The Hardcore Zen audiobook has arrived! You can get it at CD Baby by following the link below:


Don’t risk damaging your eyes and your brain doing old-fashioned style reading just like your grandma did back during the Gold Rush while sucking down a sarsparilla! Get with the times! Download the audiobook like a real 21st Century citizen.

People have been talking about an audiobook version of Hardcore Zen since 2003. But nobody did anything. Last year Smog Veil Records said they wanted to do it. So I went to Wisdom Publications and they said, “No. We want to do it!” So I waited around for like six months. After hearing nothing, I contacted Wisdom and they were like, “Oh we don’t want to do it anymore.” So I told them thanks for letting me know and said I was gonna do it myself and now HERE IT IS!

This is a real DIY piece of work. But for all that, it came out pretty good. That’s because the quality you can get with cheap equipment at home is like twice as good as what you could get using a professional studio twenty or even ten years ago. Pirooz Kaleyah, director of Shoplifting from American Apparel, donated a Snowball microphone made by a company called Blue. I plugged that into my MacBook, opened up Garage Band and started reading the book.

I haven’t read Hardcore Zen even silently to myself since before it was published. The last time I read it all the way through was when I had to proofread the final copy edited version just before it went to press. I’ve read bits and pieces of it since then. But not the whole book.

I still have mixed feelings about that book. It’s OK. It might even be good. But it’s not the book I wanted it to be.

I wanted Hardcore Zen to be an example of what it was about. I wanted it to be a punk rock book about punk rock. As it stands it’s sort of a self-help book about punk rock.

As a punk rock book about punk rock it would have been rougher, less professional, and far less formulaic. It was intended to have digressive passages that just wandered off into nowhere for no discernible reason. I wanted it to meander> I wanted readers to be like, “what the fuck just happened?” Only one of those digressions actually made the cut.

In that particular digression, I wanted to describe some of the interesting things that have come up from my practice. Nishijima Roshi always said, “When you do zazen, you come back to your childhood.” This is really true. At one point I kept getting flooded with memories of things that had happened very long ago. I started to understand that the way I had perceived and conceived of the world when I was two or three years old was more correct than the way I had learned to perceive and conceive of it as an adult.

One of those memories involved being in the back of an old VW bug, probably my grandmother’s. Those cars had this weird storage space right behind the back seat, between the seat and the window. A little tiny kid could fit in there. And my memory was of being in there and looking out at the sky through the little oval back window. That space is so small there’s no way I could have been more than three years old. Probably less. But something about the way things had looked to me that day came rushing back all at once.

So I wrote it down. But instead of telling the story in the first person, I told it in second person (i.e. “You are sitting in a VW bug” or whatever I said). Josh Bartok, my editor, really wanted to cut that out. But I held fast. He cut out a lot of other good stuff. But I wasn’t going to let him take that one away. Still, he did move it to the end of a chapter where its placement was a little more “user friendly” and normal. Ah well…

My version of the book wouldn’t have sold nearly as well. So it’s fine.

I also realized, while reading the book aloud, why that book has sold so much better than my others. Recently I was told by somebody who is supposed to know about such things that my books would sell better if they were more “prescriptive.”

I was like, “More what?”

Apparently that means you have to give life lessons. People love life lessons. This person told me that I should write out my stories of things that happened to me and then follow those up with, like, a little capsule lesson to take away from it. I went to the library and took out a bunch of books by the likes of Deepak Choprah, Joel Osteen and even our old buddy Thich Naht Hanh. Choprah and Osteen follow that formula to the letter. Every single chapter is set up exactly like that. First the story, then the life lesson. They even put the thing you’re supposed to learn from this story in big bold letters so you can’t possibly miss it. TNH’s books don’t follow the formula quite so closely, but it’s in there with his writing as well.

As I read the book aloud I realized that in editing my manuscript, Josh Bartok had done precisely the same thing. He didn’t change too much of what I wrote. He just moved the sentences and paragraphs around such that it went Story, Life Lesson, Story, Life Lesson etc. It follows the Joel Osteen, Deepak Choprah formula very closely.

