Hardcore Zen: The Movie

Pirooz Kalayeh’s movie about me, Brad Warner’s Hardcore Zen, is done and ready for the world. It was shown for the first time on October 5th, 2013 in Amsterdam at the Buddhist Film Festival of Europe. People there dug it, I am told. I couldn’t attend because that day I was hosting a 5-day Zen retreat at Benediktushof.

Now we’re going on the road with it and we are asking, nay begging, you to help us do it! Pirooz has set up a fund raiser for the tour right here on Indie Go Go. This will be how we’ll pay for us to go to the cities where the movie is playing and host the screening as well as do other interesting stuff.

We have three screenings set up right now for which tickets are currently on sale:

Ojai California

Ojai Playhouse | December 06, 2013 @ 9:30pm $10 http://local-screen.com/hardcore-zen/ojai-ca/

Seattle, Washington
Northwest Film Forum | December 12, 2013 @ 8:00pm $10 http://local-screen.com/hardcore-zen/seattle-wa/

Portland, Oregon
Clinton Street Theater | December 13, 2013 @ 7:00pm $10 http://local-screen.com/hardcore-zen/portland-or/

Folks like you, the readers of this here blog, are the target audience for this movie. So please come out and support it.

I like the film. I remember discussing with a certain other punk Buddhist author about a movie they made about him. He told me he wasn’t as psyched as he’d like to have been about that film. He didn’t go so far as to say he disliked it. But I could tell it wasn’t really what he’d hoped it would be.

I didn’t want a movie about me to be disappointing. But I also didn’t want it to be a fluff piece that just made me look like some kind of god-like spiritual super-being either. I told Pirooz that I wanted it to be his vision of me, not my vision of me.

I gave him access to everything I could think of that might be relevant. I gave him a box of photos and videos from my past. I let him come to any talk he wanted to attend and film it. I sat for dozens of interviews. I gave him all the music I’d ever recorded. It was tons of stuff and it must have been a nightmare to slog through all of it. But he did. I gave him contact info for my friends and family and he interviewed everybody that was willing to be interviewed.

HandsInHair2He allowed me to view a number of rough cuts. And while I was uncomfortable with some of the material he used, I decided to concern myself only with factual accuracy. So if he used an old film clip that made me cringe but the caption got the date it was recorded wrong I only gave him the correct date. I didn’t ask him to take it out of the movie.

The opening scene is grueling for me to watch. It’s a scene of me at a highly uncomfortable talk in New York City where I had to deal with a couple of people who my talk had upset greatly. I squirm every time I see that. But it’s real and it’s good that it’s in there.

We really tried to get some of the people who used to frequently leave troll-ish comments on my previous blog to be interviewed on camera, but every one of them refused. We tried to get Grace and Peter Schireson to talk about their objections to the things I say, but they turned us down too. I guess they were concerned that we’d make them look bad or something. But that really wasn’t our intention. We wanted to make this an authentic film and having those voices of opposition in there would have helped do that. Ah well. You can’t always get what you want.

Rachel-SmanthaIn the end, though, this is a highly unusual film. It’s not really what you’d call avant garde. By that I mean that it doesn’t look all that weird. But nonetheless it is deeply, deeply weird. It’s like no other film that’s ever been made about a spiritual teacher. Because it is absolutely and unapologetically honest. It’s also funny. You won’t find Thich Naht Hanh dressing up in a bunny costume. You won’t see the Dalai Lama trying to push the director of a movie about him’s car out of a snow drift. You’re not gonna find two hot girls and a tiny dog sitting in a pink bedroom talking about their friend Ram Dass. You won’t find DEVO and Randy Blythe from Lamb of God in a movie about D.T. Suzuki. It ain’t gonna happen.

Yet you will see all this and more in Brad Warner’s Hardcore Zen!

Please come by and watch it. We can chat about it afterwards!

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47 Responses

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  1. HUGO
    HUGO November 14, 2013 at 2:54 pm |

    Can’t wait to see the film! Reading Hardcore zen when it first came out changed my life for the better. Your teachings helped me to see clearly and as a result make some good decisions in finding a great group to practice Zazen with. I hope this film does what Hardcore zen did for me. Read it on a beach in Cuba and I probably looked at bit silly trying to sit in half lotus posture!

