I just finished reading the book Hardcore Zen, and it was quite an enjoyable read. It’s the first book I’ve read in quite some time that I wasn’t able to put down. Albeit I was on planes a lot so there wasn’t much else to do, but it really has re-invigorated my desire to practice meditation. It’s always nice to read a book on Zen which discusses the modern aspects of life and how Zen practice can be integrated. Most books written on the subject that I have read we’re written hundreds of years ago, and even though the practical application of Zen still applies (the fundamentals of Zen Buddhism are still the same), it can be difficult at times to relate my experience of life to the authors (seeing as it was written so long ago). This, of course, was not the case in Hardcore Zen.
Written by an old school punk rocker this book was definitely up my ally. From growing up in a small town, to making Japanese monster movies, this book has it all. It’s like reading a light autobiography with gems of Zen scattered through out. From thoughts on Gene Simmons to rants about Ken Wilber (which I think was my favorite part of the book, not so much that he was ranting about Ken, but just my own internal realization of how it was pushing me out of my comfort zone to read it). Honestly, out of all the books I saw in the Zen section of Chapters this was the only one that truly stood out for me, and for good reason.
One other section worth mentioning is the chapter on drugs and spirituality, and I must admit, I don’t think I could agree with Brad (the author) more on the subject… It comes down to this. If you’re gonna do drugs, do them and have a good time, but be honest with yourself in as far as the fact that you are doing them to get fucked up. Don’t go running around using mushrooms or acid as an excuse to experience being one with the universe. I remember a group of friends of mine that would all drop “XTC” and run around talking about how they were experiencing “God” when they did drugs. I personally think that’s a crock a shit. So if you’re gonna do drugs, then do them for the real reason, don’t use the lie of spirituality and experiencing god as an excuse to have a good trip.
In a nutshell thats Hardcore Zen. Go pick up a copy of and take a read, its great for people just getting interested in Zen and for those who have been practicing and want a fresh outlook on modern day aspects of the tradition. If you really enjoy it you can join me in reading the follow up book called “Sit Down and Shut Up”. It takes off right where the last book finished (in as far as the autobiographical aspects) and it also includes a translation/editorial on the Shobogenzo (google it) through out the book.
Hope you enjoyed my little review.