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 800-year-old Zen Buddhism classic written by the Japanese monk Eihei Dogen. Despite the timeless wisdom of his teachings, many consider the book difficult to understand. In Don't Be a Jerk, Zen priest and best-selling author Brad Warner, through accessible paraphrasing and incisive commentary, applies Dogen's teachings to modern times. While entertaining and sometimes irreverent, Warner is also an astute scholar who sees in Dogen very modern psychological concepts, as well as insights on such topics as feminism and reincarnation. Warner even shows that Dogen offered a "Middle Way" in the currently raging debate between science and religion. For curious listeners worried that Dogen's teachings are too philosophically opaque, Don't Be a Jerk is hilarious, understandable, and wise.
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You don't need to use bad theology
Yes, as someone who has been studying and practicing the dharma and zazen for over 10 years, this is a great way to get some insights into Shobogenzo. I've really enjoyed Brad's other books as well.
This is hard because there are not a lot of books that try to give you an understanding of a specific theological work. If you like Brad Warner I would recommend Dharma Punks by Noah Levine.
Yes, Brad uses some really bad christian theology to try to prove a point. What I mean by that is; he uses theological ideas that are not grounded in the actual Judeo-Christian theology. But rather generic post christian reformation points you would get from an Atheist Facebook group, rather than true 1st century Judeo-Christian theology. This is the reason I'm giving this book 4 stars out of 5. I'm sure if Brad were to read a book by a Christian theologian and they were to make some of the same type of statements about Buddhist Theology to prove their point he'd feel the same way. If you're going to make comparisons make sure you fully understand both sides before you use them.
- Clint J. Latham Jr.
Brad Warner at his best