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 eight-hundred-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 and daunting to read. In Don’t Be a Jerk, Zen priest and bestselling 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 readers worried that Dogen’s teachings are too philosophically opaque, Don’t Be a Jerk is hilarious, understandable, and wise.
“Warner’s intimate, funny, conversational style goes a long way toward imparting his many sensible messages.” — Library Journal
“A delightful blend of irreverent everydayness, precise scholarship, and heartfelt commitment to practice, Don’t Be a Jerk is just the kind of book to stub your toe on.” — Stephen Batchelor, author of After Buddhism
“Warner renders the esoteric [Shobogenzo] into a fun, readable text, conveying its spirit with humor and deep respect.” — Publishers Weekly
“Each chapter opens with a passage from the original, which is then carefully and often humorously unpacked. The book provides plenty of resources in case readers want to subsequently dive into the original work, and Warner clearly explains why he chose some words over others. His tone is direct and engaging, and his paraphrases bring Dogen’s thoughts to life for a modern audience. Although the tone may be irreverent and humorous, the book shows the utmost respect for the monk, who has influenced so many over the centuries.”