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Mind and Body

East Meets West in the Bedroom

When it comes to sex, there’s a lot of noise out there. Do it this way! Buy this! Try this! Do it more! Do it now! Do it today! 

It’s a message we see and hear all around us. It makes you wonder what the real deal is. So, I thought I might take a step off the well-beaten path and look in an entirely new direction for some insight -- Eastern religion and philosophy. I wondered if I might be able to find a little quiet in the sex storm, and I did.

So, here it is. The top things we can learn about sex from the Zen Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Hinduism and Shinto philosophies.

Zen Buddhism
Brad Warner, a Soto Zen priest and the author of several books, including “Sex, Sin, and Zen: A Buddhist Exploration of Sex from Celibacy to Polyamory and Everything in Between,” defines Zen Buddhism as more of a meditative practice and less of a religion that seeks “to strip away all of the inessential rituals, costuming, and other trappings and get back down to basics.”

Here are two things Warner says we can learn from Buddhism about sex:
1) Sex isn’t such a big deal. Buddhism has a lighter approach than others. It says only that you shouldn’t misuse sexuality. Then it leaves it up to you to decide what constitutes misuse. But sex also is a very big deal. Buddhism doesn’t draw a line between body and mind. Even "casual sex" creates a deep connection. So, you don’t have to be committed for life to every partner. But you shouldn’t ignore the connection that’s made.

2) When it comes to sex, you don't need to get so attached. Attachment is a hard concept to deal with. The Buddhist ideal of non-attachment doesn't mean you have to stop loving the people you love or enjoying the things you like to do. It means to give up your mental attachment to the idea of how things ought to be and, instead, focus on how things really are.

Confucianism
Richard A. Singer Jr., author of "Eastern Wisdom for Your Soul," defines Confucianism as “the teachings of Confucius with a focus on the love of humanity. Confucianism embraces learning, devotion to family, inner harmony, peace and justice.”

What can we learn about sex from Confucianism? Read on.

1) Sex is good in moderation. Like everything in life we must maintain balance in our sexual affairs. We must not indulge or abstain.

2) There must be harmony between desire and ritual.

3) Sex is a necessity for human beings. In order to embrace our humanity and to survive, sex is a must – just like food. To abstain is to deny our natural hunger. 

Taoism
Tony Burris, a Shih (member of the Taoist clergy) and a 15-year practitioner of acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine, defines Taoism as being based on the premise that the universe is guided by an all-powerful and unfathomable force (Tao) and strives to integrate man with nature to achieve harmony and balance and, thus, happiness and contentment.

Here are three things Burris says we can learn from Taoism about sex.
1) Sex is a healthy practice that should energize and reinvigorate us rather than deplete us.

2) Sex is a way for two people to connect and exchange positive energy between each other, which is a different way to look at intimacy.

3) Sex is a practice that should be done mindfully and with good intentions toward our partner, as opposed to random, anonymous sex that has no real value.

Hinduism
Russill Paul, author of The Yoga of Sound, explains, “It is hard to ‘define’ Hinduism, a term conferred by outsiders to a tradition that referred to itself as Sanathana Dharma, ‘the eternal way of righteousness.’ In essence, Hinduism is about oneness, about achieving a sense of unity between all things.”

Here is what Paul says we can learn from Hinduism about sex:
1) Sexual energy is a sacred force residing in the core of our being that seeks expression and fulfillment through a progressive order of being. Normal, healthy, sexual expression is just the starting point. When sublimated, subtly, through levels of consciousness, it transforms into union with the highest divine presence. This is the essence of yoga.

2) Sex is seen as part and parcel of divine being and divine order: Many Hindu Gods and Goddesses are sexually partnered. However, both Gods and Goddesses are emanations of One Supreme Being who is beyond name and form, and their union – that of the Gods and Goddesses, establishes this primal unity.

Shinto
Cerridwen Fallingstar, the author of two historical novels set in 12th-century Japan, defines Shinto, an ancient, polytheistic religion, as also being “a nature religion. It is the indigenous Pagan religion of Japan.”

The most important thing, I think, that we can learn from the Shinto religion, according to Fallingstar is No. 1.

1) Be proud of your body, no matter what shape or size.

2) Spend time in nature. Get to know your own nature. Learn to be in harmony with your true nature, and the true nature of your sexuality, whatever that may be

3) Develop your power of kokoro, openness of heart and mind, letting your intelligence and your compassion be your guide. Polish your seimei, your heart's brightness, taking responsibility for your choices.

We spend a lot of time trying to figure out sex. How to have it. How to find someone to have it with. How to have it better. What we can learn about sex from Eastern religion and philosophy is that sex is a good thing, and the key is not to misuse it.

It’s time to clear our heads of all the noise about what sex could or would or should be. We know what to do. We just have to trust it. And, for goodness sake, enjoy it. It is sex after all.

Warner says that, “a lot of what makes for bad sexual performance is a cluttered and overactive mind. Clear your mind, improve your sex life.” 

In other words, it’s time to strip down … on all fronts!