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I ve read all of Brad s books except Sex, Sin and Zen, and Hardcore Zen was what got me into Zen practice in the first place This is his best yet It combines the mature tone of his last book There Is No God with the humour of his earlier books in just the right combo, resulting in an excellent modern interpretations of key chapters and messages in Dogen s Shobogenzo for a contemporary audience. I ll admit that I m a fan of Warner s work I discovered him via his first book, Hardcore Zen, many years ago, and have been hooked ever since For as long as I can remember, I ve had a layman s interest in Zen Some years it s stronger than others, and I ve never actually tried meditation or anything, but it s a philosophy I keep circling around Brad Warner writes some of the best books on Zen around He has a straightforward, no bullshit approach that I find refreshing and endlessly readable This book is, honestly, probably my least favorite of the five of his that I ve read, which means it s still pretty darn good What he s doing here is translating, paraphrasing, and condensing Dogen s Shobogenzo, an 800 year old Zen classic This is actually the first of two projected volumes, which, considering the original usually runs to four, is pretty good Each chapter consists of an introduction, a translated condensed passage, and then commentary on the translation, what got left out, what some of the other English translations say, and so on Warner himself admits that Dogen can be hard to read, which is one of the reasons he took on this project He wanted to present, as best he could, the essence of Dogen s ideas, while leaving out as much obfuscatory prose as possible I m hardly an expert, but he seems to have done a pretty good job If you ve never read Warner before, I recommend starting with Hardcore Zen instead If you don t like that one, you re probably not going to like any of his other books either If you do like it, though, then you re going to want to read all of his books, including this one. Brad Warner is that rare thing, a Buddhist teacher who primarily teaches by writing In fact though he leads retreats and gives lectures, does podcasts and has even appeared in a movie or two I would call him a writer first and a teacher second He s the author of six books, and writes the most consistently interesting of the Zen blogs I ve been reading him for years, ever since his first book came out, and check out his blog every day, just to see what s up I ve read some posts multiple times.I ve said that his last book, There Is No God and He Is Always With You was his best, and it s still my favorite, his most mature and wide ranging But I find Don t Be a Jerk is his most useful book, the one most packed with information Though he has written about the great Zen Master Eihei Dogen founder of Japanese Soto Zen in all his books, in this book he has waded into Dogen s famously difficult writing itself, and actually made sense of it I m grateful for this book My copy is seriously marked up, and I ll be coming back to it.I have to admit somewhat sheepishly that, though I m a big reader obviously , and deeply interested in Soto Zen, I ve never made it through the entirety of Dogen s Shobogenzo I ve tried I ve sat down with the two translations Brad most favors, dutifully labored to make my way through, but at some point was passing my eyes over words on the page, not understanding them at all, and I can only do that for so long Brad admits to the same thing in his earliest reading But his teacher, Gudo Nishijima, was translating that massive work at the time, with the help of another student, Chodo Cross, and Nishijima was reading from his translations at their weekly sittings.Brad in the meantime had a long commute to work, an hour each way, and was pouring over Dogen as he did that Perhaps long subway rides are a key to understanding this text another famous Zen teacher had an enlightenment experience while reading it on the subway He has actually been through the entire Shobogenzo three times He also speaks fluent Japanese, though I m not sure how much that helps with Dogen s arcane 13th century writing What he has done in Don t Be a Jerk is to paraphrase the first 21 fascicles the first volume of Nishijima s translation and comment on the text He shortens things often drastically when he finds that appropriate, occasionally combines two talks into one He has produced a readable text that, to my mind, finally makes sense of some of Dogen s most difficult writing I feel empowered to go back and try the literal translations again His commentary is especially helpful.I don t doubt that this project will be frowned on and even ignored by some people in the Zen establishment Brad takes liberties with the text Dogen didn t literally say Don t Be a Jerk, and didn t have a teaching entitled The Beer and Doritos Sutra and his lighthearted view won t appeal to the solemn people who inhabit zendos and take themselves terribly seriously Brad has already alienated the old fogie crowd by writing titles like Sex, Sin, and Zen and Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate, and by admitting in the latter book that he had recently broken a number of precepts He started out as a punk rocker and a punk in general, made his living for years with a