Hardcore Zen and The Truth About Reality

Are you curious about the truth? The truth about reality? What this really is? So am I.

Are you an armchair philosopher? Are the answers your parents gave to you when you were a child… well… a little simplistic?

I have spent most of my adult life with a narrow mind that I closed to certain ideas. But now, after deciding to explore new ideas (new to me anyway), like Zen Buddhism, I understand how important it is to keep asking questions. I began to think differently about everything: me, you, education, sports, parenting, government, the earth, and the universe. This doesn’t mean I believe I’ve found some perfect answer for everything, far from it. It doesn’t mean I’m a Buddhist; I’m not. It’s just given me another way of looking at reality and I want to share it with you.

If you want a quick, straight, honest, introduction to Zen, read Hardcore Zen. Tony Clark over at Success From the Nest, told me most people either love it or hate it.

I love it, but I can see why some people hate it. Some of it isn’t about Zen at all; it’s about Brad. But that doesn’t bother me, because I want to learn about a Zen Master who plays Hardcore Punk, loves Black Sabbath, and makes “B” monster movies.

On the back of Brad Warner’s book, he writes:

Question Authority. Question Society. Question Reality. Question Yourself. Question your conclusions, your judgments, your answers. Question this. If you question everything thoroughly enough, the truth will eventually hit you upside the head and you will know. But here’s a warning: It won’t be what you imagined. It won’t be even close.

Brad Warner does not sugar coat anything and his style is fun, irreverent, but at times a bit cynical.
Brad opens with this:

Nothing is sacred. Doubt – in everything – is absolutely essential. Everything, no matter how great, how fundamental, how beautiful, or important it is, must be questioned.

It’s only when people believe that their beliefs are above questioning, that their beliefs alone are beyond all doubt, that they can be as truly horrible as we all know they can be. Belief is the force behind every evil mankind has ever done. You can’t find one truly evil act in human history that was not based on belief – and the stronger their belief, the more evil human beings can be.

Later, Brad goes on to share two of his beliefs:

Everything is sacred. Every blade of grass, every cockroach, every speck of dust, every flower, every pool of mud outside a graffiti-splattered warehouse is God.

Everything is profane. “Saving the planet” is a waste of time and preserving the environment is a waste of energy. Flowers stink and birdsong is irritating noise.

Hmmm…does that pique your curiosity?

Brad on enlightenment:

Some people think enlightenment is some kind of superspecial state without questions or doubts, some kind of absolute faith in your beliefs and the rightness of your perceptions. That’s not enlightenment. In fact, that’s the very worst kind of delusion.

On religious conflict:

Killing someone in God’s name is ridiculous. If we do that, we are killing God and killing the truth.

On the current state of the world:

The world is in deep shit right now. The only thing that can save us from our own self-induced destruction is direct knowledge of the truth. And I say that without any reservation at all. Mankind cannot survive unless the truth dawns – from within – in each and every one of us. No political solution, bellicose or peaceful, will ever save us. No law. No pact. No treaty. No war.

On happiness:

Every single human being in the world at some time thinks that “if only” this or that one of our conditions could be met then we’d be happy… Think again.

On drugs:

Drugs are extremely destructive to your physical body, and they can leave emotional psychic wounds that can form permanent scars. They do not aid you in usefully discovering the truth in the least. I’m amazed I even survived my experimentation with that poison. My advice to you: Don’t bother.

You can communicate with Brad on his blog at http://hardcorezen.blogspot.com/.

If you are interested or curious about Zen, try these books:

The above blockquotes were granted by:
(c) Brad Warner, 2003. Excerpted from Hardcore Zen: Punk Rock, Moster Movies, and the Truth About Reality with permission from Wisdom Publications * http://wisdompubs.org

14 thoughts on “Hardcore Zen and The Truth About Reality”

  1. You selected some great quotes. I read it a few years ago, and this book resonated with me from the moment I began it.

