Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Plato described the ancient myth of humans in the distant past being perfect, round beings that the gods became jealous of and split into two parts of male and female that are forever looking to rejoin. It's hard to imagine being a round, male/female being; but, it's easy to identify with the intense longings for union that express themselves through history as sex, love, and marriage. Darwin’s insights into the role of sex in natural selection, evolution, and culture can bring a practical understanding to some of our most powerful and confusing emotions. Sex has been a kind of currency that women have used throughout the ages to get what they want—food, affection, wealth, power, fame, security... Unlike money though that grows with time and interest, this particular kind of currency diminishes with age. As John Lennon wrote, “A pretty face will last a year or two, but pretty soon we’ll see what you an do.” And although advances in contraceptive technology have radically transformed the ramifications of sexual encounters, as Seabright concludes in War of the Sexes, “sex is too rooted in deception, exaggeration, and manipulation for us ever to be entirely straightforward about it.”

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Quotes (122)

“‘Perseverance furthers,’ for it is perseverance that make the difference between seduction and courtship.”

Fu Xi 伏羲 1 via Richard Wilhelm, Hexagram 31
Emperor/shaman progenitor of civilization symbol
from I Ching

43. No Effort, No Trace

“Men call women faithless, changeable, and though they say it in jealousy of their own ever-threatened sexual honor, there is some truth in it... As the moon changes yet is one, so we are virgin, wife, mother, grandmother.”

Lavinia 1 via Ursula Le Guin
Prophetess and co-foundrer of the Roman Empire
from Lavinia

Themes: Moon Sex

25. The Mother of All Things

“There in the heat of Love, the pulsing rush of Longing, the lover’s whisper, irresistible–magic to make the sanest man go mad.”

Homer 1
Primogenitor of Western culture

Themes: Sex Magic

41. Distilled Life

“Do not let any sweet-talking woman beguile your good sense with the fascination of her shape. It's your barn she's after.”

Hesiod 846 – 777 BCE
“History’s first economist”
from Works and Days

“On soft beds you satisfied your passion and there was no dance, no holy place from which we were absent.”

Sappho 612 – 570 BCE
“The Poetess” and most famous Greek woman

Themes: Sex

“Can you float through the universe of your body engulfed in the slippery union of male and female, slide together in molecular embrace and become two cells merging?”

Lao Tzu 老子 1 via Timothy Leary
from Tao Te Ching – Psychedelic Prayers

Themes: Sex

“In vain have I looked for one whose desire to build up his moral power was as strong as his sexual desire.”

Confucius 孔丘 551 – 479 BCE
(Kongzi, Kǒng Zǐ)
History's most influential "failure"
from Analects

Themes: Sex

“When young, beware of the desire to fight. When in manhood, beware of sex. When one has grown old, beware of the desire for possessions.”

Confucius 孔丘 551 – 479 BCE via Lin Yutang
(Kongzi, Kǒng Zǐ)
History's most influential "failure"

Themes: Sex Strategy

“Zeus and Hera were arguing about who got more pleasure from sex: men or women. To settle the argument, they called for Tiresias, who had lived as both. Tiresias took the side of Zeus, saying that women’s pleasure was greater, and Hera, in her fury, turned him blind.”

Euripides 480 – 406 BCE via Robin Robinson
Ancient humanitarian influence continuing today
from Bacchae Βάκχαι

“There was a time when male and female were one but God cut them into two and each became a half-shadow always searching for the other half. This desire and pursuit of the whole is called love.”

Plato Πλάτων 428 – 348 BCE via Will Durant, Shan Dao
from Symposium

Themes: Love Sex

“There are three things which are unfilial and the greatest of them is to have no posterity.”

Mencius 孟子 372 – 289 BCE via Will Durant
from Our Oriental Heritage

Themes: Sex Family

“The Tao begins in the relation between man and woman, ends in the infinite vastness of the universe.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周 369 – 286 BCE

Themes: Sex Marriage

25. The Mother of All Things

“Love alone loves no living witness.”

