Yesterday we had our first Zen and Sex lecture at Hill Street Center. There are three more to come, and everyone is welcome. The info is in the links section over to your left or right here.
Part of the discussion got into some of the matters discussed in my book ZEN WRAPPED IN KARMA DIPPED IN CHOCOLATE. But before we get into the sex talk, I want to share with you an email I got last week regarding that very book. Here goes:
Hey, I just read your Zen Wrapped... book. My name is Jen I am a 37y.o. stay at home mom of 3 girls. I also am a Born-Again Christian who goes on missions trips to Africa and here in the States, to spread and teach the word of Jesus. That being said, my best friend is a practicing Buddhist; we practice yoga and meditate together, and she loaned me your book. I read it in 2 days, don't get too excited though I sat in the dentist office for 3 hrs waiting for my hubby to get 2 root canals.
I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed your book and your honesty, it took great courage and humility to expose yourself the way you did. It's refreshing to have a person in the "Spiritual Teacher" (gosh, I hate that term, it hurts to even type it) role, to tell people that they are just...PEOPLE TOO! So many "religious" people are ridiculously judgmental, Jesus even said that he was not put on the earth to judge. OK, now I'm getting all Christiany-like.
I have not heard of a book in the Christian religion of a minister exposing his/her self as a common sinner (in Christian terms) with dark secrets and sordid indiscretions. I personally know ministers who have made some pretty big mis-steps, but not many people, of any belief or faith, would be so honest.
Well, I've rambled on long enough and I have to put icing on my daughter's cupcakes for her class tomorrow. I thought that you may want to hear from a Born Again Christian Missionary Mom and wife, that I think your book ROCKS! I can't wait for the next one.
Wow. Gosh. I felt really good when I read that one. It's got to be one of the best reviews I've ever read about something I've written. As time goes by I grow ever more certain that publishing that book was the right thing to do, even in spite of the hits I've taken from some quarters for talking about stuff some feel ought not to be discussed.
I think it's really vital to demolish the pop culture's image of the guru or Zen Master as spiritual super being. As plenty of people have pointed out, there are very few folks out there who think of me as such a super being. Thank you, Jesus! But I'd had enough of writers who try and demolish some guru's image by pointing fingers at him and saying how badly he behaved since I think that only tends to reinforce the idea that there are such super beings out there, it's just that whatever guy happens to be under examination is not one of them. It was better to turn the focus on myself and demolish me.
Blah-blah-blah... I've said all this in the book so I don't want to get into it here again.
One of the fascinating things that's happened here in Bloggerland in regard to the sex talk we've been doing is the sudden reappearance of lots of trolls in the comments section. Now, by "trolls" I'm not just referring to anonymous commenters or even just to anonymous commenters who have negative things to say. I'm talking about people who post anonymously or pseudonymously with deliberately hurtful comments that, more often than not, are wildly off topic. For example, in the comments section of my last entry on this blog I had one guy who wanted to spread untrue rumors about the sales figures of my books and the attendance at my talks, and I had another guy who insulted the quality of Dimentia 13's music.
These and other comments along the same lines are not intended to further any sort of debate or even simply criticize what I do here. They appear to me to be the reactions of people who feel they have been deliberately and specifically personally hurt by me and therefore feel justified in trying to personally hurt me back. Please don't take this stuff personally. OK? It ain't about you.
It would appear that the very idea of someone in my position talking about sex is seen as personally hurtful to some. It's difficult for me to comprehend why that would be. But I can only theorize that it's because sex is such a hot button issue in our culture that there are still a lot of people who feel it should absolutely not be talked about. They feel that such talk constitutes a personal attack on them. Perhaps because they hold certain views very, very strongly. If these views come under attack it is as if they, themselves, have been attacked.
That, in itself, brings up one of the reasons that sex had been so highly regulated among Buddhist practitioners. If one can somehow sidestep the entire area of human sexuality by, for example, remaining truly celibate and not engaging in any kind of sexual behavior or discussion, one would avoid getting into this hot button area and thus live a more peaceful and regulated life.
This seems a reasonable theory to me. But it also seems to be so incredibly difficult to put into practice especially in the West in the 21st century that it hardly bears talking about. If you can accomplish such a feat you certainly don't need any advice from me! The next best solution would be to have a stable marriage. Again, this is great if you can manage it. But not all of us are able to (Brad points to himself). What do the rest of us do?
People in the comments section have raised the issue of whether or not I am qualified to talk about sex. I'm not sure what sort of qualifications one needs. I have had sex. I worked in the "porn industry," albeit in a very tangential way in a segment that is arguably not even porn but erotica. Still, I have some contacts there.
But more than that, I encountered Buddhist practice in my late teens. I also had my first sexual relationships at about the same time. So pretty much all of my life as a sexual being has been deeply influenced by Zen practice and philosophy. I've thought a lot about this, talked a lot to my teachers about it, and spent a long time specifically observing how sex affected my practice and vice versa.
Enough from me, though. Here is an interesting post from porn star Nina Hartley (see link to my interview with her to your left) that has a very Buddhist point of view to it. Nina's parents are both Zen monks, so that may account for it. This is pretty dirty, so be careful. Probably NSFW, but there are no dirty images, just dirty talk. The Zen stuff comes up about 1/3 of the way through.