This week's episode of the Secular Buddhist Podcast features Ted Meissner (your host) in conversation with Brad Warner, one of the most controversial and popular young Buddhist teachers in America. Warner began life as a musician in bands such as Zero Defex, Dementia 13 (I loved the punk psychedelics of Mirror Mind and Disturb the Air, on vinyl no less), and others, and as an aficionado of B-grade horror film monsters (especially those from Japan).
Here is a little history of his training in Zen, from Wikipedia (edited and condensed):
He began practicing Zen Buddhism under his first teacher, Tim McCarthy. Warner later studied with Gyomay Kubose. When music failed to earn him a living, he moved to Japan. While in Japan he met and trained with Gudo Wafu Nishijima, who ordained him as a priest. In 2007, Gudo Wafu Nishijima named Warner the leader of Dogen Sangha International which Nishijima had founded. Warner dissolved the organization in April 2012.Warner is an interesting guy - and while his background and context is very DIY, his Zen teachers, to me, have seemed very traditional and faithful to the structure in which he was taught.
This is an interesting conversation for those reasons and many others.
Brad WarnerZen teacher Brad Warner speaks with us about his new book, Hardcore Zen Strikes Again.
Zen stories are filled with teachers doing odd things. Their behaviors, their words, can often rub people the wrong way as the softness of social constraint gives way to pointing out the realities we often lose sight of, and the profound nature of our practice. By their very example, these teachers have historically called us out in our lack of questioning the urgent need for looking at life differently, and changing it.
Fast forward in time and to the left geographically, to modern day America. How might the words of some contemporary Zen teachers have that same impact on our social attitudes? It can be said that it challenges us to rethink what we’re really responding to, and what that can tell us about our priorities. Interestingly enough, punk does the same thing, so to find the radical hardness of punk in alignment with a coarse zen teaching shouldn’t be very surprising.
Our guest today is Brad Warner, Zen monk, writer, bass player, and film-maker. He wrote the books Hardcore Zen, Sit Down And Shut Up, Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate, and Sex, Sin, and Zen. He received Dharma Transmission from Gudo Nishijima Roshi, who received his transmission from Rempo Niwa Roshi who, at the time was the head of the Soto Sect in Japan. Brad was also a student of Tim McCarthy, who was a student of Kobun Chino Roshi.
So, sit back, relax, and have a nice Oyama cold sake.
- Hardcore Zen Site
- Episode 45 :: Brad Warner :: Sex, Sin, and Zen
- It Gets Better Videos
- Fans and Haters Can Now Send in Video Responses to be in Brad Warner Documentary
Music for This Episode Courtesy of Rodrigo RodriguezThe music heard in the middle of the podcast is from Rodrigo Rodriguez. The track used in this episode is “Shikantaza” from his CD, Shakuhachi Meditations.