This doesn’t make it a bad book. It’s fine. But it makes it a lot like a pretty standard self-help book. Except that it’s not really a self-help book at all. It’s way more practical than anything Osteen or Choprah ever wrote, and far more real. Deepak Choprah and Joel Osteen can eat my shorts. After they finish polishing the Mercedeses and winding their Rolexes. They’re rich, but they suck. I’m poor as shit, but at least I don’t suck.

The only parts of the book that made me squirmy were the little cheerleading style bits near the end. Basically the entire epilogue kind of made me want to barf a little bit. The book was meant to end with the story of eating the tangerine. It was supposed to stop right there. But instead, I was encouraged to write that little cheerleader section that ends it. And I did. So I can’t blame anyone else for that. Maybe it’s OK. Maybe people need that kind of thing.

All that being said, I still feel like it’s a worthy book. It’s a very polished, refined version of what I really wanted to say. The rough edges were sanded down and made pretty. But it’s still mostly there.

I didn’t change anything as I was reading. I feel like it should stand as it actually is. I hated what George Lucas did to the Star Wars movies and I don’t even want to see how he messed up THX 1138. Those movies should stand as what they actually were. And so should Hardcore Zen.

Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate is still a far superior book. I’m not sure if I could do an audiobook of that one, though. It’s too intense. It’s too personal. I might try it sometime. If I succeed, I’ll let you know.

92 Responses

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  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 13, 2012 at 10:01 am |


  2. Harry
    Harry April 13, 2012 at 10:15 am |

    I've working on an audiobook of me saying "2".

  3. Harry
    Harry April 13, 2012 at 10:16 am |

    …there will be spelling mistakes.

  4. Mysterion
    Mysterion April 13, 2012 at 10:16 am |

    yep… maybe it's o.k.

    hardcore zen is the only book you penned that I did NOT read.

    I started with "Sit Down and Shut Up."

    That title alone is prescriptive.

  5. A-Bob
    A-Bob April 13, 2012 at 10:35 am |

    Well the nice thing about self-publishing is that you can wander off into nowhere for no discernible reason just because you feel like it..

    You could do a "Things Brad left out of the original HCZ book book." You could do a large volume of Deepak Choprah and Joel Osteen eating your shorts cartoons. You could do one of Master Crumb interviewing Sock Monkey.. It's wide open man!

    CAPTCHA : reehash ualki : I kid you not

  6. Harry
    Harry April 13, 2012 at 10:52 am |

    Yeah, Hardcore Zen Uncut… interesting idea, although the publishing house may have thoughts about the contractual legality of it 🙁



  7. A-Bob
    A-Bob April 13, 2012 at 11:17 am |

    Hi Harry. It would be weird if Brad's publisher retained rights to portions of the book they culled out or never received.. If Brad was able to put HCZ out as an audio book without problem, I imagine he is safe doing Hardcore Zen, The Lost Chapters..

    CAPTCHA : charmme adhow : I kid you not

  8. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 13, 2012 at 11:21 am |

    how about an "unplugged" audio book:

    "Zen: unplugged"

  9. Khru Jr.
    Khru Jr. April 13, 2012 at 11:41 am |


  10. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 13, 2012 at 11:48 am |

    Khru Jr,

    How about an audiobook of Brad's penis interviewing your mom?

  11. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 13, 2012 at 1:12 pm |

    Stop it.

    Just stop it.

  12. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 13, 2012 at 1:16 pm |

    Why should you take two Southern Baptists with you when you go fishing?

    Because if you only take one, he'll drink all of your beer.

  13. Ghost
    Ghost April 13, 2012 at 1:46 pm |

    Hardcore Zen is a great book! I like how it looks next to all the other flowery bullshit at the bookstore. All creative types are critical of their past works, it keeps the new creations fresh.

  14. an3drew
    an3drew April 13, 2012 at 2:34 pm |

    yeah you've got something right there brad, brillant ad as well !

    there's always hope isn't there
    : o )

  15. an3drew
    an3drew April 13, 2012 at 3:11 pm |

    brad, you really have a talent with these ad's, they are REALLY REALLY good!

    why not do a few more or make one that has the potential to go viral?

    what would that take, a nice looking woman it it, some sexual suggestion, i don't know

  16. an3drew
    an3drew April 13, 2012 at 3:33 pm |

    oprah buttfucking crumb?







    board !

