Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Two articles about me have come to my attention recently. They are:

Why Brad Warner Matters


Brad Warner Vs. The Maha Teachers

It's weird to read about yourself. You quickly realize that the "Brad Warner" people write about is not the same guy who does my laundry, stands in line at the DMV for my plates, and eats alone with me at a Taco Bell somewhere off Interstate 35. The "Brad Warner" they write about is some kind of abstraction created by the writers themselves. I have only minimal control over this "Brad Warner."

The fact that I have such little control over "Brad Warner" is the cause of a lot of grief for this Brad Warner. People are constantly nagging me to make that "Brad Warner" more like they think he ought to be. But I can't even make that "Brad Warner" more like what I think he ought to be! I've even seen photos of Noah Levine labeled as "Brad Warner," to give you an idea how little control I have over that "Brad Warner" guy.* Grrr...

Take the those weirdos who chose to write obscene emails to Barry Magid after they read the post I put up a few weeks back. Please! I still don't understand why anyone would do that. It makes no sense at all. Were they trying to be like me? If so, they weren't being like me at all. But possibly they were acting like the "Brad Warner" they had created for themselves. Or, quite possibly, they were people who don't like what I do, who chose to pose as my fans to try and make me look bad. God only knows. I certainly do not.

People constantly demand that I take responsibility for this stuff. But I really can't. It's like saying The Beatles shouldn't have made the White Album because it inspired Charles Manson to kill Sharon Tate. You cannot control the bizarre ways people take what you do. You have a responsibility to present yourself honestly. After that, there's not much else you can do. I'm sorry. There really just is not. I've tried.

In any case, about these new articles. Why Brad Warner Matters is the view of one person schooled in Tibetan Buddhism as to why the "Brad Warner" he has invented for himself matters. It's nice to read what he says. But at the same time, slightly embarrassing to read the quotes he pulls from my books. They're all real quotes. But they certainly aren't the ones I would pull out myself to express what I feel are the core things I wanted to get across in those books. Interesting.

My favorite part of this article is the final line, "I invite you to be like yourself."

The other article, Brad Warner Vs. The Maha Teachers, is about the recent piece I put up regarding the Garrison Institute's Maha Teacher Council.

The most interesting part of this article is not in the article itself but in one of the links it presents to another article by the same writer. This other article is called "Nice" Buddhism. It puts forth the idea that what is being called "Buddhism" in mainstream America these days isn't really Buddhism at all. It's a Buddhist-influenced form of progressive Christianity.

I have long believed this was true. My teacher, Nishijima Roshi, noticed it even more keenly than I did. He used to often lament that what certain Buddhist teachers propagate is not Buddhism at all but a kind of Christianity.

The author likens contemporary American Buddhism to post-hippie politically correct "nice" Christianity. This "Buddhism" ignores the difficult parts of Buddhism and shoehorns the rest into the accepted norms of polite, feel-good Christianity -- but without all that messy Jesus stuff either. So it's neither good Buddhism nor good Christianity, but something that's not quite either one, and above all absolutely inoffensive.

Both of these articles cite my book Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate. The "Brad Warner" people invent as a result of reading that book causes lots of trouble for me. But I think it was really a necessary book.

A couple of points the guy who wrote about "Brad Warner" in Brad Warner Vs The Maha Teachers need qualifying.

He writes, "He has no organization, so he can’t be dismissed as a cult leader." I do have some kind of organization. But it's so disorganized it hardly qualifies. It's true I don't currently have anyone working with me. I read all my own emails, I write all the replies myself, I book all my own speaking events, I don't have a temple of any kind, etc. But some folks out in California are working on setting up a non-profit religious corporation (or whatever you call it) with me as the leader. So maybe I'll develop that into a cult one of these days. (cue laugh track)

He also writes, "He does not charge for teaching, so he can’t be dismissed as a spiritual entrepreneur." This is a tricky point. I do very happily charge for speaking events. That's a perfectly legitimate way for an author to earn a living. I also accept dana (donations) when I speak at Zen centers and lead retreats. I really couldn't do these talks and lead these retreats any other way.

