The Other Side of Nothing

It is no secret that I love Brad Warner. I think I have all his books, some I purchased myself, and some I received from publishers to review. And since it is no secret, New World Library was kind enough to ask me if I wanted a copy of his latest book “The Other Side of Nothing: The Zen Ethics of Time, Space, and Being” to review, and of course I said yes. In the pie chart that makes up “Rebecca’s Personal Spiritual Practice”, Brad Warner and Zen Buddhism take up a considerable wedge.

Anyone who has read anything about Zen Buddhism knows that Zen is stupidly simple, and infuriatingly complex. Thus, why should I be surprised that the ethics of Zen are extremely straightforward, and mind-warpingly complicated. Warner takes up the daunting challenge of tackling the subject with his usual brand of traditionalism cut with ample references to “Ancient Aliens”, giant Japanese fighting monsters, and now including stories about his dog Ziggy Pup (who is adorable and has his own Instagram).

A book about Zen ethics could have been summed up with, “Don’t Be a Dick” or “Don’t Be a Jerk” (which is the title of one of Warner’s earlier books). See? Easy! Obviously, it’s more involved than that. You get to condensed “Don’t Be a Dick” by learning the Four Noble Truths and following the Noble Eightfold Path. “The Other Side of Nothing” does an excellent job discussing those topics in depth, and that’s where things get complicated. Zen ethics exist the way they do because of the unique perspective Zen masters had of everything, and nothing, and space, and the mind, and no-mind, and I think you may be starting to grasp how things get mind-warpy. Add into that the difference a translation can make. A difference that Warner highlights throughout by comparing the way different modern day and past Zen groups interpret the same sentence.

“The Other Side of Nothing” by Brad Warner is the book I personally have been waiting for since reading “Sit Down and Shut Up” years ago. It is one thing to grasp how to practice Zen, but “The Other Side of Nothing” shows you how you live Zen. And as with all things Zen, it is a complicatedly simple way to live.

You can learn more here.

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