  17. Jason Crane | The Jazz Session
    Jason Crane | The Jazz Session April 13, 2012 at 3:37 pm |

    I haven't read the book, but I just bought the audio copy and so will be introduced to it that way. Thanks for making it happen!


  18. an3drew
    an3drew April 13, 2012 at 3:52 pm |

    "My version of the book wouldn't have sold nearly as well. So it's fine."

    maybe that's not true, they could have killed and prevented the book from becoming a best seller

    my experience of editors is that they aren't simply clueless, but wrong minded !

    alpha and beta readers work better !

  19. Cidercat
    Cidercat April 13, 2012 at 3:56 pm |

    Strewth, these comments. It's a madhouse. Liked that cheeky picture of Crum down there though. Are you going to be keeping him now?

  20. Khru
    Khru April 13, 2012 at 4:55 pm |

    Hi Brad,

    I've received your many voice messages these last few days and the answer is still an emphatic "No", I will not be your Zen teacher, no matter how much money you try to throw at me.

    My decision is made in light of our one passionate weekend in Tulsa a while back (with those two cowboys we met at the airport bar). I'm also starting to think that they were not real cowboys after all (I think you know what I'm referring to).

    Warmest regards,

  21. Keith Suranna
    Keith Suranna April 13, 2012 at 4:56 pm |

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  22. an3drew
    an3drew April 13, 2012 at 6:09 pm |

    hard core zen viral video

    opening scene

    oprah upper torso and head shot morphing to brad warner morphing to crum who then morphs to nishijima sitting in zazen but with pendulous breasts overflowing the robe and hanging down to the floor…………….

    then maybe we could have multiple dogen ghouls in the air around like disembodied ghosts

    morphing to decomposing corpses

    then maybe nishijima morphing to a rather spectacular flower which then morphs to an immature young woman say just on puberty and then she morphs to a good looking well built young woman, attractive but not ornamental and then brad materialises and moves towrds her and reaches out to her but she fades transiting back through the flower which then fades and there is just a pile of fine glass where she was

  23. Jinzang
    Jinzang April 13, 2012 at 6:53 pm |

    Hardcore Zen is a great book! I like how it looks next to all the other flowery bullshit at the bookstore.

    It's called market positioning and it shows that Brad has a fine talent for marketing. It's too bad his former employer didn't appreciate his talents more. I hope he finds someone who does.

  24. Khru Jr.
    Khru Jr. April 13, 2012 at 7:41 pm |


  25. Billy
    Billy April 13, 2012 at 8:41 pm |

    I bought the audio book yesterday and am enjoying it. One bit of criticism, on the chapter with the Heart Sutra, there is a portion of the recording where you are echoing, It starts at 11 min, 28 sec and continues until 15 min, 02 sec.

  26. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote April 13, 2012 at 9:03 pm |

    Puts me in mind to purchase another of your books, Brad, reading your opinions about them.

  27. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 13, 2012 at 9:07 pm |


    Your Mom scratches her balls and sniffs her fingers. It runs in the family.

  28. an3drew
    an3drew April 14, 2012 at 1:15 am |
  29. Steve
    Steve April 14, 2012 at 8:07 am |

    "I'm poor as shit, but at least I don't suck." An excellent mantra…

  30. john e mumbles
    john e mumbles April 14, 2012 at 8:35 am |

    Brad, I've only read your 2nd and 3rd books and enjoyed them both for vastly different reasons.

    Don't think I've ever "read" (heard? grokked?? assimilated???) an audio book, so think I'll just buy your HCZ book and read it aloud if I want that experience.

    Or not.

    I thought once about purchasing Willim Gass's audio book version (also read by the author, some 90 hours or some such nonsense) of THE TUNNEL.

    If you can't hear the author's voice in your head while reading a book, its likely plagiarism. If you can, then it's a true collaboration…or schizophrenia.