Philodemus Φιλόδημος 110 – 35 BCE via W. R. Paton
(of Gadara)
from Epigrams

Themes: Sex

“The harp playing of Xanthippe and her talk, her expressive eyes and her song — and the fire within her just now beginning; these, my soul, will inflame you. The reasons why or whence or how I do not know; but you will know, ill-fated soul, that you are burning.”

Philodemus Φιλόδημος 110 – 35 BCE
(of Gadara)

“If a woman calls you to sleep with her and you do not go, you are damned. God does not forgive this. You'll be placed with Judas at the very bottom of hell.”

Anonymous 1
Freedom from the narrow boxes defined by personal history
from Muslim proverb

“Cause the savage works of war to be lulled to rest vanquished by the never-healing wound of love”

Lucretius 99 – 55 BCE via H. A. J. Munro, Shan Dao
(Titus Carus)
from De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things)

Themes: War Sex

“It's easier to avoid the snares of love than to escape once you are in that net whose cords and knots are strong; but even so, enmeshed, entangled, you can still get out unless, poor fool, you stand in your own way.”

Lucretius 99 – 55 BCE
(Titus Carus)
from De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things)

Themes: Sex

“Ah, merciless Love, is there any length to which you cannot force the human heart to go?”

Virgil 70 – 19 BCE
(Publius Vergilius Maro)
from Aeneid

Themes: Sex

“Hurry to your goal together. That is full bliss when man and woman lie equally conquered.”

Ovid oʊvɪd 43 BCE – 18 CE
(Publius Ovidius Naso)
Great poet and major influence on the Renaissance, Humanism, and world literature

Themes: Sex

“If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they a found, then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman 50 shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife.”

Rabbinic Sages 20 – 200 CE
from Deuteronomy 22:28-29

Themes: Marriage Sex

“mists fumed up and overcast my heart, that I could not discern the clear brightness of love, from the fog of lustfulness.”

Augustine ɔːɡəstiːn 354 – 430 CE
(Saint Augustine, Saint Austin, Augustine of Hippo)
from Confessions

Themes: Desire Sex

“It was only after I slept with a woman that I became a pure monk.”

Saraha 1 via Keith Dowman

Themes: Sex

“My fair girl will be drunken soon with her blushed cheeks… it cheats us and steals away. Rise and dance! The sun is fading!”

Li Bai 李白 701 – 762 CE
(Li Bo)

Themes: Sex

12. This Over That

“The visions you experience have no reality outside your consciousness—no need to become attracted to the beautiful, repulsed by the frightening, or seduced by the sexual ones.”

Padmasambhava པདྨཱ་ཀ་ར། 1
("The Lotus-Born", Guru Rinpoche)
from Tibetan Book of the Dead

Themes: Sex

“Apprehend the very essence of lust,
Identify it as your creative vision of the deity,
Meditate upon lustful mind as Divine Being.”

Yeshe Tsogyal ཡེ་ཤེས་མཚོ་རྒྱལ 777 – 837 CE via Keith Dowman
(Sky Dancer)

“From moment then to moment their desire
Gained strength, and wisdom fled before love's fire;
Passion engulfed them, and these lovers lay
Entwined together till the break of day.”

Ferdowsi فردوسی 940 – 1020 CE
(Abul-Qâsem Ferdowsi Tusi)
"undisputed giant of Persian literature"
from Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings (977–1010 CE)

Themes: Sex Desire

“I value the lover's sighs of happiness and I despise the hypocrite mumbling his prayers.”

Omar Khayyám 1048 – 1131 CE via Edward Fitzgerald
Persian Astronomer-Poet, prophet of the here and now

from Rubaiyat

Themes: Sex

“The desire in the female for the male is so that they may perfect each other's work... they appear to be opposites but the truth they serve is one, each desiring the other for the perfection of their work.”

Rumi مولانا جلال‌الدین محمد بلخی 1207 – 1283 CE via Helminski and Rezwani
(Rumi Mawlānā Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī)
from Love's Ripening

Themes: Sex Marriage

“Verily, the roots of passion are deep, and remote its sources. It can hardly be uprooted, and young and old, wise and foolish are alike its slaves.”

