Buddhism Buddhism and Sexuality
by
Amy Langenberg
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 June 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195393521-0244

Introduction

Because of its high regard for celibate monasticism and incisive critique of desire as a root cause of suffering, Buddhism is widely assumed to be a sex-negative religion. In fact, as a growing body of scholarship has demonstrated, the sexual landscape of Buddhist traditions across time and place is varied, complex, and at times transgressive. The beginnings of Buddhism and sexuality as a research subfield can arguably be traced to the 1998 publication of Bernard Faure’s The Red Thread, a work that attempts to identity major themes and lines of tension in Buddhists’ imaginative encounters with, efforts to discipline, and philosophical understandings of human sexuality. Faure’s monograph was, however, preceded by L. P. N. Perera’s 1993 study of sexuality in ancient Buddhist India (Sexuality in Ancient India), Miranda Shaw’s 1994 monograph on women and Tantra (Passionate Enlightenment), and Liz Wilson’s 1996 book on disgust and the female body in early Buddhism (Charming Cadavers). Since Faure, specialists in various Asian traditions have focused on sexuality with ever increasing levels of historical detail and theoretical sophistication. Examples include Sarah Jacoby’s 2014 work, Love and Liberation, Richard Jaffe’s 2001 monograph, Neither Monk nor Layman, John Powers’s 2009 book A Bull of a Man, and Rajashree Pandey’s recently published Perfumed Sleeves and Tangled Hair. In the meantime, scholars of tantra and yoga traditions such as David Gray, Janet Gyatso, and Christian Wedemeyer have moved past the orientalist judgments of early Indology and the phenomenology of Mircea Eliade in their treatments of Tantric sexuality; advances in Vinaya studies by Shayne Clarke, Alice Collett, Anālayo, and others have deepened understanding of early monastic negotiations with Indian sexual concepts and social mores; and queer and LGBT studies by, for instance, Richard Corless and Hsiao-lan Hu have generated new research angles. The subfield of Buddhist ethics has also produced a small literature on Buddhist sexual ethics to complement its already substantial work on related topics like human rights and abortion. Notable here is work by José Ignacio Cabezón. Additionally, specialists in Buddhist modernisms such as Ann Gleig and Stephanie Kaza have enriched the literature on Buddhism and sexuality by addressing issues such as sexual expression, sexual identity, and sexual abuse in contemporary Buddhist communities in the West.

Seminal Monographs

Book-length works such as Faure 1998, Perera 1993, and Young 2004 that take Buddhism and sexuality as a primary and exclusive focus are relatively few. However, a growing body of work on the body (Powers 2009), gender (Pandey 2016), the feminine (Wilson 1996), and religious affect (Jacoby 2014, Mrozik 2007) in Buddhism have helped to articulate important themes, patterns, and lines of tension related to the topic. Not every work listed here explicitly positions itself as centrally concerned with Buddhism and sexuality, but all contribute in formative ways to the subfield.

  • Faure, Bernard. The Red Thread: Buddhist Approaches to Sexuality. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998.

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    A groundbreaking monograph, one of the first to attempt a comprehensive, rigorous, theoretically engaged treatment of sexuality in Buddhism. Focuses in particular on East Asian sources. Reworks an earlier 1994 publication in French.

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    • Jacoby, Sarah. Love and Liberation: Autobiographical Writings of the Tibetan Buddhist Visionary Sera Khandro. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014.

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      An important monograph that explores the dynamics of love, carnal desire, celibacy, and sexual politics in the biographical and autobiographical writings of an early-20th-century female Tibetan Buddhist visionary.

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      • Mrozik, Susanne. Virtuous Bodies: The Physical Dimensions of Morality in Buddhist Ethics. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

        DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195305005.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        This innovative and often referenced work articulates the central problematic of sexual desire and sexed embodiment in the work of the highly influential Indian master, Śāntideva. A lucid writing style combined with an elegant methodology makes it suitable for both neophyte and expert.

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        • Pandey, Rajashree. Perfumed Sleeves and Tangled Hair: Body, Woman, and Desire in Medieval Japanese Narratives. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2016.

          DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824853549.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          This work critically questions the applicability of basic conceptual categories like sex, sexuality, and sexual desire to the Buddhist-inflected world of medieval Japan. Though focused on Japan, its theoretical framework is broadly applicable to studies of sexuality across Buddhist cultures.

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          • Perera, L. P. N. Sexuality in Ancient India: A Study Based on the Pali Vinayapitaka. Kelaniya, Sri Lanka: The Postgraduate Institute of Pali and Buddhist Studies, University of Kelaniya, 1993.

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            A foundational work for scholarship on sexuality and Buddhism. Extensively details references to and offers intertextual analysis of relevant passages from the early Buddhist Pali tradition.

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            • Powers, John. A Bull of a Man: Images of Masculinity, Sex, and the Body in Indian Buddhism. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009.

              DOI: 10.4159/9780674054431Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Considered a groundbreaking study, this monograph focuses on representations of the sexed male (rather than female) body in a rich array of Indian Buddhist texts dating from the ancient through the medieval periods.

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              • Silk, Jonathan A. Riven by Lust: Incest and Schism in Indian Buddhist Legend and Historiography. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2009.

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                Based on research in primary sources in a full complement of Buddhist languages, this monograph explores the theme of incest and the Oedipal in relationship to Indian Buddhist historiography.

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                • Wilson, Liz. Charming Cadavers: Horrific Figurations of the Feminine in Indian Buddhist Hagiographic Literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

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                  A seminal work of feminist scholarship that examines the association between the sexualized female body, disgust, impurity, and death in Indian Buddhist narrative literature.

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                  • Young, Serinity. Courtesans and Tantric Consorts: Sexualities in Buddhist Narrative, Iconography and Ritual. London: Routledge, 2004.

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                    A competent compilation of major themes, images, and tropes from a loosely feminist critical perspective. Suitable for undergraduates.

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                    Article-Length Overviews

                    With interest in sexuality and religion in general, and sexuality and Buddhism in particular, gathering momentum over the past several decades, scholars have produced short synoptic overviews of the subject published in encyclopedias or edited volumes, in works such as Wilson 2003, Glassman 2004, and Powers 2008. Cole 2006 provides an accessible collection of relevant translated primary sources. Though published in a peer-reviewed journal, Langenberg 2015 is written with the non-specialist in mind. All of the contributions listed here are suitable for undergraduate coursework.

                    • Cole, Alan. “Buddhism.” In Sex, Marriage, and Family in World Religions. Edited by Don S. Browning, M. Christian Green, and John Witte Jr., 299–366. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006.

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                      Focuses on the family in Buddhism with sexuality as an implied subtopic. Draws on the literature of China and India.

