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There Is No God and He Is Always with You: A Search for God in Odd Places Paperback – June 18, 2013
"Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002)" by David Sedaris
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From Publishers Weekly
In his new book, Warner (Hardcore Zen) momentarily sets aside his punk weapons of iconoclasm and takes a more respectful, even reverential tone to a perennial question: does God exist? As a practicing Zen Buddhist, his way of considering this question is entangled in oft-misunderstood concepts such as enlightenment. Warner never shies away from such complications; instead, they become grounds where the Western understanding of God and the Buddhist approach to reality and experience meet. For Warner, his practice is a way to approach and understand God without dealing with religion. His God is one to be experienced, felt, and intuited, something that lies beneath the surface of reality that is already naturally understood, if only one could learn to listen to silence, to listen to nothing, and to learn from nothing. In accompanying the punk Zen priest on such a singular journey through his understanding of God, the reader is asked to partake in meditation with Warner not on the Hebrew, Christian, Islamic, or any other traditional God, but rather One that can be found in daily experience when conceptual thinking has been silenced. (July)
— Moby, musician and recording artist
Insightful, refreshing, serious, humorous, and enjoyable, There Is No God and He Is Always with You takes a deep dive into the actual meaning of the word God and how it can be as useful for Zen Buddhists and atheists as for monotheists.”
— David Chadwick, author of Crooked Cucumber: The Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki
Brad Warner frames Buddhism with something that touches my soul on the very deepest level — humor!”
— Vicky Jenson, director of Shrek and Shark Tale
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Top Customer Reviews
What he says, basically, is that what we're actually connecting with as we sit zazen is God, though he doesn't use that word in the childish simplistic sense that many people mean by it. In fact, he has searched through religious tradition to find various descriptions of God, and has done a remarkable job of showing how the great mystics in all religions largely agree. His whole religious quest has been a search for God, and he feels that he has found God not just in major openings, though he has had at least one--and describes it beautifully--but in his ordinary moment by moment existence. Sitting zazen has been his means of discovering God.
I completely agree with his central thesis, and though his book was somewhat uneven, as all his books are (any writer who writes so much from his own experience is bound to be that way), I thought the best sections were marvelous. I strongly recommend this book.
Warner's thesis in this book is that Zen Buddhism and belief in God are not incompatible. Quite the contrary, he says, zazen (the practice of sitting meditation, the fundamental practice of Soto Zen, Brad Warner's tradition) leads you to experience God. But it's not the bearded guy up in heaven. It's another thing.
The book is an exploration of what this "God" is and how it is related to other people's concept of God. In this latter respect, the book is quite interesting and original. The first, what "God" really is, is just the same things Warner has said about his Zen practice in his books and blog. And I guess you can't say that much about Zen practice without being repetitive, so that's okay.
In short, this is a nice book. For people out there who haven't read anything by Warner, I'd reccommend it for sure. He has been practicing zazen for quite a long time now, and his insights into Buddhist practice are quite interesting. His controversial attitude is quite appealing to me - although in this book he has quitted his famous punk pose.
For regular Warner readers, I'd say there is nothing much new to you in this book. However, as a regular reader, you'll probably be aware of Brad's not-so-great financial circumstances and may want to help him with this. I did.
The subject matter of this book is somewhat provocative. I think I get where he's coming from with the God thing, and maybe I don't yet. It's an open question. But one worth asking and "living" in. Brad asks good questions, presents reasoned arguments, and interesting stories. And it's a relatively easy read, not the sit down and burn your way through as you might an interesting mystery novel, but one that is focused and poignant.
Stylistically Brad continues to (I hate this word) "mature": he's less bombastic but his wry (and very human) humor comes through and I appreciate that. From what I've read Brad might think the same: he says the same things albeit in a more refined way. I actually look forward to re-reading this book (and I got the actual book this time) as my practice continues to develop.