Thursday, November 3, 2011

Lust for Enlightenment by John Stevens

My Review:

John Stevens is a Zen scholar and Aikido instructor who has also written The Way of Harmony and Sacred Calligraphy of the East. He is also a Professor of Buddhist Studies in Tohoku Social Welfare University in Sendai, Japan.

This book was an eye-opener for me. For one thing, I had not read the monastic code in quite some time, and having it introduced again in a condensed version helped me to see things differently. For one thing it caused me to think of Buddha in a different manner, one of a person that expected way too much from his monks in the way of celibacy. Certainly not all men and women are able to be celibate, and hopefully, being asked to leave the monastery did not add more suffering to their already so-called “fallen state” in the way of shame or even shunning.

I also used to idolize the monastic life; I don't now.  I am not sure how I even feel about Buddhism anymore.

I found this to be interesting:

“Although it may have been officially proscribed, homosexuality in fact flourished in Buddhist monasteries throughout the centuries: In China the character for hemorrhoids is ‘temple illness’: male love is said to not have existed in Japan until it was introduced by Buddhist monks in the ninth century; homosexuality was prevalent in Yellow Hat monasteries in Tibet and was regarded as a virtue, since it meant that a monk had completely conquered sexual attachment to women.”

All in all, the book gave me a complete different view of monastic life, leaving me with the belief that celibacy is out dated just as Stephen Batchelor had stated.

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