I try to space these postings apart, leaving at least two or three days between them, so as not to wear people out. Last week I started uploading the new audiobook version of Hardcore Zen (see the cover to your left). My plan was for the next posting (i.e. this one) to be all about the audiobook. I invested my own time and cash into this project, so you’d best believe I’m going to be pushing it as hard as I can. All the haters who hate when I advertise anything (cuz that’s sooo not Zen, maaaaan), get your hatred ready!

BUT it’s taking forever — at least in these highly speeded up times we live in — for the thing to “go live” (as we say in the audiobook biz). I screwed up a few things. Plus the audiobook itself is way bigger than an ordinary CD. I made a CD version for my friend Jimi and it took up six discs! I have no plans to press any CDs of the audiobook, by the way. If anyone wants to suggest an economical way to make some CDs, hit me up. Or a cheap way to put it out on a boxed set of 18 record albums for that matter. Otherwise, it’ll just be available as a download.

I’ve even got two commercials for the thing ready to go, and I’m going to shoot a third one on Sunday at the weekly 7 pm zazen thing I host at Akron Shambhala Center (133 Portage Trail Ste 202 Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44221).

Alas, I have to keep holding on to the posting in which I tell you the amazing story of how I recorded the audiobook and what I think of Hardcore Zen nine years after it was published.

But I will tell you something else and that is…


That’s because I have been doing my taxes today. My annual income for 2011 was not quite as dire as I had feared. Which isn’t to say it was really great. But it wasn’t so godawful as I expected. When I looked at my yearly book royalty statements of $2,951.08 from New World Library for three books and $4,133.98 from Wisdom Publications for Hardcore Zen I was all like, “Jeez. That’s what I earned last year?”

Kids, do not become a writer if you want to get rich. Yes there are a handful of writers who are filthy rich. But most of us are barely getting by.

As most of you know, I do not have a temple or a Zen Center or any other such organization that supports what I do Zen-wise. The so-called “Dogen Sangha” is basically just a name. There are some folks out in California working towards making it more than that by incorporating it as a religious non-profit. But at the moment it’s still basically just a name. I think we’re established as an entity. But we haven’t got the paperwork that makes us a true non-profit that can accept donations yet.

However, what I do have is a little PayPal donation button on this here blog (it’s to your left <<<). And I made more in donations last year than I did in book royalties. This is figuring in the donations I received while on tour in Europe and America. But still, the stuff coming in from that little button was not insignificant. So thank you very much for that. There are several people who send in a little bit each month and that really helps. And sometimes someone sends me a large donation, which is always as nice as it is baffling. Because it’s never someone I know and it’s almost always someone from a foreign country that I’ve never visited. I don’t really like the idea of living on donations. I feel like a person ought to work to earn his keep. Donations seem like charity. But on the other hand, I don’t charge anything for this blog. The ad revenue it generates is negligible. If I were writing a column for a magazine I’d be getting paid out of what readers paid to buy the magazine. So it kind of amounts to the same thing. Only the way I do this, you get to cut out the middle men and send the money directly to the writer. So I figure these aren’t really donations in that sense. In my youth I was always disgusted by television evangelists begging for cash contributions on their shows while surrounded by the most gaudy opulent sets imaginable. You could tell those guys were getting filthy rich by promising rewards in Heaven. But all religious type people live on donations. Your contributions aren’t always going to buy fancy houses and multiple Mercedes Benzes. And there are some people out there who really don’t mind supporting some religious dude’s five-a-day luxury car habit. I don’t get that myself. But I know they’re out there. I feel like honesty is the deciding factor. The Sex Pistols called their reunion tour the Filthy Lucre Tour to specifically emphasize that it was for the money. And yet you could see that they really enjoyed playing those songs again and that their messages were still relevant. So was it really just about the money? It didn’t look that way to me. I’ve been highly critical of certain filthy rich Zen Masters not because they got rich. God bless ’em for that! I’ve been critical because they got rich by being dishonest, by promising things they could not possibly deliver. By pretending that what they actually did deliver was something it was clearly not. Even though I have no compunctions about getting paid for doing work, and even though I consider standing up on a stage talking for a few hours work (it’s lots harder than it looks, trust me), I still get all creepy crawly feeling when I hear someone at a Buddhist temple I’ve spoken at reminding the crowd about the merit of “dana” — Buddhist generosity. I know that speech is what’s going to pay my gas money back home and maybe even buy me a burrito or a veggie burger. But it reminds me too much of the old televangelist con game or of some of the crud I hear spewing from the mouths of crooked phony Zen Masters. So I remain deeply conflicted about the whole thing. Nishijima Roshi advised his ordained teachers never to try to make a living out of being Buddhist teachers. I’ve been trying to kind of skirt the issue by making my living as a writer. Yes, what I write about mostly is Buddhism, as well as about being a Buddhist teacher. But still, it’s the writing I’m trying to live off of, not the teaching. I dunno, folks. I just don’t know…


