torsdag 31 oktober 2013

Bookreview: There is no God and...


2013 can be called a year of God, with both the nobelprize in physics for the theoretical discovery of ”the Godparticle” and the publishing of Brad Warners book ”There is no God and he is always with you”.
One of the major things that rub people with this years Nobelprize and in Brad Warners book and is best described by the author himself when he talks about the power, and troubles, of words, and in this case a specific word, God.

"The word God, on the other hand, is much more immediate and richer. Rather than asking you to ponder its meaning, the word God just punches you in the face, after which you have to deal with how to respond. It has all kinds of messy layers of meaning and connotation. It sparks emotions and tangents. Sometimes it makes people feel settled and happy. Sometimes it makes them angry. Or it makes them confused. Or it makes them frustrated. Or all of the above at the same time. It's a dangerous word.
"That's what I've encountered in my practice. Zen is not something dry and orderly. It cannot be easily fit into premeasured boxes. It's very messy, because it is alive. The universe we inhabit is a dynamic, living thing. God is a good word to use for what Zen is about because shoving the word God into a tidy intellectual container would be like trying to shove a live octopus into a Kleenex box." p 175- 176

But is it so bad to be rubbed sometimes?
Brad Warner first book, Hardcore Zen, came out in 2003, and, using an musicanalogy, it was a hardcore take on buddhism, and zen in particular. 
Since then he has produced, with this, a total of five books, and just like a rough diamond, smoothed out the edges. 
Notice i said smoothed, because in true Warnerstyle, they're still there.
The book is still a Brad Warner book, full of nononsense, straightforward writings, pokings and Brad's take on things ranging from the Godconcept to the Bible to various spiritual concepts all wrapped in a graceful, heartful, humoristic aura which really brings a new level to the reading while gently pushing the reader forward.

Brad Warner talks about what belief in God and what God means to him as a Zen Buddhist practitioner. 
He also recognizes that one of the difficulties with such questions is that the answers depend on what you mean by God, as well as what you mean by belief and by Buddhism.
The main subject of the book is the Godconcept, which we explore, through Brads eyes and writing, as he travels to different locations throughout the book, meeting people and exploring places and events. You might refer to it as a travellers guide in a dual sense, both in the world and in...

My favourite parts in the book is the discussion of "enlightenment porn" (pp 34-46) and the section on karma (pp 116-120). Which brings up two important topics, that doesn't have to do with the concept of God, and takes them back down to earth so to speak. 
In them he talks about the adoration of the ”enlightenmentexperience” and the misconception of Karma and the industry that these things has brought. Subjects worthy of another book i sense...

There are some minor obstacles though. 
He refers to his views of things as the Buddhist view rather than a Buddhist view, which is unfortunate when he, already in the beginining states that this is his takes on things. ”I wrote this book to explain what god means to me”. (p. VII)
His takes on the concept of God, is unconvincing, though thoughtprovoking, and might have been more elaborately discussed. Especially since he tries hard, though not hard enough to convince the reader of the rightness of his views in matters discussed.

When it all comes down to it, this book is basically about Brads take on the concept of God and other things in the spritual scene. Does that make it any less readable?
No. I still find it one of the best of his books.
Although ”Sit down and shut up” is number one on my list of his books, i would recommend this book to anyone who asks.

Thank you Brad, for a much needed, and very good, book.