Classic and Contemporary Buddhist Works

Hardcore Zen - Praise

Punk Rock, Monster Movies, and the Truth about Reality

“The publication of the half-confessional, half-didactic Hardcore Zen in 2003 made Warner an instant celebrity in Buddhist circles.”—National Post

“FIVE STARS. An engrossing and entertaining Chicken Soup for the Anarchist, Over-Intellectualizing Soul.”—About.com

“Man oh man, this is a VERY good book."—Janwillem van de Wetering, author of The Empty Mirror and The Corpse on the Dike

“Warner’s not only good—he is also very funny. And he is wise. Warner is so wise that I had to put the book down several times, I was so moved by his ability to tell Zen as it is. This is, by far, the best book I have read on Buddhism in the last decade. If you only read one book this spring, let it be Hardcore Zen.”—Still Point Newsletter

“Warner’s book, peppered with quotes by everyone from Bart Simpson to Gene Simmons to Buddha in its attempt to show the reader how to apply Zen to their daily life, is a straightforward introduction to the ancient practice of Zen Buddhism not as a religion or out-of-reach philosophy. It’s also a personal account of Warner’s own journey from teenage punk rocker to the 40-year-old Zen master he is today.”—Metropolis Tokyo

“A conversational tone and endless streams of pop references to everything from Minor Threat to The Matrix movies make this a readable and fun book. Warner stresses that enlightenment and meditation do not come easy, which separates his writing dramatically from many other Western books on Buddhism. It’s nice to see someone with strong ties to rock coming down so hard on people like Terence McKenna or even the Beatles, who promoted drug use as a way toward higher thought. Although some of Warner’s connections between Buddhism and the various pieces of pop culture are simplified, his idea of questioning is particularly striking. Not just questioning authority, but friends, oneself, and, yes, him. This wonderfully engaging primer just might get those more dubious, less willing readers to look at the world a bit differently.”—School Library Journal

“Here’s an autobiography of a quite different flavor. It’s full of sly irreverence snappy references to contemporary culture, and amusing tangents. Warner brings messages of substance on many introductory Buddhist topics: Zen retreat, meditation, the precepts, reincarnation etc. For my money, Hardcore Zen is worth two or three of those Buddhism-for-Young-People books.”—Shambhala Sun

“Brad Warner is probably the only guy in the room who chants ‘1-2-3-4! before settling into the lotus position. If Zen is all about interconnectedness, Hardcore Zen proves it, deftly linking punk idealism, pop culture and a spiritual quest in a way that seems at once surprising and obvious. This is the sound of one hand thrashing.”—David Giffels & Jade Dellinger, Authors of Are We Not Men? We Are DEVO!

“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 spirit, he relentlessly demands that all teaching, all beliefs, all authority—including his own—must be questioned. By turns wickedly funny, profane, challenging and iconoclastic—but always with genuine kindness—Warner devotes chapters to some common Zen notions such as the oneness of reality (‘Why Gene Simmons Is Not a Zen Master’), reincarnation (‘In My Next Life I Want to Come Back as a Pair of Lucy Liu's Panties’) and the vital importance of the present moment (‘Eating a Tangerine Is Real Enlightenment’). Yet this is no litany of Zen orthodoxy designed for study. Entertaining, bold and refreshingly direct, this book is likely to change the way one experiences other books about Zen—and maybe even the way one experiences reality.”—Publishers Weekly [starred review]

“Warner’s path from inner anarchy to the Heart Sutra (‘which profoundly rocked my world’) will no doubt resonate with many twenty- and thirty-somethings. Hardcore Zen is Be Here Now for now.”—Tricycle

“Who would have thought punk rock, monster movies and an authentic presentation of the Zen way would weave together so smoothly. Hardcore Zen is Zen teaching for the twenty-first century. This is the real deal.”—James Ishmael Ford, founding teacher of Boundless Way Zen, author of Zen Master WHO? and If You’re Lucky, Your Heart Will Break

“You need to read this book.”—Bill Stevenson, All / Descendents / Black Flag

“Warner, a native of Wadsworth, Ohio, now living in Tokyo, displays quite a bit of knowledge on all the subjects in his book’s title in the down-to-earth and funny Hardcore Zen. It’s rare to encounter someone who can claim authority on such a wide variety of the useless and profound, but Warner has the résumé to back it up. Warner isn’t looking for converts. Rather, he sees Buddhism as a truth-seeking method, a means of confronting reality. Hardcore Zen will probably make you reconsider how you spend your time. Warner’s message, in very simple terms, is that there’s no time like the present. Now’s the time.”—CityBeat

“The last thing Buddha reportedly told his followers was to question authority, which is something Brad Warner, as bass player in an Ohio hardcore band and later a toiler on Japanese B-movies, could relate to. Oh, he studied with a Zen master in Japan, too, but pretty oibviously, he isn’t your typical Buddhist priest, and Hardcore Zen isn’t your typical Buddhist book. Warner brings the same tough, skeptical attitude to Zen that he brought to punk rock. Profane and sometimes irreverent; capable of devastating, corrosive humor; Warner pulls no punches. His book is an honest account of his search for truth.”—Booklist

“The only shortcoming (if it is that) of Hardcore Zen is its brevity. The autobiographical stories are fascinating. The Buddhist ideas are interesting. The Punk rock lore is always good. It kept me reading. Hardcore Zen provides a solid, if brief, introduction into the philosophy of Buddhism and the practice of Zen, as well as a fascinating and real look at the author’s journey from small-town punk to Zen master/punk. Brad’s story illustrates how it’s possible, even natural, for the ideals of punk and Zen philosophy to peacefully coexist. All in all, an interesting read for anyone with an interest in punk, Zen, or just a burning need to examine and find peace with the nature of life.”—Bookgeek.com

“Readers are likely to finish Hardcore Zen with a wider understanding of the vast array of human spiritual ideas.”—Foreword

“Gonzo; often hilarious.”—Dharmalife

“I will admit that at first I was hesitant—not another gimmick Zen book! However, I read Hardcore Zen and was delighted. Rather than writing another ‘textbook’ on Zen, Warner places universally valuable teachings plunk in the middle of what is happening in his life at a given time.”—Mitchell Doshin Cantor, The Southern Palm Zen Group

“In Hardcore Zen [...] Brad Warner tells a lively story of his odyssey from living as a punk rocker in rural Ohio to making B-grade Japanese horror flicks to becoming a Zen priest in Tokyo. A veteran of punk bands Zero Defex and Dementia 13, Warner has practiced zazen (the Zen term for "sitting meditation") for over 15 years, and a couple years ago received Shiho, or Dharma Transmission—formal acknowledgment that he has attained the same enlightenment as the Buddha. [ . . . ] The fundamental practices of punk and Buddhism—thrashing in a pit versus sitting in quiet meditation—might seem irreconcilable. And yet, Warner writes, ‘in its early days, punk had a lot in common with Zen,’ the strand of Buddhism that emerged in China around the seventh century and eventually flourished in Japan. 'The attitude of not conforming blindly to society is an important aspect of Buddhist teaching.”—Sunday Boston Globe