It took me longer to finish “Zen, Wrapped in Karma, Dipped in Chocolate” than it should have. Why? Because I liked it so much and wanted it to last longer. I put off finishing it despite being three quarters of the way through. (Also, I was overwhelmed with school responsibilities and reading, but the former statement is still true).
This is the third book by Brad Warner that I’ve read. Many years ago I read “Hardcore Zen”, his first book, and loved it. I still recommend it often to those wanting to learn about Zen without pretense. His writing is down to earth, real, humorous, and he demonstrates the real life of someone dedicated to Zen, with out its dirt and muck.
This book is about a really bad year for him (about 8 years ago now, but he write it as it was happening). Basically his mother died, followed by his grandmother. His marriage dissolved, and his job was at risk, as well as unrewarding. He just discusses going through it, what Zen lessons there are, how he sometimes applies them and sometimes fails, and how he still experiences life with all its ups and downs.
I highly recommend this book if you want to voyeur into a Zen “master’s” life (he says in another book no self respecting Zen teacher calls himself that, it is usually reserved for dead masters). Seeing that a Zen master also suffers, and has mixed feelings, and isn’t always calm and Buddha-like, is refreshing. Especially in this age of Deepaks and Eckharts, who seem to purport they are somehow always in a state of serenity and to not be is some sort of failing.
In closing, there were so many quotes I loved, but this was from the final chapter: “This book stands as yet another failed attempt to convey what no one has ever succeeded in conveying.” But it comes a lot closer than many.