I try to leave monetary considerations out of actual Buddhist teaching as much as possible. That's not because I am so pure and holy. It's because I think that once money gets involved it changes things so radically that Buddhist teaching can't happen. I almost feel like if I could charge money for teaching and still teach I'd probably do it. It's fucking hard work.

Someone asked recently what the difference between Buddhist teaching and therapy is. I said some stuff about the way therapists try to make a person fit in with society, while Buddhists see the value of being able to deal with society. But we question its core values and don't really try to make people fit society's warped mold, only deal with it.

But really, the biggest difference between therapy and Buddhist teaching is that therapists charge for their work. And they should. I wouldn't do that job for free! But this creates certain expectations. When you pay for a service you have a right to demand results. If people start feeling they have the right to demand results from Buddhist teachers, Buddhist teachers can't do their work.

Yet Buddhist teachers have bills to pay just like everyone else. It's hard to figure out where to draw the line. I have not succeeded in finding that just perfect spot to make the division between what I do as a writer/lecturer and what I do as a Buddhist teacher yet. I probably never will. And so the question of whether or not I "charge for teaching" is and will probably always be arguable. Ah well.

Anyway, nice articles.

*The photo of Heaven's Gate cult leader Marshall Applewhite on the top of this article is one of several oddities that came up on a Google image search of "Brad Warner."


Anonymous said...

One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do
two can be as bad as one
it's the loneliest number since the number one

No is the saddest experience you'll ever know
yes it's the saddest experience you'll ever know
because one is the loneliest number that you'll ever do
one is the loneliest number that you'll ever know

It's just no good anymore since you went away
now I spend my time
just making rhymes of yesterday

Because one is the loneliest number
that you'll ever do
one is the loneliest number
that you'll ever know

One is the loneliest number
one is the loneliest number
one is the loneliest number
that you'll ever do
one is the loneliest number
much, much worse than two.

john e mumbles said...

Good Lord. #2 again. Bah.

Anonymous said...

I think these articles are by the same guy.

Ani said...

I completely agree with you about some Buddhism being very heavily influenced by Christianity. I recently had this discussion with two Buddhist friends who dismissed my comparisons with a big, "NO," but I think the comparisons between some sects of both Christianity and Buddhism are still there.

You can't control what anyone else thinks. You can only try to control what you think, and sometimes you can't even control that. Just remember, people who seek temporary joy in your suffering aren't making anyone happier, not even themselves. -Lola at Dharma Killed Dogma Buddhist Blog

anonymous anonymous said...

Brad, You didn't write any obscene emails. (You have a responsibility to present yourself honestly. After that, there's not much else you can do.) So why do you care what Myst.. what some weirdo emailed to Barry Magid. You didn't provoke anyone with what you posted on the talk, did you? It's like you are saying one thing but feeling totally the opposite.

Alan_A said...

Brad -

Anonymous is right - all three article are by the same author - David Chapman. Seems like he has some worthwhile things to say.

Anonymous said...

Brad, thank you very much for the "review"!

Ironically, my "Nice Buddhism" post led to a public discussion of me on someone else's blog. I didn't recognize the various "David Chapmans" there, either. The blogger claimed to know things about me that are factually untrue, and to have insights into my psychology that I found doubtful. Some other people leapt to my defense and said what a great guy I am, which was also quite bizarre to read.

So, maybe this is an inevitable hazard of writing publicly.

Anyway, I've corrected (I hope) the inaccuracies regarding your organization and payment policy. I really hope you can make this work, and keep teaching as publicly as you have.

I'm glad you liked some at least of what I wrote!

— David Chapman (the guy who wrote those articles)

Laurent said...

