Okay, I will admit it, I didn't go into this book with an open mind. Despite having a general like of people involved in fringe activities such as alternative music and film, and those who have a habit of putting two fingers up at authority figures, something about Brad Warner has always bugged me. He seems like the poster boy for cool Zen and some of his attitudes towards sex and dharma don't sit well with me.
So, I was totally expecting to hate this book and find it to be more about Brad Warner than Zen. The first couple of chapters did not disappoint me on that front. However, that was just setting the scene and a backdrop to what was to come. Starting with a section on The Heart Sutra, Brad goes on to explain the path of Zen in the normal language of 21st century America. And, although I almost hate to admit it – he gets it. Me saying that is pretty pointless as Brad gets it far more than I do. The parts about Gudo Nishijima were great to read and having someone who has a history of drug use report how irrelevant and counterproductive drug use is to Zen practice hits home far more than the same words falling from the mouth of an elderly Japanese man.
Anyway, I am sure most of you have read the book already but this is my first real encounter with Brad's words and I remain impressed. He will likely never be one of my go-to references for Zen teachings but I think that he is a relevant and important voice to have in our tradition.