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                      • Glassman, Hank. “Sexuality.” In Encyclopedia of Buddhism. Edited by Robert E. Buswell, 761–764. New York: Macmillan Reference, 2004.

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                        Compact overview of important themes and issues, including monastic versus lay sexuality, sex as both spiritual obstruction and opportunity, and same-sex eroticism.

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                        • Langenberg, Amy Paris. “Sex and Sexuality in Buddhism: A Tetralemma.” Religion Compass 9.9 (2015): 277–286.

                          DOI: 10.1111/rec3.12162Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                          Provides a comparative and synthetic discussion of Buddhist sexuality across historical periods and cultures organized around the question of Buddhism’s putative sex-negativity while also raising theoretical questions about sexuality as a conceptual category for Buddhist studies.

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                          • Powers, John. “Celibacy in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism.” In Celibacy and Religious Traditions. Edited by Carl Olson, 201–224. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

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                            Organizes discussion of sexuality in Buddhism according to conventional typology/periodization of mainstream Buddhism, Mahayana, and Vajrayāna. Particularly strong on Tibetan Buddhism.

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                            • Wilson, Liz. “Buddhist Views on Gender and Desire.” In Sexuality and the World’s Religions. Edited by D. W. Machacek and M. M. Wilcox, 133–175. Oxford: ABC-CLIO, 2003.

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                              Valuable in that it approaches the topic of sexuality through Buddhist narrative.

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                              Buddhist Sexual Ethics

                              The field of Buddhist ethics is an important arena for research on Buddhism and sexuality. Ethicists have examined the Buddhist analysis of desire, attitudes toward same-sex sexual orientations within Buddhist cultures, lay sexual ethics in relationship to monastic sexual ethics, and tensions between Buddhist ethics and Buddhist philosophy (certain branches of which emphasize the transcendence of dualisms such as celibacy/sexuality). Some of the work done in this field is constructive rather than historical but the best of it relies on a close historically contextualized reading of primary texts or detailed analysis of specific Buddhist social environments combined with an intimate acquaintance with the wider field of Buddhist studies. Peter Harvey’s An Introduction to Buddhist Ethics is an excellent example of this grounded and well-informed approach. For a closer examination of Buddhist attitudes toward same-sex eroticism, consult sources cited under Same-Sex Eroticism and Third-Sex Concepts.

                              Introductions

                              These general works address the sex problematic broadly with reference to classical conceptions of the Buddhist path. Harvey 2000 and Walshe 2012 are grounded in the particulars of Indic textual traditions, while Keown 2005, Loy 2013, and Numrich 2009 are less so. Harvey 2000 offers a comparative perspective across Buddhist cultures. Keown 2005 and Walshe 2012 draw comparisons with Christian sexual ethics. All are suitable for the undergraduate classroom.

                              • Harvey, Peter. An Introduction to Buddhist Ethics: Foundations, Values and Issues. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

                                DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511800801Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                This field-defining comprehensive study of Buddhist ethics includes textually grounded sections on the third precept and celibacy, and a chapter on non-normative sexualities.

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                                • Keown, Damien. Buddhist Ethics: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.

                                  DOI: 10.1093/actrade/9780192804570.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                  This “very short introduction” by a noted scholar of Buddhist ethics includes a chapter that discusses sexual ethics in straightforward and general terms, and usefully cross-references other relevant sections (including a chapter on abortion). Historical layering is glossed over. Suitable for undergraduate coursework.

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                                  • Loy, David. “What’s Wrong With Sex? A Buddhist Perspective.” Sexual and Relationship Theory 28.1–2 (2013): 141–147.

                                    DOI: 10.1080/14681994.2012.758839Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                    Excerpted from 2009 book-length work, this is a constructive theological essay by a prominent voice in Buddhist ethics. Cites no sources.

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                                    • Numrich, Paul David. “The Problem with Sex According to Buddhism.” Dialog: A Journal of Theology 48.1 (2009): 62–73.

                                      DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-6385.2009.00431.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                      A responsible and intelligent “primer.” Relies primarily on Theravada scholarship but briefly mentions Mahayana perspectives.

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                                      • Walshe, Maurice O’Connell. “Buddhism and Sex.” Access to Insight (Legacy Edition) 2012.

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                                        A useful overview of ethical issues from the perspective of Pali sources. Makes comparison with Christian discourse of sexual sin. First published in 1975. First published to web in 2006.

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                                        Specialized Studies

                                        Moving beyond broad questions about Buddhist monastic sex-negativity and basic inquiries into prescribed sexual behavior across Buddhist cultures, these articles hone in on particular questions in Buddhist ethics or particular Buddhist literatures. For example, Collins 2007 explores Pali articulations of the third precept; Lele 2013 investigates Mahayana innovations regarding the third precept; and Clasquin 1992 compares Pali and East Asian Mahayana sexual ethics. Both Lafleur 2002 and Gross 2000 consider the environmental ethics of overpopulation in relationship to Buddhist positions on sexuality and celibacy. The question of same-sex eroticism, which Cabezón 2008 addresses in the context of Indo-Tibetan scholastic commentaries, is particularly salient. Further sources on this important issue in Buddhist ethics are cited under Same-Sex Eroticism and Third-Sex Concepts.

                                        • Cabezón, José Ignacio. “Thinking Through Texts: Toward a Critical Buddhist Theology of Sexuality.” Frederic P. Lenz Distinguished Lecture, Naropa University, 2008.

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                                          Incisive contribution on sexual ethics in Indian and Tibetan scholastic commentaries. Makes constructive argument for a better informed, less restrictive contemporary Buddhist sexual ethic.

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                                          • Clasquin, Michel. “Contemporary Theravāda and Zen Buddhist Attitudes To Human Sexuality: An Exercise in Comparative Ethics.” Religion 22 (1992): 63–83.

                                            DOI: 10.1016/0048-721X(92)90037-5Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                            Thought-provoking comparison of 20th-century statements on sexual ethics from two traditions broadly conceived, but reifies each along the way.

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                                            • Collins, Steven. “Remarks on the Third Precept: Adultery and Prostitution in Pali Texts.” Journal of the Pali Text Society 29 (2007): 263–284.

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                                              Philologically precise discussion from an eminent Pali scholar of permissible sexual partners and the moral status of prostitutes and their clients in early Buddhist texts.

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                                              • Gross, Rita. “Population, Consumption, and the Environment.” In Dharma Rain: Sources of Environmentalism. Edited by Stephanie Kaza and Kenneth Kraft, 409–422. Boston: Shambhala Press, 2000.