Yoshida Kenkō 兼好 1284 – 1350 CE via Sir George Bailey Sansome
Inspiration of self-reinvention
from Harvest of Leisure

Themes: Sex Desire

“There is always some madness in love, but there is also always some reason in madness.”

Petrarch 1304 – 1374 CE

18. The Sick Society

“Heaven would indeed be heaven if lovers were there permitted as much enjoyment as they had experienced on earth.”

Giovanni Boccaccio dʒoˈvanni bokˈkattʃo 1313 – 1375 CE

“Now lets get down to the real reason why we sit together and breathe
And begin the laughing, the divine laughing, like great heroic women and magnificent strong men.”

Hafiz خواجه شمس‌‌الدین محمد حافظ شیرازی 1315 – 1394 CE via Daniel Ladinsky
(Hafez, Shams-ud-Dīn Muḥammad)
Inspiring friend to the true and free human spirit

Themes: Sex

“But I can say for certain, it's no lie,
God made us all to wax and multiply.
Take King Solomon of long ago;
We hear he had a thousand wives or so.
And would to God it were allowed to me
Te be refreshed, aye, half so much as he!”

Geoffrey Chaucer 1343 – 1400 CE via Nevill Coghill
“Father of English literature”
from Canterbury Tales

Themes: Sex

“Lost in dalliance, intimate talk, and orgasmic bliss...
Night after night, we two lovebirds snuggle on the meditation platform”

Ikkyū Sōjun 休宗純 1394 – 1481 CE via John Stevens
Famous trickster, flute player, and bringer of Zen awareness into everyday life

Themes: Sex

“I want you to have this: all the beauty in my eyes, and the grace of my mouth, all the splendor of my strength, all the wonder of the musk parts of my body, for are we not talking about real love, real love?”

Meera 1498 – 1546 CE
(Mirabai, Meera Bai )
Inspiring poet, cultural freedom inspiration

Themes: Sex Beauty

“Love in young men for the most part is not love but sexual desire, and its accomplishment is the end.”

Miguel de Cervantes 1547 – 1616 CE
One of the world's best novelists

Themes: Sex Love

“Virginity, by being once lost, may be ten times found: by being ever kept, it is ever lost. ’Tis too cold a companion: away with it!”

William Shakespeare 1564 – 1616 CE
from All's Well That Ends Well

Themes: Sex

“Pass a few pleasant hours with a 'cloud sprite on the magic mountain' in her pleasure house with its narrow passages and spacious halls in the sanctum of her flower-temple.”

Lǐ Yú 李漁 1610 – 1680 CE via Richard Martin, Dr. Franz Kuhn, Shan Dao
(Li Liweng)
from Prayer Mat of Sex 肉蒲团 (Jou Pu Tuan)

Themes: Sex

“Sex could impel a whole nation of atheists to worship a divinity.”

John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester 1647 – 1680 CE via Voltaire, Shan Dao
A poetic shock to the Puritanical world-view

Themes: Sex

“Sexual love is the material of nature embroidered by the imagination.”

Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet 1694 – 1778 CE via Raymond Naves, Shan Dao
from Philosophical Dictionary

Themes: Sex

“in her arms I enjoyed the delights of Paradise which have produced the tortures of Hell by which you see I am devoured”

Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet 1694 – 1778 CE
from Candide

Themes: Sex

“I unhappily lost my honor by trusting to his; for he got me with child, and then forsook me... if you, gentlemen, must be making laws, do not turn natural and useful actions into crimes by your prohibitions... and therefore ought, instead of a whipping, to have a statue erected to my memory. [ This fictional speech was so effective, Polly was not only acquitted but the judge married her. ]”

Benjamin Franklin 1706 – 1790 CE
from The Speech of Polly Baker (1794)

Themes: Sex

“Wine and sex distract from reality, the lure of wealth deranges our nature, emotions and desires arise in a tangle and we become lost in confusion.”

