Book Review: Brad Warner's "Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate"

Ok, normally when I do a book review they are pretty simple statements of "I like this book" or "Good Book!"what not.

I guess this one is kind of like that but with more words.

"Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate" is a Buddha drama book. No that is not a typo or spelling error.

Buddha Drama, I guess is like a modern day Jataka tale, but not as well thought out, but very real at the same time.
Kind of like the Days of our lives or As the world turns soap opera for buddhists.

That is not to say that you don't get insights into the Buddha Dharma from reading a Buddha Drama book like this, quite the contrary, there are plenty of both indirect and direct insights to be gleaned from the book.

However, if you follow Brad's blog (I read it on the down low nowadays for zentertainment purposes mainly) you may be disappointed to find that most of the book was made up of things that he had posted on his blog over the last year and a half or so. However there is enought new and painful revalations in there that if you are in to schadenfreude or just a sadist in general you may get some pleasure from this book. Yes, I know I have sadistic tendencies, no, I don't really indulge in them too often unless someone is really asking for it, and yes, some people really do ask for it. No, I really did not enjoy the schadenfreude. I'm really a bit tired of it. I get enough of it from reading some other Neo-Buddhist blogs I also don't link anymore. But at least I can get my sadistic kicks off by writing this review, which I hope someone, anyone, even and especially me finds helpful.

Is there a place for this book? Is the question I have to ask. Or more importantly, is this a book I want to hang on to?

To the first question, yes. This book is a consumable, if you enjoy Brad's writing style this will be an easy one to read through. The Book is not to complex and does not contain a lot of tuff concepts for you to intellectualize about or wrap your head around. I got through it in about a day, and well I'm generally pretty slow. But unlike brads other books this is not one I think I will want to read again or even hang on to or keep on my shelf. If you want my copy let me know and we will figure out how I can get it to you. First come first serve. I only ask that when your done with it you keep passing it along because it dose actually have some good points in it about not idolizing Zen Teachers and stuff.

Anyway on that note Brad is a dork and a nerd, he says so in his book so I don't feel bad repeating it here.  I do feel a little bit of affection for him just like that red headed kid I used to give nuggies too way back in high school.

Also, I am still grateful to Brad for his first book, which helped my take my practice from the armchair to the Zafu.

And Brad, if you happen to read this, you are needed. Thank you for your efforts and practice. If you need a couch to crash on when you visit Portland, let me know. Just be forewarned that this house is inhabited by a spastic dog and demanding cat along with me my wife and kids. But no-one really talks about Zen here so at least you will get a break from that, and the wife and kids are big Godzilla/ Ultraman fans too. No, I am not, but I promise I will do my best to suppress the urge to give you a wedgie if you do show up.


oxeye said...

Jordan, I have been feeling less than enthusiastic about this book's release and I'm not really sure why.. But still, I made sure I was early on the library waiting list for it.

NellaLou said...

Thank you Jordan for giving some opinion about this book. The Amazon reviews thus far are stunning and what goes on with that blog is anyone's guess. I read the first two books and enjoyed them. But have hesitated to even look for this one. If I get a copy it will likely be from a second hand bookshop some time in the future. You are pretty good at the expanded form of book review BTW.

SlowZen said...

Yeah, I was going to the bookstore for another book and when I saw this one I picked it up for old times sake.


Glad you appreciated the review. I kind of felt like it was my duty to this one with a little more detail this time. Don't really know why, but probably because of the impact his first book had on my practice.

Thank you both for reading!

Anonymous said...


Some books I think of as "Dana with a souvenir". I'll read it when it arrives in the UK.

The book I'm really waiting for is "The monk who bought a Ferrari".

Anonymous said...

I am quite concerned that Brad might be exploiting Sock Monkey. Sometimes I think Sock monkey is so suggestible that he might as well be Brad's puppet

MyoChi said...

Looks interesting..I will check out Brad's blog to see if this will make my kind of reading.

SlowZen said...

Mike H,
Dana with a souvenir. I like that.


Thanks for dropping in.

Kōgen 光現 Dito-Keith said...

Okay, so I'm not the only one! Funny, I see Brad's blog as a guilty pleasure, and I know the comments sections is bad for the soul, but soap opra? You gave me some words to describe my habit.

I'm thankful for his blog, though. It's nice to misbehave every once and a while.

SlowZen said...

Yeah, I used to get involved in the comments there but had to stop. I guess I prefer a slightly quieter venue.

Anonymous said...

I just finished reading it and thought that it was a good book. I found this one interesting because it focused on his being able to cope with life. I really do think that you would have had to have read his first 2 books in order to get anything out of this one. I started zazen after reading his first book also. I also enjoy going to treeleaf.org and interestingly enough they have to same teacher.

SlowZen said...

Anonymous, thanks for stopping in, Please don't be a stranger.

Thanks for looking!