I completely agree with your opinion about buddhism and christianism. I'm sure that the first generation of buddhist teacher have not resolved their reaction against christianism as a dogmatic religion. But in fact the problem has been transposated to buddhism.
Because something is not thought : our culture is deeply conditionated by christianism (as a dogm to have power on consciousness, by fear or hell, and all that stuff).
The other point is the relation between teaching and earning money, you point well where the problem is, and I see what point in France things are done much more, now, to give response to what people expect, than to saying something that do'nt permit the spirit that want to appropriate what is thinking, to do so.

Dead shit, I cannot count on Brad Warner to be my zen master's star!!
But in fact, what you say is serious, even important. But when I read you (as a french, excuse me for my errors when writing!), I often laugh!
Buddhism is too serious to talk about without laughing, and without remembering buddhism is a word we talk about!

A-Bob said...

David, It could be that some people are confusing you with David Chadwick of cuke.com.

This is just a guess.

Spartacus said...

I'm Brad Warner, yes I'm the real Warner,
All you other Brad Warners are just in the corner,
So won't the real Brad Warner
Please stand up,
Please stand up,
Please stand up?

Anonymous said...

There are two significant differences between Buddhism and psychotherapy.

The first difference is that Buddhism is not psychotherapy.

The second difference is that psychotherapy is not Buddhism.

This also applies to Buddhism and Christianity,
chalk and cheese,
shit and Shinola,
your ass and a hole in the ground.

Rebecca said...

This recent post by Brad points to the intense challenge of communicating anything, let alone the dharma, in the internet age. Brad, I don't think you have to accept responsibility for the images that others create of you, but don't you have to accept that these kinds of distortions are part of the package for those who live in the public eye at this time? Even schoolkids who don't use Facebook can find that bullies have set up fake accounts and identities for them. Before they are even aware of it, whole dramas have been created around them without their consent. This to me is completely exasperating, but I have to prepare for the fact that it might happen to one of my kids some day. Do you have any thoughts about how to pursue right speech in such a context? For example, I wonder if the people involved in the "Maha Teachers Council" have similar feelings to the ones you express about being characterized in a certain way. I tend to agree with your analysis of such gatherings, but wonder if it wouldn't be better to hold back on the commentary unless you'd actually been there or read a transcript. Maybe many of them were ambivalent about the title, or were just checking it out and had lots of questions. Anyway, I think it's hard to have an interesting, honest blog without creating more suffering for people. But I think you do a good job of heading in that direction.

MDC said...

Some people might be confusing David Chapman with Mark David Chapman.

Anonymous said...

My secret is out—I killed John Lennon!

And I have a tragic cucumber addiction.

DId you know that Brad is having an affair with Cameron Diaz?

Someone alert the National Enquirer.

Anonymous said...

Must confess that I did think of Chadwick when I read Chapman. I must confess that.

Anonymous said...

These authors don't know who Brad Warner is because there is no Brad Warner to know. They know their perception of Brad Warner. What constitutes perception?

Samsara said...

I liked David Chapman's posts very much.

Most of us only know the Brad Warner that he's presented to us in books and blogs. When I write, my writing is always quite different from the me I know, I think largely because writing gives us an opportunity to present ourselves differently from how we really are. Based on the literary incarnation of Brad Warner I know, I think David's assessments were fair and moreover insightful and flattering. Buddhism should be for normal people, and David and Brad crucially agree wholeheartedly on this point.

merciless said...

Hi Samsara: I'm not trying to be difficult, but your saying that Buddhism should be for normal people, whatever that means, is a troublesome idea. Because we are all normal sometimes, and in other times and ways are not. Maybe you meant to say that Buddhism should be for everyone and not just for intellectual elitist dick-heads. With that I would wholeheartedly agree with you.

Unknown said...

Funny. Muho today also posted a new article where he refers to several discussions which sprang up from one of Brad's postings on Genpo.


Blake said...

So maybe I'll develop that into a cult one of these days.

Now you know why I'm buying a farm. Every good cult starts with a farm!

Lone Wolf said...