And Crum the Cat thanks you too!

86 Responses

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  1. AccordingtoAndrew
    AccordingtoAndrew April 12, 2012 at 7:38 am |

    Your not kidding about making a living as a "teacher" of Eastern arts! I am just starting to realize that the audience knows exactly what they want and are prepared to believe, let alone pay for, anything less (paraphrased from Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern are Dead). I just scrape happily by teaching classes on Yoga, Qi Gong and Pilates in this saturated area, yet I feel mostly happy and fulfilled doing it. I am attempting myself to start as a writer (we'll see where that goes), have published two DVD's and am still counting my pennies til my next quarterly tax period. Hmmm, rambling again. Anyway, as usual, your honesty is refreshing and life is as life is. That's about as Zen as it gets. I do support YZMC and am about to support you by purchasing your next book. Pennies galore.

  2. john e mumbles
    john e mumbles April 12, 2012 at 8:28 am |

    I believe Mr. Ida's contribution to Nishijima would technically amount to patronage.

    Having a wealthy patron is obviously an advantage to any cause or concern.

    My question is this: Why is it "Dogen" Sangha or "Dogen" Sangha International, etc? These names are not meaningless. The use of Dogen's name is the bait. Maybe some day there will be "Dogenists" like Christians and Buddhists, huh?

  3. Mrs. Scoony
    Mrs. Scoony April 12, 2012 at 8:41 am |

    Brad said, "And, yeah, I could get a job. I probably will. If I can find one. Has anyone heard that the economy is kind of bad right now?"

    Brad, you sound just like my son. He doesn't even bother looking for a job because the economy is so bad. Oh you young people and your excuses! Why don't you just come right out and say it. You want to be handed money on a silver platter without the undignified and inconvenient process of actually working. What is the world coming to?

  4. Brad Warner
    Brad Warner April 12, 2012 at 8:57 am |

    Yep, Scoony,

    Traveling to 27 cities in 7 countries to give lectures and run retreats, writing a blog posting every three days, writing a book, writing magazine articles, etc. These are not "actually working."

    I tell ya, I'm gettin' bedsores from all of the sitting on my ass I do and my throat hurts from all the whining! Where's my silver platter full of money, damn it??

    (I am being sarcastic)

  5. Brad Warner
    Brad Warner April 12, 2012 at 8:59 am |

    As for the Dogen in Dogen Sangha, I might as well be frank here.

    Nishijima Roshi does not believe the Soto-shu as it exists today represents Master Dogen's true intent. It was his dream that a new school of Buddhist thought be established based on Dogen's teaching.

    Very ambitious. Very arrogant. Quite dangerous.

  6. john e mumbles
    john e mumbles April 12, 2012 at 9:22 am |

    OK I get it. Ambitious and arrogant makes sense in relation to Soto-shu, but in your opinion, Brad, how is it dangerous other than challenging the status quo?

  7. Mrs. Scoony
    Mrs. Scoony April 12, 2012 at 9:44 am |

    Go ahead and sarcastic Brad, But that is not actually working. That is the prolonged adolescence of a slacker. It is not work in the traditional American way of going in to work everyday, trading away the fun years for security later in life. You are trying to have your cake and eat it too. If everyone thought like you and my son, America would be no better off than Greece or.. or England. I guess you are OK with that but what about the generations to come? Is that idea too much of an unreality for Buddhists to consider? And what about your troll buddies busily typing away with their comments everyday.. Isn't that work also? Do you expect us to support them too? It's about time you grow up young man! That really does seem to be the common denominator around here. A bunch of lazy boys with big ideas and little common sense sitting still for hours everyday. I can see why that appeals to you. Zen Buddhism indeed! Mr. Mysterion is the only one of you who has gone out and made something of himself.

