Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate
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Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  819 ratings  ·  86 reviews
How does a real-life Zen master - not the preternaturally calm, cartoonish Zen masters depicted by mainstream culture - help others through hard times when he's dealing with pain of his own? How does he meditate when the world is crumbling around him? Is meditation a valid response or just another form of escapism? These are the questions Brad Warner ponders in Zen Wrapped...more
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Published December 22nd 2009 by New World Library (first published 2009)
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Frank Jude
I found Warner's first book, Harcore Zen a refreshingly voiced read, and shared it with many students and fellow practitioners. Having been in a few punk/alt bands myself, and writing a lot about it back in the late 70s/early 80s, I resonated with his perspective.

By his second book, Sit Down and Shut Up I began to wonder if he'd become a victim of his persona. I found his tone at times a bit warying. AND, there were some real blunders in his understanding of some aspects of Buddhadharma. However...more
I freaking love Brad Warner. Not because he's a totally serene Zen Master, but because he isn't. The whole point of this book is that despite teaching Zen, being involved with Zen for close to twenty years, Brad Warner's just a guy.

And, as a guy, he screws up, occasionally sits around doing nothing, makes bad decisions, and gets nervous talking to people. He's clear about this. He hides nothing. He's writing his own expose about his life.

And yet; Brad is sane. He's clear about how he feels. He d...more
Bizarre in the best sort of way! Brad Warner (no relation to me) is irreverent about all the detritus that accumulates around religious practice while affirming the worth of the core wisdom. He's convinced me that I could call myself a secular Buddhist without being in danger of being trendy or being obliged to be all airy-wispy and breathless with impending enlightenment. I could just be being. Nice!

Brad understands that the hardest Buddhist concepts for Americans to truly 'get' are (1) Buddha...more
Jen Madsen
I am happy to say this book disappointed me. Let me explain. I've been interested in ordinary Zen since reading Charlotte Joko Beck's Nothing Special about eight years ago. Being raised in a tradition that insists true authority lies outside one's self and perpetuates the myth that human beings can transcend their humanness and achieve some kind of holiness that entitles them to tell other people what's good for them, I find myself still in the unfortunate habit of hoping someone out there has a...more
I really enjoyed this book, the tone, the humor, the content, the frankness. Finally learned the difference between zen and other types of Buddhism. Reading this book has made me want to know more--he got my curiosity going! I love hearing from the real life person inside the saffron robes--the ones he wears as little as possible because they make him sweat and have two layers of underwear. He changed some names, of course, two men to Zeppo and Gummo, never refering to the fact that they are the...more
Brad Warner continues his self-expository look at Zen practice in his third book. His first book, Hardcore Zen, told how he came to Zen after being a hardcore punk and served as an introduction to zazen and Zen ideas. His second was an exploration of the Shōbōgenzō, a work written by the Zen teacher Dogen in the 13th Century.

In Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate, Warner relates the stories of the difficulties in his life in 2007, a time when his mother died after a long fight with Huntingt...more
I haven't read hardcore zen, the book that made it possible for this abomination to be written and now having read this, i may not.

there are gems of insight, but like the title suggests they are wrapped in ego and dipped in shit. sorry, karma and chocolate.

this book was not about his trip through death, sex, nor divorce. this book was a rebuttal to the world that he feels is parked watching his every move and thought. of course, no one actually is, but thats the virtue of narcissism; blissfull...more
I loved Sit Down and Shut Up. I enjoyed Hardcore Zen.

The thing that I don't like about this book is that it doesn't play to Brad's strengths. It's indulgent and was no doubt cathartic to write, but he seems to be fighting a battle that only exists within a small minority: I know that 'zen masters' and monks aren't superhumans. I don't need a detailed account of his life to realise that's the case. I didn't have any preconceptions that needed blowing apart.

Maybe others do. But I hope Brad's next...more
Mike Rutschky
This is Brad Warner's masterpiece. This book is like the third season in a crazy sitcom about Brad's life, and it's the best one so far. The author lays it all out there to prove that even being a "Zen master" doesn't make you exempt from pain and suffering, and that you just have to take that crap head-on and own up to the part you played in all of it. I came away from this book feeling very inspired and ready to deal with my own troubles in a much more proactive way, not to mention more commit...more
Stuart Young
The novelty of Warner's books was starting to wear off by the time I got round to his third effort. Add to that the fact that this one is more autobiographical than his previous books and less Zen-oriented. Then factor in that some of the big emotional upheavals that are used to hype up the book didn't really bother him that much when you actually read the book and even the things that did bother him seem to get resolved more through blind luck than anything he got from his Zen practice. Overall...more
I loved the book, though I can't explain why. I'm not sure I can recommend it because i can't imagine who to recommend it to. I think it is a book you must simply fall into at the right moment and it was the right moment for me. I cleaned out my meditation closet and started doing my zazen again after reading it.
More of a confessional memoir than his previous books, it was still interesting and enjoyable.
Brad's specialty is providing a very real perspective on Zen Buddhism, a topic often covered from a spiritual or philosophical point of view. Zen Wrapped In Karma asks (and answers) a lot of questions that his first two books don't. Brad walks us through an immensely shitty year and explains how his zen practice influenced how he coped with death, a failing marriage and job loss while still providing insight on many core Zen concepts.

