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Hardcore Zen: Punk Rock, Monster Movies, & the Truth about Reality

by Brad Warner

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7382025,201 (4.01)5
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 his points come through loud and clear. As it prods readers to question everything, Hardcore Zen is both an approach and a departure, leaving behind the soft and lyrical for the gritty and stark perspective of a new generation. The subtitle says it all: there has never been a book like this.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
basic view of zen, just zazen
  ritaer | Jul 7, 2021 |
This took me a while to get through, but it was mostly I read a little bit here and a little bit there. Warner provides an autobiography as well as a very nice treatise on Zen Buddhism. The work is very accessible overall to folks, like me, who desire to learn a bit more. Questioning is a key theme of the book, and it is one that I personally found very appealing. I did find interesting the parts about working in Japan in a monster movie studio as well. How ofter does anyone get a job that sounds so cool? Sure, it was not as glamorous as he thought, but it was interesting to read about and watch him learn and grow until he becomes a Zen master himself.

Overall, we learn that Zen is not just feel good platitudes or something exotic. It is something very down to earth and very practical. It is a belief system of action and of seeking your own answers. Even Buddha told his followers to question everything. There are some parts of this book that I will probably revisit, and it certainly makes me interested in learning more. What I do like is that Warner comes across as casual, easy to read and learn from, not pretentious at all.

By the way, he makes references to Dogen's work. If you have read his other book, Sit Down and Shut Up, you will appreciate those references more since the other book is a commentary on Dogen. However, it is not necessary to have read the other one to appreciate this one. For me, having read it, I did gain a bit more insight.

If you wish to find a pretty accessible look at Zen without a lot of fluff or fillings, this is certainly a book for you. ( )
  bloodravenlib | Aug 17, 2020 |
Brad Warner seems like a very nice guy who's had an interesting life. I enjoyed Hardcore Zen and I imagine that I would enjoy having a beer with Brad. The book contains some funny anecdotes about life in a punk rock band in Ohio, where he grew up, and life working for a Japanese company making monster movies and cartoons in Tokyo, where he lives now. It also contain a little bit of wisdom from a Westerner who has become a "Zen master" -- just not as much as I was expecting. Part of the problem is that we all know much more about buddhism, mindfulness and meditation than the average person did when the book was published in 1994. Nowadays, most of us have read at least a few magazine articles about meditation -- how many _Time_ and other comparable magazines have had mindfulness on their covers over the past couple of years? As a result, Hardcore Zen seems less substantial than it might have 20 years ago. ( )
  Robert_Musil | Dec 15, 2019 |
Too much about Brad Warner, not so much about Zen. For someone who criticizes a lot the concept of an "authority figure", the author spends too many pages being one, patronizing the reader and throwing shit to other authors / Zen masters / musicians / whatever.

He speaks way too much about himself and his life, which (to me at least) is completely irrelevant, quite ordinary and mostly uninteresting. And he tries really hard to be funny in his writing. And (again, to me) he's not.

But if you can cope with that, make an effort and put that aside, there are quite a few interesting concepts and ideas for someone who is trying to learn a bit about Zen and Buddhism from a layman, secular point of view. ( )
  chaghi | Oct 15, 2018 |
I'd been wondering about Zen, mostly due to my practice of aikido. Not sure why. Actually I just don't feel like writing a book here. Anyway, I enjoyed this book. I know the author practices one version of Zen, and there are other opinions. The connection to punk rock is what got my attention. I was happy to see that he doesn't take that connection any further than appropriate, and quickly notes that punk usually creates the same kind of Authority that he believes Zen is against. Which I've been thinking about for many years now. He mostly lays off the mystical mumbo jumbo, and when he talks about "God" you know he is not talking about what Joel Osteen is talking about, at least I don't think so. This book got me thinking about a number of things, articulated some ideas that have been floating in my head for a while better than I've managed to say or write them, and overall was a really fun read. ( )
  bibliosk8er | Aug 16, 2018 |
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I have no time for lies or fantasy and neither should you. Enjoy or die.

John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten

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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 his points come through loud and clear. As it prods readers to question everything, Hardcore Zen is both an approach and a departure, leaving behind the soft and lyrical for the gritty and stark perspective of a new generation. The subtitle says it all: there has never been a book like this.

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