It was a shockingly aberrant youth: Suicide plans at age 5, dropping acid by the time he was 10, alcoholism, crack, heroin, serving time for felony robberies and violence. But from that abyss, Noah Levine emerged as one of the country’s most respected and popular teachers of Buddhist meditation. He’s written two books (Dharma Punx tells his story), with a third due out next month. Levine’s been teaching for 15 years now. It was his rebelliousness “that ended up hooking me into Buddhism. The Buddha was a rebel, rebelling against greed and hatred and delusion, but from the inside out,” he says. At Against the Stream, “All of what we do has the goal of helping people create more happiness and less suffering in their lives and in the world.” It’s not religious dogma, but something closer to a kind of psychology that is taught here. Indeed, people of all religious faiths show up regularly — a lot of atheists, too. There are many classes offered. Drop in and check one out; your mind will thank you. 4300 Melrose Ave., Mid-Cty. (323) 665-4300, —Todd David Schwartz

LA Weekly