Hardcore Zen and Sex

That is perhaps one of the best titles in existence. I wish I could take credit for it but it was mentioned in this article here by Violet Blue interviewing Brad Warner (Zen Master and writer). Personally, I enjoy the fact that he writes an occasional article for Suicide Girls which is basically a soft-core porn site (and a good one at that, I hear) I suppose some others have taken issue with in the past.

I listed a few of the excerpts from the interview anything in red is my comment.

  • Violet Blue: What’s the basic philosophy about sex from a Zen perspective?

  • Brad Warner: There’s no specific philosophy as such. When you enter the Buddhist order either as a layperson or clergy you take ten vows, one of which is not to abuse sexuality. But there is no specific definition of what that means. In the earliest Buddhist sanghas they decided that meant you had to be celibate. And some orders still interpret it that way. Lucky for me, Japanese-style Zen Buddhism does not interpret it in that way! In Zen it’s up to each individual to decide what “abusing sexuality” means. For me it’s even more vague because my teacher changed the wording of that precept and rather than asking them to avoid abusing sexuality he asks his students to vow to “not to desire too much.”

  • Damn! I love this aspect of Buddhism and always have. Very little is stated about sex or sexuality and nothing is stated about guilt from the Pali canon (earliest Buddhist writing usually the central scriptures of the Theravada tradition). It is likewise absent from most Zen liturature although there is a large amount of Zen literature that I have not read or is even translated.
  • A central idea in Zen and Buddhism is that anything that could lead to unhealthy desire be put in its proper context (the Middle Way). This includes everything from food, attention, fame, credit, sex to enlightenment and meditation. Personally I place the precept of “abusing sexuality” in the context of individuals who use sex to gain emotional power over another, to mask prevelant insecurities or to in some way harm another. Other than that, I think it is pretty much open season. Just keep your mind on what you are doing. If you clean then clean; if you sit then sit; if you fuck then fuck. The whole thing is simple, really.

  • There is also a precept against abusing alcohol or drinking. Translations of this vary from no drinking or encouraging drinking allowed to drink moderately all the way to DRINK…NOW HIT YOURSELF WITH THIS SHOE AND PUNCH YOUR TEACHER IN THE FACE.

  • VB: Do Buddhists “do it differently?” Do they “do it” at all?

  • BW: I don’t think there are any special Buddhist sex practices or techniques. (I use the “Buddha’s Palm” quite often does that count?) Even in the celibate Buddhist orders only the clergy is celibate. But there are no specific restrictions for anybody else. It’s not like the Catholic Church proclaiming contraception is sinful or anything like that. Buddhists “do it.” Otherwise there wouldn’t be so many of us!

  • This reminds me of a Dogen story about a monk that swears to another monk that he would never touch a woman ever as a testimony to his enlightenment. The other monk’s reply being something along the lines of “Well, that’s stupid”. Even with some Zen monestaries being celibate, most aren’t especially in the West. The heads of these monestaries or Zen centers are married and most monks are of both sexes.

This always brings me back to why would you want to practice a religion that doesn’t accept who you are? This being said I don’t consider Zen to be a religion since it is, in essence, a meditation school. Every week I sit with Buddhists, Catholics, Christians and a smathering of atheists and agnostics. Zen is, for better or for worse, just an aspect of their faith, spirituality, practice or skeptisism.

But if I were a woman why would I want to go to a Catholic or Orthodox church? They basically say that woman are not good enough, for whatever reason, to be priests or deacons. And their viewpoint on homosexuality hasn’t changed in ohhhhh 2000 years? This was the main reason I stopped being a Christian. I could not believe that I was aligning myself with people who overtly or covertly believed in this. It was misogonystic and homophobic on one hand and then just plain weak on the other.
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