Sexuality in Classical South Asian Buddhism

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“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, University of Michigan


“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


José I. Cabezón

In this extremely readable book, Jose Cabezon, the XIVth Dalai Lama Professor at the University of California Santa Barbara, takes us on a tour-de-force journey through Buddhist literature. More than twenty-five years in the making, this detailed sourcebook on the depiction of sexual identity, desire, restriction, and deviance in the classical South Asian traditions is filled with both engaging translations and original and provocative analysis. Cabezón speaks not as a distant observer but from within the tradition as a Buddhist “theologian,” keeping the material relevant to the modern reader, but he does so with a steady and unsentimental gaze. His knowledge is so broad that he is able to marshal an incredible array of scriptures, legal texts, and philosophical treatises that will be of immense interest not only to scholars of both Buddhism and gender studies but also to lay readers who want to learn more about traditional Buddhist attitudes toward sex. This singular book will stand as a landmark in the field for many years to come.

Learn more about the Studies in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism series.

book information
  • Hardcover
  • 632 pages, 6.25 x 9.25 inches
  • $39.95
  • ISBN 9781614293507
  • ebook
  • 632 pages
  • $19.99
  • ISBN 9781614293682
about the author
Sexuality in Classical South Asian Buddhism

José Ignacio Cabezón (author of Sexuality in Classical South Asian Buddhism and co-author of Freedom from Extremes) was co-chair of the Studies in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism series from 2005 to 2022. He is XIVth Dalai Lama Professor of Tibetan Buddhism and Cultural Studies at the University of California Santa Barbara. Cabezón studied physics as an undergraduate at Caltech, trained as a monk at Sera Monastery in India, and translated for the Dalai Lama into Spanish on several occasions. He earned his PhD from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1987. He is the author or editor of more than a dozen books on Indo-Tibetan scholasticism, Madhyamaka philosophy, Buddhism and sexuality, and Tibetan ritual. His co-authored Sera Monastery, also published by Wisdom, is a history of one of the great monastic universities of Tibet from its founding to the present. Cabezón served as president of the American Academy of Religion in 2020.

Other books by José I. Cabezón:
Sera Monastery
Meditation on the Nature of Mind
Freedom from Extremes

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