company that made Japanese monster movies He wrote about those pastimes in his first book, Hardcore Zen, and continues to write about them when he feels like it He also wrote a column for some months for the online porn magazine Suicide Girls those columns, accessible from his website, include some of his best writing and one gets the impression that his following is heavily tattooed, body pierced, and spends time perusing Suicide Girls than reading Dogen.Nishijima was suspect to the establishment too He spent most of his life as a businessman, sat on retreats with the famous homeless Zen priest Sawaki Kodo, but wasn t actually ordained in that lineage which includes the highly respected teachers Kosho Uchiyama and Shohaku Okumura He became a priest later in life, and even while he was teaching those weekly Zen classes still had a day job He wasn t a lifelong priest like Sawaki and Uchiyama and Okumura He had begun reading Dogen himself when he was a young man and discovered this book which, though it was written in his native language, seemed utterly incomprehensible Nishijima was widely read in general, had various theories that seem somewhat crackpot he felt, for instance, that Dogen s famous phrase dropping body and mind refers to a state in which the parasympathetic nervous system and the sympathetic nervous system are in balance 1 He related his Zen teaching to work by such Western writers as Karl Menninger.But you can hardly fault the man s dedication to his practice or to Buddhism While working a day job in Japan, he found time to lead a weekly Zen group and also to translate Dogen while other Japanese priests were playing Go and following baseball in their spare time In addition to Brad, he has a number of other students who are dedicated to him and to the teachings he espoused Just to mention the ones who are active on the web, there is Jundo Cohen, Gustave Ericsson, and Peter Rocca He was a fierce advocate of daily zazen, once a day if not twice, and practiced it all his life He was a Zen teacher who devoted himself to lay people, not just those who entered a monastery and made a career out of it.Brad Warner has followed in his teacher s tradition I am a certified Old Fart, have zero interest in punk rock and monster movies, but everything Brad says about Zen seems right on the money to me His teachings have been a great help in my life, his writing has gotten deeper and mature as he has gotten older, and he has the same dedication to his vocation that Nishijima had Don t Be a Jerk is his most helpful book to date, and though I suspect it may not be read as much as some of his other books even in paraphrase, Dogen s teachings are rough it should be This book is the real thing It illustrates Brad s contention that, though he seems to be an arcane thinker, Dogen is a pretty straightforward, no nonsense guy I hope to write in the future on some specific teachings in this book In the meantime, go out and buy it It s the most accessible book of Dogen s teachings I ve found 1 Crackpot idea or not, it makes sense to me I do think zazen produces a balanced state, though we don t always notice it.www.davidguy.org I ve mentioned it before in reviews of books about Zen the Shobogenzo intimidates me It s a huge book, I am not naturally inclined to trust translations all that much especially when the original work was written in an archaic form of Japanese , and it has a reputation for being very dense and hard to grasp because of the complicated abstract and often contradictory writing So when I saw that my favorite Zen writer Brad Warner had published a book to make the Shobogenzo accessible, I knew this was a necessary addition to my library.After a few years of studying and practicing Buddhism, I often feel like the whole philosophy can be boiled down to a very simple sentence try not to be a c nt Warner s title is a little politically correct clearly, I ve watched too much Jim Jefferies stand up but the idea is the same Whatever situation you are in, watch how you behave and react, and try really, really hard not to be a jerk And sit zazen, obviously Now you can spend a lot of time discussing the hows and whys specific to each situation you might possibly encounter, but that s the basic principle it always seems to come back to I m not trying to over simply Buddhism, I m just saying that s kind of important to keep in mind when you want to apply the teachings to your daily life.Warner s irreverent and accessible style is as wonderful as always he is blunt and no nonsense, and this book might just be his most practical He brings the teachings of Dogen into both historical and translation context, paraphrases them to make them easier to absorb, and comments on them with various anecdotes and pop culture references that will make you laugh, cringe and think Because for all his bad dad jokes and potty mouth, Warner knows his stuff He has clearly studied the Shobogenzo in great depth and with a lot of reverence to be able to interpret it as clearly and as accessibly as he s done.I love that he takes time to discuss the history of the Shobogenzo, to put the reader into the context in which the chapters were written, and what kind of audience they were targeting As he points out, most people interested in Zen today are fairly educated and tend to be older, as where the monks