Liu Yiming 刘一明 1734 – 1821 CE via Thomas Cleary, Shan Dao, #43 Parting
(Liu I-ming)
from Taoist I Ching, , Zhouyi chanzhen 周易闡真

“If they hastily seek consummation and merely attain a moment's pleasure; not only will the woman not be happy, neither will the man and the relationship will surely fail in the long run.”

Liu Yiming 刘一明 1734 – 1821 CE via Thomas Cleary, Shan Dao, #53 Gradual Progress
(Liu I-ming)
from Taoist I Ching, , Zhouyi chanzhen 周易闡真

Themes: Sex Marriage

“So, lively brisk old fellow, don't let age get you down. White hair or not, you can still be a lover.”

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 1749 – 1832 CE

Themes: Old Age Sex

“Though the night was made for loving,
And the day returns too soon,
Yet we'll go no more a roving
By the light of the moon.”

Lord Byron 1788 – 1824 CE
(George Gordon Byron)
The first rock-star style celebrity

Themes: Moon Sex

“Sexual desire—especially when concentrated with fixated infatuation on a particular person—becomes the quintessence of this world's delusion because it promises so excessively much and delivers so miserably little.”

Arthur Schopenhauer 1788 – 1860 CE via R.J. Hollingdale, Shan Dao
from Parerga and Paralipomena, "Appendices" and "Omissions"

Themes: Sex Pleasure

“The relation of the sexes is really the invisible and central point of all action and conduct... the cause of war and the end of peace; the basis of what is serious, the key to all illusions, and the meaning of all mysterious hints.”

Arthur Schopenhauer 1788 – 1860 CE
from The World as Will and Idea, 1819

Themes: Love Sex

“Soul meets soul on lovers' lips.”

Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792 – 1822 CE

Themes: Sex

“Love in a hut, with water and a crust,
Is—Love, forgive us!—cinders, ashes, dust;
Love in a palace is perhaps at last
More grievous torment that a hermit's fast.”

John Keats 1795 – 1821 CE
Writer of "poems as immortal as English"
from Lamia, 1820

Themes: Sex Love

“Woman is a delightful instrument of pleasure, but it is necessary to know its trembling strings, to study the position of them, the timid keyboard, the fingering so changeful and capricious which befits it.”

Balzac 1799 – 1850 CE
(Honoré de Balzac)

Themes: Pleasure Sex

“The magnet embraces the iron, the animals come together by the difference of sex... Man alone speaks with distrust, irony, and shame of the miracle which takes place simultaneously in his soul and his body. This separation of the spirit from the flesh has necesssitated convents and brothels.”

George Sand 1804 – 1876 CE via Gamaliel Bradford, Shan Dao
(Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin)

Themes: Sex

“Of all the causes that have led to the differences in external appearance between the races of man—and to a certain extent between man and the lower animals—sexual selection has been the most efficient.”

Charles Darwin 1809 – 1882 CE
from Descent of Man

Themes: Sex

“Love is like any other luxury. You have no right to it unless you can afford it.”

Anthony Trollope 1815 – 1882 CE
Novelist as teacher

Themes: Sex Marriage

“Young love-making—that gossamer web! Even the points it clings to—the things whence its subtle interfacings are swung—are scarcely perceptible: momentary touches of finger tips, meetings of rays from blue and dark orbs, unfinished phrases, lightest changes of cheek and lip, faintest tremors. The web itself is made of spontaneous beliefs and indefinable joys, yearnings of one life towards another, visions of completeness, indefinite trust.”

George Eliot 1819 – 1880 CE
(Mary Anne Evans)
Pioneering literary outsider

from Middlemarch

Themes: Sex

“Now would all the waves be women, then I'd go drown and chase with them evermore! There's naught so sweet on earth—heaven may not match it!—as those swift glances of warm, wild bosoms in the dance, when the over-arboring arms hide such ripe, bursting grapes.”

Herman Melville 1819 – 1891 CE
from Moby Dick or The Whale

Themes: Sex Butterfly

“The human being, like the immortals, naturally places sexual intercourse far and away above all other joys—yet he has left it out of his heaven.”