  2. Katageek
    Katageek November 14, 2013 at 4:48 pm |

    WTF about all us fan boys in the sticks of Texas and the East Coast who want the DVD and Limited Edition Bobble Head of you in Zazen?

    Zazen Bobble head please. In the Bunny Suit.

    DVD Date?

  3. Fred
    Fred November 14, 2013 at 5:09 pm |

    ” I had to deal with a couple of people who my talk had upset greatly. ”

    I would love to see that.

    1. mb
      mb November 14, 2013 at 5:36 pm |

      It’s partly in the trailer, above. Apparently that was quite the scuffle there. With the camera rolling, no less. What I want to know is how did it wind up? I didn’t see any blood…

      1. Fred
        Fred November 14, 2013 at 5:53 pm |

        Jeez I thought that was the perfunctory gay sex scene.

  4. Fred
    Fred November 14, 2013 at 5:12 pm |

    For boobies press 5.

  5. Fred
    Fred November 14, 2013 at 5:22 pm |

    Brad, I look forward to watching your movie on acid.

  6. Fred
    Fred November 14, 2013 at 6:38 pm |

    “Zazen Bobble head please”

    Pitch, yaw, and roll, Mark.

  7. Broken Yogi
    Broken Yogi November 14, 2013 at 6:57 pm |

    Great trailer. Looks like a fun movie. Probably not coming to Shasta though, unless you do a screening at Shasta Abbey. You may not be their cup of zazen though.

  8. Mumbles
    Mumbles November 14, 2013 at 8:09 pm |

    Drop it on dvd and sell it like a t-shirt, cd, or other merch, btch.

    You posted this trailer here….um…how long ago (way too “busy” [not that interested] to look back in the history}?

    That uneasy NY group, could that have been Barry Magid and his group who had just lost Joko Beck their teacher like a day before you showed up? Didn’t you wear some unrighteous T-shirt or say something inappropriate? For shame. Bad Brad.

  9. Senjo
    Senjo November 15, 2013 at 5:26 am |

    If the NY Group is the Barry Magid one, then I think its great that its in the movie. Of all the Brad podcasts that I’ve listened to I think this is the best and I’ve listened to it at least 4 times.

    I think what happens – and how we react – when we get challenged is one of the best indicators of who we are and how our practice is. I really like the way that Brad gets attacked and how his response is so honest and effective. I think the cconfrontation forces the best out of Brad and he comes across really well and how it forces him to express himself (and what he says) really resonates with me. Barry Magid with his ‘perpetual adolescent’ dig just comes across like a grumpy old man who doesn’t like anyone expressing Zen in a way that doesn’t fit with his own model.

    1. mtto
      mtto November 15, 2013 at 11:57 am |

      I’m the editor/curator of the podcast and I’m glad you like it!

      It was uncomfortable for Brad, and I’m sorry about that. I agree that the resulting talk is very, very good.

  10. Mayneric
    Mayneric November 15, 2013 at 5:34 am |

    Us poor guys in Kansas City are left out. That’s too hardcore! Get the movie shown here, Please!

  11. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote November 15, 2013 at 9:33 am |

    Looking forward to the screening in the S.F. Bay Area!

    twerk city:


  12. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote November 15, 2013 at 9:43 am |
  13. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote November 15, 2013 at 9:44 am |

    I see motion in more directions when I’m at the local dive; course, I’m usually boatin’ like a bobblehead at the waist, myself:


  14. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote November 15, 2013 at 9:49 am |

    sorry about that, can’t do animated gifs with the WordPress viewer.

  15. Fred
    Fred November 15, 2013 at 11:13 am |

    These people were professional psychotherapists, lawyers, etc. They were the
    roles they played, and as Buddhists were not yet beyond the roles and trappings.

    To say that someone must deal with what is being projected onto them by
    someone else, is fine if you are a psychotherapist.

    But please don’t include me in your fantasy therapy trip.

  16. 23Steve
    23Steve November 15, 2013 at 11:50 am |

    I’d really like to see this movie… Any chance it will ever make it to Netflix instant view?