Dogen taught were in their late teens, from peasant families and had very little formal education Obviously, you wouldn t use the same pedagogical discourse with those two groups The fact that Warner also often lists multiple possible translations for certain ideas and phrases is also fascinating and can really help the reader grasp the concepts easily by giving the opportunity to examine multiple linguistic interpretations.Fans of Warner s previous work will get their money s worth, but Don t be a Jerk might not be the best place to get started if you have never read his stuff before I recommend checking out Hardcore Zen and if you like that one, you will love this one too It s serious and scholarly, but his voice and style are very clear and strong Highly recommended to anyone interested in the work of Dogen and not quite ready to get into the big book I will certainly be re reading this one, as well as Warner s second tome on the Shobogenzo. This book was quite entertaining From what I understand, Japanese is difficult to translate fully into English with all of the nuances it contains Now imagine that the Japanese being translated is about 800 years old and even native speakers have trouble with it Considering this, I feel that Brad Warner did a very good job of getting the point across.The book is arranged as follows Each chapter starts out with Warner talking a bit about the piece he is about to paraphrase This is followed by the paraphrased text itself Finally, it has some thoughts and input from Brad Warner himself This book only has the first 25 chapters of the work being paraphrased, but this is explained by the author.The work itself was written back in the 1200s in Japan by Dogen Since he dealt with a lot of rubes and hicks, he had to include stuff that seems a bit odd nowadays Dogen included chapters on hygiene and how to wear your robes and where to get robes and other such things A lot of the other stuff he includes is pretty good, though. An interesting break down of some of Dogen s writings The book gets bogged down, however, in Warner s endless discussion of this translation says this and that translation says that I would have rather he just give us what he things it means and getting on with it. Interesting book This book is a simplified explanation of Shobogenzo Shobogenzo, which is like the Zen equivalent of a bible, written by Dogen who initially brought Zen buddhism to Japan The author Brad Warner seems like a really cool, chilled guy who is hardcore serious about Zen Buddhism He writes in a very casual, humorous way but still brings out the deep philosophies contained in Shobogenzo He makes something really hard and complicated fun to read with references like Starwars, World of Warcraft and Porn Some really great lessons for life in this book, such as importance of meditation, not being a jerk to people and equality in a fair way Dogen expresses Zen with texts that contain topics How to clean your ass after pooping and maintaining your Buddhist robe and the significance Some parts were really hard to understand, not because of the authors writing but I have a long ways to go before I can understand Zen buddhism and Dogen s words All in all, if your interested in Zen, it is a good book to read. Great edgy explanation and commentary on DogenDon t read this for the definitive academic analysis This is a practitioner s commentary, making Driven relevant to your practice and today I personally would also have liked some serious analysisfor example, on how to understand Dozens use of Chinesehow he compares to sino Zen writers, etc But that s not the purpose of this book And he is funny Those of us who have looked at the precepts of religions from around the world are often intrigued at how similar they can be across religions There is something ultimately freeing in realizing that the roots of goodness, happiness, and wealth are not based, as is imagined by some unenlightened and unlucky sods, in what we can accumulate but in what we can utilize.Some things about Buddhism are so attractive in their attention to simplicity that one cannot help but be drawn to understanding a little Warner does a wonderful job of sharing his realizations with us, in several steps He paraphrases the first twenty one chapters of Sh b genz The Treasury of the True Dharma Eye, written by the Japanese monk Eihei D gen, who explains the philosophical basis for one of the largest and influential sects of Zen Buddhism Warner tells us it s a classic of philosophical literature, revered the world over, but that few have actually read it due to density, complexity of concepts, language and length.Warner does not translate the work, but speaks in language common to modern Americans about how he comes to understand the work In each chapter he gives us a sense of what the chapter header means, then paraphrases generally those pieces of the work that will aid our understanding of the precepts Finally he gives us once again a few lines in colloquial English which aid absorption of the notions into our daily life.I skimmed this work, and feel richer for it Warmer tells us that one of the things about D gen s writing that stumps modern readers is his use of contradictions He ll say one thing and a short while later will say an opposite thing This is explained by Nishijima Roshi, a recognized