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Hardcore Zen: Punk Rock, Monster Movies and the Truth About Reality
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Hardcore Zen: Punk Rock, Monster Movies and the Truth About Reality

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  3,311 ratings  ·  253 reviews
This is not your typical Zen book. Brad Warner, a young punk who grew up to be a Zen master, spares no one. This bold new approach to the "Why?" of Zen Buddhism is as strongly grounded in the tradition of Zen as it is utterly revolutionary. Warner's voice is hilarious, and he calls on the wisdom of everyone from punk and pop culture icons to the Buddha himself to make sure...more
ebook, 224 pages
Published June 10th 2005 by Wisdom Publications (first published August 8th 1994)
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Matthew
Jul 25, 2010 Matthew rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people wondering if Zen Buddhism is for them
I was telling Joanna about this book, and she said something about how ugly the cover was. And it's true, the cover is terribly designed.

In the final chapter, the author mentions, "vapid, syrupy tomes with the word Zen in the title and some serene image on the cover." Okay, so ha ha, you put a toilet on your cover! Very funny, Brad Warner!

Still, if you can get past smartass stuff like that, this is a pretty good introduction to Zen Buddhism. Warner's style can be a little annoying, especially w...more
Chris
It's a book about Zen, obviously, from the point of view of an American who went from punk rocker to zen master over the course of many years. It's very different from most other zen books out there in that Warner doesn't try to affect the "wise and learned sage" voice in his writing. I imagine him more as a jittery skinny guy, chain-smoking cigarettes and telling you about the time he saw the entire history of the universe unfold around him in a dream.

Any book on Zen that quotes South Park, Phi...more
Eric
Mar 02, 2008 Eric added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: zen
Very nice straightforward book. Unlike the Mathieu Ricard book, I don't feel the least bit embarrassed or guilty for liking it.

I enjoyed the emphasis on reality. Trascendental nothing. Was also somewhat reassured to learn that Buddhists do not believe in reincarnation (that's asking the wrong question).

Enjoyed the author poking at his own past misconceptions about Zen; or showing the kinds of places where you'll think you've got something down pat, but not really because you've only got it on...more
Renda Dodge
This is one of the best books I've read on Buddhism.

At first the author started off with a real punk, "screw off if you don't like it" attitude, but by the end of the book he had changed. Because of the progression, it felt like, as the reader, I was going on this journey with him. I'd originally written Zen Buddhism off as the sect that "meditated all the time, and didn't care about ethics", but I was wrong. I quickly learned as I flipped the pages that I needed to take a second look at Zen. No...more
Brandon
Just finished Brad Warner's Hardcore Zen. It was excellent. I'm sure I'm biased a bit since I have Buddhist leanings, but I thought it was incredibly interesting to gain the perspective of a Zen master who sits firmly outside the mystic bullshit that often gets dragged in to things.

If you want to learn anything about Japanese Soto Zen, while ignoring all the nitty-gritty ceremonial stuff, and as it looks through the irreverent eyes of a punk rocker/Japanese monster movie maker (Go Ultraman!), gr...more
Peter Sims
The first time I saw this in my bookstore, I figured it was another gimmicky work and skipped it. When I went home I realized it was by the person whose website (now changed to the Hardcore Zen blog) I read and re-read because of its clear language and avoidance of the flowery aspects of Zen writing that have irritated me for years. The next day I picked it up, read it as quickly as I could, and completely found new inspiration for Zen practice. Here was an example of the feeling that someone wa...more
Scott
i've seen this book in the buddhist section at barnes & noble for years now. i never bothered to give it a try, because frankly, it looked stupid. "he doesn't get it," i would think. "he's just trying to make a joke out of zen and exploit it for money, fuck him and fuck his book." and then i'd get some other mystic book written by some other dude who shared the intention that i mistakenly placed on Brad Warner.

about 2 weeks ago, i came across Warner's second zen teacher (i didn't know it was...more
Heather
Hardcore Zen was a fun book, and a quick read. I liked the author; he seemed to be very keen to make sure the reader understands that Zen does not condone drug use, nor do real Zen practitioners chase after wild enlightenment experiences. He eagerly exhorted me to challenge all authority, including his own. A lot of the book was about authority, the spiritual quest, and the mistakenness of chasing enlightenment. These topics don't feel very relevant to me personally.

Hardcore Zen didn't really hi...more
DRM
This book should have really sucked in theory. Buddhism for punks, arggh! But Warner's self-effacing humor works nicely for his "this is zen for those who don't give a rat's ass about zen" and "question everything...including this book" approach. He weaves in his own life experiences without getting whiny and offers one of the more lucid explanations of the essence of zen buddhism out there. More than just some lame "alternative" marketing scheme, this book really makes you appreciate what the "...more
Maddie
This is not your stuffy, bookish treatment of Zen Buddhism. It is a real expression of one man's circuitous journey to the heart of Zen. His matter-of-fact style coupled with a healthy sense of humour make this book not only enlightening, but entertaining as well. For people who have read a great deal on Buddhism and are looking for a new perspective or for those who are just beginning to explore the area, this is a definite must read.
Sonya Feher
Not being a huge fun of punk rock or monster movies, I wouldn't have picked up this book. When a good friend who I'd been trading books about faith with all summer told me I had to read it, I went to the library.

