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Thread: Brad Warner's new book on the notion of God

  1. #1

    Brad Warner's new book on the notion of God

    Hello,

    although I am only one third through his latest book, I feel confident in recommending Brad Warner's "There is no God and he is always with you - A search for God in odd places" nevertheless:

    http://www.amazon.com/There-Is-God-A...lways+with+you

    If one doesn't like Brad's style then one is better off not buying it, since the way he writes might otherwise distract too much from his raising a lot of very interesting points.

    As always, academic pundits might criticise him (and in some cases probably rightly so) for not having done enough academic research, but in my reader's eyes his strength is making topics accessible without being pretentious AND without sacrificing substance.

    I did not and probably will not ever agree with him on everything (and what a boring world that would be), but I do feel if he wasn't around we'd have to invent him.

    This book might be especially interesting for all those who like to wrestle with some of the questions that were touched upon in our Zen & Catholicism thread.


    At the end of the day (now I'm pressing my own Zen button and am setting it to ACTIVE mode), we cannot get answers from books, but we can sometimes gain very valuable questions that might stay with us for a long long time.


    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Chudo Mongen, Ordained Novice Priest-in-Training

  2. #2
    Friend of Treeleaf Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Hi Hans,
    Thanks for the recommendation.

    I know this is a brand new book ... but are you sure I haven't read it already?

    ... if not, I'll go get a copy.

    Gassho,
    Myozan
    Myozan Kodo
    Ordained Soto Zen Priest in Training
    Dublin, Ireland

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.
    "Here the way unfolds."

  3. #3
    Thanks for the review Hans, will have a read.

    Gassho
    Shingen
    倫道 真現

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  4. #4
    By the way, he'll probably be here at Treeleaf sometime in the summer to speak about the book and lead a Zazenkai for us.

    I mean, Brad will be here ... not God. (Assuming they are not the same, anyway. If they are the same, it would explain a few things).

    ' And let me remind everyone, that Koun Franz will be here to speak next week Sunday June 16. More details on that sometime in the coming days. )

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  5. #5
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Thanks for the recommendation!

    This book is now on my to-read list (which is humongous)

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Mr. Spock

  6. #6
    I'm looking forward to this book. I've really enjoyed his other ones.

    Gassho,

    Risho

  7. #7
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info Hans. Have been reading 'Sex, Sin and Zen' and agree that his style sometimes distracts from the very insightful points he makes. Perhaps there is more Zen and less Brad appearing? After all how long can you dine out as an ex- punk rocker? Looking forward to reading it, perhaps a while after this one.
    Heisoku
    平 息

  8. #8
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    thanks for the recommendation, I am interested in reading it

  9. #9
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    I haven't read anything of his yet, besides his blog. Thanks for the clue, Hans.
    迎 Geika

  10. #10
    For those who are interested in what others have to say about it, here is a review by James Ford: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/monkeym...is-no-god.html

    I have not read any books by Brad thus far but think that strong voices are a good thing in any tradition even if they do occasionally trample the odd toe.


    Gassho
    Andy

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    By the way, he'll probably be here at Treeleaf sometime in the summer to speak about the book and lead a Zazenkai for us.

    I mean, Brad will be here ... not God. (Assuming they are not the same, anyway. If they are the same, it would explain a few things).
    Just a small suggestion from me, which I think could be beneficial to all: if they're not the same, is there any way we could get God to lead a sit?

    Thanks for sharing Hans!
    Shōmon

  12. #12
    Treeleaf Engineer Seimyo's Avatar
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    Thanks for the heads-up Hans. I wasn't aware he was working on this.

    Gassho,
    Seimyo

    明 Seimyō (Christhatischris)

  13. #13
    OH snap.. I missed Jundo's earlier comment. Looking forward to those Zazenkais

  14. #14
    There are some very generous extracts from the book on the Amazon preview facility. I didn't enjoy the style of his previous writing but this book reads well and it seems to raise some important issues.

    Thanks for mentioning it - think I'll download on kindle (I've finally converted to Kindleism - it's great )

    Gassho

    Willow

  15. #15
    brad's always a nice read

    gassho.gilles

  16. #16
    I am currently reading the book. Very nice so far.

