The NY Times has an enlightening article on Dharma Punx, a Buddhism-based meditation organization that's part Sid Vicious and part Dalai Lama. If that seems incongruous to you, read on.
I was a bit of a punker in the early 80s, wrapped up in the music of the Sex Pistols, Dead Kennedys, Pork Dukes, Plasmatics, Generation X, and others, taking Texas road trips from Fort Hood to Austin to slam dance at Raul's. Punk was an outlet for aggression, angry chords and evil lyrics, and I couldn't have been in a more aggressive point in my life than when I was a member of Mother Green, the Killing Machine.
So I'm familiar with the pure punk methodology, which differs considerably from the identity that most of the college kids latched on to, both then and now.
Josh Korda, leader of the NYC group that is the article's focus, is a good example of the dichotomy: Perched on a ledge behind Mr. Korda, who was kneeling at the front, was a small white statue of a seated Buddha — with a mohawk. It is a curious combination; punk is typically seen as an expression of aggression, whereas Buddhism espouses compassion. But Mr. Korda and his friend Noah Levine, who started Dharma Punx, say both movements are rooted in dissatisfaction with the way things are, a desire to live in the present and a thirst for peace of mind.
Levine, himself a recovering heroin, crack, and alcohol addict who beat his demons through Buddhist meditation, began leading meditation sessions in his living room, in jails, and in studios in California, and created "Meditate and Destroy", with the underlying concept consisting of banishing dark thoughts.
F-bombs and salty language are generally taboo in most meditation groups, but not among the Dharma Punx crowd. What the sessions lack in politeness they make up for by honoring the basic tenets of Buddhism, most notably that happiness comes from within and is not created by external factors like material wealth, career success, or relationships. Being able to realize that certain thoughts can cause suffering, and working to replace them with thoughts and actions that do not, is something that Korda encourages. Korda continues to drive the message that there is “not a finite amount of joy in the world.”
Dharma Punx has been branching out to other locations in the country, and it's a noble effort. Decidedly not new-age, gritty and real, with a disdain for candles, Dharma Punx cuts through the trappings while getting down and dirty with mindfulness. God save the Queen.