Stephen Levine (July 17, 1937 – January 17, 2016) was an American poet, author and teacher best known for his work on death and dying. He is one of a generation of pioneering teachers who, along with Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein and Sharon Salzberg, have made the teachings of Theravada Buddhism more widely available to students in the West. Like the writings of his colleague and close friend, Ram Dass (formerly Richard Alpert), Stephen's work is also flavoured by the devotional practices and teachings (also known as Bhakti Yoga) of the Hindu Guru Neem Karoli Baba. This aspect of his teaching may be considered one way in which his work differs from that of the more purely Buddhist oriented teachers named above. Since Buddhism is largely considered a non-theistic faith, his allusions in his teachings to a creator, which he variously terms God, The Beloved, The One and 'Uugghh,' further distinguish his work from that of other contemporary Buddhist writers.
Born in Albany, New York, Levine attended the University of Miami. He published his first work, A Resonance of Hope, in 1959. After working as an editor and writer in New York City, Levine was one of the founders of the San Francisco Oracle in 1966.
He spent time helping the sick and dying, using meditation as a method of treatment; a program he shared with psychologist Richard Alpert (Ram Dass) and psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.
The author of several books about dying, Levine and his wife Ondrea spent one year living as if it were their last. Levine's son Noah initially rejected his father's work, then started to teach meditation on his own. Levine and his wife Ondrea appeared in the 2007 documentary, Meditate and Destroy, that focuses on the life of their son Noah Levine.
For many years, Stephen and Ondrea lived in near seclusion in the mountains of Northern New Mexico. Ondrea still lives in Northern New Mexico. Stephen Levine died at his home after a long illness on January 17, 2016 at the age of 78.
In the acknowledgements section of his book "Who Dies: An Investigation of Conscious Living and Conscious Dying" (1986), Stephen paid tribute to a number of spiritual teachers whose work he acknowledged to have influenced his writing. As well as crediting "years of Buddhist practice and teaching," he cited the writings of Nisargadatta Maharaj, an Indian spiritual teacher and philosopher of Advaita (Nondualism), as well as Neem Karoli Baba and Ramana Maharshi.