  17. Mumbles
    Mumbles November 15, 2013 at 3:44 pm |

    Well, try not to wait two years like they did with the Trungpa movie to offer it as a dvd for sale (or some way to download, etc.). Since its not going into wide release in theatres. I’d buy a dvd.

  18. Alizrin
    Alizrin November 15, 2013 at 4:22 pm |

    I guess I am the only slightly confused person around here . . . but, I supported the movie through the indie go go site last summer, is this the same thing or is it something different? At any rate, I look forward to receiving the digital download flash drive thingamajig . . . or does all that show up after the film tour?

  19. lcrane1
    lcrane1 November 15, 2013 at 6:59 pm |

    Brad, have you thought about doing the vinyl figure through KickStarter?

  20. Katageek
    Katageek November 18, 2013 at 5:27 am |

    Is there a “Pay Per View” service for Independent Films where anyone can submit their content and charge what they want?

  21. Mumbles
    Mumbles November 18, 2013 at 11:02 am |

    Brad has his film “Cleveland’s Screaming” set up that way on this blog’s store.

  22. Annette
    Annette November 19, 2013 at 5:25 am |

    I am one of the participants of the retreat in Benediktushof in Germany. You told us about this film in one of the talks with you. I watched the trailer, I like the bunny scene and altogether the way you are dealing with the zen teacher stuff. How can we get this film to Germany???

  23. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote November 19, 2013 at 10:33 am |

    “Nishmat: A Kabbala Meditation” reminded me of this:


  24. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote November 19, 2013 at 10:36 am |

    “All things are set on a nonabiding basis. The nonabiding basis is based on nonabiding. If you can reach a thorough realization of this, then all things are One Suchness, and you cannot find even the slightest sign of abiding.

    The whole of your present activities and behaviour is nonabiding. Once the basis is clear to you, it will be like having eyes: the sun is shining brightly, and you can see all kinds of colors and forms. Isn’t this the mainspring of transcendent wisdom?

    Yongjia said: ‘Without leaving where you are, there is constant clarity.’ No words come closer to the truth than these.”

    (“Letters of Yuanwu”, trans. T. Cleary, pg 43)

  25. Fred
    Fred November 20, 2013 at 6:09 am |

    The secret of the universe is giving up the self. A thorough realization of
    nonabiding is here.

  26. Fred
    Fred November 20, 2013 at 6:14 am |

    The truth is manifested through a human brain and body; a fundamental
    actualization through/with the burden/unburden of consciousness.

  27. Fred
    Fred November 20, 2013 at 6:29 am |

    Kobun Chino Roshi:
    “The difficulty wasn’t sitting together; the difficulty was yourself! Wanting to be alone is impossible. When you become really alone you notice you are not alone. In other words, we stop our vigorous efforts towards ideal purity. Purity is just a process. After purity, dry simplicity comes, where almost no more life is there, and your sensation is that you are not existing anymore. Still, you are existing there. You flip into the other side of nothing, where you discover everybody is waiting for you. Before that, you are living together like that–day, sun, moon, stars and food, everything is helping you–but you are all blocked off, a closed system. You just see things from inside toward the outside, and act with incredible, systematic, logical dynamics, and you think everything is alright. When noise, or chaotic situations come, you want to leave that situation to be alone. But there is no such aloneness!

    It is very important to experience the complete negation of yourself, which brings you to the other side of nothing. People experience that in many ways. You go to the other side of nothing, and you are held by the hand of the absolute. You see yourself as part of the absolute, so you have no more insistence of self as yourself. You can speak of self as no-self upon the absolute. Only real existence is absolute.”

  28. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote November 20, 2013 at 8:17 am |
  29. zacharythax
    zacharythax November 23, 2013 at 8:21 am |

    PLEASE bring this to Columbia, SC. We have a great Buddhist community here with 2 meditation centers including the one I do to, which is a Soto Zen Priory (with Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett on the wall) and the most advanced indie movie house in the Southeast, the NIckelodeon. I can try to rally support, raise funds and make this happen.

  30. Tygrrrbear
    Tygrrrbear December 8, 2013 at 2:23 am |

    Awesome movie glad we all went out to ojai. Good to see ya Brad!

Comments are closed.