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                                                Connects Buddhism’s antinatalism to the potential for sexual exploration. Like Lafleur 2002 the author analyzes Buddhism’s sexual ethics in relationship to population control.

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                                                • Lafleur, William R. “Sex, Rhetoric, and Ontology: Fecundism as an Ethical Problem.” In Religion and Sexuality in Cross-Cultural Perspective. Edited by Stephen Ellingson and M. Christian Green, 51–81. London: Routledge, 2002.

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                                                  Examines the effect of Buddhism’s antinatalism on sexual ethics, especially attitudes toward homosexuality and female sexuality. See also Gross 2000.

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                                                  • Lele, Amod. “The Compassionate Gift of Vice: Śāntideva on Gifts, Altruism, and Poverty.” Journal of Buddhist Ethics 20 (2013): 702–734.

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                                                    Delineates the logic of an influential Mahayana philosopher’s claim that bodhisattvas should sometimes offer sex (and alcohol and weapons) in order to generate a state of peaceful pleasure and mindfulness in sentient beings. See also Mrozik 2007, cited under Seminal Monographs.

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                                                    Monastic Law

                                                    Monastic disciplinary law (Vinaya) is centrally concerned with the sexual behaviors of monks and nuns. English-language scholarship on Vinaya has tended to rely heavily on the Pali Vinaya, which has been easily accessible through Horner 2014, an English translation first published almost a century ago. Notable examples include Derrett 2006, Gyatso 2005, and Wijayaratna 1990. Scholarship such as Kieffer-Pülz 2014 and Collett 2014 (cited under Representations of Female Sexuality in Indian Buddhism) continue to augment and nuance knowledge of the Pali tradition. A growing body of scholarship on Buddhist law that reads across Indian sectarian traditions, for instance Anālayo 2012, Clarke 2008, and Clarke 2009, reveals the comparative study of Vinaya to be an important methodology for understanding early Buddhist thinking on the form and function of human sexuality, the deep logic of normative sexual ethics in Buddhism, and the sexual mores and behaviors of the early Indian society in which Indian Buddhist monasticism took shape. Faure 1998, cited under Seminal Monographs, includes a chapter on monastic discipline, with a section on the Mahayana precepts.

                                                    • Anālayo. “The Case of Sudinna: On the Function of Vinaya Narrative, Based on a Comparative Study of the Background Narration to the First Pārājika Rule.” Journal of Buddhist Ethics 19 (2012): 395–438.

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                                                      Compares narrative framings of Pārājika I (the Vinaya rule proscribing sexual intercourse for monastics) in all extant Vinayas, emphasizing the pedagogical and didactic importance of narratives within Buddhist monasticism. Includes exhaustive bibliography on Sudinna story and related topics.

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                                                      • Clarke, Shayne. “The Case of the Nun Mettiya Reexamined: On the Expulsion of a Pregnant Bhikṣuṇī in the Vinaya of the Mahāsāṅghikas and Other Indian Buddhist Monastic Law Codes.” Indo-Iranian Journal 51 (2008): 115–135.

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                                                        Examines the legality of expelling a pregnant nun from the monastic order through meticulous comparative study of sectarian Vinayas.

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                                                        • Clarke, Shayne. “Monks Who Have Sex: Pārājika Penance in Indian Buddhist Monasticism.” Journal of Indian Philosophy 37 (2009): 1–43.

                                                          DOI: 10.1007/s10781-008-9059-3Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                          A signal work that nuances the received view on monastic celibacy in the Indian tradition by uncovering evidence that monastics who had sex could legally remain within the fold as penitents.

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                                                          • Derrett, J. Duncan M. “Monastic Masturbation in Pāli Buddhist Texts.” Journal of the History of Sexuality 15.1 (2006): 1–13.

                                                            DOI: 10.1353/sex.2006.0050Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                            A detailed study with a narrow agenda. Includes discussion of female monastic sexuality.

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                                                            • Gyatso, Janet. “Sex.” In Critical Terms for the Study of Buddhism. Edited by Donald Lopez, 271–290. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005.

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                                                              An astute reading of the surprisingly extensive descriptions of sexual acts to be found in Pali Vinaya. This study prepares the way for future research by raising broad hermeneutical questions regarding sexual discipline in monasticism.

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                                                              • Horner, I. B., trans. The Book of Discipline (Vinaya-piṭaka). Vol. 1. Bristol, UK: The Pali Text Society, 2014.

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                                                                Based on Hermann Oldenberg’s late-19th-century edition, Horner’s 1938 English translation of the Pali Vinaya, Volume 1, was key to launching Vinaya studies in the European academy. Volume 1 contains the commentary on Pārājika I, the rule proscribing sexual intercourse, and Saṅghādisesa I, the rule proscribing masturbation. Horner declined to translate portions of the commentary because of its explicit sexual content. See Kieffer-Pülz 2014 for expurgated portions.

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                                                                • Kieffer-Pülz, Petra. “Pārājika I and Saṅghādisesa I: Hitherto Untranslated Passages from the Vinayapiṭaka of the Theravādins.” In The Book of Discipline (Vinaya-piṭaka). Vol. 1. Translated by I. B. Horner. Bristol, UK: Pali Text Society, 2014.

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                                                                  Fills in lacunae by rendering in full Vinaya passages on sexual behaviors Horner omitted from her original 1938 translation on the grounds of salaciousness.

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                                                                  • Wijayaratna, Mohan. Buddhist Monastic Life: According to the Texts of the Theravāda Tradition. Translated by C. Grangier and S. Collins. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

                                                                    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511527500Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                    Reviews major texts on “chastity” from Pali canon in an accessible manner. Not included here but also of interest is Wijayaratna’s 2010 publication entitled Buddhist Nuns: The Birth and Development of a Women’s Monastic Order.

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                                                                    Same-Sex Eroticism and Third-Sex Concepts

                                                                    Scholarship such as Cabezón 1993 has begun to critically evaluate the claim that Buddhism is comparatively tolerant with regard to same-sex eroticism, A small but growing body of scholarship, notably Gyatso 2003 and Zwilling and Sweet 2000, investigates premodern Buddhist theories of the “third sex,” an umbrella concept that includes intersexed individuals, those who engage in same-sex oriented sexuality, and those who do not properly perform their assigned gender. For Japanese traditions of monastic homoeroticism, see Faure 1998; Atkins 2008; and Porath 2015, all cited under Sexuality in Japanese Buddhism. Fuhrmann 2016 cited under Contemporary Queer Buddhisms explores same sex eroticism through the lens of Buddhist-inflected Thai cinema.

                                                                    • Cabezón, José Ignacio. “Homosexuality and Buddhism.” In Homosexuality and World Religions. Edited by A. Swidler, 81–101. Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press International, 1993.

