©Sean Murphy
©Sean Murphy

WEEZER’S “BEVERLY HILLS” was the second most downloaded song on iTunes last year. The first single from the L.A. band’s 2005 album, Make Believe, was #1 on the Billboard modern rock charts and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rock Song. The video was shot at the Playboy Mansion, where lead singer Rivers Cuomo, 36, played his guitar among skimpily dressed Bunnies. They sauntered around him, moving to the beat, playing soccer, and, you know, just being Bunnies.

But if you google “Weezer + celibate,” you’ll get over 15,000 hits. Until his recent marriage, Cuomo, a Vipassana practitioner and student of S. N. Goenka, had observed a vow of celibacy for almost three years—and it drove the media crazy. The group was featured on the cover ofRolling Stone in May 2005, with the headline “Rivers Cuomo Hasn’t Had Sex in Two Years, and Boy, Is He Ready to Rock.” When he said last year that he would continue past his two-year vow, the Associated Press covered it like it was breaking news, which, in the world of rock and roll, maybe it was. Rivers Cuomo is a rock star renunciant.

Refraining from sexual misconduct is one of the five moral precepts that the Buddha set out for lay practitioners (along with abstaining from killing, telling lies, stealing, and using intoxicants). The “pesky third precept,” as it’s sometimes referred to by ambivalent practitioners, is strictly defined by some schools as monogamy within a long-term, committed relationship—or celibacy. For most young single American practitioners, it’s pesky indeed. But Cuomo doesn’t seem to mind. He keeps all the precepts—“Absolutely! That’s the foundation!” he says.

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