Hardcore Zen chronicles Warner's path from punk rocker to Zen priest with humor and the irreverence I truly appreciate in books about faith or spiritual practice. That is to say, it doesn't take itself or its subject too seriously. As its cover copy proclaims, "This is Zen for people who...more
Jocelyn Koehler
This book was given to me by a very well-meaning, music-centric friend (who handed copies out to many peeps as appropriate). So I had very high hopes. Unfortunately, the author's personal story got in the way of the Zen stuff for me. I found it extremely difficult to absorb any lessons on Buddhism or zen practice or even punk rock, because the author's voice kept getting in the way.

The back of the book urges the reader to "Question Authority. Question Society. QUestion Reality. Question Yoursel...more
Cody
This was a great book. It introduced me to a branch of Buddhism I was very ignorant of until very recently, it covered the very basics, and it didn't try to sell me anything. I think that was my favorite part of Warner's whole narrative. Through the whole time you're reading, you're kept engaged because he's not trying to sell you something. He basically presents it as "Hey, here's Zen, it doesn't give a fuck." and I found that really enjoyable. A very down-to-earth book for down-to-earth people...more
Lonny
Feb 14, 2014 Lonny rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lonny by: Desiré Klingensmith
A friend lent me this book and described it as the first book that got her interested in Buddhism. I can see why since Warner chronicles his own journey, through many random and chaotic ramblings. The book's last half is better than the first half, but if you like books that also give a lot of in-depth background about the author, this may be up your alley. But it's slow going, and there are a ton of inconsistencies in Warner's own life philosophies. But, don't we all have those?

The one benefit...more
B
Behind all the woo-wash about chaos theory and scrubbing the iniquitous scum from the earth with a toilet brush in your broken-down rented loo, Brad Warner got at some good shit in this book, some of which, because it was so relentlessly gritty and relatable, has made more of an impact on me than have the declamations of many other more weighty, pharisaical, and preposterously learned tomes, those paper weights and door stops composed by greying academics who cloister themselves in hermetic libr...more
Eduardo
This is a better, smarter way of writing "Zen Buddhism for Dummies". So many books about Zen fall into one of two categories, either new age variations or dense, scholarly books. Either can be difficult to work through for different reasons. Warner avoids both of these categories by being himself, which is to say that he is irreverent while being accessible and honest.

Warner lays out the maddening contradictions of Zen but pairs it with his insight. He doesn't answer the questions for you, he le...more
Michelle
A very honest, down to earth and in your face discussion of Zen. Part memoir, part explanation, totally refreshing. I wasn't a huge fan of the personal stories about punk rock and making monster movies, but the rest was highly readable. It's rare to find a book on Buddhism this bullshit-free. Well done!
Bria
I like Zen Buddhism because it's pretty much what you figure out if you pay attention, and think about things, and have compassion, all backed up by wisdom and experience and practice. I'm a little put-off by selling the book through the shocking dichotomy of Zen and punk rock, but I'll allow it this time.
Jesse Brown
I found this book just when I needed it. I've oscillated with Zen since college. I love the philosophy and the spirit but have a hard time getting past the cultural trappings. Every time a Zen devotee argues for the virtue of a rakusu or a zafu or some flowing robe, I recoil. This stuff just seems to take away from the core teaching and enforce some degree of esoterica. I found out about Hardcore Zen through Brad Warner's blog and thought he seems like a level-headed, no nonsense dude. His booke...more
Rebecca
The Good:
This is a voice you're not going to hear much of anywhere else in published books on Zen Buddhism. No stereotypical wise Buddhist master stuff here. The author writes in a very straightforward, very down-to-earth style and that's part of his point: a lot of the new-agey pseudo-Buddhism centering on transcendental whatsit and enlightenment are focusing on the wrong thing, because there is nothing real except what is right now.

The Bad:
I rated this book as only OK for a few reasons.

Firs...more
Sarah
Hardcore Zen was recommended and loaned to me by a dear friend. I have enjoyed reading several books that deal with Buddhism in different ways, so I definitely wanted to give this book a spin. I didn't really have any idea what to expect with this book before going into it.

I will say that I am not a huge follower of the punk scene, I am not even very knowledgeable about music in general. I don't know who Brad Warner is or if that even matters. I guess for me, it doesn't. Objectively, this book i...more
D.S. West
Brad Warner. Man. I'm half happy I finally got around to reading the guy, I've been meaning to for a while, and half disappointed with what I read. Warner does an excellent job of distinguishing Buddhism from other religions and a better one of communicating the need to remind ourselves of the present experience.

