As a humble Buddhist punk I feel naturally averse to writing a biog ‘All about me’, but Earth Island would like me to try so I shall have a go!
As a child I was obsessed with music and drumming. As a teenager I wanted to be a famous rock musician (haha). I pursued that for a while but it didn’t work out, so I decided to do something less selfish with my life and I became a mental health worker, which I did for the next twenty plus years.
It was here I met a bloke who had once lived in a Buddhist monastery - we used to talk about deep stuff like ‘what the fuck is life all about??’ He lent me a book on meditation which blew my mind. I started investigating Eastern spiritual traditions.
I began practising the spiritual path while still living a punk life. I didn’t become a monk. I didn’t join a religion or a spiritual community. I didn’t do any chanting, praying or formal meditation. I didn’t go on retreats and I didn’t have many punks I could share my spiritual interests with. I read a lot of books, I did a lot of Qi Gong, I did some Yoga, I practised self-defence and I kept fit and healthy, but at the same time I was prone to partying.
It would be true to say a lot of my spiritual journey was disordered - maybe even chaotic. Typical of a punk really!
Eventually I met a bloke called Andy Rees who taught Qi Gong and self-defence. I liked Andy because he wasn’t mystical or airy fairy - he was from a martial arts background and had a very down to earth, practical manner. I learnt a lot from this man, for which I am eternally grateful. After meeting him my training became more focussed and serious.
At the same time I increased the amount of books I was reading, and particularly found benefit from authors such as Ajahn Summedho, Ajahn Chah (and other writers at Amaravati publications); Books by Adyashanti, Ramesh S. Balsekar, John Gent (with his ‘yoga seeker’ series), Lama Yeshe, Eknath Easwaran, and many many more.
I also investigated other mystic traditions and took particular note of any common ground that they all shared - to my mind this was more likely to be the true spiritual teachings that I needed to learn and practise.
And I also increasingly realised that spiritual teachings and modern day positive social movements like ‘punk’ have a lot in common too.
While on my spiritual journey I came across loads of nonsensical gobbledegook, which I had to learn to recognise and ignore.
At the same time I also found that even the best ‘words of wisdom’ could be hard to decipher at first, and could leave me feeling perplexed.
When I did finally make sense of something I had read or been taught, I would often think to myself ‘why wasn’t that explained in a more simple way?’
This has been my motive for writing this book - to share what I have learnt in the simplest terms possible.
These amazing, ancient spiritual teachings are still applicable to modern 21st century life. I hope you find them of benefit.
And I also hope that you too can be a punk and a Buddhist, and not be conflicted at all.
If you are interested, these are the bands that I’ve played in over the years.
Some are hardcore and raging, some are more fun, some are experimental and challenging:
Volunteers, Jacob’s Mouse, Zen Reggae Masters, The Machismo’s, Drukpa Kunley, One Drop War.
Very big thanks to all the amazing people I know and love!!
Special gratitude to Rachel, Rob, Esther and Ben for all their valued input with writing this book (and previous drafts).
And extra big thanks to David of Earth Island books for all his unwavering enthusiasm, positivity, honesty and support.
For excellent self-defence tuition:
Andy Rees https://www.rbmdynamics.com/