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hardcore zen

Post #131 • October 20, 2003, 4:25 AM

I recommend Hardcore Zen: Punk Rock, Monster Movies & the Truth About Reality by Brad Warner. Warner is the former bassist for Zero Defex who now works at the company that produces the Ultraman films. He’s also a Zen priest, and in this book he explains Buddhist concepts in a demystified way that comes from his long experience in punk rock.

You gotta love a book on Buddhism whose chapter about reincarnation is entitled “In My Next Life I Want to Come Back as a Pair of Lucy Liu’s Panties.”

The no-misty-bullshit attitude is a refreshing antidote to the kind of flowery, inscrutable fluff that sometimes passes for contemporary Buddhist literature. It also offers an alternative to legitimate works written in the standard polite style. I’d recommend Hardcore Zen to anyone who has read a lot of Thich Nhat Hanh.

After about halfway through the book I got the feeling that Warner’s tone was, at times, no less of a pose than the Buddhist trappings he decries, after which I wished he didn’t use the word ain’t so much. Warner is allergic to authority and piety. Those aren’t bad things to be allergic to, but the problem is still an allergy. Nevertheless his book was a good read, and a useful one for banishing the spiritual daydreams that threaten to derail Zen practice from its track toward good old reality.

His website is hilarious, and puts into practice something I saw on a bumper sticker once: sacred cows make great hamburgers.

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