Excerpted from "What Would Buddha Do?" by Franz Metcalf, with permission from Ulysses Press.

What would Buddha do to allow himself sexual pleasure?

When one chants "Namu-myoho-renge-kyo," then, even during love-making, the passions are awakening and the sufferings of life and death are nirvana.

- Nichiren, "Passions are Awakening"

This is--if you will forgive me--hardcore Mahayana teaching. Nichiren deeply believes that since we are already Buddha, and since nirvana is present right here in the world, even our passions express the pure nature of reality. This means if we hold our Buddha nature firmly in mind, even our most passionate actions will remain awakened. Nichiren did this by repeating his most famous mantra, but there are many other ways.

I personally find this teaching joyful, affirmative, and a great relief! I am simply not at the stage where I can give up my passions. I think most of you are with this one. But I do want to free myself from attachment and delusion. Thankfully, Buddha meets us halfway. We love making love (or eating barbecue potato chips, or whatever); that's okay. Just try to preserve your Buddha nature while you enjoy these passions. Think of others, recite a mantra, radiate loving-kindness, remember your breathing. Buddha gives us many ways to do this; we can also make up our own. As we work to become Buddha, this is plenty hard spiritual practice.

Excerpted from "What Would Buddha Do?" by Franz Metcalf, with permission from Ulysses Press.

Franz Aubrey Metcalf, co-author of Buddhist Spirituality, works with the Forge Institute for Spirituality and Social Change and teaches college in Los Angeles. As Franz tells it, his Buddhism has not taken him to Nirvana but it did help him reach the top of California's 13,000-foot Mt. Whitney.

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