Brad Warner Letters to a Dead Friend About Zen

Brad Warner: Letters to a Dead Friend About Zen

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.

Conversation highlights:

  • 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 –

Hardcore Zen Youtube Channel

Want more conscious conversations in your life?

Support the podcast and join the Free Your Inner Guru® Leadership Community at

Become A Patron

Free Your Inner Guru on Social


Free Your Inner GuruSelf growth and leadership without the hype, hustle & hubris. 🎧 Podcast & Community for Discerning Seekers
❓❓Q: What's the story behind Free Your Inner Guru podcast and community? ❓❓ A: If you're like me, you appreciate knowing a little about the origin story behind any project. Plus there's stuff here to know before listening to the newest episode with Dr Janja Lalich: When Self Help Turns Cult. (This is a long read, continued in the comments - if you prefer, go to the ORIGIN STORY link @freeyourinnerguru bio and read it as a blog where I’m keeping it updated.) My name is Laura Tucker. In my professional life, I've been a teacher, corporate trainer, salesperson, self employed business consultant, gym owner, and leadership coach. My favourite things to do are read, write, ride my bike, hike and travel, preferably with a camera in my hands. I'm intensely passionate about outdoor nature photography. ⛰️ I lived in Toronto, my original home town until 2005, at which point I packed up my dog and fledgling consulting business, and moved across Canada to Kelowna, British Columbia. I wanted to be closer to big nature , so I could use my camera more in my daily lifestyle. So, given all that, why do I host Free Your Inner Guru? While I was working as a consultant in the automotive industry in 2008, I went on a #personalgrowth journey. We were in the throes of the Great Recession. I needed something to keep myself uplifted while I supported my clients through a challenging economic period. TURNS OUT, I'M A SEEKER I didn't know it at the time, but I was in "seeking mode," looking for answers to the big questions we ask ourselves about life when the going gets tough. Continued in comments 👇

Laura Tucker

Reader Interactions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend