The untimely death of a childhood friend sparks heartfelt, quirky reflections on the Zen way of life and death
An introduction to Zen Buddhism for general readers, written as a series of imaginary letters from the author to a deceased friend, covers basic Zen concepts such as rebirth, karma, and mindfulness, while also examining the ethical challenges of living a Buddhist life in the modern world.
The night Brad Warner learns that his childhood friend Marky has died, Warner is about to speak to a group of Zen students in Hamburg, Germany. It's the last thing he feels like doing. What he wants to do instead is tell his friend everything he never said, to explain Zen and what he does for a living and why he spends his time "Sitting. Sitting. Sitting. Meditating my life away as it all passes by. Lighting candles and incense. Bowing to nothing." So, as he continues his teaching tour through Europe, he writes to his friend all the things he wishes he had said. Simply and humorously, he reflects on why Zen provided him a lifeline in a difficult world. He explores grief, attachment, and the afterlife. He writes to Marky, "I'm not all that interested in Buddhism. I'm much more interested in what is true," and then proceeds to poke and prod at that truth. The result for readers is a singular and winning meditation on Zen -- and a unique tribute to both a life lost and the one Warner has found.
About the author:
Brad Warner, a Soto Zen priest, is also a punk bassist, film-maker, and blogger. He is the founding teacher of the Angel City Zen Center in Echo Park, Los Angeles.