I agree that Buddhism in America has been and still is influenced by Christianity, but Christianity is so ingrained in our cultural identity I'd argue that it's impossible to not be influenced by it completely, even if one has never been a Christian. I see those influences in myself all the time. I suppose noticing them loosens the grip it has on our lives, but I'm not sure I'll ever or Buddhism in America will ever be free from Christian influence entirely. I’m just glad Buddhism does not support the fucked up ideologies we find in many forms of Christianity, such as the intolerance of gay people.

Benny said...

It's not JUST a Christian influence..

Samsara said...

Merciless - yes that is what I meant (elitists, and also hippy nice people) as per the articles in question :-)

Rich said...

Why I Matter

There was a guy standing next to a swimming pool one evening and he was hit and killed by a small meteor and now he doesn't matter any more.

The only thing you can do is enjoy the show.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to see a blog post where you further explore the similarities of concensus Buddhism and Christianity in North America.

Anonymous said...

Brad, in addition to t-shirts you should sell the Hardcore Zen™ grievance kit.

Inside each kit there should be a neatly sown scare-crow with your likeness on the head and perhaps the choice of prints with witty sayings on the torso. The kit should also come with a stuffing of organic straw which is pre-soaked in "sustainably" sourced kerosene. Carbon and karmic credits will be included in the MSRP to offset the environmental consequences.

All that remains is for your critics to "enlighten" your likeness with a single spark of dharmic insight.

Rick Matz said...

Will the real Brad Warner please sit down?

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

Maybe enlightenment is knowing when to walk away from it all.

Jamal said...

Haha Phil.. Maybe. But maybe it all follows you wherever you walk.

Anonymous said...

In short, don't put your Weiner
on the Internets -- after all,
it's a series of tubes, and
God only knows what's on
the other end.

Anonymous said...

"Nice Buddhists" don't do it in their car, Ma.

Anonymous said...

I don't buy the whole "Nice Buddhism" thing really... As if it's Christianity-lite.

Let's look at the 10 Grave Precepts shall we...?

Do not kill
Do not steal
Do not misuse sexuality
Do not lie
Do not cloud the mind
Do not speak of others errors and faults
Do not elevate the self and blame others
Do not be withholding
Do not be angry
Do not defile the Three Treasures

If that happens to resemble Christianity well... that's because it does a little. And in general, it IS nice.

Anonymous said...

I knew the old bigot couldn't stay away. hahaha

Anonymous said...

I knew even if he did stay away it wouldn't stop abusive comments from Mysterion haters. STOP THAT SHIT. Seriously. It wasn't nice when he was here. It's stupid when he isn't.

Anonymous said...

Sit Up Straighter, Decide Better

The broader picture: our bodies can affect how we feel and how we act

There’s a broader theme here. How we behave physically has all sorts of influence on our minds. There’s even a prominent area of psychology devoted to the relationship: embodied cognition.


Anonymous said...

Episode 70 :: Steve Hagen :: Faith and Belief


Rich said...

Brad said:
"Take the those weirdos who chose to write obscene emails to Barry Magid after they read the post I put up a few weeks back. Please! I still don't understand why anyone would do that. It makes no sense at all."

All of your writing - blogs, books etc has created a kind of 'cloud buddhism' with many people with many different ideas about what you and buddhism is. Sometimes you appear out of the cloud and give a talk or retreat and everything is fine with the real people but the cloud people are always reacting or acting on what their ideas of you and the cloud is or should be.

People do what seem like crazy things because they are ignorant. Gotta go.

Anonymous said...

I have only minimal control over this "Brad Warner."

How much control do you have over *any* Brad Warner?

Anonymous said...

Anon, Please don't subject me to your residual Judeo-Christian ideas of good and evil or hate and love. I'm not interested. Let me ask you something, How is referring to mysterion as a bigot being abusive? The word bigot is as close as a word is going to get to accurately describing him. I am actually quite kind to mysterion. The truth is always a kindness.

Anonymous said...

But if your point was to drop him as a subject, I agree. Boring.. Done.

Gerald said...