    For those who don't know Brad's other books yet:
    "Hardcore Zen" and "Sit Down And Shut Up" are best IMHO.
    But that's my personal taste, of course...

    Gassho,

    Timo
    no thing needs to be added

  17. #17
    Friends of Treeleaf Dokan's Avatar
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    I concur with Hans. I've read all his books and feel this is his best so far. As another said, the less of Brad and more Zen seems to be appealing to me.

    Gassho,

    Dokan

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I747 using Tapatalk 4 Beta
    We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.
    ~Ana´s Nin

  18. #18
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    I've read about a third of the book so far. I bought the kindle edition to read on a trip this weekend - I'm currently on a train somewhere between York and London, or, more correctly, between here and there.

    I think Brad is making a very big mistake in this book using the word god, as that word has very precise western connotations. He essentially describes a kensho experience as seeing god, whereas he simply had a glimpse of the ultimate.

    I find it interesting to compare this with Ralph Waldo Emerson's description (in Nature) of how he became a "transparent eyeball.") Emerson who was at least a nominal believer in the Christian god in no way attributed this experience to seeing god. But Emerson did often espouse ideas that all of nature, and all the world, were god.

    On short, I think Brad has latched onto a word he shouldn't be using, essentially because he's applying this word in a tradition that has no consistent history of using such a concept. He raises some interesting points, but I think he's off the mark.
    -----

    I know nothing.

  19. #19
    Hello Kirk,

    I can relate to what you are writing and on one hand feel that you are right, but then again I feel that Brad is right too...by which I mean that this really is a matter of perspective in some sense. It is true that the word God is charged with connotations about monotheist father figures etc.....on the other hand, the wonder and vastness and awe that arise in me sometimes and that Shikantaza helps me to notice more clearly cannot be fully expressed by using the words UNIVERSE, REALITY (referring to my own emotional and cognitive reactions of course). The only word in my own native language (which would be German) that opens up a panorama wide enough to contain this glorious openness is unfortunately "God".

    So although I really don't like it when Brad write sentences that seem to generalise "Buddhism has this....Buddhism is that"....I think he does have a point.

    Maybe if I had watched Carl Sagan's Cosmos repeatedly as a child, the word universe would cut it for me...but sometimes it just doesn't. Which doesn't mean I believe in a guy with a beard who likes some good smiting

    For you personally it seems that the word "ultimate" covers it. For me it doesn't. "Mystery" gets my personal thumbs up too though.

    But of course what is most important is our radically dropping words and concepts, see what's left and to then return to the market of our daily lives.

    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Last edited by Hans; 06-14-2013 at 02:05 PM.
    Chudo Mongen, Ordained Novice Priest-in-Training

  20. #20
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    But one must consider that there is nothing about that brain state that suggests that it is indeed God. He is merely describing his cultural bias on a brain state that neither he nor we know anything about. What if he had a seizure? Would he claimed that he was seeing God then as well?
    -----

    I know nothing.

  21. #21
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    By the way, about two years ago I described a similar experience in this post:

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...7725#post57725

    I find it very self-aggrandizing to think that the brain state that I felt there, which is probably similar to what Brad felt, is in any way God.
    -----

    I know nothing.

  22. #22
    Hello Kirk,

    it seems your ideas about who or what God means and/or connotes are different from how Brad feels about the term. And it also seems that Brad's view about the connotations of the term is closer to my own feelings and experience than yours, because I don't find it half as ill fitting as you seem to do.

    Life and Death, seizures and orgasms, traffic accidents and tax statements. All that is reality, all that is Buddha nature unfolding. Any kind of awakening, whether BIG or small, or sudden or gradual never happens outside of this. For some people pivotal moments drive home this truth in a way that makes them want to call it something when talking about it. But never for one second did I think that Brad meant he was in any way chosen or privileged or special in the ways he experiences this life/universe(buddha nature/ reality.

