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Sex, Sin, and Zen: A Buddhist Exploration of Sex from Celibacy to Polyamory and Everything In Between

3.79  ·  Rating Details  ·  675 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
With his one-of-a kind blend of autobiography, pop culture, and plainspoken Buddhism, Brad Warner explores an A-to-Z of sexual topics — from masturbation to dating, gender identity to pornography. In addition to approaching sexuality from a Buddhist perspective, he looks at Buddhism — emptiness, compassion, karma — from a sexual vantage. Throughout, he stares down the toug ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 31st 2010 by New World Library (first published August 15th 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,399)
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Jasmine
Aug 22, 2010 Jasmine rated it really liked it
Shelves: american
I popped this book's cherry.

There are a lot of great options for how to start this review so I guess maybe it will just keep restarting.

On my review of warner's last book I gave one sentence summaries of his books, to continue this practice this book basically is saying:
"keep your grubby hands of my god damn practice you bastard."
This is why I love brad Warner. Also the what makes you not a Buddhist guy. I can't be part of a spiritual practice. I cannot be attached to a moral dogmatism that c
...more
Rob
Sep 22, 2011 Rob rated it liked it
Not Warner's best. Some sections felt like was just filling up space with his random thoughts on a sexual topic that someone had written to him about at some time. It seemed like so many of his opinions went something like: "Weellll, Buddhism doesn't really have a strong opinion about abortion per se...buuuut, here are my opinions, if I as a Buddhist were forced to have one on this issue". He then proceeds to ramble about his ideas on abortion, and how he would approach it if he were ever close ...more
Matt
Jan 30, 2011 Matt rated it it was amazing
From the first page of HARDCORE ZEN when I read it in 2004, I've been a Brad Warner fan. His humor and ease within his literary voice masks the depth of his topics, which I find amazing in a philosophical text. Reading his work through four books always feels like I'm having a series of talks with the man about whatever subject has been kicking around his brain recently and, like all such good talks, seems to dovetail flawlessly into whatever's been kicking around my own brain as well. In this c ...more
Kimberly
Oct 14, 2010 Kimberly rated it it was amazing
This was a fun read. My "first time" with Mr. Warner was partaking of his razor-sharp wit in "Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate" and holding him in pretty close company to the great Buddha himself. This man is a hilarious writer! I've always been interested in Buddhism and my current foray into religion via a college classroom sparked a renewed fascination of the topic. There is no better way to approach sexual ethics and intimacy than the Buddhist way and Brad Warner makes the journey wo ...more
Electric
Nov 04, 2010 Electric rated it it was amazing
Brad Warner is the best thing that happened to zen buddhism in a long time. He has a completely down to earth approach to zen while not watering down any of the philosophical stuff. Plus he is a punk rocker, curses in his books and is pretty laid back about the whole enlightment business. Now he wrote a book about different aspects of sexuality from his/a zen buddhist point of view. A lot of topics are included: celibacy, masturbation, bdsm, porn, prostitution, love, polyarmory, abortion, queer ...more
Alex
Jan 07, 2015 Alex rated it it was ok
I think this topic would make for a really great long form essay. But as a book I found it superfluous. I kept thinking that perhaps Warner was just choosing a sexy subject (sex) to sell Buddhist books, and his constant wink-wink footnotes imploring you to buy his other books did nothing to assuage my suspicions. That being said, he often presents a clear and fresh take on Buddhist topics. I just felt like I've gotten that take before and this was a bit repetitive. It was aimed more at attractin ...more
Sparrow Knight
Jun 01, 2015 Sparrow Knight rated it really liked it
Shelves: dharma
As a long time student of zen, I really appreciated the frank manner in which Brad takes up the hot-button topic of sexuality, not just in zen, not just in Buddhism, but how our sexuality functions in life in general. Tho' I don't agree w/him on all counts, this is nevertheless a useful & thought-provoking exploration of sex, the benefits & misuses of our sexuality, & things to consider when one engages in sex, casual or committed, in relationship(s) or outside of one.

