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Brad Warner? Yah, Nah, or Hey?

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Brad Warner? Yah, Nah, or Hey?

Postby A Medic on Mon Nov 16, 2009 6:10 am

I'm curious of people's opinion of Brad Warner. I really do like his books, and the youtube videos of him I have watched. In general is he respected by other followers of Soto? I am curious because I am steering my practice toward Soto mainly due to Brad Warner's books. The only other Soto book I have read is Zen Mind Beginner's Mind. I really like it, and can't think of anyway Brad Warner, and Suzuki Roshi contradict each other. There is no Soto Sangha anywhere near me that I know of so I'm relying on the opinion of people here. I plan on reading more into Soto (I started a topic on Soto books asking for suggestions).

So is your opinion of Brad Warner?

:Namaste:
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Re: Brad Warner? Yah, Nah, or Hey?

Postby Coffee Bean on Mon Nov 16, 2009 6:40 am

I view Brad Warner as an effective teacher for the west.

His flamboyant "offensive and entertaining" writing style is as blatantly obvious as some of his vids are, but undoubtedly what he teaches and relays from his books and website (as well as Suicide Girls ;) ) has been extremely helpful for me in batting out a lot of the "sticky fluff" that had beforehand been a real serious impediment in how I had coped with issues. I really am appreciative that there are folks like him around willing to help, but like everything, Brad's way of relaying Zen Buddhism won't always appeal to everybody nor should it.
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Re: Brad Warner? Yah, Nah, or Hey?

Postby EmTB_2 on Mon Nov 16, 2009 9:52 am

A Medic wrote:I'm curious of people's opinion of Brad Warner. I really do like his books, and the youtube videos of him I have watched. In general is he respected by other followers of Soto? I am curious because I am steering my practice toward Soto mainly due to Brad Warner's books. The only other Soto book I have read is Zen Mind Beginner's Mind. I really like it, and can't think of anyway Brad Warner, and Suzuki Roshi contradict each other. There is no Soto Sangha anywhere near me that I know of so I'm relying on the opinion of people here. I plan on reading more into Soto (I started a topic on Soto books asking for suggestions).

So is your opinion of Brad Warner?

:Namaste:

A Medic,
What do you like about his approach? Also am interested in hearing how Warner and Suzuki contradict one another?
Thanks
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Re: Brad Warner? Yah, Nah, or Hey?

Postby Shonin on Mon Nov 16, 2009 10:22 am

At the start of my practice I found him very inspiring - he made Zen seems accessible and real. Now, mostly I feel aware of what I see as his limitations. Although sometimes he still writes a good piece.
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Re: Brad Warner? Yah, Nah, or Hey?

Postby shoey on Mon Nov 16, 2009 10:38 am

Shonin wrote:At the start of my practice I found him very inspiring - he made Zen seems accessible and real. Now, mostly I feel aware of what I see as his limitations. Although sometimes he still writes a good piece.


yes couldnt agree more shonin - he's very inspiring and gets butts on the cushion no matter what he says. :Namaste:
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Re: Brad Warner? Yah, Nah, or Hey?

Postby Christopher on Mon Nov 16, 2009 11:39 am

Ditto.

I think Brad has a good attitude in that Zen practice is for YOUR life, even if you happen to be a punk musician and/or monster-movie maker. No need to walk around with an aura of holiness, copying scripture in your spare time.

But reading his blog and actually practicing zen are two different things altogether. I organised a sesshin for him last year and at least two of the first-time participants were shocked to discover that sesshin wasn't some kind of sexy, punk-rock "happening", but rather extremely dry and boring. So I would encourage you to find a real teacher, instead of just following his self-publicity efforts on the internet.
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Re: Brad Warner? Yah, Nah, or Hey?

Postby genkaku on Mon Nov 16, 2009 1:47 pm

I think the balance between sex-drugs-and-rock-'n'-roll and cannot-be-comprehended is something everyone works out alone. Too much of the one and the other goes begging. Too much seriousness and the soul cries out for some laughter. Too much laughter and the soul cries out for something serious. Too much Huang Po or the virtuous words of Gautama and there is a craving for a good dirty joke. Too many dirty jokes and there is some recognition that it's pretty thin gruel.

I like Brad's peppy-ness and, as others have stated, his encouragements that put butts on the cushion. As a main course, he's not my style. But as a side dish, his fun-serious approach has some appeal.
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Re: Brad Warner? Yah, Nah, or Hey?

