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Sit down and Shut Up : Punk Rock Commentaries on Buddha, God, Truth, Sex, Death, and Dogen's Treasury of the Right Dharma Eye
In 2003, Brad Warner blew the top off the Buddhist book world with his irreverent autobiography/manifesto, Hardcore Zen: Punk Rock, Monster Movies, and the Truth about Reality. Now in his second book, Sit Down and Shut Up, Brad tackles one of the great works of Zen literature, the Shobogenzo, by thirteenth-century Zen master Dogen.
Illuminating Dogen's enigmatic teachings in plain language, Brad intertwines musings on sex, meditation, death, God, sin, and happiness with ....
an exploration of the punk rock ethos. In chapters such as "Evil Is Stupid," "Kill Your Anger," and "Enlightenment Is for Sissies," Brad melds the antiauthoritarianism of punk with that of Zen, mixing in a travelogue of his triumphant return to Ohio to play in a reunion concert of Akron punk bands. For those drawn to Buddhist teachings but scared off by their stiff austerity, Brad writes with a sharp smack of truth, in teachings and stories that cut to the heart of reality.
Warner, a Zen priest, author (Hardcore Zen) and former punk rock bassist, has a very distinctive voice. It may be off-putting to some to think about Buddha and a bunch of Zen masters, including esteemed 13th-century Japanese Zen master Dogen, as dudes riffing on "whiz-bang-with-cheese-on-top-enlightenment." But for the patient, curious and those for whom Warner's slash-the-crap style is their cup of green tea, this Zen punk book offers provocation and reward. Warner ambitiously presents something close to textual commentary on a key text by Dogen while teaching on anger, sex, loving-kindness, dependent arising and other familiar Buddhist themes. The topical chapters are tied together by Warner's narration of a punk band reunion. The author's knowledge of Japanese from his years of living in Japan adds to his credibility, since it allows him to better explore the nuances of Japanese Zen. Though he might be disappointed to hear it, Warner is probably less provocative than some of the first-generation Asian teachers who transplanted Zen to America. Still, Buddhism has long enjoyed baffling "crazy-wisdom" teachers and paradoxical koans, and Warner's punk iconoclasm fits in nicely. (May)
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New World Library
April 12, 2007
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