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Sex, Sin, and Zen: A Buddhist Exploration of Sex from Celibacy to Polyamory and Everything in Between [Tapa blanda]

Brad Warner

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Amazon.com: 4.2 de un máximo de 5 estrellas  29 opiniones
18 de 21 personas piensan que la opinión es útil
5.0 de un máximo de 5 estrellas Smart, funny, and HELPFUL advice by the Punk Zen Master 30 de agosto de 2010
Por Martin Z. - Publicado en Amazon.com
Formato:Tapa blanda|Compra verificada
A big fan of Brad Warner's other three books, I was a bit skeptical about this one. I worried that it might have too much sex and too little of Brad's take on Zen Buddhism. I was wrong. There is a great mix of sexual specific content and Zen, as well as how one trying to live a better life through zazen practice might approach sex. For me, the book's main focus was how to deal with doing and thinking 'bad' things. Since this is a book about Zen Buddhism, the answers (well, maybe suggestions) all touch on how to use zazen practice and Zen precepts to manage the normal crazy experiences and choices that life brings.

For those how haven't read a Brad Warner book, article, or blog, his writing style is crisp. For someone writing about philosophy, this should be commended. The book is peppered with anecdotes from his life as well as from the cast of characters he has encountered in his times as a Zen student and Zen teacher. He is almost always self-deprecating about himself, even though he has accomplished a great deal and has an international position as a Soto Zen Buddhist monk.

He also makes a point to cover Zen basics in his usual accesible way. Thus, if you've never read a book about Zen Buddhism there is lots of great information here. That said, if, like me, you've read books on the subject before, Brad Warner's explanations of Zen concepts are fresh, funny, and insightful and I finished the book with a better understanding of Zen Buddhism than I started.

Finally, to reference the title of my review, the book has been helpful in that I have already applied some of the things I read in the book and avoided a situation that looking back would have been trouble!
23 de 28 personas piensan que la opinión es útil
1.0 de un máximo de 5 estrellas A Factually Inaccurate and Mean-Spirited Book 16 de marzo de 2013
Por Heather Trahan - Publicado en Amazon.com
Formato:Tapa blanda|Compra verificada
The only reason I am taking time out of my life to write this review is because I want to save at least one person from feeling the total frustration I have felt. Don't waste your money on the book I am about to review!

Let me further preface this review by saying that I pride myself on usually seeing books to their bitter end--no matter what. Sometimes it happens that a book looks super awesome: perhaps this book got great reviews on Amazon, or maybe a friend said "you just gotta read it!" But, as it sometimes happens, a few pages or chapters in, I realize that the book is causing more confusion, stress, anger, irritation or some other negative emotion rather than helping me gain insight. Yet, even when this happens, I often force myself to finish the book. Why, you ask? Why would I torture myself in that way? Well, because I'm a writer. Thus, I have this complex feeling of empathy for other writers; I finish their books because I hope that, one day, when I get a book out there into the world, that my readers will be as gracious as I am. Also, another reason I often finish books that I don't like is because I think it's a good practice not to insulate myself from ideas that I might find wrong, stupid, annoying, misguided, etc.--so I finish the books because I want to keep an open mind...and one of the ways to do that is to practice considering other viewpoints, to not keep feeding myself words that I already agree with. What I am trying to say is that I have thought long and hard about why I think it's important to read books in their entirety, and why I often do so.

But, for the love of all that's holy, I had to stop reading Brad Warner's Sex, Sin, and Zen: A Buddhist Exploration of Sex from Celibacy to Polyamory and Everything in Between by page 66. I just had to stop. Here's why.

Warner is...well, he is misguided, to say the least. He warns his readers straight up that he has absolutely no personal experience with polyamory (except that he read a handful of books, such as The Ethical Slut) and that he has no experience with the spiritual-erotic path of Tantra, except to attend, "for research," what seemed like a single visit to some sort of daylong workshop in San Francisco, where they teach OM (orgasmic meditation). Yet, despite his repeated frank admissions that his experience and wisdom/knowledge level with these practices are next to nothing, he goes ahead and starts to mercilessly mock both. His tone is condescending, snarky, bitchy, and, at times, downright cruel. I realize that his book is attempting to be humorous. But he's seriously NOT funny, because what he's doing is making judgments about what he knows barely anything about--and then those judgments are wrong! Repeatedly, he gets his facts wrong. For example, he writes about how tantric/sensual practice is all about chasing the highs of orgasm and about escaping the world, which is seriously not what Tantra is about. Then, on top of presenting the wrong information, he places his knee-jerk condescending judgment on it, in attempt to gain a laugh: For instance, he writes, "I've never seen a single person advocating tantric sexual meditation who didn't strike me as mainly just wanting to get his or her rocks off" (62).

