By Katrina Tortorici
Internationally acclaimed American author Brad Warner was here in Montreal promoting his latest book, Sex, Sin, and Zen on Tuesday Oct. 26 at Casa del Popolo, a quaint resto-bar on St Laurence.
“I had never spoken about Zen in a place where people were getting drunk,” he said humorously at the start of the evening.
Warner, 46, appeared on the small stage for the third time during his career after a brief and welcoming introduction from Linda Dydyk, an English language teacher at Dawson and began speaking about the subjects he touches upon in his book, which, according to its by-line, is A Buddhist Exploration of Sex from Celibacy to Polyamory, and Everything in Between.
“The reason I wrote this book is because most Buddhist books talk about history, rather than talk about contemporary Buddhists,” Warner said.
Sex, Sin and Zen discusses how Buddhists are dealing with issues around sex; among other things, Warner focuses on the views Buddhism has on the controversial topics of porn, homosexuality, abortion, as well as masturbation and S&M.
In between informing the crowd on the interestingly rare topics of his book, he kept the room light with humorous anecdotes from his past. To the people’s amusement, he shared the line that inspired him to write Sex, Sin, and Zen in the first place – a line uttered by a spectator from that very coffee house years ago:
“Are Buddhists allowed to jack off?”
The room chuckled at this and then continued to listen attentively as Warner explained his connection with religion.
“I was always interested in religion, which, in Ohio, was mostly all Christian, but I was very interested in spiritual practice and was dissatisfied with what I learned with Christianity…Buddhism was something different and takes the point of view that body and mind are the same thing,” he said.
Born and raised in Hamilton, Ohio, Warner began studying Buddhism at the age of 18 and today is a master of many trades; he is a Buddhist Monk, runs a successful Internet blog, directed the documentary film, Cleveland’s Screaming, was a columnist for SuicideGirls, an online soft porn website, and was a bass guitarist for a punk rock band in his youth. In addition to his writing career, he is the leader of Dogen Sangha International, a Buddhists group.
Warner released four books since 2003 called, Hardcore Zen, Sit Down and Shut Up, and Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate, and toured Europe last spring to continue to promote his new book.
Warner ended the evening with discussions and questions from the crowd. He will be doing a book signing at Chapters downtown on Saturday Oct. 30 at 7:00 p.m. and will be a guest speaker at Dawson in the month of November.