Don't Be a Jerk

And Other Practical Advice from Dogen, Japan's Greatest Zen Master
Narrated by: Brad Warner
Length: 12 hrs and 9 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (215 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2016 Brad Warner (P)2016 Brad Warner

What listeners say about Don't Be a Jerk

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You don't need to use bad theology

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

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.

What other book might you compare Don't Be a Jerk to and why?

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.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

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.

17 people found this helpful

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  • RZ
  • 05-19-17

Brad Warner at his best

Great synopsis and "translation" of Dogens book Shobogenzo. Easy to understand in modern terms. highly recommend it to any practitioner of zen!

5 people found this helpful

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OMG Stop hitting the mike!!!

It was so distracting. Brad is continually hitting the mike. Drove me nuts.

The book was interesting because he puts these old zen texts into current vernacular. I nonetheless found myself vacillating between this is profound and useful and this is mental masturbation and completely pointless.

But it’s hard to argue with the principal tenet of don’t be a jerk.

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wished it was actually about Zen

it seemed like the book was just the author justifying his past interpretations of Dogen to haters from the past. I wished he would let the haters hate and just write the book to teach Dogen. it was frustrating because I was hoping to learn something but was distracted by the authors underlying plot to tear at criticisms.

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Great Book!

I liked this so much I bought the actual book for future reference.
I am looking forward to reading more of Brad Warner's books in the future.

1 person found this helpful

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Brad at his best

Brad explains the complex in a fun and engaging way. This is a great place to start getting into to Dogen.

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Awesome

Down to earth but not watered down. Whether you are a casual meditator or steeped in Buddhist philosophy there will be something for you in here. Brad Warner as narrator with a soundtrack made just for this book, he delivers a practical and fun dive into the philosophy and practices of Dogen. He uses modern and occasional slang words in the translation but explains why whenever there is something that seems outlandish. I come from the Tibetan tradition myself but didn’t find the “Hardcore Zen” thing to dilute the meaning at all. It was refreshing to have something so contemporary and oriented within subculture after many books that don’t bridge that particular cultural gap between traditional Buddhism and the modern culture.

I’d say get it. It helped me understand a few things. Dogen (and Brad) word things a bit differently than I am used to in the Tibetan tradition and it helps me understand some of these ideas in a different way than I am used to.

Enjoy.

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Dogen made accessible for everyone

Brad Warner does a phenomenal job of summarizing Dogen, using modern language. Dogen can be a very intimidating person to read. I find him very comparable to two western philosophers; Nietzsche and Hume. Like Nietzsche, many of his ideas remain a mystery to this day. He also has a very brilliant way of synthesizing concrete reality and romanticism/ mysticism. Like Hume, he is extremely consistent in his philosophy, and both people were largely ignored in their own lifetimes, becoming appreciated much later. Dogen also reminds me of St. Thomas Aquinas, both for their immense intellectual contributions to their respective religions. Both figures even lived at the same time.

All this to say, Dogen was very smart, and way ahead of his time. Brad does us all a huge favor by gifting us bite size pieces of Dogen's philosophy in down to Earth terminology. I have always said that a person trying to act smart will take very simple ideas, and make them sound complex; a person who actually is smart will take complex ideas and make them easy to understand. Brad has taken a lot of effort and many years practicing, and talking to all sorts of people to make this masterpiece.

My only gripe or confusion is the book's premise. Brad says that this will be a modern version of Dogen's Shobogenzo, but only covers about 25 or 26 chapters. The Shobogenzo has 95 chapters. I expected him to condense some chapters like the dreaded robe chapters (originals are very long), but that still leaves out a few. I know that he released another volume in this series called 'It Came From Beyond Zen!' of which I already purchased but not yet listen to. Maybe I just answered my own question, but wish that Brad was a bit more clear in what this is going to be.

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Approarable and fun without loosing sight of the point

Excellent delivery, well paced, and read by the author. The book is personal while also being playful.

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Makes Zen approachable!

Making it something a tad less mystical, this book presents a complex, yet simple concept in a way that anyone can enjoy.
thank you Brad!

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  • nick young
  • 06-19-20

intriguing

essentially a translation of shobogenzo part 1.
A little intentionally cheesy at times, inclusive of lengthy boring material included in the original writings. Valuable insights but perhaps better to read the original work instead

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  • Gareth Galea
  • 11-15-17

Found this obscure at times. Just keep sitting.

Read a lot of Mr. Warner's books but found this obscure at times. Just keep sitting.

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  • FreddyMJ
  • 08-02-17

Excelent Book

What made the experience of listening to Don't Be a Jerk the most enjoyable?

Exploring Zen through a slightly comical view

What did you like best about this story?

Different take and expression of traditional ideas

Have you listened to any of Brad Warner’s other performances? How does this one compare?

No

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

No

Any additional comments?

I will read another of his books I enjoyed this one

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  • Gavin
  • 11-02-17

Not what I was expecting

This is an analysis of Dogen theories. I was looking for an introduction to Budism. This would be suitable for someone with an understanding of Budism already.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 08-22-17

heavy going but explained with humour

heavy going material that is explained well & with humour. will listen to it again a few times