    All these stories, this information sharing..Why do we do this anyway? What's it all about?? Could it be so simple…


  31. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote April 14, 2012 at 9:01 am |


    or at least, a previous comments thread.

    Occurs to me this morning that we can discuss why the lotus or half-lotus in terms of practice and verification:

    "The Patriarch asked, "Where do you come from?" Nan-yueh answered, "From Mt. Sung". The Patriarch said, "What is it that comes like this?" Nan-yueh replied, "To say anything would be wrong". The Patriarch said, "Then is it contingent on practice and verification?" Nan-yueh said, "Practice and verification are not nonexistent, they are not to be defiled."

    Practice is something I do out of necessity, in seated meditation out of the necessity of breath and posture. Verification is something that I don't do, something that happens without volition, that turns out to be the same as practice. That's the way I experience practice and verification.

    In the lotus, I am forced to realize the necessity of the movement of inhalation and exhalation and the posture, and in particular the location of mind that includes contact in the senses before comprehension from one instant to the next. Verification comes in as the location of mind sits the posture in an inhalation or exhalation.

    In the half-lotus, I am forced to realize the necessity as in the lotus, but guess what!- it's not as urgent.

    Sitting in a chair, I am forced to realize the necessity, but usually without much urgency at all. Unless perhaps I have injuries that make such realization of necessity urgent in any posture.

    "Me help you, Kimosabe", as Jay Silverheels so brilliantly etched in my memory.

  32. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 14, 2012 at 9:53 am |

    If you are quoting the Patriarch, maybe you'd better ask him (An3drew) first.

    "Practice and verification" He may have been talking about koans.

  33. Harry
    Harry April 14, 2012 at 10:07 am |

    Hi Mark,

    Dogen offered some interesting foci in this regard in Shobogenzo Zanmai-o-zanmai:

    '…there is sitting with the mind, which is not the same as sitting with the body. There is sitting with the body, which is not the same as sitting with the mind. And there is sitting absent of body and mind which is not the same as "sitting dropped through the bodymind." Being like this already brings together the practice and realization of the Buddhas and Ancestors. Continually and brightly investigate this thought, this mind, will, consciousness.'

    I like this translation (see link below) which has "sitting dropped through the bodymind". It is my experience that any posture which seeks to be upright conducive with freeing the hips from being melded to the lower spine, thus promoting a sound structure holding its own weight fairly well, is conducive to 'sitting dropping through body and mind'.

    Ongoing investigation of the nature of that 'thought, that mind, that will, that consciousness' on the basis of that 'thought, mind, will, consciousness' expressed in the posture is more the nature of the practice than achieving any specific 'ideal' posture IMO.





  34. Mysterion
    Mysterion April 14, 2012 at 11:44 am |

    Life is just life.

    We just f*cking get over it…

    sooner or later.

    It's biological.

    Nothing spiritual about it

    (except the grand mall epilepsy)

    Take off the bag – set down the baggage – release your attachments – smell the flowers (in the intervals between farts).

  35. Mysterion
    Mysterion April 14, 2012 at 11:47 am |

    The Lankavatara Sutra (A Mahayana Text)

    Translated from the original Sanskrit by Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki

  36. Harry
    Harry April 14, 2012 at 11:47 am |

    Hi Mysterion,

    Seems like a sort of materialist denial of a great part of our existence.

    Buddhism has often swung that way it seems, to an extreme which constitutes a sort of cold, inherently inhuman philosophy. So you'd get plenty of pats on the back there if religion is your poison.



  37. PhilBob-SquareHead
    PhilBob-SquareHead April 14, 2012 at 12:04 pm |

    Hey, I like Joel Osteen.

  38. Brad Warner
    Brad Warner April 14, 2012 at 12:11 pm |

    Thanks Billy! I have made a replacement version. Send me an email at spoozilla@gmail.com and let me know where I can send the replacement version. It's about 39 megabytes.

  39. Fred
    Fred April 14, 2012 at 12:44 pm |

    Between exhalation and the next
    inhalation is the absence of body
    and mind.

  40. Pooka
    Pooka April 14, 2012 at 1:35 pm |

    Glory be, I'd wondered where I went during that brief discontinuous interval!