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                                                                      A pathbreaking preliminary overview. Cabezón argues that monastic Buddhism has made moral distinctions between sexuality and celibacy, not homosexuality and heterosexuality. Claims a “neutral” stance on homosexuality in Buddhism, leaving room for local sexual mores to dominate. Provides a brief overview of Buddhist homosexuality in China, Tibet, Japan, and the contemporary United States.

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                                                                      • Gyatso, Janet. “One Plus One Makes Three: Buddhist Gender, Monasticism, and the Law of the Non-Excluded Middle.” History of Religions 43.2 (2003): 89–115.

                                                                        DOI: 10.1086/423006Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                        Erudite and complex, Gyatso’s essay breaks new ground by pointing out how Indian Buddhist sex taxonomies and legal categories distinguish between sexual behavior and sex/gender, documenting positive valuations of the third-sex category in Tibetan Buddhist medical and yoga traditions, and arguing that the third-sex is a scapegoat category in Buddhist monastic law.

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                                                                        • Harvey, Peter. An Introduction to Buddhist Ethics: Foundations, Values and Issues. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

                                                                          DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511800801Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                          Relying partially on Zwilling 1992 cited under Same-Sex Eroticism and Third-Sex Concepts, Harvey’s work offers a thorough account of non-normative sexualities and gender identities in early Indian sources. He also engages and critiques the arguments of Cabezón 1993 cited under Same-Sex Eroticism and Third-Sex Concepts on same-sex sexual behavior.

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                                                                          • Mrozik, Susanne. “Materializations of Virtue: Buddhist Discourses on Bodies.” In Bodily Citations: Religion and Judith Butler. Edited by Ellen T. Armour and Susan M. St. Ville, 15–47. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008.

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                                                                            Mrozik engages Judith Butler’s idea of abjection to explore an Indian narrative in which a female bodhisattva slices off her breasts in order to feed a starving mother about to cannibalize her own child. Mrozik argues that according to the logic of this narrative, enlightened beings’ bodies are neither male nor female but “omnibodied, omnisexed, and omnigendered” (34).

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                                                                            • Schalow, Paul. “Kūkai and the Tradition of Male Love in Japanese Buddhism.” In Buddhism, Sexuality, and Gender. Edited by José Ignacio Cabezón, 215–230. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992.

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                                                                              This early article on homoeroticism in Japanese Buddhism and its putative relationship to the 8th/9th-century founder of Shingon, Kukai, is published in an early collection that was a starting point for the study of sexuality and Buddhism.

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                                                                              • Zwilling, Leonard. “Homosexuality as Seen in Indian Buddhist Texts.” In Buddhism, Sexuality, and Gender. Edited by José Ignacio Cabezón, 203–214. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992.

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                                                                                Reworking of a previously published 1989 essay. Zwilling is among first to accomplish necessary spadework on third-sex concepts in early Indic sources. However, he conflates issues of non-normative gender/sex identities and same-sex behavior as a starting point.

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                                                                                • Zwilling, Leonard, and Michael J. Sweet. “The Evolution of Third-Sex Constructs in Ancient India: A Study in Ambiguity.” In Invented Identities: The Interplay of Gender, Religion and Politics in India. Edited by Julia Leslie and Mary McGee, 99–132. New York, Oxford, 2000.

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                                                                                  This essay builds on previous co-authored articles by the same (1993, 1996) to elucidate full history of third-sex constructs in ancient and classical India. It contextualizes Buddhist understanding and regulations of third-sex individuals within pan-Indic religious and medical cultures.

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                                                                                  Representations of Female Sexuality in Indian Buddhism

                                                                                  A touchstone for Buddhist studies scholarship on sexuality is the representation of female sexuality found in the Indian Buddhist tradition. Lang 1986, Paul 1985, and Silk 2009 investigate Buddhist rhetoric about the sexually voracious impure temptress and Collett 2016, Trainor 1993, and Wilson 1996 analyze Indian Buddhist meditations on the inner loathsomeness of the female form. Both tropes eventually found their way to East Asia, Tibet, and Southeast Asia. The Therīgāthā, recently retranslated by Charles Hallisey (Hallisey 2015) for the Murty Classical Library of India series, is one important source for Buddhist treatments of a dangerous feminine sexuality contained and overcome by women themselves. This text can be read alongside Collett 2014, which discerns an alternative Buddhist feminine sexuality that is a source of victimhood and vulnerability, not pride and conquest. Horner 1990 (originally pubished in 1930), a classic study of women in the early community, provides a counterpoint to scholarship that emphasizes Buddhism’s negativity regarding female sexuality, as Horner steadfastly defends a reading of the early sources that highlights the Buddha’s openness and generosity toward women, and the female disciples’ own seriousness as seekers of wisdom, despite sexual obstacles.

                                                                                  • Collett, Alice. “Pāli Vinaya: Reconceptualizing Female Sexuality in Early Buddhism.” In Women in Early Buddhism: Comparative Textual Studies. Edited by Alice Collett, 62–79. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.

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                                                                                    Through a careful reading of saṅghādisesa rules from the Pali Vinaya, the author discerns an alternative view of female sexuality as passive and a source of vulnerability rather than potent and aggressive (a common representation in more androcentric Indian Buddhist sources).

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                                                                                    • Collett, Alice. Lives of Early Buddhist Nuns: Biographies as History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

                                                                                      DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199459070.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                      This study of rare Pali canonical and commentarial literature includes an innovative chapter on Buddhist tropes of female beauty and sexual desirability.

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                                                                                      • Hallisey, Charles, trans. Therigatha: Poems of the First Buddhist Women. Murty Classical Library of India. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015.

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                                                                                        A new, highly readable, English translation from Pali of what is claimed to be “the first anthology of women’s literature in the world” by a noted scholar.

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                                                                                        • Horner, Isaline Blew. Women under Primitive Buddhism. Delhi: Motilal Barnarsidass, 1990.

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                                                                                          Originally published in 1930, this landmark study by a pioneer female Pali scholar launched the study of women and Buddhism.

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                                                                                          • Lang, Karen. “Lord Death’s Snare: Gender-Related Imagery in the Theragāthā and the Therīgāthā.” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 2 (1986): 59–75.

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                                                                                            A field-defining early article that analyzes a central trope in two important Pali collections equating the sexually attractive woman with death and unhappiness.

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                                                                                            • Paul, Diana. Women in Buddhism: Images of the Feminine in the Mahāyāna Tradition. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985.

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                                                                                              First published in 1979, this early work on Buddhism and gender features a section on Buddhist representations of women as evil sexual temptresses that includes analysis and translated excerpts from two Mahayana sutra texts.

