Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sex, Chocolate, and Buddhism

Dhr. Seven and Crystal Quintero, Wisdom Quarterly; S.F. Asian Art Museum (

Gorgeous Idea
Rare Buddhist masterpieces on display
Imagine talks that are informal, impromptu, in-gallery conversations. Imagine that they are facilitated by scholars, artists, filmmakers, and writers. Imagine that the facilitators explore ideas arising from the artwork on view in the exhibition "Gorgeous." And when done imaging, visit the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco to see them brought to life. Each facilitator presents an idea that piques the curiosity of the host and the audience then engages in a session to investigate it through two or three artworks:
Caveat emptor: you get what you pay for.
How do artists use sex, food, physicality, and clothing to seduce and deceive viewers? Tina Takemoto explores how sexuality and race are deployed in artworks presented in Gorgeous that engage with cross-dressing, masquerade, embodiment, and ethnic drag.

Tina Takemoto is an artist and associate professor of visual studies at California College of the Arts in San Francisco.
Takemoto's research explores the hidden dimensions of same-sex intimacy and queer sexuality for Japanese Americans incarcerated during WW II. She has...received grants funded by Art Matters, James Irvine Foundation, and San Francisco Arts Commission. Her film Looking for Jiro received Best Experimental Film Jury Award at the Austin Gay and Lesbian Int'l Film Festival. Her
articles appear in Afterimage, Art Journal, GLQ, Performance Research, Radical Teacher, Theatre Survey, Women and Performance, and the anthology Thinking Through the Skin. Takemoto is board president of the Queer Cultural Center and co-founder of Queer Conversations on Culture and the Arts. On occasion, she makes guerrilla appearances as Michael Jackson and Bjork-Geisha.
Sex, Chocolate, and Buddhism
Wisdom Quarterly and Ven. K. Sri Dhammananda (Question Time)
Don't we have a parlor to get to? - Oh, S, we're gonna to be late! - I think they'll understand.
"Chocolate" is a fruit seed crushed with sugar.
We have a gorgeous idea, too. Crystal, what should our idea be? We can tell Jeff, and maybe he'll do it.
We can take a cue from Prof. Takemoto and concentrate on sex and chocolate! Did you know that chocolate is a fruit? 

What are you talking about? Chocolat is a fat. 
Yes, but Theobroma cacao -- "cocoa, the food of the devas" is the bitter crushed pit of a tropical fruit mixed with sugar or some sweetener, like raw agave, to take the edge off.

Chocolate Buddha (Patosoftineto/flickr)
That's rad; we should make raw chocolate, mold it into little Buddha bars, and hand them out at our talk -- our parlor room discussion -- about sex.

They would never go for it. San Francisco is way too uptight.

Maybe, but they let Jeff do Cosmic Mandalas in the main gallery, converting museum space into an actual, working sacred mandala.

True, that's true. But sex is a touchy subject for Americans. We're Judeo-Christian Puritans whether we like it or not, and most of us don't even realize how uptight we are.

"Touchy" subject is right. Maybe we should start with hugs -- chocolates and a snuggle party!

This is a Parlor.

Whatever, did you know that all sexual misconduct is sexual conduct BUT not all sexual conduct is sexual misconduct?

The real life mandala at the SF Asian Art Museum (Dr. Jeff Durham/
A woman discover the sensual scent of flowers
What, well, obviously! "All whales are fish, but not all fish are whales."

Fish are whales?

Whatever, things that live and swim in water all day.

What is sexual misconduct?

Who cares, our talk will be about sexual conduct.


But Amber's not going to give the go ahead on this presentation.

Hmmm...I've got it! We'll run it by Seth instead.


Worse comes to worse, we'll convince Ashley.

No, worse comes to worse they'll say we're parlor talkers. That chocolate had better be good, good like fudge.

We can quote Ven. Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda, the renowned Sri Lankan Theravada scholar-monk from Malaysia who says in Question Time:

Is sex bad?
As human beings, we have bodies that crave for all kinds of pleasures. Not only sex, we crave for food, pleasurable fragrances, sounds, sights, tastes, and tangibles.

If we deny ourselves these as being "sinful" then we repress natural desires. Instead of repressing these natural desires, we must seek to understand how and why they arise and to realize that it is not in our best intere3sts to pander to physical desires.

The victim of maya (illusion) sees the body as real and craves to satisfy a longing for sense desires (kama), which covers all kinds of sensual pleasure.

As the person, the being, matures spiritually, illusion is replaced with knowledge and wisdom (vidya and prajna). With spiritual matureity, the body is seen as an illusion and the person naturally grows out of craving. Here we see the spritually advanced being renounces sex (and other five sense strand pursuits) just as a child stops playing with toys as s/he grows up.

Quagmire is a pandaka (Family Guy)
There is nothing intrinsically wrong with sex. What is wrong is attachment and slavery to it, in believing that indulgence in sex can bring ultimate happiness.

This is the problem with the exploitation of sex by the mass entertainment industry today -- perpetuating the myth that sex can bring lasting happiness.

The third of the Five Precepts recited in daily Buddhist practice is, "I undertake the training rule to refrain from sexual misconduct." 

First, let's not that there is no compulsion, no fear of punishment for the infringement of any "divine law" here, but rather -- when we recognize the danger of attachment to sex, we freely take the steps (training rule) to grow out of it, that is, "I undertake."

(From Question Time with Venerable Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda, 2012, pp. 40-41, Buddhist Maha Vihara, Malaysia, Sasana Abhiwurdhi Wardhana Society).

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