A prolific scholar surveys classical Buddhism’s approach to sex, gender, and sexual orientation in this landmark volume.
More than twenty-five years in the making, this detailed sourcebook on Buddhist understandings of sexuality, desire, ethics, and deviance in classical South Asia is filled with both engaging translations and original and provocative analysis. Jose Cabezon, the XIVth Dalai Lama Professor at the University of California Santa Barbara, marshals an incredible array of scriptures, legal and medical texts, and philosophical treatises, explaining the subtleties of this ancient literature in lucid prose. This work will be of immense interest not only to scholars of Buddhism and gender studies but also to lay readers who want to learn more about traditional Buddhist attitudes toward sex.
Over a distinguished career, José Cabezón has produced a range of studies that have enriched and broadened our knowledge of the Buddhist tradition. Here, in what will be regarded as his most important work, he masterfully explores the multiple worlds of Buddhist sexuality. A learned combination of compendium and critique, this book immediately becomes the standard work to which all readers will turn.
– Donald Lopez, Arthur E. Link Distinguished University Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies, University of Michigan
“An extraordinary book, simultaneously a monument of deep, detailed South Asian philological scholarship and a sourcebook entirely accessible to a broader gender-studies readership. There is nothing remotely like it.”
– Wendy Doniger, University of Chicago
“A tour de force! The book bravely engages its subject in a way that prevents us from imposing our contemporary understandings of sexuality onto ancient ideas while also analyzing what Buddhist texts can offer to modern-day conversations on such themes as the purpose and origins of sex, the nature of sexual desire, gender and biological sex, sexual deviance, sexual ethics, celibacy, and much more.”
– Sara McClintock, Emory University
“The fruit of decades of engagement, study, and reflection, José Cabezón's Sexuality in Classical South Asian Buddhism is a stunning achievement. It not only opens up the world of traditional Indian Buddhist ideas about gender, sexuality, and sexual practices in greater depth than any work before it, it has much to say as well about our contemporary struggles with these intimate, universal human issues. Ambitious, erudite, humane, and utterly captivating, Sexuality in Classical South Asian Buddhism is a monumental contribution to Buddhist studies, Asian studies, studies in gender and sexuality, and cultural studies, sure to be the standard work on the topic for many, many years to come.”
– Roger Jackson, Carlton College
“...a massive, ambitious, and important project... a treasure trove of information.”