Zen & Enlightenment & Giveaway

If you’ve been a reader of The Magical Buffet for just about any length of time, you know I love me some Brad Warner. I’ve featured nearly every book he has written on my site. So, believe me when I tell you that this may be my FAVORITE Warner book. This is the book I’ve been waiting for and Warner has been putting off writing. Welcome to your Zen Buddhism 101 book with cool professor Warner. In order to pull it off, Warner needed a framing device to make it work for him. He did it in the form of letters to his childhood friend Marky, who passed away shortly before work on the book began. I’m generally not a fan of the letters format, but Warner’s conversational writing works perfectly with it, and honestly, whatever it took for him to finally give me my grand overview of Zen Buddhism is okay with me.
Here’s a 5 minute video where Warner discusses the book:

And New World Library was kind enough to provide an excerpt to share as well….
By Brad Warner

Through sheer dumb luck I happened to encounter Zen Buddhism when I was a teenager. I didn’t go looking for it. It was just there at exactly the time I needed it to be.

I don’t believe in Buddhism either, by the way. It’s not like I heard their fairy tales and figured they were better than anybody else’s stories. The Buddhists have fairy tales too. The difference is that nobody cares if you believe them. They don’t care whether you believe their stories because the very idea of a you who can believe in stories is something they also call into question.

Even so, I’m not all that interested in Buddhism. I’m much more interested in what is true. What I like about Buddhism is that the Buddhists are also interested in what is true. At least, most of them are.

I’m not sure if Zen Buddhism would have helped you or not, Marky. I never tried to sell it to you. You knew I was into it, but you never asked.

I never liked people who tried to sell me their religions. I know you didn’t either, so I wasn’t gonna do that to you. No one ever tried to sell me Zen Buddhism. If they had, I would have regarded them as people who were too insecure to believe in something unless a bunch of other people believed it too. I have no time for that.

But nowadays I’m a minor spiritual celebrity. I’m not as big as Deepak, but I’m big enough to make a living at it. Which was always a source of embarrassment whenever I interacted with you and still embarrasses me when I’m around friends who, like you, knew me long before I started doing what I do now.

I see spiritual celebrities as charlatans, as people who make their living selling empty promises that they themselves don’t even believe. I swear that’s not what I do. But I don’t have anything against anyone who assumes the worst about me in that regard. Because that’s probably what I’d assume about me if I wasn’t me.

Spiritual celebs play the same stupid games as regular celebs. They, or maybe I should say we, validate each other the same way cheap nightclub singers do when they get on TV talk shows.

It’s like there’s a little Enlightened Beings Club. Here’s how it works. Some guy says he’s got enlightenment. He has a story to back him up about the wonderful day when he finally understood everything about everything. Another guy, his teacher, certified him as a member of the Enlightened Beings Club. And now he’s ready to help you learn to be just like him.

You go to the enlightened guy, and he trains you to imitate the things he says. Or if he’s real clever he teaches you how to rephrase his schtick in your own words. If your imitation meets his criteria, he gives you his seal of approval, and off you go. The industry is self-perpetuating. It’s in your teacher’s best interests to support your claims of enlightenment since you, in turn, are expected to support his. Without such support, the whole thing falls to pieces.

If someone comes along and says, “Ain’t no such thang,” it threatens the whole system since it is built on extremely shaky ground. Unless people believe in enlightenment, enlightenment cannot exist. The enlightenment they sell is nothing more than the belief in enlightenment.

This is the same deal with religions. Believing in God is not like believing in the existence of Mount St. Helens or something tangible like that. The difference is that you can question the existence of Mount St. Helens all you want, but it doesn’t go away. But when someone questions the existence of God, the very existence of God is threatened, because that sort of God is nothing more than the belief in God.

And here’s what’s even weirder.

It turns out that enlightenment actually is real.

God actually does exist.

I don’t know how you feel about my saying that now that you’re dead, Marky. But I know that when you were alive you would have rolled your eyes at me. And I would not have blamed you.

There are a lot of things I wish I’d talked to you about. But I didn’t. And so I’m writing you this letter. Maybe I’ll write you a bunch of letters. There’s a lot to say. I don’t know if there’s an afterlife and you can somehow read these letters, or if there’s reincarnation and you’re still a baby and can’t read them, or if you just stay dead after you die, in which case you’ll never even know of their existence. Maybe I’ll write about that in another letter.

All I know is that whether or not you can receive what I’m saying doesn’t change the fact that there are things I want to say. And so I’m going to say them.

But I’m going to have to say them later because right now there’s nobody else in the Pizza Pazza and the surly guy behind the counter is giving me a funny look. So I’d better scarf down my cold pizza and go.

About Brad Warner:
Brad Warner is the author of “Letters to a Dead Friend about Zen” and numerous other titles including “It Came from Beyond Zen”, “Don’t Be a Jerk”, and “Hardcore Zen”. A Soto Zen teacher, he is also a punk bassist, filmmaker, and popular blogger who leads workshops and retreats around the world. He lives in Los Angeles where he is the founder and lead teacher of the Angel City Zen Center. Visit him online at www.hardcorezen.info.

