For almost as long as I can remember, I’ve been looking for something more to life.  It has always seemed that there is something inherently wrong with the way affairs are conducted in this world.  Rarely have there been any answers that make sense or feel like something I could put myself behind without feeling like I compromised a part of myself doing so.  Finally it seems I may have found something that makes sense to me, I can put myself behind and not feel compromised doing so.

Being raised in the U.S., I was brought up with the usual Christian beliefs that permeate the majority of the population here.  However I never really felt any connection with Christianity.  Some of the moral lessons made sense, but I never felt that there was a God there.  Plus it seemed if there was a higher life form that created us, this one was pretty petty.   If there is a deity, I’d surely expect a lot more out of it.  Not so much in the sense of the way we normally expect a lot more out of people but more that such a being would be beyond most if not all of the behavioral pitfalls that we mere humans experience.

I never encountered anything that made me feel like there was a creator or deity-type being, so it was hard to look to religions for a greater sense of purpose or meaning.  I also never really liked the whole idea of getting someone else to solve your problems, deity or otherwise.  It seems like we should be able to solve our own problems.  Outside assistance is a good thing, but looking to others for the answers and wanting them to come save you seemed wrong.  Not that it isn’t a nice idea when you’re down but it feels like an injustice to yourself and those you make yourself dependent on.  However this does get harder and harder as life goes on and you can’t find the answers to your problems or won’t act on the answers you do find.

Recently I have come to a point where I feel like I have to find this meaning in life or I essentially will self-destruct.  The American Dream isn’t enough.  I need something with more than material gain as an end goal.  I need something that lets me feel like I make a difference at the end of the day.  I want something akin to the zealotry of a righteous cause but without all of the downsides and polarized viewpoints.

In my soul searching and despairing, I remembered a book I had read a few years ago called Dharma Punx by Noah Levine.  It’s the auto-biographical story of a SoCal punk rocker from the ’80s who hit rock bottom and found his salvation in Buddhism.  I had a lot in common with this book and really related to it (though thankfully not the drugs and juvie).  Like Noah, I have a huge rebellious streak and take very little at face value.   In the telling of his story and the way he recounts his path out of his destructive youth, he opened me up to some possibilities I had not overly considered or been exposed to before.

I just recently found out that he had written another book called Against The Stream which is essentially a guide for those who want to take a path similar to his.  What I really like about his approach here is that it talks you through the steps without the overly religious connotations attached to it.  It shows how you can undertake your own personal spiritual rebellion and then make your own decisions about how to do things.  And it’s all based on love and kindness.  There’s no “do this or you’ll go to hell”, no deity involved,  it appears to be  just about better understanding your mind and training it to better handle what life throws at you.  And of course it involves rebellion so it knows how to speak to me! :-P

Reading both Dharma Punx and Against The Stream showed me something that appears to fit with the core parts of who I consider myself to be without sacrificing other parts.  I don’t know if it will actually fit in the long run but hard to know that before you try it.  And if nothing else, it’ll help alleviate the whole “meaning and purpose” problem that’s been like a stabbing pain in my brain.

Watch out breath, I’m focusing on you!