There were so many things I underlined, out of pure shock. I really don't understand his ethos as an author. Consider this mean-spirited passage about polyamory: "Just because you think you're so cool that you won't have any notions of commitment or betrayal or jealousy or any of the rest of that stuff doesn't mean your partner(s) won't" (42). Um, WHAT? Being poly doesn't mean running from commitment or denying that commitment can be a good thing, in certain times and with certain people. And, poly people talk CONSTANTLY about how jealousy comes up! How it's totally going to happen, and that that's ok. After a lot of snipes, Warner presents his conclusion on polyamory, writing that poly is basically too utopian--that it's a great concept in theory, but that he can't imagine how it could ever work in real life for real people, because, unlike pair bonding (about which he says: "I'm fully convinced that human beings are basically pair-bonding animals" [40]), polyamory is far too "unstable" (43) of a way of being, but then he doesn't really explain how he has come to this conclusion; he just tosses around vague warnings about jealousy and instinct and...bla bla bla...

It's seriously weird how much he mocks practices like Tantra and polyamory, yet then he (often in the same paragraph) dares to write things like "I have no interest in trying to convince anyone to live the way I think is best" (42). Really, Brad??? REALLY? On top of all these problems, too, when he talks about Zen Buddhism, he does so in a way that, to me, comes off as extremely dogmatic. In one instance, for example, he writes how one should "never" do guided meditation. I'm not kidding. He writes "never." To quote him, he writes, "I'm not a fan of guided meditation. Mediation should never be guided" (60). In the 66 pages I read, Warner repeatedly praises the specific practice of zazen meditation--in a way that borders, to me, on obsessive and preachy.

Like I said, I only read to page 66. I did flip ahead at one point and noticed that he makes fun of BDSM culture, too. I just scanned it, but I can feel pretty safe guessing that, along with polyamory and tantra, he probably has little to no experience with that either. And, I can tell his stance on it pretty easily, as his chapter is called "BDSM and Cult Behavior." Really, Brad? You are going to compare BDSM to being in a cult?

I bought this book because I assumed (silly me!), that any write who would put the term polyamory in the very title of their book would mean that they had at least a modest level of experience with it, at least in theory if not practice. But, no. Despite the title of his book, there are only six measly pages devoted to the topic. Six! And Warner, despite knowing virtually nothing on the topic (again, at his own admission!), he obviously takes great relish in trying to knock it down and call it out as being foolish and unrealistic, and, even dangerous. Again and again, Warner cautions his readers, asking them to think of sex as a risky business. In his ramblings about how dumb tantra and other mystical approaches to sex are, he writes, "my problem with sex as meditation is that, as a method, it's much too prone to abuse and danger" (63). Basically, Warner is a person who clearly has not much experience with alternative sexualities and then writes his fear onto the page. The fear I can handle and empathize with! Sometimes the power of sex does seem scary! I know that the first time I attended a workshop on Tantra, I felt a bit dizzy, a bit overwhelmed--and not in a good way! I felt like I was stepping into something very deep, something very...otherworldly. And, frankly, I didn't know what to expect.

I write this review as both a Buddhist, a polyamorist in both practice and theory (I have two partners and I am writing a dissertation on polyamory), and I have a moderate knowledge about Tantra both practical and theoretical (I've attended workshops, read books, and talked to others about the topic--a lot!). I want to stand up to Warner and put my 2 cents out there, as a way to perhaps allow people to know that this book is not for them if they don't want to engage a writer who uses humor in sarcastic, mean ways. And, like I said, I only read to page 66. It is always possible that the rest of the book somehow gets better, that he stops being so dang mean. I don't know. If you want to find out, I'll give you my copy. Have at it.
21 de 26 personas piensan que la opinión es útil
4.0 de un máximo de 5 estrellas Warner hits the mark again 3 de octubre de 2010
Por Nate DeMontigny - Publicado en Amazon.com
Formato:Tapa blanda
Sex, Sin and Zen answers the question that everyone has been asking Brad for a long time, how can sex and Buddhism come to some sort of reconciliation? As a guest writer for Suicide Girls many questioned his choice to join their writing team. And I think we should have, because if anyone had the answer, it was Brad.

We know of all the vows we take, and accept in our lives, but as Brad explains, never do any of them say do not have sex. Brad breaks this misconception down, simplifies in the easiest of ways. It's not the act of sex, but how we act about sex. Like any other attachment, it is our grasping at sex that can cause us, and others, damage.

What I really loved about this book is Brad's brazen explanation of mindfulness:

"I'm not sure what most people in the West these days mean when they say "mindfulness." Near as I can tell, the general population uses the word to mean something like "thinking really hard about stuff." Or at best it's sometimes a synonym for paying attention to what you're doing. But if that what you mean, why not just say "pay attention"?

Another high point is his points about sex being one of the most immersive acts we partake in. And what he says makes perfect sense, minus a few people out there, when one is engaged in sexual activity, are we thinking about anything else really? No, we are just being there, having sex. Of course there are emotions within that, but for the most part, sex is just sex. Sex is not what we were doing at work, the plans we have later, or anything else, it's sex.