    For him the finger verbally pointing at the moon makes use of the term "God" rather than "reality" or "Buddha nature". On some days I can relate to that, and I don't believe in a personal God. Without doubt Brad would agree that filling in your tax forms is God too.



    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Last edited by Hans; 06-14-2013 at 03:38 PM.
    Chudo Mongen, Ordained Novice Priest-in-Training

  23. #23
    Actually, I wanted to wait with writing something until I have fiished the book (I am at 40% now).

    However, I think Kirk has a point (although I perfectly understand Hans as well!). If Brad calls this God, then you could call me a believer, too. But I daresay the vast majority of people I know would not share Brad's definition of "God".
    Yes, most people don't think of the old man with white beard on his throne any more, but still most people I know see god as a personal entity, with human like characteristics like loving, sometimes wrathful, etc.

    I really see why Brad uses the term God, and I even can imagine that something like an impersonal God exists (so I am kind of agnostic here), but I also know that many people would disagree. And this can get problematic.
    It reminds me of the early translations of the Tao Te Ching, in which the term "Tao" was translated as "God". This caused (and still causes) a lot of confusion for Western folks.
    Why give IT a name anyway? "The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao", so why the bother?
    Using a typical Western term/concept for this can (and will) confuse people.

    Another problem (probably a bigger one) I see right now (perhaps Brad solves this in the rest of the book):
    With his definitions he elevates "Satori/Kensho" even more! The Englightenment thing is already an obstacle that is big for lots of Zennies.
    The Sotoish practice-enlightenment kind of eliminates a potential pressure here.

    Equalling having kensho/satori with seeing God - man, this will drive some people nuts and want it all the more.

    But again, maybe there is a solution in the rest of the book - there are still 60% to read...

    Gassho,

    Timo


    PS: Don't get me wrong, I like the book very much so far, and I agree with lots of Brad's points. I just see these two problems right now.
    Last edited by Daitetsu; 06-14-2013 at 04:10 PM.
    no thing needs to be added

  24. #24
    Senior Member Juki's Avatar
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    I tend to agree with Hans in that Brad has gone out of his way in prior books to declare that he is not "enlightened" in the mystical sense of the word as it is often misused, and that his experiences are not special (and do not make him special).

    I tend to agree with Kirk that the word "God" as very specific connotations in the western world, although this must be viewed in light of the fact that westerners are too hung up on concepts and on always attempting to explain and label things in ways that fit neatly within other concepts that they believe they already know and understand (ususally, mistakenly).

    If you want to understand god, look in the mirror. Look at your mother or look deeply into the unhardened eyes of a child. Look at your cat. Look at a butterfly dancing across the air. Look at a forest or a single tree or a mountain lake.

    If you want to understand Buddha nature, look at all those same things.

    Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.

    Checking in over a plate of spaghetti from Pittsburgh, PA and leaving for Cincinnati this evening. Deep bows to all.

    Gassho,
    William

  25. #25
    ok... so total sidebar. lol I got my copy last night.. But at my local B&N (Barnes and Noble) what did I see on the shelf? You see, Buddhism is lumped together with "Eastern Religion" right next to New Age, so someone could be looking for a nice book on Dogen and accidentally pick up a book on magic crystals, not that there's anything wrong with that. hahhaha

    Let's just say that the bookshelf is flooded with Thich Nhat Hanh and Pema Chodron stuff and sometimes you'll find golden nuggets like Red Pine's book on Bodhidharma or the Heart Sutra, a Stephen Batchelor or Shunryu Suzuki book, and sometimes if you're lucky a good book on Dogen. But what did I see? Dogen's Genjokoan: Three Commentaries!!!!! Holy crap, it was glorious

    OK sorry about the sidenote, but I had to share that.

    So far I've read the intro and I really liked what I've read.

    From one perspective, I feel that any talk of God is purely speculative, but so in a sense is life. I mean we can only share a language because we perceive the world similarly, but a lot of what we "know" is speculative or based on belief. It's like that with practice too. The things described in Zen (in talks, teachings, etc) are foreign until one has undergone the practice for a time. If anything, I'm very excited about this book, the quest for God from the perspective of Zen practice. It gives me the same feeling as zazen. Even if zazen is tough or good or whatever that day, there is an element of receptivity and discovery an excitement to being able to do it.