He takes up the
...more
Damien
Sep 18, 2013 Damien rated it liked it
I really liked Brad Warner's first two books. I'm not a Buddhist, but more of a Thelemite. And Brad Warner's description of zazen is closer to what Crowley refers to as yoga than what most people do today when they use the term.
There are many little bits of silver nuggets in this book if have the time and patience to sift through sand and straw. At times, it is like listening to a friend who has had too much coffee and really wants to express/share their stream of consciousness before they forg
...more
John Eich
Nov 16, 2011 John Eich rated it really liked it
So far I'm really enjoying this book. This is the first American zen teacher/author I've read who speaks on the topic more like an activity with pros and cons vs a sacred spiritual endeavor. Having spent many years practicing with an uber-serious lineage in my 20's ("...gasp...MUST...reach...kensho...TODAY!! Life...and...death...in the...balance!!"), this book has been a cool wind refreshing a oppressed and suffocated practice. This is my first experience with a teacher who on some level is stil ...more
Alexis
Nov 03, 2011 Alexis rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
I love Brad Warner. I've read all of his books and would happily attend one of his talks. Brad Warner used to be work at a Japanese monster movie studio, and played in a punk band. Now he's a Zen monk. In this book, he tries to give a Buddhist analysis of sex and the Buddhist attitudes to sex.

I am happy to say that I really agree with the Buddhist attitudes toward sex as outlined by Warner. It's healthy! It's natural and not a sin! Who cares what you're doing as long as you're not hurting anyone
...more
Cristina Garcia
Nov 18, 2012 Cristina Garcia rated it did not like it
Shelves: read_in_2012
You know I really felt the need to come back and reassess this book. I wanted to like it, I really did, but months after I read it my dissatisfaction with it is just as fresh. I felt the idea for this book was wonderful but I'm extremely disappointed with the author's delivery. He basically said "I'm no expert, there are other books that say more about this" in every chapter.

I wanted facts, not a recommendation to look elsewhere. DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY ON IT, rent it from the library as an outl
...more
David Guy
Apr 11, 2013 David Guy rated it really liked it
I've read all of Brad Warner's books, and read everything he's written on the web, and I feel the same way about all of it. I disagree with things he says about various subjects, like music, politics. But everything he actually says about Zen practice seems right on the money to me. This book is not groundbreaking in what it says about sex. It's actually fairly naive. But what he says about Zen in the book seems great to me. He really has a deep understanding of Zen and Zen practice.
Kelsey
Jul 31, 2011 Kelsey rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011, kindle
I've read several of Brad Warner's books so I knew what to expect from this one. I enjoyed it highly with few exceptions. The extensive question and answer format he used to write about his interviews with Nina Hartley got annoying after awhile, but that might not be so irritating in a paper edition of the book. His story about the utter normalcy of seething with hatred towards the person seated on the next cushion at meditation retreats was particularly well told.
Amber
Apr 23, 2011 Amber rated it really liked it
Lots of good ideas. He's a lot more "these other people are doing it wrong!" than I expected, but he also comes right out and says not to listen to him if you don't want to, so it balances out. Makes me want to look into Zen more... Interesting that the whole idea behind Zen is to not get too excited about anything... but in a drama-is-uncomfortable way, not in a robot way. Hmmm...
Tori
Oct 03, 2010 Tori rated it did not like it
I loved his first book Hardcore Zen, but not this one. I don't know how you can have a book about sex and about Buddhism either of which should be interesting that is SO BORING. I think he put sex in the title to get people to buy the book, but it was just an odd mix of topics some of which seemed completely unrelated. I felt like parts of it came across as bitter.
jill
Mar 05, 2014 jill rated it really liked it
he was intriguing when discussing buddhism and sex, but his sense of humor seems cheesy and immature.
Joe
Jul 21, 2014 Joe rated it did not like it
I only read the first 50 pages or so. I couldn't really get past Warner - I didn't like how prominent he placed himself in the discussion (if it was another person that might not've been a deal breaker, but something about his voice just rubbed me the wrong way). I also found his writing to be very disorganized or, rather, not organized in a way that helped me dig deeper into this topic. He seemed to bounce around and get very tangential. I have another of his books and I'll give it a go. The ti ...more
Vijay
Excellent, entertaining, and thought provoking.
Marla
Nov 19, 2012 Marla rated it it was ok
I loved Brad Warner's first two books. I put off reading this one. One of the five Buddhist precepts is to abstain from sexual misconduct. True to Buddhist belief, I interpret this as one has to decide for one's self, what constitutes sexual misconduct. I didn't need or want Brad to interpret for me. However, I read the book and it was entertaining. Only Brad Warner, a Soto Zen priest who penned a column for a porn site, could make a case for Mistress Ivy (a BDSM dominatrix who is also a Buddhis ...more
William P.
Apr 20, 2012 William P. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook
This book has issues. Quite of few of them, in my opinion. Brad Warner is a blogger I very much enjoy and he is a very interesting person in his own right. But his book was lacking in many places. While he's quite knowledgeable about Zen, even if I don't agree with him on several points, he's actually not, it would seem, all that well versed in many of the other things he talks about in this book. When has has personal experience with a topic in the book, he's dead on target, but other times, su ...more
Booker
Sep 07, 2011 Booker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: time-worthwhile
The cover intrigues me, like some B-movie version of "If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him", yet simple wisdom need not suffer from embellishment. Sometimes humour is just the vehicle to take us through dark waters where we might not want to go. It comes across like Carlos Castaneda arguing with himself, while Don Juan looks on in wonder at what complex animals we are in our own minds. You have to be completely open and in the moment just to read it, because Buddha's going to tell it to ...more
Sam
Oct 14, 2012 Sam rated it really liked it
I really enjoy reading Brad Warner. I don't agree with him 100% On everything, but from the outset, he hopes that is the case. Any "teacher" worth listening to feels this way.