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                                                                                              • Silk, Jonathan A. Riven by Lust: Incest and Schism; Indian Buddhist Legend and Historiography. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                This monograph elucidates connections between tropes of schism in Indian Buddhist historiography and sexual ethics, especially in relationship to the nun Utpalavarṇā who, in one version of her story, unknowingly marries her son and becomes co-wives with her own daughter before going forth. On Utpalavarṇā, see also Collett 2016 and Hallisey 2015, both cited under Representations of Female Sexuality in Indian Buddhism.

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                                                                                                • Trainor, Kevin. “In the Eye of the Beholder: Nonattachment and the Body in Subhā’s Verse (Therīgāthā 71).” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 61.1 (1993): 57–79.

                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1093/jaarel/LXI.1.57Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  An influential article that analyzes the figure of Subhā, a beautiful young female ascetic who discourages the amorous attentions of a village man by gouging out her own eye and handing it to him. Subhā’s verse is translated in Hallisey 2015 cited under Representations of Female Sexuality in Indian Buddhism.

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                                                                                                  • Wilson, Liz. Charming Cadavers: Horrific Figurations of the Feminine in Indian Buddhist Hagiographic Literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

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                                                                                                    Provides the fullest available exposition of the prominent Buddhist trope of the loathsome female body.

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                                                                                                    Buddhist Representations of Sexual Reproduction

                                                                                                    An important strand of Buddhist thinking about sexuality locates its danger not in the psychological power of desire, but in the profound suffering that stems from human sexual reproduction, a fact that is reflected in a growing body of scholarship on “Buddhist biology” and discourses on reproduction. As is discussed in Choo 2012, Kritzer 2014, and Langenberg 2017, the theme of reproductive suffering, which often borrows from medical literature, finds expression variously in Buddhist embryological texts from India and China. Choo 2012 and Cole 1998 explore the “debt to mother” theme in Chinese apocrypha. Cole 1998, Grant and Idema 2011, and Takemi 1983 take up Blood Bowl Hell lore from China and Japan. Gross 2000 and Lafleur 2002 both cited under Specialized Studies, offer ethical analysis of the relationship between negative views of sexual reproduction and Buddhist antinatalism.

                                                                                                    • Choo, Jessey J. C. “That ‘Fatty Lump’: Discourses on the Fetus, Fetal Development, and Filial Piety in China Before the Eleventh Century CE.” Nan Nü 14 (2012): 177–221.

                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1163/15685268-142000A1Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                      This well-researched essay traces the theme of birth suffering in early imperial Chinese sources, both Buddhist and non-Buddhist, relating it to changing discourses of filial piety.

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                                                                                                      • Cole, Alan. Mothers and Sons in Chinese Buddhism. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                        This seminal work was among first to describe Buddhist attempts to find purchase with the Chinese principle of filiality by focusing on the mother/son rather than the father/son relationship. This is revealed to involve, in part, the construction of a mother figure whose participation in reproductive sexuality leads to a state of fallenness from which the son must save her. See also Grant and Idema 2011 cited under Buddhist Representations of Sexual Reproduction.

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                                                                                                        • Grant, Beata, and Wilt L. Idema. Escape from Blood Pond Hell: The Tales of Mulian and Woman Huang. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2011.

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                                                                                                          Offers translations of two Chinese popular texts that evoke the horrors of the Blood Pond Hell, a place where women pay the price for polluting the earth and waterways with their reproductive blood. A useful introduction unpacks the logic of Blood Pond Hell belief in relationship to filiality and Buddhist piety. Highly suitable for undergraduate coursework. See also Cole 1998 cited under Buddhist Representations of Sexual Reproduction and Cole 2006 cited under Article-Length Overviews.

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                                                                                                          • Gyatso, Janet. Being Human in a Buddhist World: An Intellectual History of Medicine in Early Modern Tibet. New York: Columbia University Press, 2015.

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                                                                                                            In a chapter devoted to the subject of women and gender in Tibetan medical discourses, Gyatso illuminates continuities and discontinuities between medical and Buddhist accounts of sexual reproduction.

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                                                                                                            • Kritzer, Robert. Garbhāvakrāntisūtra: The Sūtra on Entry into the Womb. Studia Philologica Buddhica, XXXI. Tokyo: The International Institute for Buddhist Studies, 2014.

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                                                                                                              A critical edition of, translation of, and introduction to an Indian sutra text entitled the “Descent of the Embryo Teaching.” This lengthy text is devoted to the Buddhist discourse of reproductive suffering.

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                                                                                                              • Kustiani, Kustiani, and Stephen J. Hunt. “Menstruation, Sexuality, and Spirituality in Buddhism.” In The Ashgate Research Companion to Contemporary Religion and Sexuality. Edited by Stephen J. Hunt and Andrew K. T. Yip, 123–135. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2012.

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                                                                                                                This essay produces an apology for negative talk about menstruation in Indian sources, arguing that since Buddhist teachings do not characterize normal reproductive biology as inhibiting to female spirituality per se, such talk should be attributed to ambient cultural influences. Provides counterpoint to Choo 2012 and Langenberg 2017 cited under Buddhist Representations of Sexual Reproduction.

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                                                                                                                • Langenberg, Amy Paris. Birth in Buddhism: The Suffering Fetus and Female Freedom. London: Routledge, 2017.

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                                                                                                                  Focuses on representations of sexual reproduction and the suffering that attends it in Indian Buddhist texts, connecting the theme of reproductive suffering to the articulation of new kinds of female freedom available in Buddhist monasticism. Analysis centers on same sutra text as Kritzer 2014 cited under Buddhist Representations of Sexual Reproduction.

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                                                                                                                  • Takemi, Momoko. “‘Menstruation Sutra’ Belief in Japan.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 10.2–3 (1983): 229–246.

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                                                                                                                    A useful translation and technical discussion of a short sutra on the Blood Bowl Hell for women that circulated in several versions in Japan after its transmission from China in approximately the 14th century. The author also describes its ritual uses in ceremonies for women who had died in childbirth, and its importance as an amulet to protect women in childbirth.

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                                                                                                                    Sexuality in Japanese Buddhism

                                                                                                                    Scholars of Japanese Buddhism have produced a comparatively rich body of work related to Buddhism and sexuality. Dobbins 2004, Marra 1993, and Takemi 1983 (cited under Buddhist Representations of Sexual Reproduction) take up the theme of female sexual impurity; Faure 1998 and Clasquin 1992 (cited under Specialized Studies) delineate what Faure calls the “ideology of transgression” in Mahayana Buddhism in Japan; and Dobbins 2004 highlights a skepticism of monastic discipline expressed in the Pure Land movement. Sanford 1991 deals with Japanese esotericism; Minamoto and Glassman 1993; Watt 2002 explore tensions between Buddhist and native Japanese attitudes toward sex; and Atkins 2008, Faure 1998, Porath 2015, and Schalow 1992 (cited under Same-Sex Eroticism and Third-Sex Concepts) document the tradition of the chigo, a class of adolescent males installed at Japanese temples as sexual companions for monks. For the topic of clerical marriage see Jaffe 2001 and Meeks 2013, both cited under Noncelibate Monasticisms.

