Last Friday I was in Ojai for the screening of a documentary about Brad Warner and his Zen teaching.
I have read Hardcore Zen by Brad and I am almost done with his second book., “Sit Down and Shut Up. Punk Rock Commentaries on Buddha, God, Truth, Sex, Death and Dogen’s Treasury of the Right Dharma Eye.” I really thought that I understood what Zen was all about. In fact when I decided to start practicing Buddhism I specifically did NOT want to do the Zen Buddhism because I thought it was all fortune cookie type philosophy. Like well what happens happens and nothing you do or say is going to change it so que sera sera. UGH! I HATED that. I had spent my whole life in Scientology, (SUPER long story for another time) and I wanted to get as FAR away from that as I could. But the Zero responsibility thing was a NO for me.
Then one day, randomly, I came across Brad’s book. The cover immediately made me laugh. A dingy toilet in some crappy club and the words “Hardcore Zen” on the cover. I read the back and I laughed some more. At first I thought this would be great for my sister who is a voracious reader and and Athiest but I thought she might get something out of it, but ultimately, I was in the middle of reading the Dalai Lama’s book, “The Universe in a Single Atom” and struggling wouldn’t be an adequate term for what I was doing reading this book. So I thought maybe I would get a good chuckle and learn something.
This book has transformed me. I learned SO much, not just about Buddhism, which apparently I knew NOTHING about, but about life, punk rock, monster movies and how to be happy with right now. That is something that I have struggled with my whole life. I have never existed comfortably in the moment. I am ALWAYS in the future or mulling over the past. CONSTANTLY. This book was the first step in my journey to learning to truly live.
Then going to the screening and meeting Brad and seeing this BRILLIANT film made by Pirooz Kalayeh and I Like Nirvana has stayed with me and I would love to see it again. Well, if you don’t get “it” from his book that he is just a punk rock dude who is also a Zen Monk, then you definitely get it meeting him. It made me realize and see Buddha in a new light as well. People say, “he was just a man” but we have little statues and HUGE ones all over the place depicting him. People bow to them. I wear one on my neck. But meeting Brad made me realize, he was JUST a man. And I am just a human doing what we humans do. Surviving. Living. But now I am going to really do that each moment. Each second. I am going to live. And that makes me so happy. Happier than I have been in a long time.
So thank you Brad.