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Don't Be a Jerk: And Other Practical Advice from Dogen, Japan's Greatest Zen Master

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  926 ratings  ·  109 reviews
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 (1200–1253 CE)

The Shobogenzo (The Treasury of the True Dharma Eye) is a revered eight-hundred-year-old Zen Buddhism classic written
Paperback, 328 pages
Published March 15th 2016 by New World Library
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Oct 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jokoloyo by: Siska
This book is far more serious than the connotation from the cover illustration art. It is a good introduction if you want to read Shōbōgenzō, the masterpiece of Dōgen Zenji. This book provides the expertise of the author about the subject so if we read the Shōbōgenzō book itself, we already prepared as much as possible for understanding the context, or the variants of each translation of the book.
Jonna Higgins-Freese
Feb 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Like all of Warner's other work, this is wonderful. Direct, straightforward, funny, no-nonsense. While it's certainly clear enough to be used as an introduction to Zen (after all, beginner's mind is an important concept; sitting down for the millionth time is essentially the same experience as sitting down for the first), it's particularly useful for those who've been practicing for a while. In my experience, there are lots of guides to beginning meditation, but guides for those who've been doin ...more
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 l
David Guy
May 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
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 more accessible, I k ...more
I've always been fascinated with Buddhism since I was a child, and I'm very interested in different religion and sects, so I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to actually read up on buddhism (maybe I didn't want to spoil my positive feelings). A lot of the intro books are either, to me, very practical and more like a self help booklet or very dense and confusing. There have been a few I've liked but overall it always feels like I'm scratching the surface.

This book here has a different approa
Stewart Tame
Mar 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Mar 18, 2019 rated it liked it
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. ...more
Terry Kim
Dec 25, 2016 rated it really liked 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 ...more
William Schram
Feb 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
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 b
May 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: zen, philosophy
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 more 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. ...more
Mark A Cohen
Oct 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great edgy explanation and commentary on Dogen

Don'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 analysis...for example, on how to understand Dozens use of he compares to sino Zen writers, etc. But that's not the purpose of this book. And he is funny!
Chris V.
Oct 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
From the author of "Hardcore Zen", punk rock bassist/zen priest, Brad Warner lays down the teachings of zen master Dogen (founder of the Soto school). Warner's sarcastic sense of humor and frequent use of curse words makes him a rather unique writer in the subject of Buddhism and a funny one at that. ...more
May 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"If you define yourself as deluded or imperfect and imagine a state that is perfect and undeluded, you can make an effort to transform this state into that one. But in doing so, you'd miss out on the perfect this-ness of this real state. What we're working on in Zen practice is to notice clearly our own actual condition. In doing so, we subtly transform it. And yet we don't transform anything. As I said, it's impossible to express it without being contradictory. The great perfection we seek is a ...more
Dec 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the best summary/translation/elucidation of Dogen that I have ever read. Dogen's Shobogenzo has a well earned reputation for being inpenetrable, but with Brad Warner's guidance, it is possible to get a lot from it.
I started reading this several months ago, and for some reason put it down. But recently, I reviewed what I had already read and pretty much gorged myself on the rest of it.
While he appears (and is) very irreverent and playful to a point of silliness, his credentials to write s
William Berry
May 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I found this an excellent book. Perhaps it's because much of what Brad Warner wrote I agree with, or believe, or have picked up in other books about Zen. Perhaps some of my fondness for the book comes from his shattering of the Zen Master image (though he would never call himself such…but the back-cover of the next of his books I will read does… Zen koan or publisher choice?). He takes what is reputed as a tough sacred text (Dōgen’s Shōbōgenzō) cuts through some of the nonessentials, and present ...more
Caroline Mars
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: buddhism
Brad Warner has an extremely down-to-earth manner, and manages at once, to be no nonsense and kind of goofy. His books are probably the best introduction to Zen Buddhism for a Westerner. His history as a punk bassist and his work with Tsuburaya Productions (Ultraman) in Japan are entertaining, and make him relatable.

In Don't Be A Jerk, he makes a valiant effort at deciphering Dogen's seminal text, Shobogenzo. Although some of Shobogenzo remains opaque for me, I don't think this is any fault of
Zack Becker
Mar 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Brad Warner does what I take for a terrific job of presenting a first volume of Dogen's Shobogenzo in a plain language, modern translation along with no-nonsense commentary. While some might take Warner to be irreverent at times, I find reverence in the fact that he undertook to bring the Shobogenzo to modern readers such as myself who are just barely able to access it even in English. Warner provides a lot of contextualization of his translation by citing frequently to the four major traditiona ...more
Tim Harris
Mar 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I'm a Brad Warner fan and have read all of this books. I'm also a Dogen fan and have read much, but not all of Shobogenzo. I'm sort of slogging through the Tanahashi translation now and have tried to get through Vol 1 of the Nishijima version too, they aren't easy reads. Warner's version was much easier, put in more modern language with commentary that is humorous, timely and explains things much better than the other books. Hope he keeps going and puts more of Dogen into modern English along wi ...more
Oct 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the few books I want to read again

It's easy to get new-agey when writing this sort of book. The ones that don't tend to require a considerable amount of background to comprehend. Mr. Brad's sense of humor and understanding of the essence of Dogen and Buddha come through clearly. I found myself highlighting and taking notes throughout the book. This book can help you be a Buddha even if you're starting as an ordinary person in American society in the 21st century. It's fresh and accessible
Feb 03, 2020 rated it liked it
My least favorite of his books so far-maybe this can be attributed to his source material ,Shobogenzo, which he freely admits is a bit of a slog because Dogen gets into nitty gritty stuff like toilet habits, how to dress, etc

Warner does what he always does well-he brings a smartass, , punk rock, American flavor to the Buddhist traditions and I mean that in a good way. I really like warner and love listening to him narrate his own books-he has a wonderful sense of humor and self deprecating style
Jul 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book for someone like me: you're not new to Soto Zen and heard of/read of Dogen, but don't know where to start with his writings or are interested by not enough to read his collected works. This is a great introduction to Dogen's works, funny but very smart and well researched, to get a taste and small understand of this renowned Zen master. ...more
Ed Arnold
Apr 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
I very much enjoyed this translation and paraphrasing of Dogen. I've always been curious about his dense philosophies, but have found it very hard to consume them. Warner does a great job of unwinding all the complexities in an entertaining and loose way.
Aaron Jones
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a difficult book, which is only to be expected when dealing with the very nature of reality and our experience of life. Warner's approach to the material makes it about as comprehensible as possible but I see myself returning to this book again and again in the future. ...more
Coe Douglas
May 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spiritual, philosophy
Excellent dive into the great master Dogen.
Ross Cohen
May 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Warner might be my favorite writer on Zen. He's clever, contrarian, and thoughtful. ...more
Oct 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A terrific introduction to Dogen's version of Zen! It was easy to understand and I appreciated the author's very "down to earth" writing style. ...more
Noma Bruton
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sagacity-hr
It's a wonderful modern interpretation of Buddhist philosophy; strictly for nerds though. ...more
Jan 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was good. Needs more study.
Kelly Anderson
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it's all there in the title....the essence of Buddhism. ...more
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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

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