  41. Mysterion
    Mysterion April 14, 2012 at 2:21 pm |

    Greetings Harry:

    The best Zen Masters (does anyone really master Zen???) I have encountered are real 'in your face' challengers to the thinking – or worse beliefs – in which we attempt to find comfort. (or seek refuge?)


    Because, if our thinking withstands the test of critical examination, then we can proceed along that path. So much of what I assumed to be true over the last 51 years has turned out to be no more than the contrivance of yet another huxter out to scam fools. That's not BAD, it's just a part of the experience we label "life."

    And we should EXPERIENCE life – but not get attached to it (life). By attaching our selfless selves to life, we condemn our selfless selves to yet another rebirth – something Brad doesn't buy (and which I am not selling). It's a possibility as much as it is not a possibility.

    In classical Buddhism, rebirth is the ultimate punishment (with rebirth into a lower form being punishment in spades). Stand Buddhism on it's head and you get the Xtian reward of being born again. (And born yet again in the sky with wings and a harp – like Apollo).

    In our discussion Wednesday evening I posed the question of nihilism to the group. The answer is NOT a popularity contest but the older men in the room felt Buddhism is, at its core, nihilistic. The younger man did not wish to feel that way as they has passed only from idealism to materialism on their way to realism.


  42. Harry
    Harry April 14, 2012 at 2:53 pm |

    "…but the older men in the room felt Buddhism is, at its core, nihilistic."

    Hi Mysterion,

    In that case I would seriously question their methods, and what exactly it is that they are examining/considering as 'Buddhism'. If they really are old then I sincerely hope they don't waste any more time on such dry philosophical questions and rather can clarify the matter directly for themselves, using ALL their considerable freedoms and faculties.



  43. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 14, 2012 at 3:21 pm |

    Dalai Lama live in Hawaii.



  44. Harry
    Harry April 14, 2012 at 3:29 pm |

    BTW, this gem from last shooting match is still lingering:

    "As for the Dogen in Dogen Sangha, I might as well be frank here.

    Nishijima Roshi does not believe the Soto-shu as it exists today represents Master Dogen's true intent. It was his dream that a new school of Buddhist thought be established based on Dogen's teaching.

    Very ambitious. Very arrogant. Quite dangerous."

    Strikes me as one of the more intriguing things Brad has announced in a while… wish he would flesh it out a bit.

    When conservative religious types start telling me that things are 'dangerous' (e.g. seeing things differently from the established cult, innovating, thinking in other ways, being 'ambitious', believing other things…) then big loud alarm bells start to go off is all…

    Pray elucidate, dear Bradster.



  45. john e mumbles
    john e mumbles April 14, 2012 at 3:49 pm |

    If you looked at the next comment after the one you quote from last time, you'll see that I asked him to elucidate the "dangerous" part following that reply to my question about the "Dogen" part of the DS and DSI brands…

    Also see the link from my comment here at 8:35 a.m.

  46. Harry
    Harry April 14, 2012 at 3:59 pm |

    John e, no offence, but TED seems to be an exercise in stretching one or two good points (but not neccesarily good) out into 15, 30, 40 or more minutes… what's he sayin? 'Don't trust our stories'?



  47. john e mumbles
    john e mumbles April 14, 2012 at 4:26 pm |

    No "offense" taken,Harry.. Cowen's talking about critical thinking. And it's the most entertaining 16 minutes or so I've run across lately. Just trying to share a grin or two. Something we all need from time to time :)…

  48. Harry
    Harry April 14, 2012 at 4:38 pm |

    Cool, will check it out.

    capthcha: kingdope operitse

  49. Savage Lotus
    Savage Lotus April 14, 2012 at 7:22 pm |

    ROFL @ "I don't have to use my eyes OR my brain"…Love it!

  50. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 14, 2012 at 8:39 pm |

    everyone is entitled to an opinion…

    even red-neck racist tea-baggers in SUVs.

    or tea-baggers in general

    TN Man Enraged By Obama Sticker Slams SUV Into Car With 10 Year Old Child Inside

    Tell me that these 'baggers' are not insane – with a straight face.

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