acolyte of D gen, by understanding that D gen adopted four points of view when considering any particular subject Idealism subjectivism, materialism objectivism, action, and realism Depending on the lens one uses to look at something, the object will have a different appearance Westerners generally are confined to two lenses idealism spiritualism and materialism.One of the first chapters is entitled How to Sit Down and Shut Up which tries to explain the concept of zazen One of the most important takeaways from this chapter is that the practice is as physical as it is mental, a process D gen calls getting the body out Warner compares it to one yoga position held for a very long time Zazen is not meditation or concentration but instead is thinking not thinking with your eyes and mind open, goal less Anyone can do this, it doesn t matter if you are smart or dumb Warner writes Since the entire book is ultimately about practicing zazen, you really need to know what he is talking about right from the outset or you ll be lost later on One of my favorite chapters is Note to Self There is No Self Warner talks about how we might have a notion of self kind of like a house with things in it All the things in the house are what we believe, what we ve learned and kept One well respected Buddhist practitioner, Shunryu Suzuki, who wrote Zen Mind, Beginner s Mind, said you should have a general house cleaning of your mind when you study Buddhism Warner tells us this tradition is like that of osoji, a once a year house cleaning during which everything is taken out of the house, cleaned, and considered If it is not necessary, it does not go back into the house The notion is terrifying, but if you allow yourself to contemplate it, completely freeing.There is Much I like the chapter called List of Rules In it Warner paraphrases the D gen People who have a will to the truth and who throw away fame and profit may enter the zazen hall Don t let insincere people in If you let somebody in by mistake then, after consideration, kick them out Nicely The rest of the list of rules teach consideration and concern for one s cohort Work on your behavior as if you were a fish in a stream that was drying out That sentence will require some contemplation In the chapter Don t be A Jerk, we get the feel of the Netflix series Sense8 and perhaps even an explanation of it Don t be a jerk is comparable to do the right thing, which Warner tells us is the universe itself When you yourself are in balance, you know right from wrong absolutely The state of enlightenment is immense and includes everything When jerk type actions are not done by someone, jerk type actions do not exist Even if you live in a place where you could act like a jerk, even if you face circumstances in which you could be a jerk, even if you hang out with nothing but a bunch of jerks, the power of not doing jerk type things conquers all At every moment, no matter what we re doing, we need to understand that not being a jerk is how someone becomes enlightened This state has always belonged to us Cause and effect make us act By not being a jerk now, you create the cause of not being a jerk in the future Our action is not predestined, nor does it spontaneously occur Doing the right thing isn t something you can understand intellectually It s beyond that Doing the right thing is beyond existence and nonexistence, beyond form and emptiness It s nothing other than doing the right thing being done Wherever and whenever doing the right thing happens, it is, without exception, doing the right thing The actual doing of the right thing is the universe itself It doesn t arise or cease All individual examples of doing the right thing are like this When we are actually doing the right thing, the entire universe is involved in doing the right thing The cause and effect of this right thing is the universe as the realization of doing the right thing And so forth and so on You just have to go with him on that one.If you want to know about the author, David Guy s review here is beautifully written and explains why Brad Warner is such an unusual interpreter of the D gen. ^Read Epub ⇕ Don't Be a Jerk: And Other Practical Advice from Dogen, Japan's Greatest Zen Master ☝ A Radical But Reverent Paraphrasing Of Dogen S Treasury Of The True Dharma Eye Even If The Whole Universe Is Nothing But A Bunch Of Jerks Doing All Kinds Of Jerk Type Things, There Is Still Liberation In Simply Not Being A Jerk Eihei Dogen CE The Shobogenzo The Treasury Of The True Dharma Eye Is A Revered Eight Hundred Year Old Zen Buddhism Classic Written By The Japanese Monk Eihei Dogen Despite The Timeless Wisdom Of His Teachings, Many Consider The Book Difficult To Understand And Daunting To Read In Don T Be A Jerk, Zen Priest And Bestselling Author Brad Warner, Through Accessible Paraphrasing And Incisive Commentary, Applies Dogen S Teachings To Modern Times While Entertaining And Sometimes Irreverent, Warner Is Also An Astute Scholar Who Sees In Dogen Very Modern Psychological Concepts, As Well As Insights On Such Topics As Feminism And Reincarnation Warner Even Shows That Dogen Offered A Middle Way In The Currently Raging Debate Between Science And Religion For Curious Readers Worried That Dogen S Teachings Are Too Philosophically Opaque, Don T Be A Jerk Is Hilarious, Understandable, And Wise