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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very welcome addition to practical Buddhism and how to live your practice in the crazy modern world, 16 Jan. 2011
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This review is from: Sex, Sin, and Zen: A Buddhist Exploration of Sex from Celibacy to Polyamory and Everything in Between (Paperback)
This is an important but controversial book. Whilst there are a lot of books about Buddhist thought and philosophy, there are not so many books which deal with the practicalities of how to live your Buddhist practice in the modern world. One of the particular areas which are not often properly addressed is the question of sex and relationships. The traditional Pali Canon is pretty negative about the question of sex generally and whilst there is the third precept which asks practitioners "to refrain from sexual misconduct" there is little guidance on how to actually do this (especially if you are a single person out there dating in the modern world).
Brad Warner tries to address this gap in this book. In the course of the book, he takes on a whole load of subjects which are almost never dealt with in a lot of Buddhist books and importantly deals with them in a very practical way. So you'll find discussion of celibacy (and not in the monastic sense), monogamy, dating, being gay, open relationships, masturbation, pornography and how to deal with the end of relationships and the heart break that can often follow. A lot of the subjects are controversial, for example, can being a stripper or prostitute be "right livelihood"? Can meditation be used to support and assist someone with a history of being sexually abused? What about swinging or sado-masochistic sex - is that wrong from a Buddhist perspective? How does a lay Buddhist deal with the normal sexual desire that we all have? Is abortion acceptable?
Not every Buddhist is going to agree or approve of every suggestion and viewpoint that Brad Warner expresses (but it isn't a dogmatic book and repeatedly emphasises that ultimately we all have to find our own way through the difficult cirucmstances of our own individual lives).
This is also a very funny book. As with all his books, Brad Warner writes in a jokey and humourous way and this might make some Buddhists uncomfortable (if you are put off by a chapter heading about the concept of no-self titled "How can I play with myself if I don't have a Self?" you might find this book a bit challenging!). Some of the humour in the footnotes is verging on Beavis and Butthead but even here I think Brad Warner is trying to make a point, namely why are we as Buddhists so uncomfortable with the idea of acknowledging and accepting our natural sexual desire?
A really good book and one which should help to start a very useful and much-needed debate on the topic.
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