    Also, gotta love this line "I think it's fair to say that anything that calls itself Buddhism and doesn't involve some kind of meditation may not really be Buddhism." p viii

    Gassho,

    Risho

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Amelia View Post
    I haven't read anything of his yet, besides his blog. Thanks for the clue, Hans.
    His Hardcore Zen is best place to start.

    Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk HD

  27. #27
    Senior Member Nenka's Avatar
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    Meanwhile, there's a good interview/podcast with Brad over at The Secular Buddhist: http://secularbuddhism.org/2013/06/1...ways-with-you/

  28. #28
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Risho View Post
    ok... so total sidebar. lol I got my copy last night.. But at my local B&N (Barnes and Noble) what did I see on the shelf? You see, Buddhism is lumped together with "Eastern Religion" right next to New Age, so someone could be looking for a nice book on Dogen and accidentally pick up a book on magic crystals, not that there's anything wrong with that. hahhaha


    Gassho,

    Risho
    It's the same way where I live. There is a New Age store, in my town, and that is the only place to buy Buddha statues or Buddhist books here. I'm not into New Age, nothing against it, just not for me.

  29. #29
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Yes it is very enjoyable to read, witty and often spot on, the bit on enlightenment porn is really great.
    Being myself sometimes into much heavier philosophy, I would say it is a good introduction to an old problem.
    Of course, I don't want to use the word God to refer to reality/as it isness . I strongly feel the non- theistic nature of our practice. But again, that's just me and I don't care if my students believe or not in God or would use this word to name the ineffable.

    Gassho


    Taigu

  30. #30
    Senior Member Nengyo's Avatar
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    I tried giving it a read, but I couldn't get into it at all. Maybe it's because I've read too many of Brad's books this year, or maybe it is the three huge tomes that are required reading for school that I know I should be reading, but either way I had to put it down about halfway through. I'll try again later.

    For the record I really enjoyed Hard Core Zen, Shut Up and Sit, and Zen Wrapped in Karma and Subsequently Dipped in Chocolate (I'm guessing at the title of this one).
    Try not to be a jerk-- one of the Buddhas

  31. #31
    Brad recently did a talk at Upaya Zen Center on There is no God and He is Always With You

    http://www.upaya.org/dharma/brad-war...ways-with-you/


    Gassho
    Andy

  32. #32
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Thank you for the link, Andy. I will be listening to that later.
    迎 Geika

  33. #33
    If we can get the dates set, Brad will be leading a Zazenkai here at Treeleaf, probably on Sunday 7/28. I am waiting for confirmation of the date and details.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  34. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    If we can get the dates set, Brad will be leading a Zazenkai here at Treeleaf, probably on Sunday 7/28. I am waiting for confirmation of the date and details.

    Gassho, J
    This is exciting ... Would be nice to have a sit with our brother Brad.

    Gassho
    Shingen
    倫道 真現

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  35. #35
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    Thank you.


    Gassho,

    Edward
    Practice with humility, respect all beings, avoid attachments, give rise to praj˝a from your own awareness, put an end to delusions - Hui-neng

  36. #36
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    I would love to join that sit if it happens.
    迎 Geika

  37. #37
    Brad just wrote me to say that something has come up, and he will not be available on the planned dates. He is off to Tassajara for much of August (and I am heading to Korea for the first two weeks in August), so we will try for September.

    Everything in its time.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  38. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Brad just wrote me to say that something has come up, and he will not be available on the planned dates. He is off to Tassajara for much of August (and I am heading to Korea for the first two weeks in August), so we will try for September.

    Everything in its time.

    Gassho, J

    Very good, the day will come. Thanks for the update.

    Gassho
    Shingen
    倫道 真現

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  39. #39
    Senior Member Koshin's Avatar
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    Good. Anyway we sit daily with Brad, and everyone else on earth

    Gassho


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    P.S. Yup, I know, my English sucks

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