                                                                                                                    • Atkins, Paul S. “Chigo in the Medieval Japanese Imagination.” The Journal of Asian Studies 67.3 (2008): 947–970.

                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1017/S0021911808001216Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                      Tracing him through both historical and literary/artistic sources, this thoroughly researched article theorizes the cultural figure of the chigo, who often meets with a tragic and early death in literature, as a functional “surrogate sacrificial victim” (947).

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                                                                                                                      • Dobbins, James C. Letters of the Nun Eshinni: Images of Pure Land Buddhism in Medieval Japan. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                        This monograph is based on the letters of Enshinni, the wife of Shinran, the 12th/13th-century founder of the Jodō Shinshū Buddhist sect in Japan. It includes a chapter on the topic of women and sexuality, with a discussion of the revelatory dream that caused Shinran to abandon his monastic life and marry Eshinni.

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                                                                                                                        • Faure, Bernard. The Red Thread: Buddhist Approaches to Sexuality. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                                          A foundational work on the study of Buddhism and sexuality that is especially strong on Japanese sources. Includes discussion of ideological tensions between Mahayana philosophy and Vinaya discipline, tales of sexually active monks, chigo, sexual impurity, clerical marriage, and Shingon ritual and cosmology.

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                                                                                                                          • Marra, Michele. “The Buddhist Mythmaking of Defilement: Sacred Courtesans in Medieval Japan.” The Journal of Asian Studies 52.1 (1993): 49–65.

                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.2307/2059144Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                            An intriguing analysis of how the figure of the sexually impure prostitute is subsumed into the structures of Buddhist soteriology through storytelling.

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                                                                                                                            • Minamoto, Junko, and Hugh Glassman. “Buddhism and the Historical Construction of Sexuality in Japan.” U.S.-Japan Women’s Journal, English Supplement 5 (1993): 87–115.

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                                                                                                                              A translation and modification of a 1991 article originally published in Japanese, this article evaluates Japanese sexual culture from an explicitly feminist perspective with special attention paid to the influence of Buddhism.

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                                                                                                                              • Pandey, Rajashree. Perfumed Sleeves and Tangled Hair: Body, Woman, and Desire in Medieval Japanese Narratives. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2016.

                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824853549.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                This critically engaged monograph scrutinizes the dynamics of the erotic in the Tale of Genji and beyond, calling into question the unthinking projection of European assumptions about the body, gender, and desire onto the Japanese Buddhist imaginary.

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                                                                                                                                • Porath, Or. “The Cosmology of Male-Male Love in Medieval Japan: Nyakudō no Kanjinchō and the Way of Youths.” Journal of Religion in Japan 4.2–3 (2015): 241–271.

                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1163/22118349-00402007Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                  A close analysis of two medieval texts that glorify male-male love, prescribe its proper practice, and situate monastic homoeroticism within Buddhist cosmology and soteriology.

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                                                                                                                                  • Sanford, James H. “The Abominable Tachikawa Skull Ritual.” Monumenta Nipponica 46.1 (1991): 1–20.

                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.2307/2385144Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                    Gives historical background and ritual specifics of the Tachikawa Shingon sect, which identified sexual bliss with embodied buddhahood.

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                                                                                                                                    • Watt, Paul. “Body, Gender, and Society in Jiun Sonja’s Buddhism.” In Engendering Faith: Women and Buddhism in Premodern Japan. Edited by Barbara Ruch, 325–340. Ann Arbor: Center for Japanese Studies, University of Michigan, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                      This essay provides an account of sexuality according to the Buddhist master Jiun Sonja (1718–1804) whose thought was influenced by Confucianism and indigenous Japanese mores.

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                                                                                                                                      Sexuality in Indo-Tibetan Tantra

                                                                                                                                      The category of “Tantra” is far too complex and misunderstood to be properly accounted for in this short bibliographic list. It cannot be omitted, however, because of its centrality to Buddhist discourses on sexuality across Asia, particularly in the minds of modern scholars and students. This selected bibliography includes translations of representative primary texts from India, namely, Gray 2007 and Wallace 2010; studies that provide theoretical and historical frameworks for understanding “tantric sex,” namely, Gray 2013, Jackson 1992, Shaw 1994, Urban 1999, Wedemeyer 2013, and White 2003; and works that afford keyhole views of the sexual experiences of particular Tantric practitioners, namely, Gyatso 1998 and Jacoby 2014. For a brief account of sexuality in the esoteric Buddhism of Japan, see Faure 1998, cited under Seminal Monographs.

                                                                                                                                      • Gray, David. The Cakrasamvara Tantra (The Discourse of Śrī Heruka): A Study and Annotated Translation. New York: AIBS/CBS/THUS, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                        A long-awaited English translation from Sanskrit and Tibetan. Includes an analysis based on a broad selection of commentarial and other related textual traditions of an ambiguous and polysemic tantra that describes sacramental practices involving sexual fluids and sexual yogas.

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                                                                                                                                        • Gray, David. “The Tantric Family Romance: Sex and the Construction of Social Identity in Tantric Buddhist Ritual.” In Family in Buddhism. Edited by Liz Wilson, 43–66. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2013.

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                                                                                                                                          The author interprets exhortations to perform incest found in Buddhist Mahāyoga and Yoginī tantras in terms of the familial logic underlying the initiatory rituals that form the basis of membership in medieval esoteric Buddhist communities. Read against Silk 2009, cited under Seminal Monographs.

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                                                                                                                                          • Gyatso, Janet. Apparitions of the Self: The Secret Autobiographies of a Tibetan Visionary. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                            Includes detailed emic account of the processes and benefits of sexual yoga based on the writings of the 18th-century Tibetan master, Jigme Lingpa.

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                                                                                                                                            • Jackson, Roger R. “Ambiguous Sexuality: Imagery and Interpretation in Tantric Buddhism.” Religion 22.1 (1992): 85–100.

                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1016/0048-721X(92)90038-6Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                              Critically assesses the simplistic view that central to Buddhist Tantra is a sacralization of physical sex acts.

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                                                                                                                                              • Jacoby, Sarah. Love and Liberation: Autobiographical Writings of the Tibetan Buddhist Visionary Sera Khandro. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014.