  8. Andrew
    Andrew April 12, 2012 at 9:54 am |

    ""The more serious of Nishijima's dharma heirs?"

    Who could you possibly mean?

    What could you possibly mean?"

    Not Jundo…

  9. Robert
    Robert April 12, 2012 at 12:13 pm |

    Mrs. Scoony…

    You asked what about the generations to come?

    I ask you the same question back. Do they ALSO have to work solely for the benefit of the future generations? So will no one ever work for their own life?

    Also, please don't hate on your son too bad for being incredibly disheartened about the economy he was promised he would be a part of his whole life, only to have it completely destroyed by his parents' and grandparents' generation by the time he was old enough to join it.

    And as for Brad? Don't hate on him too much either. If he were to get a side job, he wouldn't have as much time to spend on the blog, books, music, etc. that is already his job.

  10. The Amazing Randy
    The Amazing Randy April 12, 2012 at 12:38 pm |

    Mrs. Scoony = Mr. Trolly Troll

  11. Mrs. Scoony
    Mrs. Scoony April 12, 2012 at 1:28 pm |

    Robert, My son often refers to the haters in the world too. That is very common nowadays. But what that means to you and what it means to me must be very different. To you, haters are people that tell you what you don't want to hear. They are not people that hate any more than you do. My son was promised nothing. Brad himself has been called a hater on this blog. He "hates" on Mr. Genpo. He "hates" on Jundo. I don't think he really does. I think he is just lazy. Not debilitatingly lazy, because he works very hard at trying to find a way to live comfortably doing pleasant work that has little actual value. I mean that is what bohemians do after all. If he could make good money making his silly music he would never write a "Zen" book again. He accuses Mr. Genpo charging too much for what he can't possibly deliver. But the facts are that Mr. Genpo gives people something of value. He gives them what they want, not what he thinks they need. People don't want that. Mr. Genpo is an entertainer who never fails to inspire people. People pay big money for that.

  12. hatin' on old ladies
    hatin' on old ladies April 12, 2012 at 2:25 pm |

    "bohemians!!!" Bwahahahahahaha!!!!!

    That may have been a derogatory term in the, uh, NINETEENTH CENTURY (!) But it is just silly now. There's no present context for it, yo.

    & the rest sounds like one of the middle school garage band member's mom's saying "the music is alright, but you need to put on more of a "show."

    If you are all THAT traditional "Mrs. Scoony" then chances are you haven't worked a lick outside the house before or after your child rearin' days were over.

    The whole thing sounds like you are just jealous of Mr. Brad for finding an alternative to your boring lifestyle.

    And criticizing the young folks here social networking, when, why look! That's what you're doing with all this hard earned time on your hands! How on earth did you figure out the complex interwebs blogoshere anyways?

    Fake ass troll.

  13. an3drew
    an3drew April 12, 2012 at 2:32 pm |

    good   link  thanks fred,

    so freaky to see that temple tower, who knows how old rising up with the trees growing on it !

    brad, like you i have spent large portions of my life working on what was a waste of time !

    zen is dead, just look at the morons who post here (including myself!)

    you are actually not quite good enough at what zen is about to ever make reasonable money on it, why not face facts and give some focus to income since the net seems to have killed writing as a source of income except certain entertainment niches in ebooks

    lol, write a paranormal zen romance thriller !

    lots of cutting to thrill the female teenage audience (plus the inevitable requited love !)

    you have a good graphics talent that would suit advertising

    why trash your life entertaining the likes of us who post here, scumbags really and the rest of zen and the spiritual scene is no different !

    karl renz who is one of the better and more popular advaita teachers is also complaining about money

    the net has made anything of this nature essentially a volunteer effort, you are competeing with me for a start !

    all it's done is cost me heaps of time and effectively money, why i do it i don't know ! ?

  14. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 12, 2012 at 2:44 pm |

    Because you're fucking bohemian.

