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Don't Be a Jerk: And Other Practical Advice from Dogen, Japan's Greatest Zen Master Paperback – March 15, 2016
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Stephen Batchelor, author of After Buddhism
Warner renders the esoteric [Shobogenzo] into a fun, readable text, conveying its spirit with humor and deep respect.”
"What's clear in reading Warner's book is his deep respect and lifelong engagement with Dogen. I have spent decades of my own life trying to unpack this 800-year-old voice from medieval Japan because, behind all the paradox and poetry, something powerful seems to shine through. So while Warner's approach to Dogen may be unorthodox, its freshness might be exactly what the doctor ordered for anyone wanting a way in to the old monk's still fresh perspective."
Adam Frank, 13.7 blog, NPR.org
Each chapter opens with a passage from the original, which is then carefully and often humorously unpacked. The book provides plenty of resources in case readers want to subsequently dive into the original work, and Warner clearly explains why he chose some words over others. His tone is direct and engaging, and his paraphrases bring Dogen’s thoughts to life for a modern audience. Although the tone may be irreverent and humorous, the book shows the utmost respect for the monk, who has influenced so many over the centuries.”
You couldn’t ask for a better guide through The Treasury of the Right Dharma Eye. A most warmly recommended read!”
Nexus Magazine, Germany
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Now if he would do a translation like this of the Lankavatara Sutra...
I think it still helps that I am already pretty familiar with the standard English translations that he is playing off though, so It may still be a little hard to follow for folks not so familiar with Dogen pretty well (and hard to follow anyway even if you are because, well, Dogen is Dogen even when Bradicized). However, this book may still be one of the best first introductions to Dogen I can think of. I think the book is suited to anyone interested in Dogen, and easy reading overall, funny, insightful and amazing. He did his historical homework too and did a masterful job.
Parts are hilarious, including how he took all of Dogen's classical style poetry and made em cheezy rhymes!
I'm not sure why I started reading it - maybe because of the title, or the other reviews, or because I was promised a good laugh.
I got all of that, and more!
- The book is indeed hilarious. It's definitely not one of those annoying spiritual books that make you fall asleep within a couple of pages.
- It explains Buddhism, Dogen, Zen, the art of meditation... well, it explains all these things in a way that a completely non-interested and non-spiritual person like me can get them. Even better, the book tells you about all these things but for information purposes only. It does not try to indoctrinate you, or make you feel guilty for not practicing, or condemn you to eternal damnation. It's more about, this is what Dogen said (paraphrased in a funny modern tone), this is what people teach, here is some additional background - now go live your life the way you want to.
- Dogen's 800 year old writings sound very hard to study and even harder to translate. Warner has done an amazing job making his ideas accessible today. The added humor is a bonus! And makes Dogen's teachings accessible to a much wider audience