Mark Twain 1835 – 1910 CE
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
America’s most famous author
from Letters from the Earth, 1905-1909

Themes: Sex

“In all the woes that curse our race, there is a lady in every case.”

W. S. Gilbert 1836 – 1911 CE
Innovative, influential, inspiring dramatist

Themes: Sex

“Romeo wants Juliet as the filings want the magnet and, if no obstacles intervene, he moves toward her by as straight a line as they. But if a wall be built between them, they do not remain idiotically pressing their faces against its opposite sides.”

William James 1842 – 1910 CE
"Father of American psychology”

Themes: Sex

“Love is a state of temporary psychosis.”

Sigmund Freud 1856 – 1939 CE

Themes: Sex

“Sex appeal is the keynote to civilization.”

Henri-Louis Bergson 1859 – 1941 CE
from Two Sources of Morallity and Religion

“Sex endows the individual with a dumb and powerful instinct, which carries his body and soul continually toward another... What more could be needed to suffuse the world with the deepest meaning and beauty.”

Santayana, George 1863 – 1952 CE
(Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás)
Powerfully influential, true-to-himself philosopher/poet

Themes: Sex

“Sex is as necessary as fresh air.”

H. G. Wells 1866 – 1946 CE
A father of science fiction and One World Government apostle

Themes: Sex

“Amorous curiosity is like the curiosity aroused in us by the names of places; perpetually disappointed, it revives and remains for ever insatiable.”

Marcel Proust 1871 – 1922 CE via Moncrieff and Kilmartin
Apostle of Ordinary Mind
from In Search of Lost Time

“I believe in my outrage knowing people are living in boxes on the street. I believe in honesty. I believe in a good time. I believe in good food. I believe in sex.”

Bertrand Russell 1872 – 1970 CE
“20th century Voltaire”

Themes: Sex

“Love is something far more than desire for sexual intercourse it is the principal means of escape from the loneliness which afflicts most men and women throughout the greater part of their lives.”

Bertrand Russell 1872 – 1970 CE
“20th century Voltaire”
from Unpopular Essays

Themes: Love Sex

“If there were no girls like them in the world, there would be no poetry.”

Willa Cather 1873 – 1948 CE
Modern day Lao Tzu

Themes: Poetry Sex

61. Lying Low

“It is a widespread error to imagine that I do not see the value of sexuality... Sexuality is of the greatest importance as the expression of the chthonic spirit. That spirit is the 'other face of God,' the dark side of the God-image.”

Carl Jung 1875 – 1961 CE
Insightful shamanistic scientist
from Memories, Dreams, Reflections

Themes: Sex

“it ended apparently in the triumph of chastity. Love was suppressed, held in darkness and chains, by fear, conventionality, aversion, or a tremulous yearning to be pure.... But this triumph of chastity was only an apparent, a pyrrhic victory.”

Thomas Mann 1875 – 1955 CE
Deep, psychologically insightful author
from The Magic Mountain (1924)

Themes: Sex Conformity

“after a celebration of love the lovers should not part without admiring each other, without being conquered or having conquered, so that neither is bleak or glutted or has the bad feeling of being used or misused.”

Hermann Hesse 1877 – 1962 CE via Hilda Rosner
from Siddhartha

“Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.”

Albert Einstein 1879 – 1955 CE

Themes: Sex

60. Less is More

“my body was like a harp and her words and gestures were like fingers running upon the wires.”

James Joyce 1882 – 1941 CE
from Araby

Themes: Sex

“wellpleased pleasers, curled conquistadores… I was a Flower of the mountains yes… and how he kissed me… and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes… and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his hear twas going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.”

James Joyce 1882 – 1941 CE
from Ulysses

Themes: Sex

“Christianity soiled the union of man and woman by stigmatizing it as a sin. Whereas formerly it was a holy act, a joyous submission to God's will, in the Christian's terror-shaken soul it degenerated into a transgression. Before Christ, sex was a red apple; along came Christ, and a worm entered that apple and began to eat it.”

