The Passionate Buddha: Wisdom on Intimacy and Enduring Love
“In The Passionate Buddha, Robert Sachs draws on twenty-seven years of marriage and Tibetan Buddhist practice to map the way to bodhicitta, the awakened heart. Sachs is unequivocal about the spiritual significance of intimate relationships: “True love…[is] the only path to liberation and fulfillment…Knowing how to truly love in every moment and every situation is the quintessential perfection of being human.”
Sachs addresses the question “What does a conscious, loving, and enduring relationship look like?” with practices to foster flexibility, loving detachment, mutual respect, and compassion. There are instructions for basic Tibetan Buddhist meditations – shamatha, or calm abiding, and tonglen, receiving and sending – plus a visualization for channeling passion into intimacy and a “Don’t Know” meditation Sachs learned from Korean Zen Master Seung Sahn.
Fully a third of the book deals with sex. For many, this material will be valuable. Sachs considers attention to the principles of tantra (sacred sexuality – he tells readers to find a teacher for instruction in the practices…Some readers will particularly appreciate his evenhanded approach to topics seldom discussed in a Buddhist context: homosexual love, impotence, incestuous feelings, contraception, and abortion.
In the closing chapter on enduring love, Sachs recalls his own wedding years ago. Chime Rinpoche, who officiated, drew the bride and groom aside and asked, “Are you a vajra couple?” In that question, Sachs has come to see that only when we are willing to embrace both the light and darkness in a relationship can we “live in vajra, in unshakeable awareness.”
“Here is an intelligent and moving book about the nature of love as seen through the filter of Buddhist ideals. Robert Sachs, a long time student and teacher of Buddhism, demonstrates how to create physical, emotional, and spiritual intimacy between partners. Using examples from his own life as well as wise words of masters such as Thich Nhat Hahn and the Buddha himself, Sachs examines passion and love for what they are – enormously complex and joyful rituals that can bring us closer to the divine than anything else in human experience. Intimacy with another, says Sachs, begins with an intimate knowledge of one’s own self and soul. A great premise, and a fascinating read.”
“In The Passionate Buddha, Robert Sachs uses clear and playful language to describe the different aspects of healthy relationships- from physical pleasure to emotion connection and spiritual transformation – all within a Buddhist context. A powerful guide for all of those ‘fumbling-towards-ecstasy’ in an increasingly challenging world of relationships…A must read for anyone seeking to practice the profound path of intimate relationships, the book encompasses meditations and practical tools for joining deep cognizance with passionate intensity.”
“Sachs covers a lot of ground in the area of intimacy; celibacy, tantra, promiscuity, erogenous zones, love between members of the same sex and the lure of attractions outside of the relationship. A chapter on infidelity delivers a sage, deep understanding of this most challenging of relationship issues. “It is only natural to reach (outside of the relationship) for what is light and unencumbered. But, the bliss we are seeking, “ Sachs contends, “is far greater than the spark that made us aware of its presence.” To look beyond the spark, to see that bliss lies most prominently in the unknown, might indicate that we have made the decision that we already know all there is to know about our partner. Once again, assumptions are at work and may deaden the relationship.
And herein lies the Buddhist awareness and source of potential growth. Here we get a chance to look more closely at our ignorance, our attachments, our aggressions, and how they are destroying openness and possibility.
If the power of the two together creates a synergy far greater than one plus one, then the two can be an invaluable tool for seeing into our true nature. And truth, The Passionate Buddha wants us to learn, can be an amazing aphrodisiac. Anyone on a spiritual path to love will appreciate this wisdom and this book.”
“The Passionate Buddha is a wonderful book on the proper handling of the magnetics of the heart – its irrepressible attraction as well as its unremitting opposition. It is about the great work that only the heart is great enough to handle.”