Book Review: Sex, Sin and Zen

Sex, Sin, and Zen: A Buddhist Exploration of Sex from Celibacy to Polyamory and Everything in Between
by Brad Warner
Published by New World Library

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.

One Comment

  1. Freakish..that I just wrote about sex and Buddhism on my blog. Leave for work and through the power of serendipity, you have a book review that talks on the same subject. I’ll make sure I buy the book!.

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