Brad, Besides the Marshall Applewhite pic found while googling your name, there were a couple of photographs of "Brad Warner" the body builder.. and also a picture of you looking at some girls butt.


Anonymous said...

Does that mean that Brad Warner, the Zen author and authority, is not also the welterweight champion and INBA Natural Pro? Because they look identical to me except for the glasses.


ator said...

Yeah, we're runnin a little bit hot tonight

I can barely see the road from the heat comin off

I reach down between my legs and... ease the seat back

Shes runnin, I'm flyin

Right behind in the rearview mirror now

Got the fearin, power steerin

Pistons poppin, ain't no stoppin now.....


Wolfgang Brinck said...

christian buddhism? so what. First Zen teacher I had was Japanese. Took me a while to figure out that half of the strange stuff he did was not Zen master stuff but just him being Japanese.
A new Chan temple just opened in Oakland. Old Chinese ladies go there to light incense. They got padded chairs. Nobody sits on cushions. Nobody argues about whether full lotus or half lotus is better or whether you keep your eyes open or closed when doing zazen. Nobody ever heard of Genpo Merzel. Nobody gives a shit. How could this possibly be buddhism?
I suspect that every buddhist congregation is a place where you and other people just like you get to imagine the pure, the original, the unadulterated buddhism that the Buddha created and that everybody else is doing it wrong.

Anonymous said...

Huh, that sure DOES sound like Christianity!

Anonymous said...

Zen and Christianity do have a lot in common. Maybe even more than Zen and psychotherapy. I'm not sure scene which attracts more nut jobs.

Party on!

Anonymous said...

Sam Harris, author of the New York Times bestsellers, The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation, and The Moral Landscape
Hear Sam talk about everything from meditation to religion


Anonymous said...

Welcome to the first and only website
devoted to the original Buddhist sources of the New Testament Gospels

CAPCHA= s chan

Sanchez said...

It's kind of weird seeing Applewhite's headshot with the caption, "Why I matter." under it. It sort of unintentionally links the two things. Like our local Clear Channel radio station has an advert that starts off with a clip of an Obama speech followed by a man saying, "Your week!" then another news clip followed by, "Your news!" then another clip followed by, "Your radio!" But all you ever remember hearing is Obama's voice and then the phrase, "You're Weak!" They replay it over and over and over again all day long, probably all across the nation.. I would think this is intentional and very effective.

proulx michel said...

"the White Album" at Apple! No wonder Applewhite appears here!

Anonymous said...

Mark Halperin has been suspended indefinitely by MSNBC for calling President Obama a "dick" live on air yesterday.

Scarborough and co-host Mika Brzezinski assured Halperin that he could speak freely and anticipated a controversial remark. Halperin said:

"I thought he was kind of a dick yesterday."

Scarborough was in disbelief over Halperin's comment and quickly directed his attention off-camera, saying, "Delay that. Delay that. What are you doing?"

Halperin apologized after the hosts realized that the show's new executive producer was not familiar with the seven-second delay button.

"Joking aside, this is an absolute apology. I shouldn't have said it. I apologize to the President and the viewers who heard me say that," Halperin said.

"We're going to have a meeting after the show," Scarborough said.

Anonymous said...

How Bruce Lee Changed the World

Bruce Lee 1/10

Bruce Lee 2/10

Bruce Lee 3/10

Bruce Lee 4/10

Bruce Lee 5/10

Bruce Lee 6/10

Bruce Lee 7/10

Bruce Lee 8/10

Bruce Lee 9/10

Bruce Lee 10/10

Zach said...

Since we are off topic...


Anonymous said...

Robert "Bo" Bennett wears many hats (author, motivational speaker, black belt Karate master, businessman, etc.) but manages not to have a swelled head to accommodate them!

His latest book is called The Concept: Introduction to Christian Nontheism, an accessible and engaging presentation of the case for maintaining one's Christian identity once one has outgrown belief in biblical inspiration, miracles, even God.


Anonymous said...