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                                                                                                                                                A groundbreaking study of love, sex, and celibacy in Tibetan practice traditions from the perspective of a modern female practitioner from Golok in eastern Tibet. Includes a rare description of sexual yoga from a female practitioner’s perspective.

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                                                                                                                                                • Shaw, Miranda. Passionate Enlightenment: Women in Tantric Buddhism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994.

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                                                                                                                                                  Laying out what some have viewed as a willful and philologically flawed reading of the role of women in Indian Tantra, Shaw’s study is among the first to address the issue of Tantric sexuality from an explicitly feminist perspective.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Urban, Hugh. “The Extreme Orient: The Construction of ‘Tantrism’ as a Category in the Orientalist Imagination.” Religion 29.2 (1999): 123–146.

                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1006/reli.1997.0097Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                    Provides an historically detailed genealogy of the invented category of Tantrism, a concept closely associated with the specter of orgiastic rituals and transgressive sexuality in the European imagination. Focuses on Hindu rather than Buddhist Tantra, but still highly relevant.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Wallace, Vesna, trans. The Kālacakra Tantra: The Chapter on the Sādhanā Together with the Vimalaprabhā. New York: AIBS/CBS/THUS, 2010.

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                                                                                                                                                      A well-regarded English translation of the root text from Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Mongolian together with the Vimalaprabhā commentary and in consultation with Bu ston’s commentary. Includes instructions on sexual yoga with a female consort.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Wedemeyer, Christian K. Making Sense of Tantric Buddhism: History, Semiology and Transgression in the Indian Traditions. New York: Columbia University Press, 2013.

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                                                                                                                                                        Focused on transgression in general rather than sexuality in particular, this signal work draws on connotative semiotics to generate a hermeneutics for interpreting references to sacramental and yogic sex in Indian Tantric literature.

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                                                                                                                                                        • White, David Gordon. Kiss of the Yoginī: “Tantric Sex” in Its South Asian Contexts. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.

                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226027838.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                          Situates Tantric sexual symbolism and practices within broad mythological and liturgical contexts in South Asia. White’s study is particularly notable for its interpretation of the ritual consumption of sexual fluids in Tantric literature.

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                                                                                                                                                          Noncelibate Monasticisms

                                                                                                                                                          Historically, Buddhist monastic institutions have not uniformly required celibacy of their members. Mun 2011 indicates that Korean monks were permitted to marry during the period of Japanese occupation; Jaffe 2001 and Meeks 2013 give evidence that Japan is home to a long tradition of clerical marriage; Gayley 2016, Gyatso 1998 (cited under Sexuality in Indo-Tibetan Tantra), and Jacoby 2014 (cited under Seminal Monographs) provide a glimpse into the lives of Tibetan religious professionals who operated outside of mainstream monastic discipline; and Allen 1973, Bangdel 2000, and Von Rospatt 2001 document the traditions of Nepali Newar Buddhist priests who are regarded simultaneously as householders and monastics. According to Von Rospatt 2001 and Wedemeyer 2013, cited under Sexuality in Indo-Tibetan Tantra, historians have unearthed fragmentary evidence that noncelibate monasticism was not unknown during the medieval period in India and, as Clarke 2014 argues, even classical Indian Buddhist monasticisms were able to accommodate and manage certain forms of sexual behavior.

                                                                                                                                                          • Allen, Michael. “Buddhism without Monks: Vajrayāna Religion of the Newars of the Kathmandu Valley.” South Asia 2 (1973): 1–24.

                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1080/00856407308730672Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                            A dated but still useful overview, providing sociological context and details of initiatory rites for high-caste non-celibate Newar monk priests. For a new perspective, see Von Rospatt 2001 cited under Noncelibate Monasticisms.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Bangdel, Dina. “Vajrayāna Buddhism in Nepal.” In Encyclopedia of Monasticism. Edited by William M. Johnston. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                              A brief but convenient introduction to the noncelibate monasticism of the Newar Buddhist tradition.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Clarke, Shayne. Family Matters in Indian Buddhist Monasticisms. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2014.

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                                                                                                                                                                While not concerned with a form of monasticism in which non-celibacy is broadly accepted, this study describes an ancient Indian monasticism in which husbands and wives are known to go forth into homelessness together, and legal provisions are made for nuns who become pregnant. See also Clarke 2008 and Clarke 2009 in Monastic Law.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Gayley, Holly. Love Letters from Golok: A Tantric Couple in Modern Tibet. New York: Columbia University Press, 2016.

                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.7312/gayl18052Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                  Traces the coupling through letters of two non-celibate religious professionals in eastern Tibet and their vision for revitalizing Buddhism in the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Jaffe, Richard. Neither Monk Nor Layman: Clerical Marriage in Modern Japanese Buddhism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                                    This pioneering monograph tracks the debate over clerical marriage in Meiji era Japan, the institutional changes that transformed Japanese Buddhism during that period, and the relationship between Buddhist practices and Buddhist theories regarding monastic celibacy more generally. For premodern monastic marriage in Japan, see Meeks 2013 cited under Noncelibate Monasticisms.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Meeks, Lori. “The Priesthood as a Family Trade: Reconsidering Monastic Marriage in Premodern Japan.” In Family in Buddhism. Edited by Liz Wilson, 253–276. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2013.

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                                                                                                                                                                      This essay traces changes in attitudes toward clerical marriage and biological inheritance through the Nara, Heian, and Kamakura eras. It argues that clerical sex was tolerated in Japan long before the Meiji period. For Meiji era changes see Jaffe 2001. See also Faure 1998, cited under Seminal Monographs.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Mun, Chanju. Purification Buddhist Movement, 1954–1970: The Struggle to Restore Celibacy in the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. Honolulu, Hawai’i: Blue Pine, 2011.

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                                                                                                                                                                        The most complete available historical account of the postwar attempt to eradicate married monastics from the Korean saṃgha.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Von Rospatt, Alexander. “The Survival of Mahāyāna Buddhism in Nepal. A Fresh Appraisal.” In Buddhismus in Geschichte und Gegenwart. Vol. 5. 167–189. Hamburg: Universität Hamburg (Weiterbildendes Studium), 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                                          Resists Michael Allen’s characterization of Newar Buddhism as a “Buddhism without monks” (see Allen 1973 cited under Noncelibate Monasticisms) as well as the implicit and explicit use of classical Indian Buddhism as a standard of comparison in scholarly literature that characterizes Newar Buddhism as degraded. Provides lucid insights, grounded in a familiarity with Newar literature (particularly the Syambhūpurāṇa), into Newari Buddhists self-understanding and ritual articulations.

