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Brad Warner and Free Your Inner Guru host Laura Tucker talk about Letters to a Dead Friend About Zen and the dangers of pushing for a spiritual breakthrough before you are ready.
Brad Warner is a Soto Zen priest, bass guitarist for the punk band Zero Defex and the author of Letters to a Dead Friend About Zen.
In his most recent book, Brad Warner introduces us to Zen Buddhism through the perspective of letters he writes to his friend Marky, who has died of cancer. But he’s not just talking to Marky, he’s talking to you in the frank tone and language of telling it like it is, to a close friend on borrowed time.
First, I loved this book and highly recommend it. Second, I’ve been saving this interview for just the right time. We recorded this interview three days after I sat for my interview for the just-released Guru: The Dark Side of Enlightenment podcast by Wondery.
After speaking about Zen Buddhism and Letters to a Dead Friend About Zen, Brad and I get going about some of the issues in the spirituality and self help circles that have become important to me based on lived experience. It was reassuring to speak to a spiritual leader about why all things don’t work for all people, and the dangers of inducing altered states in the pursuit of spiritual growth.
Enjoy this big conversation with someone who doesn’t shy away from going counter to the status quo.
- Why Brad started writing letters to his dead friend Marky.
- How Brad became a Zen monk, without setting off to be a monk.
- Is Zen Buddhism a religion, or a lifestyle?
- Sitting Zazen without a goal to be mindful or a better person.
- Re-thinking detachment: The Sanskrit word that’s usually translated as attachment has a double meaning of fuel.
- Laura on how meditation is like running: Even my worst run was better than the run I didn’t take.
- Brad on how Zen practice is like playing music, especially in front of a group.
- The dark side of meditation and the pitfalls that can happen when you extract mindfulness from the ethics and culture surrounding it.
- The down side of using drugs and altered states to push for spiritual experiences.
Mentioned in this episode:
Book – Letters to a Dead Friend About Zen
Brad’s Blog – hardcorezen.info
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