An excerpt from Bishop John Shelby Spong's lecture "Jesus for the Non-Religious."

Beyond Theism -- John Shelby Spong

Anonymous said...

Non-reductive Physicalism
“Did my neurons make me do it?” with Warren Brown (BSP 62)
by Ginger Campbell, MD on October 9, 2009

Warren Brown and Nancey Murphy

Episode 62 of the Brain Science Podcast is an interview with Warren Brown, PhD, co-author (with Nancey Murphy) of Did My Neurons Make Me Do It?: Philosophical and Neurobiological Perspectives on Moral Responsibility and Free Will. This book was discussed in detail back in Episode 53, but this interview gave me a chance to discuss some of the book’s key ideas with Dr. Brown. We focused on why a non-reductive approach is needed in order to formulate ideas about moral responsibility that are consistent with our current neurobiological understanding of the mind.


Nancey Murphy is Professor of Christian Philosophy at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA. She received the B.A. from Creighton University (philosophy and psychology) in 1973, the Ph.D. from University of California, Berkeley (philosophy of science) in 1980, and the Th.D. from the Graduate Theological Union (theology) in 1987.

Warren S. Brown is director of the Lee Edward Travis Research Institute at the Fuller Theological Seminary and Professor of Psychology in the Graduate School of Psychology. He is also a member of the UCLA Brain Research Institute. Dr. Brown received his doctorate in Experimental Physiological Psychology from the University of Southern California (1971). Prior to Fuller, Brown spent 11 years as a research scientist at the UCLA Brain Research Institute and was a founding member of the International Society for Science and Religion.


Anonymous said...

Greek Buddhism Pt. 1 thru 4

The Shape of Ancient Thought: Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies
By Thomas McEvilley

Burke Lecture: Buddhism in a Global Age of Technology


Greco-Buddhist art

Buddhism and Christianity

Anonymous said...

why matter?

Anonymous said...

Mysti just can't leave it be.

Anonymous said...

Warning! Christianity is harmful if swallowed.

Anonymous said...

I thought the guy in the photo was Philip Kapleau!

Anonymous said...

Show me your "kensho" face

Anonymous said...

the path itself is enlightenment
the path itself is enlightenment
the path itself is enlightenment
that's it. I had to share

Sean McLean said...

Enjoying your blogs. I'll be a regular visitor. I hope you piss me off from time to time. I hope to piss you off from time to time

Anonymous said...

This Emotional Life

Rethinking Happiness

Facing Our Fears

Family, Friends and Lovers

Sabio Lantz said...

Great note, Brad (first time to your blog for me). I had to laugh at how you watch the various Brads created out there on the internet!

David Chapman - of whom you write about here -- has just written a new piece describing how modern Zen acquired much of its present face: "Zen vs. the US Navy". I would love to see your comments on this at his site.

Anonymous said...

good lord.... what's with all the "Greek Buddhism" stuff...

There's a guy who posted the same links on all the youtube videos on Buddhisim - I guess he's trying to sell something.

~riverflow said...

"No man can say what he is. But sometimes he can say what he is not. Everyone wants the man who is still searching to have already reached his conclusions. A thousand voices are already telling him what he has found, and yet he knows that he hasn’t found anything. Should he search on and let them talk? Of course. But, from time to time, one must defend himself. I do not know what I am looking for, cautiously I give it a name, I withdraw what I said, I repeat myself, I go backward and forward. Yet people insist I identify my term or terms, once and for all. Then I object; when things have a label aren’t they lost already?" ~ Albert Camus

Stinks of Zen said...

I am on a Camus quoting spree but damn it if the quotes don't seem to be relevant.

You (Brad), said, "Yet Buddhist teachers have bills to pay just like everyone else."

Albert Camus said, "It's a kind of spiritual snobbery that says that one can be happy without money."

And again from Camus, "You have to be very rich or very poor to live without a trade."

sex shop tienda said...

This won't succeed as a matter of fact, that's exactly what I consider.