  15. an3drew
    an3drew April 12, 2012 at 3:37 pm |

    bohemians is an interesting term

    "This use of the word bohemian first appeared in the English language in the 19th century[1] to describe the non-traditional lifestyles of marginalized and impoverished artists, writers, journalists, musicians, and actors in major European cities. Bohemians were associated with unorthodox or anti-establishment political or social viewpoints, which were often expressed through free love, frugality and — in some cases — voluntary poverty. A wealthy and privileged, even aristocratic, bohemian circle is sometimes referred to as the haut bohème ("high bohemians")."

    the voluntary poverty is true enough !

  16. an3drew
    an3drew April 12, 2012 at 3:47 pm |

    for those interested in a medicationless approach to  sleep  shortfalls

    really from the posting times this board is entertainment for insomniacs !

    lack of sleep means you can't function !

  17. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 12, 2012 at 3:59 pm |

    Mrs, Scoony, the contemporary term is: slacker.

  18. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 12, 2012 at 4:17 pm |

    Nouveau: bohemians with money who attempt to join traditional bohemianism with contemporary culture Gypsy: drifters, neo-hippies, and others with nostalgia for previous, romanticized eras Beat: also drifters, but non-materialist and art-focused Zen: "post-beat," focus on spirituality rather than art Dandy: no money, but try to appear as if they have it by buying and displaying expensive or rare items – such as brands of alcohol.

  19. Khru
    Khru April 12, 2012 at 4:17 pm |

    The Christian God contacted me last night and asked me to pass a message to you all. He said to "please stop posting so much silly crap on the Brad Warner blog".

  20. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 12, 2012 at 4:51 pm |

    Yep. The xtian god called – collect – from Tulsa.

    I asked him since when did the xtian god speak with an Okie drawl?

    He didn't know anj just and wanted a credit card number.

    I gave it to him and today all my cash is gone.

    Should I do the Rosary or the Rotisserie?

    Thanks in advance for your heartfelt advice.

    Billy-bob Mudfish

  21. Malloy
    Malloy April 12, 2012 at 4:56 pm |

    Khru, that's the silliest crap I've ever read on Bradley's blog.

  22. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 12, 2012 at 6:10 pm |

    taxation and inflation (AKA robbery and counterfeiting)

    first they fuck you from in front — taxation
    then they fuck you from behind — inflation

    "For if the bulk of the public were really convinced of
    the illegitimacy of the State, if it were convinced that
    the State is nothing more nor less than a bandit gang writ large,
    then the State would soon collapse to take on no more status
    or breadth of existence than another Mafia gang."

    Murray Rothbard

  23. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 12, 2012 at 7:18 pm |

    Brad, your shirt is here.

  24. A-Bob
    A-Bob April 12, 2012 at 8:19 pm |

    Crum looks a lot like my old friend Johnny. Sniff.. I will buy the new book.

    CAPTCHA : rainful odinsea : I kid you not

  25. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote April 12, 2012 at 10:11 pm |

    When Obama asked Jobs what it would take to bring the jobs back from China, Jobs said the jobs are not coming back. The Chinese have subsidized the manufacturing infrastruture necessary to manufacture the toys of the next generation; moreover they control 97% of the rare earths, and limit the exports, and these elements are necessary to the production of hard drives and other parts of the new toys. This means that companies have great incentive to locate their manufacturing in China.

    The use of servers on the floor of the stock exchange to make trades ahead of competition enables about 100 hedge funds and investment houses to profit at the expense of the rest of the Wall Street investors. The ability of futures traders to invest in commodities without ever taking possession of any part of the commodity has caused a situation where supply and demand has nothing to do with the price of commodities. Meanwhile a federal judge is preventing the implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act.

    Here's an article about some slackers in the new America.

    Not that the Scooneys are anything other than some regular attempting to further the discussion, but I thought it would be helpful for me as a slacker to clarify something of the dynamic of the new economy for us all.

    Brad writes wonderful, engaging prose, and he speaks about practice in daily life. His practice hasn't gotten in the way of his having fun, and it hasn't changed his morals, which I think is his unique appeal (at least, I don't think it has!). Now all he has to be able to do is to teach people how to sit half-lotus and lotus, if he's going to insist that these postures have innate value distinct from others, and teach in such a way that folks can sit without pain or numbness. Simple.