    It’s also one I rarely recommend.

    Not because it isn’t a powerful book, but because it is. 🙂

  2. Hi Steve, another excellent post. Suzuki’s book is one of my favorites. I have spent over 30 years exploring my beliefs as a student of psychology and Eastern Wisdom. I am amazed at how the early years of my life programmed me and conditioned me in such limiting ways. I feel like I am still working on reprogramming and removing limiting beliefs. My unconscious is unconscious until I access it and bring light into an abundant collection of childhood decisions and interpretations that were ill informed and conditioned by the upbringing I had. No blame is meant, just the desire to be present to the possibilities in the now.

    Thanks for the sharing and awakening you do. Joseph at http://www.explorelifeblog.com

  3. I don’t know much about Zen or Buddhism, but I was interested in this entry because it meshes with the one I wrote yesterday about continuing to dream when you grow up. I am intrigued with the idea that daydreaming and asking questions are things we do naturally when we’re children but that society (and probably public schools) crush them out of us as we grow up.

    It’s important to continue to question everything and to stop telling ourselves that so many things are impossible if we are ever to come even close to our individual and collective potentials.

  4. That is an excellent book, I also recommend “Blue Jean Buddha” edited by Sumi Loundon, and “Awakening the Buddha Within” by Lama Surya Das.

    You don’t have to be a Buddhist to be a buddhist, if you know what I mean. Life is life, Zen is zen, breathe in pain, exhale pure light.

  5. Ed,

    I was drawn to read more about Zen Buddhism when I discovered that is was one of the few spiritual teachings that encouraged you to question everything, even Zen Buddhism. That appealed to me. Anyway, I hope it didn’t come across preachy, because that is the last thing I want to do.


    Some days I feel just like you describe. Like I’m deprogramming myself.

  6. loved Hardcore Zen. in addition to the works you listed, may i suggest Zen Without Zen Masters by Camden Benares. some of the book is slightly dated in a 60’s-early 70’s kind of way. other than that i found it to be an excellent guide to personal enlightenment without having to attach ones’ self to a church or institution. be good to each other. later brian

  7. From the anti-environment quote, I’d advise you to take read this book with a very questioning attitude, it sounds as if the author is still deluded about his place in this world. Humans are animals, and as such are a part of the environment. Poison in the environment becomes poison in you and other beings, worse than any drug. It’s obvious from the author’s other quote that they do not truly understand drugs, not all drugs are poisons, some are even spiritually beneficial.

    Zen also does not focus on God as much as these quotes would have you believe, or Buddha for that matter. “Don’t bother God, he has his own problems. Everything he makes dies.”

    I recommend you check out Zen Without Zen Masters, which is an excellent introduction to Zen. The author is no prude, and discusses both drug use and sex and how they relate to his Zen practice.

  8. I love HARDCORE ZEN. Anyone who likes Brad’s take on all things Zen might also appreciate the film ZEN NOIR by Marc Rosenbush. It made the rounds of the festival circuit for a couple of years and then had a limited theatrical release last summer. Brad called it “a strange, funny, sad, happy, moving wonderful film.” Plus, on the DVD one of the bonus tracks is a commentary by Brad and Marc.

  9. To be honest I tend to question everything. For example in this day and age western society teaches us that paranaormal things such as ghosts do not exist and yet people talk about ghosts as if they are real? I don’t won’t to come across as buttish but i’m just making a point from my view.

    I was just pondering about society and I realised this whilst typing the above post. All it seems to do is teach us from a young age is how to think and act in a specific way as society dictates and to be honest we are never thought to think for ourselves. Think about it isn’t this a sublte way of brainwashing people.

  10. I am reading with much interest your blog for about six months now, and I was wondering when are you going to address this topic or any other topic related to oriental way of thinking.

    May I suggest you to have a look into the writings of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh also known as Osho? I think he has a lot of unorthodox ideas that open new perspectives of the world.

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