“There Is No God and He Is Always with You” – A Conversation with Brad Warner: Monk. Punk. Dr. Funk

Great Sky 2009 057There Is No God and He Is Always with You is the title of Brad Warner’s latest book which is sure to raise a few eyebrows along with many questions, such as, “Can you be an atheist and still believe in God? Can you be a true believer and still doubt? Can Zen give us a way past our constant fighting about God?”

From Publisher’s Weekly:

In his new book, Warner (Hardcore Zen) momentarily sets aside his punk weapons of iconoclasm and takes a more respectful, even reverential tone to a perennial question: does God exist? As a practicing Zen Buddhist, his way of considering this question is entangled in oft-misunderstood concepts such as enlightenment. Warner never shies away from such complications; instead, they become grounds where the Western understanding of God and the Buddhist approach to reality and experience meet. For Warner, his practice is a way to approach and understand God without dealing with religion. His God is one to be experienced, felt, and intuited, something that lies beneath the surface of reality that is already naturally understood, if only one could learn to listen to silence, to listen to nothing, and to learn from nothing. In accompanying the punk Zen priest on such a singular journey through his understanding of God, the reader is asked to partake in meditation with Warner not on the Hebrew, Christian, Islamic, or any other traditional God, but rather One that can be found in daily experience when conceptual thinking has been silenced.”

He describes himself on Twitter as, “Monk. Punk. Dr Funk.” Brad wrote Hardcore Zen: Punk Rock, Monster Movies and the Truth About Reality which happens to be one of my favorite books of all time. He has also penned Sex, Sin and Zen as well as Sit Down and Shut Up. Warner hails from Ohio and plays bass for the Akron-based punk band 0DFx. He is a Zen monk, has made monster movies in Japan, made a documentary on the Cleveland punk scene (Cleveland’s Screaming), and occasionally contributes articles to SuicideGirls.com.

Brad recently finished a book tour of the Northeast United States and was kind enough to sit down with me before leading zazen and speaking to a group of Buddhists in Mayfield Heights, Ohio. Zazen is a form of meditation lovingly referred to as “staring at the wall.” You sit. You stare. That’s about it. Warner has more (slightly) detailed instructions on his website and in the back of Hardcore Zen should you need them.

Brad Warner is a quirky, eccentric fellow which is why I enjoyed our conversation so much. We found a quiet room as the guests arrived and we talked about everything from his bass rig to boobies. It turns out that Brad is into stoner rock in addition to having deep roots in punk. Warner is an ordained Zen priest and he’s the first to make a wise crack about gaining enlightenment in three easy payments of $19.95. He is outspoken and honest, often turning away from institutional conventions associated with most quasi-religious organizations. Warner’s latest book takes aim at the idea of God as an old, white dude (with a killer beard) sitting on a throne telling people to “drive a plane into the World Trade Center or…to hate fags.” He writes about a different type of God that isn’t in the image portrayed by most organized religions, and at the same time, denies the pure materialism notions put forth by the neo-Atheists.

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6 Responses to “There Is No God and He Is Always with You” – A Conversation with Brad Warner: Monk. Punk. Dr. Funk

  1. BuzzCoastin July 25, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    道可道,非常道。名可名,非常名。

    • Hocketeer July 25, 2013 at 11:44 pm #

      他和你,都在装逼。

  2. bobbiethejean July 26, 2013 at 10:13 am #

    No. You cannot be an atheist and still believe in anything that is called “a god.” That’s just silly. You can be an atheist and believe in ghosts, afterlives, you can be spiritual, and very much so at that but the definition of atheist precludes belief in gods.

    However……

    You can be an ignostic which is someone who challenges the definition of what a god is. I am ignostic. You can also be an agnostic-atheist which is someone who believes there are no gods or does not believe in gods (yes, there is a difference) but admits that she does not KNOW if there are gods out there. I am also an agnostic-atheist.