A quote form page 254-255:

"As for the matter of authority, any decent Zen teacher will toss back any authority you try to hand her like a hot potato. A hot potato with spikes on it. That explodes. In other words, a decent Zen teacher does not take you authority away from you. Her job is to help you learn to manifest your ow
...more
Meaghan McQuade
Jan 18, 2012 Meaghan McQuade rated it liked it
This is certainly an interesting book! At first I was admittedly frustrated by Warner's seemingly blasé attitude about virtually every aspect of the discussion in that it provides no "answers" in the typical sense of the word. However, as I read I realized that the author was being somewhat ingenious in his approach to the subject matter. By making no true distinction of right and wrong, even as he points out some historical Buddhists views, he actually gets to the heart of Buddhism in terms of ...more
Ryan
Nov 03, 2015 Ryan rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This was interesting. It was interesting to see the third precept ("refrain from sexual misconduct") interpreted in a way that is both sex-positive and acknowledges the actual way in which sex and sexuality are understood in the modern world.

The main drawback is that I don't know if there's really a full book's worth of material here. Warner has a gregarious, irreverent style that's always fun to read, but at times it gets repetitive as he relates everything back to that central interpretation o
...more
Blain
May 24, 2011 Blain rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
Compared to Warner’s other books I think “Sex, Sin and Zen” falls a bit short. Although a promising topic coved in his usual self revealing and no apologies style it somehow seams to lack the edge one might expect of this author coving such a topic, especial if you are aware of his writing for the “Suicide Girls” blog.

Although writers can make the mistake of assuming to many of his readers have read their previous works, Warner goes in the other direction. Many things in this book will be famili
...more
Albena Georgieva
Jun 23, 2014 Albena Georgieva rated it liked it
not very exciting book as the subject suggests. Yet, It was nice to realize that I do share the author's opinion and attitude on most of the subjects that were considered.
Danielle
Mar 21, 2016 Danielle rated it it was ok
the author is kind of funny, but I found I didn't like him as a person or an author as I read the book. He claims he is not judgmental, but is really biased.
Scott
Apr 13, 2014 Scott rated it it was amazing
really good typical things about brad warner blah blah blah
Mike
May 17, 2012 Mike rated it liked it
I didn't learn much from this book, though I do sometimes find Brad's quirky footnotes amusing. I appreciate that he's trying to talk openly about topics that a lot of Buddhist teachers refuse to touch. His punk rock/Zen teacher stance is that it's not his job to moralize or judge. Which is fine. I just didn't need to read a whole book about that.
Strangely, what I most got out of this book was the inspiration to learn to play Robyn Hitchcock's "Chinese Water Python" on the guitar. I still haven'
...more
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Brad Warner is an ordained Zen Master (though he hates that term) in the Soto lineage founded in Japan by Master Dogen Zenji in the 13th century. He's the bass player for the hardcore punk rock group 0DFx (aka Zero Defex) and the ex-vice president of the Los Angeles office of the company founded by the man who created Godzilla.

Brad was born in Hamilton, Ohio in 1964. In 1972, his family relocated
...more
More about Brad Warner...

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“Running away is futile. Even if you run very far away from home to a remote mountain monastery, as long as you carry the same attitude you've always had, you'll never truly get away. You'll just end up transferring all the stuff from home onto the other people at the monastery...

Lots of people run away from responsibilities to "find themselves." But not so many of them have a real commitment to the truth. It would be better to find the truth in the life you're living, with the responsibilities you've already accepted. Responsibilities have a way of finding you, even if you run away from them.”
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“Zazen, on the other hand, is kind of the opposite of sex in that it's really, really boring. And, honestly speaking, most of our lives are pretty boring. So if you want to learn how to be fully present for most of what goes on, it's better to try and do so by concentrating on a really boring activity rather than on a really exciting one...To find the way of being fully engaged in doing the dishes, you might want to try becoming fully engaged in something way more boring than doing dishes. This is why zazen is so desperately dull.” 0 likes
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