Interview with a Vampire: Brad Warner

I posted a link to these videos on my facebook but I'm reposting them here for people who don't have access to facebook.

In August I visited America for a month, and my second favorite discovery there was Brad Warner. My favorite discovery in America was this underground salsa club in the Mission with no sign that only opens after 2:00am, which I promised I would never blog about on the internet. Oops.

Brad is a Zen teacher and writer. I'd never heard of him. You can google him and find out how "controversial" he is and whatever. I have a lot of respect for him, for two reasons. One is that he sits zazen every day, religiously, in the morning and evening, without anyone telling him to, and has for more than twenty years. Also, he can sit full lotus, which I can't. At a basic, fundamental level, he is a good person trying to do things in a good way.

The other reason I respect him is that he doesn't act like a teacher. I imagine some people might have a problem with this quality; they might want him to embody- or at least perform- responsibility and authority in a certain kind of way. In Japan, there is a proverb, "Miso that smells like miso isn't good miso." I've heard Aoyama Roshi use this proverb to describe teachers who are too showy and obvious with themselves, who just exude Great Zen Teacher. This is bad miso, and bad teaching, because it's too smelly. When I first met Brad, he didn't act like anything in particular. He doesn't smell like anything, and that's why I like him and respect him. I mean "smelly" metaphorically, of course. In real life he probably smells like falafel. 

We decided to have a recorded conversation about some things like monasticism, institutional Buddhism, and tradition, because our experience and points of view about these things are so opposed. Enjoy! These videos were originally posted on Brad's blog, 


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