    I don’t believe in gods but I admit I don’t know and on top of that, I also challenge the definition of the word god. For example, what if there was a being who could, either through technology or biological talents, interface with the universe in such a way that he appeared to be almost infinitely powerful? Would he be considered a god? Should there be a distinction of he used natural talents or technology? Why? What about a being who is known to exist, who people call “a god,” but who shows no particular talents in magic or anything of the sort. Should he be called a god just because people say he is?

    Anyway, I’ve rambled on long enough. Despite some silliness here and there, I actually appreciated the tone of this article and some of its ideas.

    • wiseoldsnail July 26, 2013 at 2:54 pm #

      not to be rude, but … agnostic …

      • bobbiethejean July 26, 2013 at 5:19 pm #

        I beg your pardon?

  3. Nalliah Thayabharan August 11, 2013 at 10:46 pm #

    Imagination and projection and hallucination and illusion — they are
    all parts of the mind. Mind is the world — and going beyond the mind is
    the beginning of God.

    People are fast asleep. Somebody is asleep as a Catholic, and somebody
    is asleep as a Hindu. That doesn’t matter — sleep is sleep.If a
    Catholic, a Hindu and a Muslim get too drunk, will there be any
    distinction, differentiation between their drunkenness The Catholic will
    behave as foolishly as the Hindu; and the Hindu will behave as stupidly
    as the Muslim. Once they are drunk, they are drunk. And people are
    asleep. It makes no difference what kind of theology you have used as a
    pillow for your sleep. Whether the pillow is blue or pink or white or
    red does not matter. Once you fall asleep, you fall asleep; the pillow
    becomes immaterial. Whether you are sleeping on the New Testament, on
    the Bhagavad Gita, on the Qur’an does not make any difference; you are
    using a pillow. Somebody is using the New Testament as the pillow,
    somebody else is using the Qur’an as the pillow. And you are snoring
    over your scriptures. And Jesus and Krishna and Allah remain strangers

    Theology begins with a belief, with faith. And philosophy begins with
    doubt, logic, reason. Philosophy is thinking; theology is believing
    without thinking. No religion allows thinking, so no religion has a
    philosophy: they all have theologies.

    Christianity does not have any philosophy, it has a theology. It says
    “believe” — believe in the savior, believe in Jesus Christ, believe that
    he is the only begotten son of God, believe in God, believe in the
    trinity. But it is always “believe,” and believing makes a man a
    hypocrite, because deep down you know that belief cannot become a truth.
    Deep down you know that this is only a belief; you have not experienced
    it. There is no base for it, it is baseless: a single doubt and the
    whole edifice will be shattered on the ground.

    Now, a Christian believes that Jesus is born of a virgin mother. Can
    you think about it? If you think, doubt will be needed. You can only
    believe, and in believing… you know perfectly well that it is unnatural,
    it cannot happen.

    Christianity says that Jesus was resurrected after his death. You
    have to believe it because there is no proof, no evidence. In the
    contemporary literature of Jesus Christ’s life, even the name of Jesus
    is not mentioned. Do you think a phenomenon like a man getting
    crucified, getting resurrected, would go unnoticed? that a man who
    brings dead people to life would not be reported anywhere? that a man
    who walks on water…?

    Do you think this man would have been crucified? He would have been
    hailed as the messiah by the Jews themselves, because what more do you
    want? — none of your other prophets have done anything of this kind. But
    there is not even a mention that there was such a person as Jesus
    Christ. And he did not have a big following.

    If you think, you cannot believe in these things. If you think about
    God, you cannot believe. So Christianity has no philosophy. No religion
    can afford to be philosophical; it can only remain theological.

    All the organized religions care basically depriving humanity of
    religion because they are misdirecting you. They are always directing
    you outwards — their God is far away in the sky. And when you pray,
    folding your hands towards the sky, you don’t realize that there is
    nobody to hear you.

    In fact, the one who is praying, the one who is alive in you, the one who is breathing in you, is the God.

    You have just to discover it.

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