He makes the case, from my understanding, that if we could harness that ability to pay attention to one thing, the goals we are hoping to achieve may be that much easier. Who doesn't want to be able to pay attention all the time, to be mindful of every moment, as it is? I know that's part of it for me. Because yesterday is gone, tomorrow may never come, right now is it!

His interview with the original "porno Buddhist" Nina Hartley is funny and engaging. They match wits, and humor, enlightening us to not take this whole thing so seriously all the time. I'm not sure I'm 100% in agreement with everything he's got to say, but it's great to have someone break things down in a way that is readable, and at times, laughable.

That only things that bugs me sometimes, is the over the top swearing and almost mocking tone. Other than that minor detail, this book was necessary, completely necessary. Sex and Buddhism does not have to be taboo, it just needs to be understood in a context that is healthy and helpful.
11 de 14 personas piensan que la opinión es útil
5.0 de un máximo de 5 estrellas It's (always) about how you do what you choose to do 3 de septiembre de 2010
Por Donna Quesada - Publicado en Amazon.com
Formato:Tapa blanda
You either like his irreverence or not. He has been described in other reviews as iconoclastic, snarky, in your face, critical, and even egotistical (but that would be the ultimate form of irreverence in Zen). As he himself admits, he takes a certain pleasure in being oppositional. You'll either find it humorous and refreshing, or off-putting.

But who says he's got to be soft and mushy? Faux mushiness is just one more thing he's got a gripe with, anyway. The point is the book; In it, Warner explores the place of sex within the context of Zen and whether normally suspect transactions like prostitution are reconcilable within genuine Buddhist practice as a whole.

The real intent of the Buddhist vows are often missed. With funny personal anecdotes as a vehicle and mature responsibility as an anchor, he navigates easily through issues like pornography and stripping and braves the waters of abortion, revealing the truer sense and subtler flavors of those precepts (does Zen approve of such things?).

The peripheral question has to do with why he even needs to be addressing these questions in the first place. And the answer lies partly in our own inbred assumptions about the notion of sin and what constitutes evil. In the end, I appreciated his casual, no-nonsense treatment of these kinds of grandiose issues, which are so often needlessly convoluted.

The absence of an all-encompassing, universal ideal that applies in all times and all places, for all persons and in all situations, doesn't mean anything goes. As Warner himself - clearly liberal and comfortable in the domain of such discussions - admits, (the sex industry) is "a cesspool of nastiness that needs reform." But as he cleverly and humorously reveals, condemnation is trickier.

He doesn't necessarily encourage our participation in such activities as pornography (because who would he be to tell us, anyway?); he accepts it as part of the world, like the rest of the 10,000 things, some gross and some beautiful, that exist around us - the umpteen things we can either take or leave behind. But whatever it is, if we choose to take it, we best consider the effects of our actions, because it's always more about "how we do what we do," than it is about what we do.
7 de 9 personas piensan que la opinión es útil
5.0 de un máximo de 5 estrellas Deserves Credit for Taking on Buddhism and Sexuality In an Accessible and Even Entertaining Way 10 de noviembre de 2010
Por L. Erickson - Publicado en Amazon.com
Formato:Tapa blanda
I really appreciate Brad taking on the topic of Buddhism and sexuality, and thought he did a great job in this book. As other reviewers have said, his style is by turn in-your-face, irreverent, juvenile, and snarky. In past books, this turned me off more than it did in this one. Maybe I am just getting used to him! But seriously, he makes some very intelligent points, and provides a thorough analysis of Buddhism's views of sex and sexuality. And really, he does much more than this - he compares modern Western and Eastern attitudes about sex in general, different religion's attitudes about it, and modern spiritual 'new age' trends regarding it. He doesn't claim this is an academic/sociological type study, and points readers to two other excellent books if that's what they want (Lust for Enlightenment: Buddhism and Sex and The Red Thread: Buddhist Approaches to Sexuality.

In my review of Brad's last book, Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate, I complained about his snarky tone towards other Buddhist and spiritual teachers, most of which he had no first-hand experience with. He seems to have toned that down a bit, although he does note the major sexual scandals that have occurred in Western Buddhist communities, and gives his own take on them. And he gives a rather hilarious account of his visit to see Amma, the hugging guru. I have also seen Amma, and love her, but could appreciate his take on the 'show' surrounding her.

Brad is a keen observer and holds no punches. That's really what makes him the perfect person to take on the subject of sexuality and Buddhism - he doesn't shy away from any aspect of human sexuality, or leave any theme unexplored. So, if you are interested in this topic, and can handle Brad's unique style and tone, this is a great read. And if you find yourself fed up as you read, take it as an opportunity to practice some Zen-style inquiry into what your resistance is:-)
Ir a Amazon.com para ver las 29 opiniones existentes 4.2 de un máximo de 5 estrellas

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