Secretly, I’m always hoping that the articles in Inquiring Mind will stir people up and generate some feisty letters to the editor. So after our fall issue on freedom came and went, eliciting only a measured response from readers, I remarked to my coeditor, “Hey Wes, maybe it’s time for an issue on sex?” “Why just sex?” he laughed. “How about sex, money and power?” Alan, our publisher, agreed, “Yeah, I think it’s time to take on ‘the tough stuff.’”
Even when the dramas of life are somewhat settled, it’s not that easy to maintain equanimity. But when grappling with issues like sex, money and power, you might feel as though you had never heard of the Dharma. What comes up is often intimate, revealing the ways you’re most driven, both in protecting a sense of self and in relationships with others. To grapple with your own desires, to disclose your struggles with sex, money and power in your own day-to-day life, takes courage. And that’s precisely what Inquiring Mind has asked of the Dharma teachers we’ve interviewed and the writers we’ve invited to share their own stories.
We begin with money. Ajahn Amaro, coabbot of Abhayagiri Monastery, describes how the economic and social organization of the monastic community cuts at the very root of our desires. Journalist and bon vivant Bokara Legendre gives us a rare view into the mind of a philanthropist longing to be thanked. Next comes power. Publisher Arnie Kotler wrestles with his intense relationships with his Zen teachers and father-figures, Richard Baker-roshi and Thich Nhat Hanh. Poet/translator Stephen Mitchell does likewise with Korean Zen master Soen Sa Nim. In our section on sex, we present a provocative pair of interviews. Tibetan Buddhist scholar Miranda Shaw explores the Tantric approach to sex while Theravadin nun Ajahn Thaniya talks about the practice of celibacy. We then offer what may be a uniquely American approach to the subject, Michael Attie’s Lingerie Zen Sect.
Drawing the themes of the issue together Theravadin monk Ajahn Sucitto and Tibetan monk Matthieu Ricard offer wise advice on understanding and working skillfully with desire no matter how it might manifest. Read on, see what comes up for you, and maybe send us a feisty letter.
—Barbara Gates, for the editors