OK, so I enjoyed that aspect of the book, but Warner's logic kinda falls apart for me. He spends the whole book relating how much he hates systems, authority, and the idea of truth...he...more
Marla
I was given this book by a complete stranger that I struck up a conversation with. Funny how things work. He was reading "Sit Down and Shut Up: Punk Rock Commentaries on Buddha, God, Truth, Sex, Death, and Dogen's Treasury of the Right Dharma Eye." So, this is not Alan Watts. This is a former punk-rocker, turned B-grade Japanese monster movie maker. (Remember Ultraman you 40-50 somethings? He's alive and well and living in Japan.) This is a great introduction to Zen Buddhism. 20 somethings will...more
Abbe
Sep 20, 2012 Abbe added it
Shelves: in-library
From Publishers Weekly

There's a Zen story about a teacher who holds up his finger, then reminds his student to look beyond the finger itself, to what the finger is pointing at-the moon. That's what this book does: it transcends itself-and with outrageous style. Warner, an early-'80s hardcore punk musician, discovered Zen in college, moved to Japan to make B-grade monster movies, and eventually became a bona fide Zen master by formally receiving "dharma transmission." Yet true to his punk spiri

...more
Yasmine Alfouzan


I bought Hardcore Zen a few months ago when I read an introduction to Buddhism. It interested me very much and I liked a few of the concepts represented. Of course, my purpose of reading on Buddhism was not to be committed to it, but to benefit from whatever it has to offer. The reason I chose a book on Zen is that it's the only school of Buddhism I knew about, and I didn't want to read a book that's spiritual in the cheesy way (since I absolutely hate those), which explains the title.

The author...more
Jen Madsen
I expected somewhat of a rough edge reading this book, and I suppose to some there would be an ample supply of rough edges here. But entertaining language aside, this book surprised me with it's simple take on Zen Buddhism. Warner's presentation this philosophy closely matches that of Charlotte Joko Beck (if my memory serves, and it very well may not) in the assertion that Zen is simply about facing the reality of the present moment--nothing special. Warner, like Beck, makes no promises of achie...more
Paul Scoggan
Brad Warner has a unique approach to understanding and teaching Zen Buddhism. From the title and cover of the book it is obvious that this isn't your typical buttoned up Buddhist text. Brad was in punk rock bands in the early 80's. He later moves to Japan to teach English, and ends up working for a movie company that makes Japanese horror movies and the television show Ultraman. Through all of this he maintains an interest in Zen meditation.

After meeting his teacher, Gudo Nishijima, and studyin...more
Will
I had some understanding of Zen (or so I thought) from reading Hofstader and Pirsig, a short reading through Watts. To me, Zen was about the destruction of ideas; an deconstructionist, almost dada-ist religion where thoughts were meaningless, desire was shunned and even the religion itself "could only be learned by forgetting it." I'd hear stories of people going weeks without speaking in a retreat, trying to answer unanswerable questions, staring into a candle-flame, and trying to eliminate the...more
Elizabeth
Although I do have interest in the topic, and it serves a major relevance within my own life, I think that this novel could undeniably speak volumes to those people who don’t give a rats ass about Buddhism. Why? Warner does more than skip straight to the true meaning of Buddhism, Warner speaks about living within the moment (he touches on the notion of one having ‘no past, no present, and no future,’ which made me elated - if you are able to directly connect and understand that notion then you w...more
Justin
'Hardcore Zen' is a wonderfully refreshing read on Buddhism. Brad Warner doesn't use the same tired old method of conveying Buddhist teachings to the reader. He uses a conversational tone that quickly makes him out to be your friend. He doesn't put himself or anything he's discussing on a pedestal.

I really enjoyed every bit of this book. I'm very into punk rock, and Warner's connections between that and Zen Buddhism really resonate with me. Buddhism is definitely punk! Most importantly he tells...more
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362020
Brad Warner is an ordained Zen Master (though he hates that term) in the Soto lineage founded in Japan by Master Dogen Zenji in the 13th century. He's the bass player for the hardcore punk rock group 0DFx (aka Zero Defex) and the ex-vice president of the Los Angeles office of the company founded by the man who created Godzilla.

Brad was born in Hamilton, Ohio in 1964. In 1972, his family relocated...more
More about Brad Warner...
Sit Down and Shut Up: Punk Rock Commentaries on Buddha, God, Truth, Sex, Death, and Dogen's Treasury of the Right Dharma Eye Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate: A Trip Through Death, Sex, Divorce, and Spiritual Celebrity in Search of the True Dharma Sex, Sin, and Zen: A Buddhist  Exploration of Sex from Celibacy to Polyamory and Everything In Between There Is No God and He Is Always with You: A Search for God in Odd Places Hardcore Zen Strikes Again

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“Reality's all you've got. But here's the real secret, the real miracle: it's enough.” 25 likes
“How many Zen masters does it take to screw in a light bulb? The plum tree in the garden!” 16 likes
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