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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: No writing or highlighting. Binding tight. Cover has a few creases. Corners and edges show moderate wear.
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Open to Desire: The Truth About What the Buddha Taught Paperback – January 5, 2006

4.5 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“A fascinating look at the urge for pleasure, with the goal of helping readers accept the sensation of wanting into their lives in ways that are helpful both spiritually and psychologically.” —Body and Soul

From the Back Cover

Praise for Open to Desire:
"A masterpiece. . . . It teaches us how not to fear and repress, but to rechannel and harness the most powerful energies of life toward freedom and bliss."
—ROBERT THURMAN

"A fascinating look at the urge for pleasure, with the goal of helping readers accept the sensation of wanting into their lives in ways that are helpful both spiritually and psychologically."
—BODY & SOUL
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Avery; Reprint edition (January 5, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592401856
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592401857
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #397,545 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Tanya Gupta on February 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
Epstein's latest book argues that, according to both Buddha and Freud, it is not desire that we need to abandon, rather it is attachment that needs to be resolved in our daily lives. He presents this argument in an unabashed and intimate manner, which sets a very different tone from the clinical though spiritual style of his previous books.

Many buddhists believe that desire is an enemy of spiritual growth but Epstein says that not only should we not be afraid of desire, it is actually a good thing and is a possible path toward enlightenment. He says that intimacy is not a barrier to spiritual growth and that desire can be used to experience some of the lessons that Buddhism teaches about bliss and emptiness. To support his case, Epstein uses an impressive range of sources, ranging from the Ramayana to case studies of patients. At times the breadth of the sources, such as clinical case histories juxtaposed with tanta, detract from the clarity of his arguments.

In the buddhist community saying that desire is not the enemy is like wearing a Clinton t-shirt to a republican convention. Well not exactly, but you get the idea. So he is taking a bit of a risk here which adds, dare I say it, passion to his arguments, making this book a more interesting read than typical pedagogical books in the area. Epstein reverts to his usual style at the end of the book by talking about how one can work with desire in a positive way. He suggests we do this by just "being" with the desire and not clinging to it or rejecting it. Overall an excellent book on buddhism and psychology (mainly Freud) and how these two disciplines deal with desire (but be warned it is quite a bit different from my previous books both in style as well as content, if that is what you are looking for)
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Format: Paperback
Epstein's masterful weaving of western psychology, buddhist and hindu teachings and contemporary relationships yields a sum that is definitely greater than its parts. Without explicitly stating it, he has been able to describe extremely well the impossible circumstances humans find themselves in on this planet. The experience and pursuit of desire leads to the experience of the divine, if ever so brief. However, Epstein successfully points out that we can never possess the divine and unify with it through romantic love. This sets up the inevitable process that leads each individual to love and yet fail to possess the divine experience that is so badly sought. This leads to the birth of the spirtiual impulse or the birth of greater awareness or expanded consciousness which then sets the individual on one of the many paths, Kaballah, Sufi, Zen etc. that will lead to the divine.

It is just a wonderful book as so many people are buried in mythical notions of love and are completely confused by their ongoing troubles in this area. Most people don't understand that the whole process is designed with purposeful flaws to ensure spiritual growth.

I particularly liked Epstein's description of the Stupa and the path surrounding it. A great physical representation of a complex concept.
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Format: Paperback
I've read some of Epstein's other books and they are all very good, very thoughtful. He writes with a genuineness that comes from a good heart.

This book intrigued me because it was about desire, sexual desire and lust for "fun," for life-experiences that really "blow us away." Such desires are often denigrated, and I feel that Zen and Theravada masters are as Puritanical as some Christians. So I read Epstein's book with keen interest, and he didn't disappoint, but he did challenge me to learn *WHY* the left-handed path is okay to follow, rather than just give me permission to chase after my own lusts.

Chapter 8, "A Facilitating Environment," was clearly the best part of the book. But the final short chapter, "Jumping In," was wonderfully delicious and surprising. I won't spoil it, but it was truly beautiful. And his very last sentence tied in with a crucial experience eating lobster roll in Manhattan much earlier in the book.

All in all, a truly wonderful book! Thank you, Dr. Epstein!!!!
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By Michael on October 18, 2011
Format: Paperback
If you are like me, this book might have caught your attention because you are interested in coming to terms with your own sexual desires. This book can definitely help you do that, but there is much more to discover in here. I was amazed at the depth, profundity, and subtlety of the ideas that Epstein so eloquently presented. Although there are many ways to summarize the book, for me it is ultimately about moving from object consciousness to subject consciousness. The "trouble" with our desires is not that we have them, but that we are so fixated on fulfilling them. In doing so we objectify ourselves and others. Instead of grasping (literally and/or figuratively) other people, things, and situations--as you would objects--you can instead learn to enter into a direct relationship with desire itself. In Epstein's words, "It is possible to be in a state in which desire is valued, not as a prelude to possession, control or merger but as a mode of appreciation in itself." Read it!
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Format: Paperback
The Buddhist attitude to Desire is uncontroversial. Desire is the enemy. The Buddha taught that all life is, ultimately, Suffering. Whatever we gain we will lose. We are born only to end up in old age, misery and death. We desire the pleasurable things in life and conveniently forget what the final result will be. Blinded by Desire, we are dragged through life after weary life.

In the Pali Canon, more than 10 times as long as the Bible, this teaching is repeated innumerable times. Desire leads to suffering and death. (I am not making this up to annoy people: feel free to check for yourself.) Theravada monastic writings, in a figure of speech repeated monotonously for centuries, warn that if you feel the stirring of sexual desire, you should free yourself from it with the same urgency you would feel if your hair caught fire.

The author's only argument for his own diametrically opposed view is the existence of "Tantric Buddhism." There are two problems with this.
1. Tantra has nothing to do with Buddhism. It was a semi-magical popular spirituality adopted by Hinduism and some forms of Buddhism, most famously in Tibet. If the Buddha knew of an early version of Tantra (which is not impossible) he would have rejected it. His own words, preserved for us in Pali, contain not one single reference to Tantra or anything resembling it.

2. Tantra is just Not about joyous acceptance of desire and sexuality. It is about developing meditative concentration to a point where sexual pleasure can be transformed into highly refined meditative states: anger can be treated in the same way. This is a fiercely technical process, is pursued very gradually, and takes many years.
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