There 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.
Thorn earned a B.A. in American History from the University of Pittsburgh and a M.A. from Duquesne University. He has spent the last twenty years researching mysticism and the occult in colonial American history.