- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: New World Library; Original edition (February 10, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1577316541
- ISBN-13: 978-1577316541
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 65 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,020,275 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate: A Trip Through Death, Sex, Divorce, and Spiritual Celebrity in Search of the True Dharma Paperback – February 10, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Zen monk and punk rocker Warner offers a "big snarly ball of confessional vomit" in his third book, following Hardcore Zen and Sit Down and Shut Up. The snarly ball is his own suffering, fodder for the Zen cushion: his mother's and grandmother's deaths, the dissolution of his marriage and lots of day-job insecurity when the Japanese monster-movie company he works for downsizes and gets sold. As ever, Warner is unafraid to smash idols, including his own celebrity status as a Zen master. "Not only am I not that thing, but no one is," he writes, and that means everybody from the Dalai Lama to fellow students of his Japanese teacher who disliked his being picked as the teacher's successor. Warner is honest—he would say his attitude is seeing things as they are, a Zen bent. Those familiar with his previous work will find this book exceptionally plainspoken and pungent, in keeping with his idiosyncratic vow "to be an a**hole for the rest of my life." That's a lot of honesty.
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Warner’s intimate, funny, conversational style goes a long way toward imparting his many sensible messages. Deserving of a wide audience.”
— Library Journal
Buddhism has long enjoyed baffling crazy wisdom’ teachers and paradoxical koans, and Warner’s punk iconoclasm fits in nicely.”
— Publishers Weekly
[Brad Warner] seems about as honest as they come, and he shares his personal history and opinions freely.”
I can already smell the beautiful smell of newly soiled meditation mats all across this great land of ours.”
Nuggets of wisdom rarely seen in an author this plugged in to youth-counter-modern-hipster-culture.”
There are plenty of Buddhist/Spiritual’ authors on the market who will gladly sell you a pat on the back. Brad Warner is not one of those.”
— D. Randall Blythe, lead screamer, Lamb of God
Top customer reviews
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I feel like he did what he set out to do-- write an honest account of a bad year to illustrate how Buddhism applies to life as we know it. I found it funny, sad, disturbing, and thoughtful... giving me a lot to think about and act upon. I don't see where he is vain or egotistical; it's a memoir, so of course he refers mainly to himself and his own experiences. I never get the impression that he is talking just to hear himself speak-- he has things he really wants the reader to know, and he does everything he can to get his message across, in his own way.
I did want to know more about his wife and their relationship, because she does not come across as a "real" person in the book-- but neither does anyone else, except Brad himself. Maybe that is a conscious choice or an example of his limited ability as a writer; I think it's both. He is an entertaining and thoughtful writer, but he's not a novelist so I don't expect characterization, and I don't see what value it would add. At most, it might satisfy (or worse, further tantalize) the reader's curiosity about things which are best kept private.
That said, I didn't want to read about the awesome sex he had with exceptionally hot & special women other than his wife... It did seem like he was bragging a bit, which annoyed me. But then I'm kind of a prude about other people's sex lives, and I know he didn't include these stories just to brag. They relate to points he wants the reader to understand about Buddhist practice and his big, can't-miss point that he isn't a religious authority, but a fallible human being who is in a position to speak and be heard by a larger audience thanks to his unique combination of experiences.
Maybe that's a smart trick on his part to have his cake and eat it too, but I don't think so. He knows that he is making himself a target with his opinions and his lack of diplomacy or tact regarding those who differ, but he is always consistent in saying these are just his experiences and beliefs, if you believe otherwise that's fine. I'm giving "Sit Down and Shut Up" another try because I found this book so compelling and practical. I'd recommend it to anyone who isn't judgmental and/or likely to be offended by iconoclasticism.
I believe that Warner wrote a great book. I do not know about the other guy saying the author is an egomaniac; I did not get that at all. In fact, I got the opposite impression.
Although Warner writes about his practice through his own experiences(if was about Dogen he probably would have called it Dogen Dipped In Chocolate and Wrapped In Bacon)he constantly does something that is akin to belittling himself and calls himself a nerd. He has also imparted how he has at times stummbled down the dharma path instead of holding himself up as some sort of unquestionable authority figure. That doesn't seem to egotistical to me.
That said, I found comfort in a book that seems true to life and that helps me question my own situations and ways of thinking. I, too, have had a hard slog of dealing with death, divorce, and bad ju-ju. I don't think Warner is always right, but he doesn't seem to claim to be, either. The point of the book is that reality is truth, in which we all have the responsibility of seeing for ourselves.
I can't say this book answers those questions - no book can, because every person's experience is different - but this book does delve into these subjects (and others) and gives meaningful insights into what Zen is about in "everyday life" (as if there were a difference between "everyday life" and anything else). Anyone looking for a one-size fits all approach to life, anyone hoping for a list of 10 things to do when your mother is dying should go buy another book.
Some people, including other reviews of this book, like to bash Brad for holding himself out as some kind of spiritual leader, but they miss the point. He is a writer, and supports himself through his writing, which must be promoted. As far as I know, and as he makes explicit, he does not make a dime from his efforts to help others through Zen outside of offsetting any direct costs he incurs through room rentals, etc. He does not tell you what to do with your life, he does not sell you an "Instant Enlightenment Experience" and he does not demand anyone call him Zen Master Mucky-muck.
What he does do is tell you that Zen is not about reading, or about an abstract philosophy, but about the practice of Zazen. Books about Zen can only point you the way and give you the outlines of what Zen is about. He will also freely give his opinions on a number of subjects which you are free to accept or reject. I think a lot of the problem is that we in the US have an image of Zen practitioners based on Kung Fu reruns, and we don't want to hear Master Po saying things like the newest Kiss album kicks ass.
People are always shocked when so-called spiritual leaders fall from grace because they are revealed to be human. That's because we in the public make them spiritual leaders first, human second. Brad tries to be human, above anything else, and if we pick up some spiritual insights from reading his books or practicing with him, so much the better. To me, this is much healthier approach in that it is more likely to lead to insights based on reality rather than insights based on ideas in your head