Postby Floating_Abu on Mon Nov 16, 2009 1:58 pm

A Medic wrote:because I am steering my practice toward Soto mainly due to Brad Warner's books. The only other Soto book I have read is Zen Mind Beginner's Mind. I really like it, and can't think of anyway Brad Warner, and Suzuki Roshi contradict each other.


I think encouragements towards practice are nice enough. I used to peruse his blog once in a while for Jinzang's comments, and whilst I wouldn't take him as a mainstay teacher myself, I say all power to Brad for his efforts, and his accomplishments.
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Re: Brad Warner? Yah, Nah, or Hey?

Postby Drolma on Mon Nov 16, 2009 6:07 pm

Is this the same Brad Warner who supports the "Big Mind" workshops?

Thanks

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Re: Brad Warner? Yah, Nah, or Hey?

Postby bayamo on Mon Nov 16, 2009 6:18 pm

Christopher wrote:Ditto.

I think Brad has a good attitude in that Zen practice is for YOUR life, even if you happen to be a punk musician and/or monster-movie maker. No need to walk around with an aura of holiness, copying scripture in your spare time.

But reading his blog and actually practicing zen are two different things altogether. I organised a sesshin for him last year and at least two of the first-time participants were shocked to discover that sesshin wasn't some kind of sexy, punk-rock "happening", but rather extremely dry and boring. So I would encourage you to find a real teacher, instead of just following his self-publicity efforts on the internet.


If his sesshin was "dry and boring", and was actually "just sitting", how is that a bad thing? Are you implying he is not a "real" teacher? Why? (not contradicting, jsut asking, but I will state I am a fan of his books and they explained Zen to me in a way I could really relate to)
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Re: Brad Warner? Yah, Nah, or Hey?

Postby bayamo on Mon Nov 16, 2009 6:20 pm

Drolma wrote:Is this the same Brad Warner who supports the "Big Mind" workshops?

Thanks

:Namaste:

Brad actually has written a lot about it, and it is none to flattering. He even does a debate with a "puppet" about Big Mind on youtube..
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Re: Brad Warner? Yah, Nah, or Hey?

Postby bayamo on Mon Nov 16, 2009 6:21 pm

shoey wrote:
Shonin wrote:At the start of my practice I found him very inspiring - he made Zen seems accessible and real. Now, mostly I feel aware of what I see as his limitations. Although sometimes he still writes a good piece.


yes couldnt agree more shonin - he's very inspiring and gets butts on the cushion no matter what he says. :Namaste:


it sure got my butt on the cushion!! :Namaste:
where is the invisible hand when it is needed to deliver a good smack!?!?
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Re: Brad Warner? Yah, Nah, or Hey?

Postby Drolma on Mon Nov 16, 2009 6:38 pm

bayamo wrote:
Drolma wrote:Is this the same Brad Warner who supports the "Big Mind" workshops?

Thanks

Brad actually has written a lot about it, and it is none to flattering. He even does a debate with a "puppet" about Big Mind on youtube..


I'm glad to hear that, thanks :)
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Re: Brad Warner? Yah, Nah, or Hey?

Postby shel on Mon Nov 16, 2009 7:30 pm

I'm not so sure about him being instrumental in getting more butts onto cushions. I've been to his sitting group a couple of times in Santa Monica and only a small handful of folks ever show up. He's always complaining about how no one ever comes to his sitting group, and this in a place with over three million people within an hours drive. But who knows how these things work out in the end. Maybe some people learn of Buddhism via his particular niche who would otherwise not become aware of it, and eventually are benefited.
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Re: Brad Warner? Yah, Nah, or Hey?

Postby hungryghost on Mon Nov 16, 2009 8:13 pm

I come from the punk rock thing myself, and so I love his books. I thought there was some really nice stuff in "Sit down and shut up", which is mostly a commentary on Dogen. I find his writing funny, and honest. From what I hear from people when you really get down to it, punk rock and monster movies aside, he is really serious about his zen. The one thing about Brad I dont really dig, and this is common to alot of zen, is his constant naysaying about kensho. His books fall into my category: Read, enjoy as entertainment, give them to someone I think might find inspiration in them. He's young too, I think he has lots of time to mature as a teacher (unless the big mind ninjas find him!!!) :ninja: :ninja:
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Re: Brad Warner? Yah, Nah, or Hey?

Postby chapulincolorado on Mon Nov 16, 2009 8:22 pm

Shonin wrote:At the start of my practice I found him very inspiring - he made Zen seems accessible and real. Now, mostly I feel aware of what I see as his limitations. Although sometimes he still writes a good piece.


I second that. When I restarted my practice, I found Brad's books and writings to be a good place to restart and to understand some of the basics of Zen approach to Buddhism. Suzuki is on a whole other level, even though back in 1994 I started my serious interest with his seminal works.