    I will hope to teach myself, and if possible to offer what I learn along the way to others. I have always accepted that I would not be able to earn a living at this, and for most of the last 40 years I was able to find work. Right now I'm looking. My heart is still with my hope to learn and exchange information about sitting in the traditional cross-legged posture and making self-surrender the object of thought.

  26. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 12, 2012 at 10:56 pm |

    Do hipsters in the 99-91 percentiles wear "99%" tshirts ironically?

  27. Mrs. Scoony
    Mrs. Scoony April 13, 2012 at 7:42 am |

    Brad, You did not seem to mind revealing how much money you made selling your Buddhism books. So before Mr Scoony and I send you a donation we would like to know how much you actually do receive in donations and in ad revenue via your blog.

    This will help us determine how much help you truly need or if you are just saving up for that new Camaro. hehe LOL.

    After all Brad, if you make more money than Mr. Scoony does at the Lawsons it will be very hard for us to justify sending you much even though you are our son's favorite guru. He is down in the basement right now probably listening to one of your enlightening prodcasts.

    Thank you in advance for any information you can provide. I think this is a reasonable request that your other readers will also appreciate.

    Ohms, Lois

  28. Sheila
    Sheila April 13, 2012 at 9:01 am |

    "It frustrated him that people could so happily drop out of the world of conventional expectations; it undercut the pleasure he took in his home and his job and his family; it felt like a unilateral rewriting, to his disadvantage, of the rules of life."

    Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections

  29. Harry
    Harry April 13, 2012 at 10:10 am |

    Interesting article, thanks.



  30. gniz
    gniz April 13, 2012 at 11:55 am |

    This new non-profit idea for DS is not at all different from what Genpo claimed/claims about Big Mind or what Andrew Cohen says about EnlighteNext or what Shimano and the Zen Studies Society said.

    All of them claim non-profit status, they say the bulk of their money goes to the running of the operations and spreading of the dharma, and that the teacher takes merely a salary.

    In the beginning it's always small. Just like any other business. As membership grows and the teacher's notoriety so goes the money and the salary.

    Brad is not infallible. In fact it seems to me that he has begun walking down that same path that many teachers have walked before him, and if he continues I don't expect it to end any better for him.

    Does making it a nonprofit mean it has to be a bunch of bull crap? Heck no. But Brad has resisted doing this for so long for good reason. Teaching for money means you OWE something to your students and once your livelihood and security depends on keeping the money coming in, a lot can go wrong.

    And you can take that to the bank!

  31. an3drew
    an3drew April 13, 2012 at 2:26 pm |

    gniz, it went wrong for brad many years ago like the rest of us and guess what? it never comes right !

    old age, pain and death right round the corner !

    of course that can come quicker if you are teaching cause "health problems" are de rigueur in the "spiritual" scene !

    blathering on a message board is the right way to go compared to real life contact with these stealth and other virus infected sickees !

  32. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 13, 2012 at 10:10 pm |

    Back in the day, a friend contacted Brad and told him there was a place where he could for a monthly fee conduct zazen on a weekly basis: The Hill St. Center.

    Later, after 4-5 years went by, a member broached the idea of non-profit status and incorporating and Brad absolutely was opposed to this idea.

    A bit of time goes by and Brad, disenchanted with various things, is also disenchanted with handling the monthly rent stuff with Hill St. Center and tells those who meet on Saturday that he will no longer be the 'leader' or the contact person responsible for the Saturday sitting group. He will still on occasion, come and lead one day retreats and give talks by arrangement, but we all (those of us regularly attending at the time) are to manage and maintain the Saturday sitting group (at this time with a Gmail blog account name of Dogen Sangha LA) amongst ourselves if we so choose to.
    We choose to, and we approach this in a kind of group collaboration/democratic spirit.
    2 months or so goes by, Brad has left the building, and left the state. Out of the blue, it would seem, Brad by a phone call to one member, and subsequent announcement on the DSLA blog makes one of the Hill St. regulars 'president.'
    The rest of the regulars were not consulted, no vote was taken.
    It was odd that someone who had completely washed his hands of it, would return and appoint.

