Friday, August 31, 2018

Noah Levine: Sex fiend still in denial?

Seth Auberon, Ashley Wells, Crystal Quintero, Sheldon S., CC Liu (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly

Guilty of poor judgment, more or less innocent of major crimes and misdemeanors.
I didn't know white privilege was a thing!
Dharma Punx/Against the Stream/Refuge Recovery Founder Noah Levine is still using his privilege to get his message out when we do not hear from his victims and accusers. Here is his latest round of excuses, in his own words, after being found GUILTY of all charges enough to cause the destruction of Against the Stream. Refuge Recovery, Inc. will continue with Levine as leader.

[Personally, we think maybe other people should cut the guy a break, but not us. We'd rather be hard on him because for a guy to shoot his mouth off with all of these PC phrases and uber sensitive yada yada to then go and harm people, even if only in their own imaginations, possibly including sexual assault and nonconsensual sex, it does not ring true to us that he did not know what he was doing. Who cares? Not us, but we don't like it and therefore do not cotton to Levine. He deserves much praise for bringing Buddhism to recovery, which Kevin Griffin has also done. Many punks and others have surely benefited. One of his teachers is the great Jack Kornfield, so that says something for him, and his father was the Buddhist writer Stephen Levine. He was running a big money business, and business at Refuge Recovery, Inc. seems better than ever. So how much has this sex scandal really harmed him in the age of #metoo and #timesup? Harvey Weinstein would be relieved that one can be found culpable (not really "guilty" since there seem to be no legal charges/consequences* or big pay out settlements that we are being told about) in spite of multiple accusers. Way to go, Levine. Here is more of his excuse making in his own words, and we suggest he almost certainly had lots of help crafting this and editing it to not put his foot in his mouth because his grammar is very poor and all of his books go through massive editing and re-editing to make them readable, even if many mistakes still slip by his helpers.]
  • UPDATE: According to a Refuge Recovery facilitator at the La Maida Institute and former friend of Levine's, there are legal charges pending, and lawyers did censor/rewrite this letter, which has left no one feeling any better. They must keep him from admitting any guilt or apologizing for anythingIt has only upset them as he continues to follow the Circle Jerks' advice to us all to "deny everything" when accused.
Open letter to the communities of Refuge Recovery and Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society.

Um, lemme see, how should I put this?
This is a complicated letter to write because I am essentially writing three groups of people in one open letter. I have a completely different perspective of my experiences with each of you individually and as groups of people. I’m going to approach this with compassion, willingness to listen and attempt to make sense of what is a layered, messy, painful situation.

I'm a kewl spiritual punker. Look at my tats!
I feel that it’s important for everyone to know that none of this had anything to do with students of ATS or members of Refuge Recovery. These were issues that came from my personal life.

I take full responsibility for anything that I have actually done. And will continue to be honest and cooperative with the process and anyone seeking the truth. That said, I will likewise also continue to tell the truth about what never happened, such as the accusation that I assaulted someone.

[To my victims]
To the women [I bothered] who have come forward and expressed a sense of suffering because of interpersonal [nonconsensual or consensual sexual] experiences with me, I am sorry I caused you harm and I ask your forgiveness. I wanted to connect and to explore a relationship. This has been a deeply painful learning experience. I want to take full responsibility for any harm I caused to anyone and everyone with whom I have had a dating relationship. [I'm not actually going to take "full responsibility," BUT I want to. It sounds like lying and hedging to us.] I want to make amends for my behavior if it didn’t feel good to them. [I'm not going to make amends, but I want to.] I don’t want to defend or minimize. [I don't want to defend or minimize, BUT I'm going to defend and minimize. Does anyone else see a pattern here? We need to get Dr. Deborah King on the case here to see if Levine is lying.] It is important to me that any woman who felt harmed, now feels heard. [Who talks like this? Lawyers and PR firms, that's who.] I want to understand. [I don't understand.] It matters. [But not to me.] I was shocked to hear (months later) [because I'm so insensitive I could not possibly read the nonverbal cues.] that someone was unhappy in any way with our [sexual] interactions. I was not aware at the time that anything was amiss with how we connected. [A guy so real, hard, and gritty uses "amiss"? Or was that a lawyer's suggestion after reading a thesaurus?] Whenever a boundary was stated – physical, emotional, or otherwise - I always honored it. [Always. See, this is that PC language at work.]

This is part of the learning for me in all of this - that just because someone doesn’t say “No” or express displeasure at the time, doesn’t always mean they are happy about it. I can also see that I wasn’t taking into account my power/privilege and status as a dharma teacher in my personal dating life. Perhaps I’ve had some denial or dismissive tendencies around my role as the founder of these two communities (ATS and RR). This has been a very painful way to wake up to the reality of who I am and how I’m seen by others.

For my communities, my heart breaks that intimate experiences from my personal life have caused a ripple effect that has made our community fragment. I can’t explain to you the depth of my sadness as I think of each of you and what has come to be a community trauma. I am especially sensitive to the needs of the recovery community and I encourage you to lean on each other. Against the Stream may not exist in name, but the community still exists in each other. Refuge Recovery meetings are a peer-led process, support each-other and continue the necessary work of your own healing and recovery. In moments like this we must remember even more to take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.

[To the backstabbers I trusted]
I don't need you guys. I have other friends!
For my colleagues, I feel betrayed and abandoned. You were my family. We taught compassion and forgiveness together. I feel you did the opposite. You silenced me. You isolated me. You did not give me the benefit of the doubt, and you offered me no path to forgiveness and healing.

As a community we face the painful reality of all that has taken place and we now have the task of beginning the process of grieving the losses, navigating the changes and rebuilding the trust and connection that we once had. I have every intention of carrying on with my calling and mission, that is to practice the Dharma, to embody wisdom and compassion as best I can and to share the teachings of the Buddha with all who are interested to receive it.

Many are stepping back from Levine.
I will continue my work at Refuge Recovery Treatment Centers providing addiction treatment to suffering addicts as well as teaching my weekly meditation group at our new location in Venice. I will also be offering residential retreats through my friends at Rebel Saints Meditation Society. For now it looks like all of the other organizations and retreat centers that I have been teaching at for the past many years will cancel my events out of fear of the criticism they will receive if they continue to have me as faculty.

Oy vey, what a cliche!
I am continuing to process all of this with my psychotherapist who specializes in Sexuality, and staying in contact with some of my Buddhist teachers.

I will end with my meditation phrase-

Please forgive me for any harm I have caused, intentionally or unintentionally.

Noah Levine

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