Nikos Kazantzakis 1883 – 1957 CE via P. A. Bien
from Report to Greco

“Love—unknown to primitive men, or only as a hunger of the flesh—has flowered into a magnificent garden of song and sentiment, in which the passion of a man for a maid, though vigorously rooted in physical need, rises like incense into the realm of living poetry.”

Will Durant 1885 – 1981 CE via R.J. Hollingdale
Philosophy apostle and popularizer of history's lessons
from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time

Themes: Sex Poetry

“Love generated by physical attraction of boy and girl is an accident of hormones and propinquity; to found a lasting marriage upon such a haphazard and transitory condition is ridiculous.”

Will (and Ariel) Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
from Age of Napoleon

Themes: Sex Marriage

“Prostitution has been perennial and universal, from the state-regulated brothels of Assyria to the 'night-clubs' of Western European and American cities today.”

Will (and Ariel) Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
from Lessons of History

Themes: Sex

“In some existing tribes and probably in the earliest human groups, the physiological role of the male in reproduction appears to have escaped notice quite as completely as among animals who rut and mate and breed with happy unconsciousness of cause and effect.”

Will Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
Philosophy apostle and popularizer of history's lessons
from Our Oriental Heritage

“Chastity—the most unnatural of the sexual perversions.”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE
from Eyeless in Gaza (1938)

Themes: Sex

“the sex act is always slightly ridiculous in its animal aspects and can become beautiful only by the evocation of the spiritual emotions of love”

Lín Yǔtáng 林語堂 1895 – 1976 CE
from On the Wisdom of America, 1950

Themes: Sex

“Whitman became really entertaining, when he tried to connect democracy with sex... In a mental daze, he thought of the words 'love' and 'friendship' and 'brotherhood,' which should be the strong bond of a democracy... Here the words 'love' and friendship' became confused or rather fused with the 'fierce affection' of sex.”

Lín Yǔtáng 林語堂 1895 – 1976 CE
from On the Wisdom of America (1950)

Themes: Sex

“All women’s dresses are merely variations on the eternal struggle between the admitted desire to dress and the unedited desire to undress.”

Lín Yǔtáng 林語堂 1895 – 1976 CE

“He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning fork that had been struck upon a star.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald 1896 – 1940 CE
Prototype of "Jazz Age" exuberance
from Great Gatsby

Themes: Sex

“Let us love for a while, for a year or so, you and me. That's a form of divine drunkenness that we can all try. There are only diamonds in the whole world, diamonds and perhaps the shabby gift of disillusion.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald 1896 – 1940 CE
Prototype of "Jazz Age" exuberance
from The Jazz Age

“You can take your choice between God and Sex. If you choose both, you're a hypocrite; if neither, you get nothing.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald 1896 – 1940 CE
Prototype of "Jazz Age" exuberance
from The Crack-Up (1936)

Themes: God Sex

“There was a direct intimate connection between chastity and political orthodoxy. For how could the fear, the hatred, and the lunatic credulity which the Party needed in its members be kept at the right pitch, except by bottling down some powerful instinct and using it as a driving force? The sex impulse was dangerous to the Party, and the Party had turned it to account”

George Orwell 1903 – 1950 CE
English, poet, humanist, apostle of doubt, and powerful political influence
from 1984

Themes: Sex

“If we live a proper life, if our minds are on the right qualities in regarding the person of the opposite sex, we will find our proper male or female counterpart. But if we are distracted by certain sensuous interests, we’ll marry the wrong person.”

Joseph Campbell 1904 – 1987 CE
Great translator of ancient myth into modern symbols
from Power of Myth

Themes: Sex

“Making love with you
Is like drinking sea water.
The more I drink
The thirstier I become,
Until nothing can slake my thirst
But to drink the entire sea.”

Kenneth Rexroth 1905 – 1982 CE
"Father of the Beats”

Themes: Sex Water

“I have a lifetime appointment and I intend to serve it. I expect to die at 110, shot by a jealous husband.”

