A few days ago a writer for Huffington Post named me as one of twelve Buddhists to follow on Twitter. Ever since that article appeared, people have been adding me like mad. Since I usually post links on Twitter to any new blog post I put up here, I thought I’d take the time to write a little intro to this blog for all those potential new readers.
I started the prototype for what became this blog about ten years ago. At that time I didn’t even know the word “blog.” It was a website that I updated once a week with a new article. Many of those early articles formed the foundation of my first book Hardcore Zen. Sometime later I found out I didn’t need to spend hours and hours writing HTML format, that there were lots of free on-line thingies that would do that for me. And thus this blog in its current form was born.
I try to update it about every three days. Unfortunately I don’t have something profound to say every three days. I know Zen teachers who refuse to give dharma talks more than once a month. They’re smart. Preachers give sermons once a week in general. Also a good idea. Profundity every three days? It ain’t gonna happen.
So sometimes this blog is about something I think is important. Sometimes it’s about Buddhism. Other times it’s about a book I’m reading. Or it’s a link to a video I found. Often it’s a list of upcoming live appearances. People get annoyed by my use of the blog for promotion. But I can’t understand why. If I don’t promote my speaking appearances here, then who’s going to promote them? And where?
I don’t really make money from this blog. I’ve heard that lots of people make tons of cash from writing blogs. I wish I had a clue how that’s done. I have a few ads here. But they generate laughably small revenue. I think I cleared $75 last year from blog ads. I installed a donation button last year and that brings in a bit more. In fact some people have been really surprisingly generous. Since my books don’t generate a huge income, those donations really help.
I’m up in Arcata, California right now to give some talks and lead a day-long zazen retreat. Here’s the link to info about that and here is a link to a list of other upcoming appearances (note the plug). That link, by the way, is always on the left side of this page at the very top of the list of links.
The guy I’m staying with said to me, “Whenever I think of your blog I just think of Whack the Dalai Lama!” He is referring to an article I put up here several years back called Whack the Dalai Lama. It upset a lot of people.
But the reason that article upset people – if you want my analysis – is because they didn’t read anything except the title. The title came from a song by The Dickies. What I wrote in that article was about how I, in fact, did not want to whack the Dalai Lama. I consider Mr. Lama to be a basically decent human being but also to be fairly irrelevant to me in terms of my life as a Buddhist. The article was about fame and celebrity and how that can get in the way of real spiritual practice.
What I’m trying to get at here is that this blog sometimes seems to upset people. No matter how many times I say this people don’t believe it, but I swear to God that 90% of the time this blog upsets people I have no clue why. People assume I am trying to be controversial. But I almost never am. In fact the few times I deliberately attempt to be shocking nobody seems to notice. It’s almost always when I say things that to me seem incredibly obvious that people get upset. Like in the aforementioned Dalai Lama bit. The song I referenced in the title is over a decade old for gosh sakes! (Here are the full lyrics by the way)
Which brings us to the comments section of this blog. In 2009, Tricycle magazine published an article called Dharma Wars. The article talked about the phenomenon of flame wars on various Buddhist blogs. This very blog you’re reading now was singled out for special attention. The writer says, “Warner’s posts often draw hundreds of comments from readers, some of whom throw insults at each other—and at Warner—with abandon.” Then he goes on to completely misconstrue a few things I’ve said about why I think that happens. So it goes.
In any case, enter the comments section of this blog at your own risk. It should start to get a little better, though. Because as of yesterday the comments section is now being moderated. A guy who regularly reads it was complaining of how incredibly awful it had gotten. So I asked him if he wanted to be the moderator. He did and now he is. But he prefers to remain anonymous. I can understand why.
I’ve asked him to only delete comments that are wildly inappropriate or obviously spam. He discovered that my spam filter was actually filtering out real comments. So some of you who were getting deleted by the spam filter will now be heard. But people who just want to post irrelevant nonsense will have those comments deleted. I’m not asking him to delete comments by people who disagree with me, though. So go ahead and dissent all you want.
As for me... my info is all listed in the link under the "Who Wrote This" section to your left. It says, "I'm a Zen monk, writer, bass player and film-maker. I wrote the books Sex, Sin and Zen, Hardcore Zen, Sit Down And Shut Up and Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate. I received Dharma Transmission from Gudo Nishijima Roshi, who received his transmission from Rempo Niwa Roshi who was the head of the Soto Sect in Japan. I was also a student of Tim McCarthy, who was a student of Kobun Chino Roshi. I enjoy getting your e-mails. But please be aware, if you send me e-mail, I may use it in a blog either here or on Suicide Girls." I write for Suicide Girls too, by the way.
So there you go. There’s your introduction to the blog.