In my pov estimation--

Brad:Popular Science
Suzuki:Physics Today

:PP:

As far as his punk persona, it's interesting to know his background. Warner and I are almost the same age so it's always good to know what made him (and our generation) tick and follow this path. But. There are elements that get tiring. Yes. We know. You are were punk. Which kind of reminds me of two scenes from "Repo Man":





Though of late, maybe some of Noah Levine's approach has rubbed on Warner.

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Re: Brad Warner? Yah, Nah, or Hey?

Postby Jok_Hae on Mon Nov 16, 2009 8:25 pm

praxis wrote:I'm not so sure about him being instrumental in getting more butts onto cushions. I've been to his sitting group a couple of times in Santa Monica and only a small handful of folks ever show up. He's always complaining about how no one ever comes to his sitting group, and this in a place with over three million people within an hours drive. But who knows how these things work out in the end. Maybe some people learn of Buddhism via his particular niche who would otherwise not become aware of it, and eventually are benefited.


Hi Praxis,

Isn't this a issue with most groups. Let's face it, our practice is not easy. And if we can't trot a middle aged Asian guy to feed folks their Dharma, it is a tough sell. I also had a punk phase, but Warner isn't really my cup of tea. I found the punk thing to be just another mode of the conformity that they supposedly were against. Anyway, I agree with you, maybe some folks find some benefit from it all, and that is certainly a good thing. :)

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Re: Brad Warner? Yah, Nah, or Hey?

Postby Shonin on Mon Nov 16, 2009 9:20 pm

chapulincolorado wrote:I second that. When I restarted my practice, I found Brad's books and writings to be a good place to restart and to understand some of the basics of Zen approach to Buddhism. Suzuki is on a whole other level, even though back in 1994 I started my serious interest with his seminal works.

In my pov estimation--

Brad:Popular Science
Suzuki:Physics Today


Yes, I would agree with that.

It's difficult for me to answer to this thread without crititicising a Buddhist teacher, so perhaps I am violating the TOS. If so, then I'm not sure this question can be answered in a balanced way on this board.

Warner paints himself as a rebel who is stripping away superficial Buddhist sensationalism and bringing 'the real deal'. (Perhaps things are different in America but I don't see hordes of these supposed faux-Buddhists. Most practitioners I meet are sincere. ) But actually I find what he writes to be sensationalised, full of drama, and less than sophisticated in it's understanding of Buddhism - I don't think he has a particularly deep understanding of Dogen from what I've seen and seems genuinely confused over such questions as whether there is such a thing as enlightenment or not. So really he comes across, not as the 'New Dogen' but an appealing and entertaining upstart who is appealing chiefly to people with little understanding of Buddhism.

On a personal level he seems to have little self-awareness for someone who has been sitting for so long - he doesn't seem to see or understand the conditioning that pulls his levers. And, partly because of this he comes across as emotionally immature.
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Re: Brad Warner? Yah, Nah, or Hey?

Postby shel on Mon Nov 16, 2009 9:26 pm

Jok_Hae wrote:Isn't this a issue with most groups. Let's face it, our practice is not easy. And if we can't trot a middle aged Asian guy to feed folks their Dharma, it is a tough sell.

I don't know, Jok_Hae, a middle aged Asian guy certainly appears more authentic, and authenticity sells big time. If for whatever reason someone had an inclination towards Zen practice though, maybe it is true for some that the Asian cultural trappings would be too unappealing a package and Warner provides a palatable homogenization. Kinda ironic that punks would need this, being all countercultural and all. :PP:

I found the punk thing to be just another mode of the conformity that they supposedly were against.

I remember Brad saying somewhere that he intentionally wore his hair short during the peek of punk, because most other punks wore theirs long.

Anyway, do you find people coming to your temple because they read one of Warners books and were inspired to put butt to cushion?
If you've come here to help me you're wasting your time. But if you've come because your liberation is tied up with mine then let's work together. ~ Lilla Watson

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Re: Brad Warner? Yah, Nah, or Hey?

Postby Jok_Hae on Mon Nov 16, 2009 9:41 pm

Hi praxis,

You asked:
Anyway, do you find people coming to your temple because they read one of Warners books and were inspired to put butt to cushion?


I have never heard anyone mention him. The one book that still seems to be the "hook" is The Three Pillars of Zen. I hear that title from new students the most. Of course that doesn't mean Warner's book isn't doing it for new folks.

And you are right about the irony involving the punk thing. There are volumes of irony involved with that world. Imho, of course.

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