Thurgood Marshall 1908 – 1993 CE

55. Forever Young

“My wife loves me; ‘O what joys behind hibiscus curtains!’ My wife has left me; how peaceful it is now. Old Wang has a delicious concubine I have a charming blue-eyed cat.”

John Blofeld 1913 – 1987 CE

44. Fame and Fortune

“if we think of spirituality... as including an intense awareness of the inner identity of subject and object, of man and the universe... sexuality... would naturally become one of the chief spheres of spiritual insight and growth.”

Alan Watts 1915 – 1973 CE
from The Way of Zen (1957)

Themes: Sex

“the erotic is deeper than the genital. Beyond the play of the penis in the vagina lies the play of the organism in its environment—the polymorphous eroticism of man's original body”

Alan Watts 1915 – 1973 CE
from Psychotherapy East and West

Themes: Sex

“Sex is the divine in its most available epiphany.”

Huston Smith 1919 – 2016 CE
from World's Religions

Themes: Sex

“I think I'd have found out a lot sooner if we hadn't necked so damn much. My big trouble is, I always sort of think whoever I'm necking is a pretty intelligent person. It hasn't got a goddam thing to do with it, but I keep thinking it anyway.”

J. D. Salinger 1919 – 2010 CE
from Catcher in the Rye

Themes: Confusion Sex

“The problem with marriage is that it ends every night after making love, and it must be rebuilt every morning before breakfast.”

Gabriel García Márquez 1927 – 2014 CE
(Gabo, Gabito)
The greatest Colombian

Themes: Marriage Sex

“Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?”

Maya Angelou 1928 – 2014 CE

Themes: Sex

“[Discussions about] gender bring us right up face-to-face with sex, as well as love… the functioning of society and the conditions of freedom.”

Ursula Le Guin 1929 – 2018 CE
from Matter of Seggri

“sexuality is the only finite game in which the winner's prize is the loser [and] The most serious struggles are those for sexual property. For this wars are fought, lives are generously risked, great schemes are initiated.”

James P. Carse 1932 – 2020 CE
Thought-proving, influential, deep thinker
from Finite and Infinite Games

Themes: Sex

“The same qualities that make someone attractive to the opposite sex and easy to start up a new relationship make it more difficult for that relationship to last.”

Shan Dao 山道 1933 CE –

Themes: Sex Beauty

“Without your love it's a honky tonk parade, without your love it's a melody played in a penny arcade.”

Billy Rose and Yip Harburg 1933 CE –
It's Only a Paper Moon
from It's Only a Paper Moon

“Steam coming off the planet, clouds of fleecy steam as boy and girl populations clash in religious riots, hot and whistling”

Leonard Cohen 1934 – 2016 CE
from Beautiful Losers

Themes: Sex

“and from your lips she drew the Hallelujah!”

Leonard Cohen 1934 – 2016 CE
from Hallelujah

Themes: Sex

“Love is the answer. But while you're waiting for the answer, sex raises some pretty good questions.”

Woody Allen 1935 CE –

Themes: Sex

“I once had a girl or should I say she once had me”

John Lennon 1940 – 1980 CE
from Rubber Soul

Themes: Sex

“Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV, and you think you're so clever and classless and free… A working class hero is something to be.”

John Lennon 1940 – 1980 CE

35. The Power of Goodness

“Sexuality and eroticism are the intricate intersection of nature and culture. Feminists grossly oversimplify the problem of sex when they reduce it a matter of social convention: readjust society, eliminate sexual inequality, purify sex roles, and happiness and harmony will reign. Here feminism, like all liberal movements of the past two hundred years, is heir to Rousseau.”

Camille Paglia 1947 CE –
Fearless and insightful status quo critic

Themes: Sex Culture

“Why has sex become so important to us?... the myth of salvation through romance arose just as the prevalent Christian myth began to decline”

David Loy 1947 CE –
from A Buddhist History of the West

“To embrace simplicity is to delight in household activities, caring for loved ones, enjoying the sexual company of a partner, nourishing the body, and freeing the mind from anxiety and negativity.”