    But not that odd.

    People do have second thoughts about a lot of things. The person appointed was/is capable and well suited to the position. Had there been a vote, most likely the same person would have ultimately been chosen by the group. But it wasn't a group choice. And that's a shame. Or not.

    People do have mixed feelings about things.
    Or they don't.
    They seem to feel so sure and certain about something and then change their mind.
    Full speed ahead and then make a U turn.
    I mean, what's that?
    This 'solid' ground I stand on? It trembles. Subtly and not so subtly.

    You try to keep this practice of zazen going: in your own life; and then you want to make sure you help keep a place going where other people looking for it can find it just like you did, when you first walked into a place and sat on your first zafu. Why?

    So there you have it: all of us doing our best.
    To earn a living
    to help out the struggling underemployed adult children, the struggling aging parents, the struggling unemployed neighbors, while oneself is also struggling to make ends meet.

    Looks like the cash just isn't going to be flowing like it usta: less of it to go around.

    So I say let's go half 'n half:
    everyone with a job share it with another person–
    twice the number of people are now employed!
    Expenditures: cut them all in half–now you can still live on half of what you make because the outflow is also half.

    As for DSLA? It is and will be what it is and will be.

  33. James A
    James A April 14, 2012 at 7:37 pm |

    I'll just wait until it's on the high seas … aye, me beauty

  34. Broken Yogi
    Broken Yogi April 25, 2012 at 3:51 am |

    I think your teacher was right that a teacher shouldn't depend on teaching to support himself financially. I also agree with you that writing is a good way to support yourself. Of course, you don't just have to write about Zen. You can also write fiction, or other topics. I think you need to take seriously the idea Gniz gave you that epublishing can offer you a very decent living if you take it seriously and apply yourself to it diligently. You clearly have writing skills. Now you just need to take it seriously as a career.

    It will be better for you to see Zen teaching not as a career, but as a purely spiritual endeavor uncorrupted by financial concerns. I think the conflict you are going through over this is real, and not just some neurotic thing, it comes from the fact that you have genuine integrity and can feel that things just aren't right. To make them right, you have to make your money from something other than teaching. Donations aren't the ticket either. Fortunately, you have real talent and potential as a writer. And in the new world of epublishing, you can capitalize on that in a way that has real integrity and will not leave you feeling double-minded or conflicted.

    You really should read up on the epublishing biz on the web. Do google searches on J. A. Konrath, Barry Eisler, Dean Wesley Smith, and others who are championing the new self-publishing model. Screw your publishers, they are taking most of the money and leaving you a pittance. You don't need an agent either. You just need talent and something to write about that has an audience.

    There's nothing wrong with having a day job and being a Zen teacher after hours. If you are a serious and decently fast writer, you don't need to work more than a few hours a day at it to make a good living once you've built up a backlist. That will leave you plenty of time for teaching and sitting and messing around. Certainly quite a bit more than you are currently making. It will give you not just the freedom, but the self-respect you need to be a genuine teacher.

    Good luck with it. I am certain you can make this work if you apply yourself to it. Do some research, run the numbers, and see what is realistic for you. I think if you read the blogs of the people mentioned above, particularly Smith's with his online books such as "Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing", and also read through the comments sections, you will find that a lot of people are having good success and making a decent living as writers who were only making, well, similar numbers as you before:

    This could really change your life. In particular, read the chapter that explodes the myth "You can't make money writing fiction". It applies to spiritual books also. Be a trailblazer in this field, dude.

    Wish you the best of luck.

  35. Broken Yogi
    Broken Yogi April 25, 2012 at 4:11 am |

    I would like to point also that Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta, and Poonja Swami never solicited a dime in donations. They managed to get by somehow.

    Ramana worked in the ashram kitchen for hours every day, saying he needed to earn his keep, and of course took no salary. Nisargadatta ran a beedi shop all his life to pay the bills, and taught at night. Poonja Swami worked many very demanding jobs, even after his enlightenment. He managed several mining operations in the jungles of India for over fifteen years, and retired on a pension that enabled him to teach without every taking a dime from his devotees (except for travel expenses if they wished him to come visit). You really can follow their example. It would be a good example to set for others in the west also.

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