Minus a star ONLY because his excessive, mostly unnecessary us...more
I read Warner's first two books and gave them each 5 stars. I stand by that. I have every intention of rereading both. I liked the way he said to question everything...find your own path...reality is now. This is not a book about Zen. This is an autobiography about a really bad year Warner had. I empathize. But this book isn't about how he worked through it. It's an angry, mean-spirited diatribe. It's a rant against his ex-wife whom he describes as cold and emasculating. It's a rant against fell...more
Martin Röll
Read this through in just two sittings in less than 24 hours.

I enjoyed following Warner's story, but read it through very quickly, as it wasn't very dense. Frank Jude Boccio writes in his review (2 stars): "It could have been a really good, tight essay." That's what I felt throughout most of the book: It could have been much shorter and tighter. But maybe it wouldn't have been a book then.

Sometimes it read like free-writing without editing afterwards. Many parts could have been shortened or cut...more
I read Warner's first two books and thoroughly enjoyed them. He is the anti-Zen master. He writes with disarming normalcy about practice and the life of a teacher. He is so disarming, in fact, that you often wonder whether this guys is truly enlightened. But that is Warner's point. He is trying to correct the misconception that spiritual teachers are supremely wise and imperturbable creatures with feathers unruffled. In his 3rd book, Warner shows, through the tumult he faces in his own life, tha...more
Sam Woodward
"As for enlightenment, that's just for people who can't face reality."

In his previous 2 books, Brad Warner combined Soto Zen Buddhist teachings with sometimes only vaguely relevant biographical anecdotes. Zen Wrapped In Karma is more of a straight biography, illustrating that Zazen is a philosophy of action by showing the effect it has had on his life. It covers how meditation helped him cope with the death of two family members, divorce & dealing with the expectations people have of a well-...more
Tara Thai
Reviewing this book is hard on many different levels.
First of all, I think Brad knows that this book is, compared to his first one, so-so…and it makes a point to state that he knows many people who don’t know him will judge him and his words harshly. He knows how to write, and he really manages to make you feel like an idiot for thinking anything negative about him or his words after reading this book.
Truth this…I was expecting something more like the first book, where his life experienced were...more
Hayley Pallister
Ok, Brad. I feel bad now that I was trying to save a tree by buying a used copy of "Zen" and you gave me grief about it on Facebook. Well, I don't feel too bad because I did save a tree, but, I do feel I owe you the royalties you deserve (and so openly lobbied for throughout the book, good job!)!

"Zen" really is a story dipped in chocolate, or so it seemed as I was quickly addicted and had to keep sneaking back for another nibble whenever I got the chance. When the final page was turned and the...more
Not a great memoir; not a great Zen primer; but good enough at each that they complement each other and make a better whole. I'm very much a pragmatist and always want to know, How will this work? and, more importantly, Will this work? I wasn't entirely unfamiliar with Zen before reading this, but it was my first time reading an entire book by an actual Zen Master. I chose it because I wanted to see the theory in practice as it applies to actual, messy life. Warner does a good job of presenting...more
warner is back to more of his hardcore zen roots in this book. not as amazing, that's for sure, but there are definite gems in this book that makes it worth the read. and it's an easy read too. i pretty much read it in two short plane trips between DC and the midwest.

again, i had some issues with the book same as with Sit Down and Shut Up and my main issue is the "why buddhism is not atheism" argument he makes. yo brad, you don't worship god, i don't worship god. neither of us believe that some...more
Brad Warner, once a singer in a punk band, and lately, a rep for a Japanese monster-movie maker, is not your typical Zen Buddhist teacher, which is one distinguishing factor of his books to date. He lives his life as most of us do, attempting to field, as capably as he can, what life throw to him; trying to do the right thing, to figure it out as he goes along. What else can Buddhism be in the 21st century? In fact, what else, really, has Buddhism ever been but this?

Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped...more
After reading his first book I skipped the second one and moved on to this, because the local library didn't have the second book. Although I enjoyed the first book better than this one I really think my review for that fits here as well; (3rd book addition)

"An interesting book for any 20-38yr old reader wanting to learn about Buddhism (specifically Zen), although I would recommend reading other books on the topic first to get a grounding but this book should be on your list somewhere. Warner so...more
I grabbed this at the library -- it looked interesting.