Eva Wong 1
Champion of Qigong, Fengshui, and a Taoist approach to health and healing

Themes: Simplicity Sex

“when they tell you that I was heartless, a shameless man-chaser, don't forget this: I loved what I saw... what aggravates them is I've never shed one solitary tear... as we all know, a woman is supposed to cry.”

Louise Erdrich 1954 CE – via Love Medicine

“I am one of those women who love sex... something women are still not supposed to admit in polite society... some women love sex more than they love love, some love love more than they love sex, some love them both at once... then there are women who would rather stay at home any day and read a book instead”

Linda Jaivin 1955 CE – via Women Love Sex

“The choice [between monogamy and polygyny] isn’t between equality and inequality. It’s between equality among men and equality among women.”

Robert Wright 1957 CE –
from Moral Animal — Why we are the Way we Are

Themes: Sex Equality

“In one experiment, 3/4 of the men approached by an unknown woman on a college campus agreed to have sex with her, whereas none of the women approached by an unknown man were willing.”

Robert Wright 1957 CE –
from Moral Animal — Why we are the Way we Are

Themes: Sex

“there is a startling discrepancy between the vast amounts of time and energy [we] devote to thinking, talking, and agonizing about sex and the microscopic amounts of time and energy we devote to actually engaging in it.”

Paul Seabright 1958 CE –
Author and British Professor of Economics
from War of the Sexes

Themes: Sex

“Sex is about danger as well as about tenderness: the two are inseparable, and they are what has made us such a tender and dangerous species.”

Paul Seabright 1958 CE –
Author and British Professor of Economics
from War of the Sexes

Themes: Sex

“Anyone who says sex is overrated just hasn't done it properly… the decline in good sex in America is coincident with the decline in drive-in movie theaters from state to state”

Neil Gaiman 1960 CE –
Myth-transmitting creative maelstrom
from American Gods

Themes: Sex

“When struck by the desire arrow, all our common sense… go out the window, we… might even find a streetwalking hippopotamus sexy, even as a beautiful girl loyally waits at home.”

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche རྫོང་གསར་ འཇམ་དབྱངས་ མཁྱེན་བརྩེ་ རིན་པོ་ཆེ། 1961 CE –
(Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche)
"Activity" incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
from What Makes You Not a Buddhist

Themes: Sex Beauty

“In 1532, the Holy Roman Emperor introduced a penal code that banned the use of contraceptive devices. The message was clear: you can no longer have sex for the fun of it. Half a millennium later, this kind of thinking remains at the root of the Catholic Church's official opposition to birth control”

Roman Krznaric 1
Practical, popular, modern philosopher

from Carpe Diem Regained (2017)

Themes: Sex

“men think about sex on average 34 times a day compared to 19 times for women— There may be no more intense or electrifying way of feeling fully alive than experiencing that most remarkable evolutionary gift: the orgasm.”

Roman Krznaric 1
Practical, popular, modern philosopher

from Carpe Diem Regained (2017)

Themes: Sex

“Why, he wondered, do Normals get so worked up about who's having sex with whom? Surely people who want to sleep with each other will do so, until one or both no longer want it. Then it ends. Like the end of the mating season in the animal kingdom. If everyone just accepted that, there would be no more heartache.”

David Mitchell 1969 CE –
from Utopia Avenue

Themes: Sex

“I'm also interested in the modern suggestion that you can have a combination of love and sex in a marriage — which no previous society has ever believed.”

Alain de Botton 1969 CE –
Philosophic link between ancient wisdom and modern challenge

Themes: Sex

“Men need to get laid. For women it's less of a 'must' and more of a 'might be nice' or a 'possibly.' We can't win. If we don't play the game, we're frigid or we can't get a man. If we play the game too much, we're a slut, the village bike, damaged goods... patriarchy is a stitch-up.”

David Mitchell 1969 CE –
from Utopia Avenue

“Sex is the puppet-master.”

David Mitchell 1969 CE –
from Utopia Avenue

Themes: Sex


War of the Sexes

by Paul Seabright

Author and British Professor of Economics

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