A couple years ago I got to meet Zen Master Brad Warner when he was in San
Francisco doing appearances for his then-new book, Zen
Wrapped in Karma and Dipped in Chocolate

I was interviewing him for Geek
Entertainment TV
about the book, but as it was me, and as Brad used to have
a column
for softcore alt pinup site Suicide Girls, we got to talking a bit about sex
and Zen Buddhism.

He told me he’d gotten a hard time from certain kinds of Zen
purists for writing on such a website, but at the same time had ten times as
many inquiries about sex and Zen from people trying to find
answers to their questions on how sex and Zen might, could, should, or
should not go together.

This, among many other compelling questions and experiences,
inspired Brad to write Sex, Sin,
and Zen: A Buddhist Exploration of Sex from Celibacy to Polyamory and
Everything in Between
. And having read it, not even being the slightest bit
Buddhist or Zen-inclined, I give it my highest review. (Disclosure: I have a
review quote on the book’s back cover, but that does not interfere with the way
I feel compelled to communicate the way in which the book affected me and
brought me healing about a number of things).

See Brad Warner In Person
Sept. 15th 7:30 pm
East West
324 Castro Street, Mountain View

Sept. 17th 7 pm
Copperfield’s Books
140 Kentucky St, Petaluma

Sept 20th 7 pm
DIESEL, A Bookstore
5433 College Ave., Oakland

To see Brad Warner in person is a true treat, not to be missed! You can also see him on the KRON4 morning news, Sunday Sept 19.

Sex, Sin, and Zen has a resonance for not just my
generation, written as it is by a former punk band frontman, but also in that
Brad has an uncanny way of translating our confusion about today’s hyper-noise
and overclocked sexual cultural atmosphere and our struggle to find a rational
combination of sanity and personal pleasure. All while dealing with things like
the soul-ripping experience of heartbreak and learning to be alone, while
having to stay strong and be the masters of our own lives. Plus all the
hypocrisy we see in the world around us — and in the things we’re trying to
believe in.

Somehow, in Sex, Sin and Zen, Brad makes sense of this and gives a
bit of a roadmap that you don’t have to be religious to relate to.

For those who are studying Zen spiritualism, it’s a
refreshing look at questions about sex. You may or may not like what he has to
say — especially about the part where we’re still human. Brad is a dude and a
Zen Master, and that’s what I loved about the writing — he’s knowingly
juvenile about writing from a male perspective, and it’s honest.

It’s also
funny. He begins with the “Piece of Ass Chant,” and if that puts you
off, then you should probably try even harder to read the rest of the book and
look deeper into what’s being layered here. And what’s being stripped away.

asking the first question in the first chapter “Are Buddhists Allowed to
Jack Off?” he neatly faces questions most are unwilling to acknowledge,
and swats their immaturity aside to address issues around control, devotion, purity, honesty, and yes, religion
and masturbation. It’s almost as if by asking the schoolyard questions in
juvenile terms others won’t dare to, the Zen Master teaches Buddhism how to
grow up about sex already.

Sex, Sin and Zen goes far, ranging from love to porn and
beyond. If the book had a weak part for me, it would be the porn star
commentary, but only because it lacked interview subject variety. But that’s my
only criticism. Warner covers everything: celibacy, sex and compassion,
Buddhism and BDSM, when Zen Masters abuse their power and influence (and go
bad, actually abusing people), reconciling sex and enlightenment, Zen dating
and marriage advice, Buddhism and sex work, and answering great questions like
“How can I play with myself if I don’t have a Self?”

Like I said to the book’s publisher, whenever anyone tells me that
sex is the way to hell or the path to completeness, I’m handing them this book.
It’s also going to all my friends who have ever had a broken heart, or have had
sexual experiences backfire in their relationships. I don’t think my
boyfriend’s purist hardcore Buddhist mom will read it, but my hope is that
someday we’ll both be able to at least use the book as a very colorful coaster
for future peace-offering cocktails. With Zen party umbrellas which we’ll make
out of the chapter on Women, Evolution, and Buddhism.

You can buy Sex, Sin, and Zen: A Buddhist Exploration of Sex from
Celibacy to Polyamory and Everything in Between at your favorite local
bookstores, or with Zen-like patience online at outlets such as Amazon. Follow @BradWarner on Twitter, and keep up
with his blog Hardcore Zen.

the author

Violet Blue ( is an award-winning author, columnist blogger, journalist and is regarded as the foremost expert in the field of sex and technology. Blue features at global conferences on the topics of sex, technology and privacy, and her appearances range from Oprah to Google Tech Talks at Google, Inc.

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