I liked the honesty and openness about some of the painful things that Warner went through. I also agree with a lot that he says re money, death and the fact that noone really has all the answers.

I didn't like the whole white guy/Asian fetish thing. Being of Asian descent and having lived in Japan, it was annoying to hear him go on about getting some hot Asian "tail" and screwing his hot student (not sure if she was Asian, but I'm guessing...more
In the time since I read Brad's first book Hardcore Zen in 2003, both Brad and I have gone through some serious life changes. I've developed my own daily meditation practice, evolved tremendously in my relationships and career, made new friends, and lost friends and family. Brad also has gone through big shifts in his personal and work life, and in this book he exposes the raw reality of what he had to deal with and how he handled it, letting us into the spiritual and intellectual process of som...more
Jesse Weinberger
The author Brad Warner gives a great "everyday" vantage point of a monk living in the real world. An ex-punk rocker (from an Akron area band), Brad receives Dharma transmission in the Zen tradition.

It's pretty irreverent , and probably unlike what you would expect from a Zen master. And that's where it's greatest strength is. It's far easier to be a Zen master at the top of a mountain in silence. In the midst of a divorce, eviction, and downsizing the story changes dramatically.

If Warner can m...more
Having read and loved both of Brad Warner's other books, I knew I wouldn't be a hard sell for this. Warner's voice, matter-of-fact, intimate, and (most importantly) full of humor derived from refreshing self-awareness always keeps me engaged. The story itself, of a Zen practitioner and teacher finding himself tested in a very difficult year, provides opportunities for this voice to dissect both his own views of Zen practice and stereotypes.

That said, I honestly don't know if anyone not intereste...more
This is the first book by Brad Warner I've read. I'm guessing had his previous two I'd have a better understanding of him as an author/writer. While I liked the book and it seemed to be a good cathartic way for him to explain 2007, it also felt a bit like he had to do this because his name was getting smeared. I'm sure his friends when reading this said, "ahhh yup that was 2007 for Brad, and this explains so much", but not actually knowing him I felt a bit on the outside.

All in all still a good...more
Rough language and little content -- more accurately an autobiography.

"Perhaps human civilization only began to advance once sex and nudity became hidden. In the animal world, exposure of the genitals to another member of the same species has only 2 meanings. One is an invitation to sex, and the other is as a way of inciting combat. Our own species, with its upright posture, as its genitals constantly exposed and must have been continuously sending out fight and/or fuck signals. Maybe it wasn't...more
i'm biased. brad is fucking amazing.
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Excellent book! 1 18 Feb 09, 2009 05:32PM  
  • The Heart of the Revolution: The Buddha's Radical Teachings on Forgiveness, Compassion, and Kindness
  • Buddha Is as Buddha Does: The Ten Original Practices for Enlightened Living
  • The Heart of Understanding: Commentaries on the Prajnaparamita Heart Sutra
  • Rebel Buddha: On the Road to Freedom
  • Hooked!: Buddhist Writings on Greed, Desire, and the Urge to Consume
  • Not Always So: Practicing the True Spirit of Zen
  • Nothing Special
  • What Makes You Not a Buddhist
  • Crooked Cucumber: The Life and Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki
  • The Three Pillars of Zen
  • One City: A Declaration of Interdependence
  • The Diamond Sutra
  • Buddhism Plain and Simple
  • Bringing Home the Dharma: Awakening Right Where You Are
  • Zen Training: Methods And Philosophy
  • The Gods Drink Whiskey: Stumbling Toward Enlightenment in the Land of the Tattered Buddha
  • Moon In a Dewdrop: Writings of Zen Master Dogen
  • Toward a True Kinship of Faiths: How the World's Religions Can Come Together
Brad Warner is an ordained Zen Master (though he hates that term) in the Soto lineage founded in Japan by Master Dogen Zenji in the 13th century. He's the bass player for the hardcore punk rock group 0DFx (aka Zero Defex) and the ex-vice president of the Los Angeles office of the company founded by the man who created Godzilla.

Brad was born in Hamilton, Ohio in 1964. In 1972, his family relocated...more
More about Brad Warner...
Hardcore Zen: Punk Rock, Monster Movies and the Truth About Reality Sit Down and Shut Up: Punk Rock Commentaries on Buddha, God, Truth, Sex, Death, and Dogen's Treasury of the Right Dharma Eye Sex, Sin, and Zen: A Buddhist  Exploration of Sex from Celibacy to Polyamory and Everything In Between There Is No God and He Is Always with You: A Search for God in Odd Places Hardcore Zen Strikes Again

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“You can always improve your situation. But you do so by facing it, not by running away.” 117 likes
“You won’t understand life and death until you’re ready to set aside any hope of understanding life and death and just live your life until you die.” 14 likes
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