Sit Down and Shut Up by Brad Warner – Book Review

Sit Down and Shut Up by Brad Warner – Book Reviewsit down and shut up by brad warner

Book Title: Sit Down and Shut Up – Punk Rock Commentaries on Buddha, God, Truth, Sex, Death & Dogen’s Treasury of the Right Eye Dharma
Brad Warner
New World Library
Price: $13.66


This is the next book after the popular “Hardcore Zen – Punk Rock, Monster Movies, and the Truth about Reality” written by Zen Buddhist priest and punk rocker Brad Warner.

Brad Warner was the bassist of the hardcore punk band Zero Defects in the 1980s who is now a Zen priest, filmmaker, and monster movie marketer and studied with Zen master Gudo Nishijima.  He received the Dharma transmission from Nishijima when he was living in Japan.

Book Summary

In this book, Brad Warner tackles the Zen work known as Shobogenzo (translated as “Treasury of the Right Dharma Eye”) which was written by Zen master Dogen in the 13th century CE. Warner provides a very down to earth commentary on Dogen’s work that provides even more insight into the teaching of the Soto sect of Zen Buddhism.

A lot of the creativity of this book can be seen in the chapter titles, some of which are quite amusing:

Chapter 1 Why Dogen Matters
Chapter 2 “Genjo Koan”
Chapter 3 Proper Posture Required
Chapter 4 Four Points of Zazen
Chapter 5 Zazen by Alone
Chapter 6 The Colors of the Mind
Chapter 7 Kill Your Anger
Chapter 8 Zen and Stress Management
Chapter 9 Buddha Never Metta Man He Didn’t Like
Chapter 10 Cleaning Up Your Room
Chapter 11 Evil is Stupid
Chapter 12 “Hyakujo’s Fox”
Chapter 13 The Twelvefold Chain
Chapter 14 Sex and Sin
Chapter 15 The Futile Pursuit of Happiness?
Chapter 16 The Day They Shot a Hole in the Jesus Egg
Chapter 17 Death
Chapter 18 God
Chapter 19 It! The Thing from Beyond the Realm of Mind
Chapter 20 Buddha is Boring
Chapter 21 Bad Hair Day
Chapter 22 The Same Difference
Chapter 23 Enlightenment is for Sissies!
Chapter 24 The Eight Truths of Great Human Beings
Chapter 25 The Ultimate Truth

As you can see from the chapter titles, there are a lot of topics that are covered in this book including a lot of guidance on Zen Buddhist meditation practices or zazen.

My Critique

This is by far one of the most profound, simply laid out, and entertaining Zen books that I’ve ever had the pleasure to read.  And it’s written in a way that makes Zen Buddhism accessible to everyone without using difficult language or riddles.

This book shows an improvement over the last book (Hardcore Zen) in terms of the depth the author goes into the Buddhist teachings in this book.


If you want to learn about Zen Buddhism, then I would highly recommend this book to you.  In fact, I would recommend this book to everyone since there are a lot of profound insights and lessons that one can easily apply to his/her own life.


Thanks for reading my review of Sit Down and Shut Up by Brad Warner and feel free to leave a thought or a question in the comments below.

And don’t forget to pick up your copy!



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8 Responses to Sit Down and Shut Up by Brad Warner – Book Review

  1. Tami says:

    Very cool, seems like Brad Warner took a very creative approach to Zen Buddhism in this book. I think it’s interesting that he puts it simply, especially because i believe truths are always simple, agree? And it’s nice to see a combination of buddhism with a more laid back language and design, its a good way to show that it’s a way of life for anyone, no matter your ‘taste’. Great review!

    • Ian H says:

      Hi Tami

      Thanks! Yes, the truths are simple and yet we can still write an infinite number of books about them. Each person understands the truth in their own way I think and this book has definitely reached a lot of people.

  2. Anna says:


    I’m really happy that I came across your review of Brad Warner’s book. I am extremely interested in mindfulness / awareness and meditation practices so this is right up my alley! It is something that many people are getting into now because of the all the health benefits it is known to have.

    It sounds like the author has quite the sense of humor too which makes for a great read! I agree with you that you don’t necessarily have to be a Zen Buddhist to appreciate this book because anyone can apply these principles to their every day life.

    Thanks for the review – I will come back soon to purchase the book!

    • Ian H says:

      Hi Anna,
      Thanks for your comment! Brad does have quite a sense of humor which is part of his unique writing style. 🙂

  3. Marcus says:

    Enlightenment is a strange subject because I’ve heard it said that if you think you are enlightened then you are not enlightened. Apparently you can get really close to enlightenment, then your mind declares “I’m enlightened!” Then, if you’re not careful, your ego gets in the way and becomes really proud of being enlightened, thus undoing all of the enlightenment.

    Having said that, I believe I have had moments where I feel enlightened. Sometimes I come to the deep sense that I don’t exist, that there isn’t really a “me” at the center of my experiences. There are just all these sensory and min-generated experiences happening, and they are happening in this conscious space, but I cannot find me in there. It’s empty.

    What do you think?

    • Ian H says:

      Hi Marcus,
      I think you’re on the right track, and you’re absolutely right about the ego worming its way back in when we think we’ve done. Everything seems joyful, we feel peaceful, but it’s just another mind-state that we can get attached to.

      The important thing to realize in Buddhism is that the self is also said to exist and yet it is illusory. It is not exactly an illusion (which is the premise of Hinduism) but rather ever changing and empty of intrinsic existence apart from everything else. It cannot exist apart from the universe.

      As a philosophy differs from solipsism (the belief that all of our experiences are just mind generated) in that it also accepts and includes ordinary day to day reality. There’s a lot more on this topic in this book as well.

  4. Erica says:

    I like the sense of humor reflected in the title of the book. The chapter titles, too, intrigued me and made me want to read them. I would love to know what ‘The Day they shot a hole in the Jesus Egg’ is about, so I guess I will just have to purchase the book to find out! You say it does not contain difficult language or riddles – that sounds good to me.. Great review!

    • Ian H says:

      Hi Erica,

      Thanks for your comment! The contents of the chapters are just is intriguing as the titles and are full of useful metaphors to explain Buddhist teachings from the perspective of the Soto sect of Zen Buddhism (as opposed to the Zen popular in the West which are from the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism).

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