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                                                                                                                                                                          Contemporary Queer Buddhisms

                                                                                                                                                                          Scholarship on contemporary Buddhism from the last twenty years, for instance, Corless 1998, Fuhrmann 2016, Gleig 2012, Hopkins 2000, and Wilson 2012, reflects the fact that LGBTQI members of Buddhist communities are interpreting Buddhist teachings in light of queer identities and sexual orientations. In addition, Buddhist studies scholarship is increasingly apt to engage queer theory. Hu 2017 and Scherer 2011 are examples of this development.

                                                                                                                                                                          • Corless, Roger. “Coming Out in the Sangha: Queer Community in American Buddhism.” In The Faces of Buddhism in America. Edited by Charles S. Prebish and Kenneth K. Tanaka, 253–265. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                                            This early study of queer Buddhist groups in San Francisco provides ethnographic testimony of the gay sangha in the 1980s and 1990s during the AIDS crisis. “Queer” is used by the author as a synonym for gay and lesbian, not in the sense of gender nonconformity or sexual fluidity.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Fuhrmann, Arnika. Ghostly Desires: Queer Sexuality and Vernacular Buddhism in Contemporary Thai Cinema. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016.

                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1215/9780822374251Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                              An interdisciplinary study of Buddhist-inflected personhood and the eroticization of impermanence and loss (“Buddhist melancholia”) in contemporary Thai film and video culture. Innovative in that it approaches Buddhist cultures through the lens of aesthetic experience and affect.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Gleig, Ann. “Queering Buddhism or Buddhist De-Queering? Reflecting on Differences Amongst Western LGBTQI Buddhists and the Limits of Liberal Convert Buddhism.” Theology & Sexuality 18.3 (2012): 198–214.

                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1179/1355835813Z.00000000015Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                This ethnographic study of a LGBTQI Buddhist group in Oakland, California, examines the ways in which its members take up and repurpose non-essentialist Buddhist views of the self.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Hopkins, Jeffrey. “The Compatibility of Reason and Orgasm in Tibetan Buddhism: Reflections on Sexual Violence and Homophobia.” In Queer Dharma: Voices of Gay Buddhists. Edited by Winston Leyland, 335–347. San Francisco: Gay Sunshine, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  Originally published in 1998 and reprinted in a landmark compilation of writings on “queer Buddhism,” a noted scholar of Tibetan Buddhism applies insights about nature of the mind during orgasm found in Tantric meditation systems to the psychology of homophobia.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Hu, Hsiao-lan. “Buddhism and Sexual Orientation.” In Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Buddhism. Edited by Michael Jerryson, 662–677. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    This essay provides an important account (not found elsewhere the literature) of contemporary Taiwanese nun Chao-Hwei’s Buddhist ethical writings in favor of LGBT rights. It also explores “resources for rethinking minoritized identities” in the Lotus Sutra and beyond.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Scherer, Burkhard. “Macho Buddhism: Gender and Sexualities in the Diamond Way.” Religion and Gender 1.1 (2011): 85–103.

                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.18352/rg.17Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                      An analysis of the hypermasculinity and “hetero-machismo” of Ole Nydahl’s lay convert Diamond Way movement from the perspective of queer theory.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Wilson, Jeff. “‘All Beings Are Equally Embraced by Amida Buddha’: Jodo Shinshu Buddhism and Same-Sex Marriage in the United States.” Journal of Global Buddhism 13 (2012): 31–59.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        A key study tracking the surprisingly early history of same-sex marriage within the Jōdo Shinshū church in the United States

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                                                                                                                                                                                        Sexual Misconduct in Contemporary Communities

                                                                                                                                                                                        Faure’s The Red Thread (Faure 1998, cited under Seminal Monographs) opens with an iteration of the sex scandals that rocked a number of North American and European Buddhist communities during the 1980s and 1990s. In fact, Faure frames his monograph, which explores traditions of transgressive Buddhist sexualities, as an effort to move past simplistic ad hominem explanations of sexual misconduct by Buddhist teachers. Several popular books have been written on the subject of sexual abuse and teacher misconduct in American Buddhist communities, and the Buddhist press periodically addresses the issue (notably in the 2014 winter edition of Buddhadharma magazine). June Campbell’s controversial book (Campbell 2002) on gender and identity in Tibetan Buddhism, which was motivated by her experience of serving as a consort to a prominent Tibetan lama, is based on research in the scholarly literature. Aside from Kaza 2004, however, very little scholarship has been published that directly addresses the topic, despite the importance and magnitude of the issue. Two online essays, Butler 2010 and Gleig 2015, the latter by an innovative scholar of contemporary American Buddhism whose work on the subject is forthcoming, provide useful overviews and analyses of the issue, with links to further online sources of information and commentary. Though not centrally focused on the issue of sexual misconduct, Scherer 2011, cited under Contemporary Queer Buddhisms, is also relevant. Though not the focus of its analysis, Jacoby 2014, cited under Seminal Monographs, implicitly addresses the issue of sexual exploitation by powerful religious teachers in early 20th-century Tibet.

                                                                                                                                                                                        • Butler, Katy. “Encountering the Shadow in Buddhist America.” Common Boundary Magazine (2010).

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                                                                                                                                                                                          Originally published in 1990, this essay by a journalist and former student of Richard Baker-roshi of the San Francisco Zen Center, gives a history and thoughtful analysis of sexual scandals in American sanghas. Includes a timeline of sexual improprieties by Buddhist teachers up to 1990.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          • Campbell, June. Traveller in Space: Gender, Identity and Tibetan Buddhism. New York: Continuum, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            Employing a psychoanalytical methodology, Campbell analyzes gender identities in Tibetan monastic Buddhism and focuses in particular on the issues of secrecy, religious authority, and gendered power relationships. Campbell’s book includes references to her personal experiences as a secret consort to Kalu Rinpoche, a prominent incarnate lama and teacher in the Kagyu order.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Gleig, Ann. “The Shadow of the Roshi: Sex, Scandal, and Secrecy in American Zen Buddhism” Sweeping Zen, 2015.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              A short but informative analysis of responses to teacher misconduct in contemporary American Buddhism. Gleig emphasizes the incorporation of psychotherapeutic models into American Buddhism in response to sexual abuse within communities and the widespread presence there of an American style “ethic of transparency.” By Gleig’s analysis, this ethic exists in an interesting state of tension with traditional Asian models of authority. Anticipates her forthcoming work on the subject.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • Kaza, Stephanie. “Finding Safe Harbor: Buddhist Sexual Ethics in America.” Buddhist-Christian Studies 24 (2004): 23–35.

                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1353/bcs.2005.0023Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                An ethical analysis of the Baker affair and the San Francisco Zen Center community’s efforts to respond appropriately in its aftermath.

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