. We follow the guidance of the 4 Noble Truths. The Dharma (Truth) as revealed by the Buddha is our only Refuge. Through our founding teacher Noah Levine’s connection and empowerment from his teachers, Jack Kornfield, Stephen and Ondrea Levine and Ajahn Amaro we are directly connected to several lineages of traditional Buddhism that is linked through both the Theravada and Mahayana. Without the Ancients the Dharma would not have reached our shores, our ears and our hearts. So we honor all lineages and appreciate the good that is in all Buddhist traditions. 


Our intention is simple- To make the teachings of the Buddha available to all who are interested. We wish only to create and sustain communities of healthy, accountable wise and compassionate people from every walk of life. We are pro-diversity and welcome all people from all racial, economic, sexual, social and political back grounds and preferences. We believe that the path of awakening is attainable by all and should be available to all.

Q – Why Against The Stream?


The Buddha said that his path to awakening was one of rebellion, a subversive path that is against greed, against hatred and against delusion. In order to awaken he taught that we have to travel against the norm of society and against our own self-centered tendencies. In his own language he said the path he had traveled and that all who wished to follow was “Patisotagami”, which literally translates as “ Against The Stream”.

Q- Why American Buddhism instead of Tibetan Buddhism or Zen or Vipassana?


Because we don’t live in Tibet or Japan and Burma. We live in America, (well. I do) So, as the Buddha suggested we should speak the dharma in the idiom of the people we are teaching to. Here is our chance, to create an American tradition. Plus the Asian Buddhist traditions have all been corrupted on one level or another. Perhaps we can do better, sticking to the core teaching of the Buddha and leaving behind the other cultural traditions that come to be associated with Buddhism. Of course we will probably fuck it up too…but so be it…we still have to try.