In this episode's letter to my dead friend Marky, I try to address the idea of the "meaning of life." You always hear that phrase, "the meaning of life." But what the heck does it mean? What does it mean to say that life has a meaning? What is meaning? What is life? It gets a little weird! But a nice discussion followed and you can hear that in the second half of the podcast.
This episode was recorded at Mystic Journeys Bookstore in Venice, California. I love Mystic Journeys Bookstore! But it's not exactly a Zen space. They sell healing crystals, offer psychic readings, and sell books about all sorts of new age topics. Zen, by contrast, is philosophy that emphasizes ordinariness as the way to the truth. Is Zen compatible with belief in the paranormal? That is the question this episode's letter to Marky takes up.
In this episode's letter, I wrote to my dead friend Marky about some of the weirder claims Zen Buddhists sometimes make -- like their occasional claims of experiencing oneness with everything. If some Zen guy has an experience of oneness with the entire universe, shouldn't the rest of us also notice it? I mean, he's become one with us too, presumably. You'd think you'd notice something like that!
I didn't include a letter to Marky about the Heart Sutra in Letters to a Dead Friend About Zen because I had written a chapter about it in my first book, Hardcore Zen. But the Heart Sutra is probably the most important sutra for Zen Buddhists. So I wrote Marky a letter about the Heart Sutra for this episode and presented it in America's Heartland, Cleveland, Ohio.
Recorded October 12, 2019 in Akron, Ohio. In this episode I write to Marky about how I got started in Zen. This talk was delivered before a group that included a number of people who knew the real people upon whom "Marky" in the book was based. I think the discussion after the letter was one of the best that I've had so far with an audience.
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Recorded in London, England on July 4, 2019, Brad Warner introduces his book Letters to a Dead Friend About Zen. The book is a series of letters to Brad’s childhood friend Marky who died in 2014. Brad wants to tell his friend everything he never said, to explain Zen, “this crazy philosophy and weird meditation practice I do every day.” In this episode Brad read a new letter to Marky (not from the book) on the subject of "Beginner's Mind" in Zen Buddhist practice.