Excerpted from the book “Letters to a Dead Friend About Zen”. Copyright ©2019 by Brad Warner. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

Shop your local indie bookstore <---This is an affiliate link to IndieBound, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use this link to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you. But wait, there’s even MORE! New World Library is going to send one lucky winner a copy of “Letters to a Dead Friend About Zen”! As usual, we’re doing the Rafflecopter thing, so see the widget below! Contest ends 12/06/2019 at 11:59pm eastern. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Are You Willing to Take Up the Shepherd’s Staff — and Help Spread Love & Peace

By James Twyman

Set aside your computer for a moment and see if you can guess who wrote these words: “I made a mistake. Without doubt, an oppressed multitude had to be liberated, but our method only provoked further oppression and atrocious massacres. What was really needed…were ten Francis of Assisi’s.”

I love asking this question and I’m not surprised when people give credit to revolutionary characters like Gandhi or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. When I tell them they’re wrong their answers become even more interesting – Napoleon, George Washington, etc. “How about John Lennon?” someone recently asked.

“You’re close,” I said, “but only because their names sound similar. The answer is Lenin, not Lennon – the architect of the Russian Revolution, Vladimir Lenin.”

Lenin? Is it possible that the communist leader who referred to religion as “medieval mildew” and called the clergy “gendarmes (French policemen) in cassocks” had fallen in love with a twelfth century Italian mystic who gave everything he owned to the poor in order to live the Gospel of Jesus as perfectly as he could? Clearly St. Francis has inspired millions of people for more than eight hundred years, to the point that statues of the saint occupy gardens everywhere you look today, but how did an atheist like Lenin become so enthralled?

Maybe Lenin has something to teach all of us in this regard. The end of the quote is: “What was really needed in Russia were ten Francis of Assisi’s,” but we could just as easily substitute that in our own world today – and it would be just as true.

Does it sound like a ridiculous dream in the world of bullying, fake news and racist attacks? When you know a little about the history of Europe, especially at the time of St. Francis, you realize things weren’t that different – the pope was at odds with the Holy Roman Emperor, city states were constantly at war with other city states, and tension between the very rich and the very poor was at an all-time high.

Which leads to the question Vladimir Lenin seemed to be asking – Are we trying to solve the problems of the world with the same thinking that got us into trouble? If so, maybe ten radical people like St. Francis of Assisi are enough to turn things around.

Margaret Mead famously said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Was Mead’s thinking influenced by St. Francis when he wrote: “Pure, holy simplicity confounds all the wisdom of this world?”

When you examine the current direction of the world — especially politically — it’s easy to agree that the current wisdom isn’t so wise, so maybe thinking outside the box isn’t such a bad idea.

Presidential candidate Marianne Williamson has taken considerable heat for challenging the status quo. She encourages us to “love with conviction” and “wage peace,” the same ideas St. Francis would have expressed if he was alive today. But at least she is willing to stand for these ideas on a national stage, inching these concepts forward, planting seeds in the minds of people who may not have viewed the world from this perception.

So I’ve decided to throw my hat into the ring, but not as a Presidential candidate. I want to take up the challenge issued by Lenin and become one of the ten St. Francis’s needed to turn the world around.

Here are a few things I’ll need to do if I’m to accomplish my goal: Be willing to give everything for love; think less about my own comfort and more about the wellbeing of others; and finally, challenge my own limiting beliefs and be willing to see everyone through the eyes of love. If I can do that, even in some limited way, maybe others will make a similar decision and step forward in their own way. All I need are nine more.

St. Francis’s example directly challenged the powers that ruled Europe eight hundred years ago, and yet his vision is celebrated today. He lived at the end of what we now call the Dark Ages, but he was also one of the inspirations that initiated the Renaissance, an era of great light and creativity.

Is it possible that hundreds of years from now people will look back at this time in a similar way, calling it another Dark Age? And if they do, will they also celebrate the few dedicated people who stepped forward just as St. Francis did? Are we on the cusp of a New Renaissance?

About James Twyman:
James Twyman, bestselling author of “Giovanni and the Camino of St. Francis”, will bring his stirring new musical on “St. Francis Brother Sun, Sister Moon” to Broadway on February 20-March 1, 2020. And with the beloved saint as his model-he will travel a continent penniless, on foot and with whatever food, housing and further transportation that God will provide to get him there, presenting the play in 10 cities along the way. Twyman is also the NY Times bestselling author of 15 other books including “The Moses Code” and “Emissary of Light”. He has also recorded more than 18 music albums including the Billboard chart bestseller “I AM Wishes Fulfilled” along with Dr. Wayne Dyer; as well as produced or directed seven feature films. For more information on Twyman, and the “Brother Sun, Sister Moon” Musical Tour stops and performances– and “Giovanni and the Camino of St. Francis”–visit: www.JimmyTwyman.com

Shop your local indie bookstore <---This is an affiliate link to IndieBound, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use this link to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Chibi Anime Angel Cards

Let’s be real, I wanted to review “Chibi Anime Angel Cards” because they’re freakin’ adorable. Illustrator Julia Sayegh Ezarani Guimaraes does a fantastic job of capturing the short, round, chibi anime style! You just want to reach through the card and pinch those cute angelic cheeks! That said, I honestly figured these cards were all flash and no substance. Or maybe more like all cute and no substance. Guess what? I was wrong.

Author Dawn Brown chose to work with the chibi anime style, not just because it’s adorable, but to have it resonate and connect with your inner child. Surprisingly, these sweet looking cards hold planetary alignments, the Tree of Life, of course angels, and whatever else the seeker can find. As expected, the deck comes with a nice booklet outlining ways to use the deck, and interpretations for each of the cards.


If you’re looking for a playful oracle deck that can potentially pack a wallop, “Chibi Anime Angel Cards” are not be missed.

Learn more here.

Shop your local indie bookstoreThis is an affiliate link to IndieBound, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use this link to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.