torsdag 9 september 2010

Bookreview: Sex, sin and Zen


Brad Warner's book Sex, Sin, and Zen is funny, witty, useful and a fresh breath of air as it takes on one of the maybe least openly discussed subjects in Buddhism, that of SEX!

Now, this book is not for everybody.
It contains some strong language (both about buddhism, buddhists and sex), and some might not like that being brought forth.
The same goes that he still takes a standpoint in his own experiences some times, and some might not like that either.
And i think some chapters could be somewhat left out or edited, but where would that leave the book, kif there were no "not-so-good"-chapters.
Not to mention his, and he makes a pun of it in thebook, constant talking about his earlier books.
You either like his style or not.
He has been described as being all sorts of bad-boy archetypes.
As he himself admits, he takes a certain pleasure in being oppositional.
But it seems like somewhere down there is something you like about him.
The same goes for this book.

The new thing he brought forth is some chapters where he takes "sexual angles on Buddhism".
Which is exactly what they are, certain aspects of Buddhism from a sexual Angle.
This is something new, and as for me, not seen before.
I found these chapters more entertaining and "educational" than many of the regular ones...

Next to that he Discusses zen tachers and some of his dealings within the sexual sphere.
More exactly his writings for Suicide girls and his interview with Nina Hartley.
Now, i really liked some of the things he says here, and would like to hear more from Nina, who said some really good things in the interview by the way...

And a quote from him, which, i think, in its essence says so much towards his view on practice (my bold)...  

“…Teacher-student romantic relationships will always be a part of the landscape of Zen and other spiritual traditions. It’s important to understand that these relationships do happen and to understand that when they do, the reasons are always various and complex. Sometimes the relationship is clearly abusive and wrong, but not always. In fact, I’ll also be so bold as to say that most of the time there is nothing any more sleazy or abusive going on than goes on in any other romantic relationship. It’s also vital that members of the community examine the real reasons behind whatever feelings they have about the matter. This is after all, what the practice is for – self-examination rather than the examination of others.

Finally the gem is turning into an diamond.
Don't get me wrong, Brad Warner has done some good books before.
Sit down and shut up is a classic amongst Zen/Buddhism literature.
But this book shows he's getting on the path of good authorship. 
He's being both witty, thoughtful and really readable.
And at the same time, he's not really there..
But please read and enjoy yourselves.

May the force be with you

tisdag 7 september 2010

The teachings of the Daruma doll...


The thing isn't to do everything right.

In our practice, whoever we are, we can, and will, stray from the path.
No exception, this will happen to everybody.
The thing is that when it happens getting back to the path.
Sometimes we can make it by ourselves.
Sometimes we need help from others.
And it's all ok.
The main thing is getting back, not how you did it, as long as you keep in accord with the precepts..
Much like an Daruma doll, which keeps uprighting itself...

There has been a lot of talks about teachers and others doing this or that or straying from the path in one way or another, but that's just normal.
The thing is not that they strayed, or will stray or...
The thing is what you do about it.

Two zen monks were travelling.They came to a ford of a stream that was running high, and the current was strong and frightening looking. An attractive young lady was standing at the ford, looking nervous. She clearly was afraid to cross, but had an important reason to go. Without a word, the older of the two monks lifted her in his arms and waded across the stream, and placed her safely on the far bank. The younger monk looked shocked at this action, but kept his silence for quite some number of miles as they continued their journey. Finally, he blurted out "You know that it is against the rules of our order to have any contact with women. How could you do that?".
The older monk replied "I put her down when I reached the other side of the river. You, on the other hand, have been carrying her this whole way."

I am not a Zen teacher, just a simple priest, and as such is not to be viewed as an authority of any sort, but today i would like to write a little about one of the things people often hear me saying, "When this happens do this,  when that happens do that" and "It's all good practice."

The first sentence is that you should do one thing at the time, and it's the thing that is right in front of you right now.
Not anywhere else or at any other time.

The second is that it's all good, everything is as it is.
You know it, he knows it, she knows it, i know it.
But sometimes we miss it, and don't see it.
That's when we strayed.
That's when we need to get back on track.
Mind you, i might be saying to get back on track, but that doesn't mean we're off, just that we think we are...

The thing isn't to do everything right.
We all stray and miss the path sometimes, doing things we maybe shouldn't have.
All i ask of you is that when i stray, please lead me back.
It's all good practice.
Thank you for your practice.

May the force be with you.