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Buddhadharma : Winter 2017
110 Buddhadharma: The PracTiTioner's QuarTerly lesbian, intersex, and other persons labeled as queer (either by traditional Buddhist or modern social standards) did sometimes serve as monastics, whether overtly or in the closet. Likewise, there have been many times when the official rules subordinating women to men in the sangha were bent or simply ignored. Sexuality in Classical South Asian Bud- dhism provides a treasure trove of infor- mation about Buddhist (and more gener- ally, Indian and Tibetan) views of sexuality, gender, social relations, cosmology, philos- ophy, and more. Most centrally, Cabezón shows throughout how the old views arose from conversations. Because there was never any single source of authority, it would be impossible for any one person or group today to declare a more accept- ing, sex-positive creed for all Buddhists. At the same time, precisely because there has only ever been an ongoing, shifting dia- logue over sexuality—and all other aspects of belief and practice, for that matter—the conversation can be changed by modern voices articulating fresh perspectives. In order to carry the day, Cabezón argues, such new Buddhist authorities would need to speak from a deep well of knowledge of Buddhist tradition and doc- trine, using arguments that not only make logical sense but also take seriously our scriptural inheritance. Thus Cabezón’s 600-page catalog of how prejudiced, scien- tifically dubious, and minutiae-bound tra- ditional Buddhist views of human sexual- ity have been ultimately reads as a work of great hope. As he ends his last chapter, “to be rejected, I have argued, is the one-size- fits-all, micromanagerial approach to sex found in the restrictive scholastic code. In its place, to be accepted is a sexual ethics founded on universal principles like gender inclusivity and justice; on broad, publically defensible Buddhist principles like mini- mizing harm and caring for others; and on classical Buddhist relational virtues like loyalty, empathy, and the golden rule.” While Buddhist doctrine has never been immune to culturally determined blindspots, the past has much to teach us, including how to use the past to transcend its own limitations, for the betterment of Buddhists and Buddhism itself. further reading suggested by jeff wilson Books on Gender and sexuality in classical Buddhism: Buddhism, Sexuality, and Gender, José Ignacio Cabezón, editor (State University of New York Press, 1992) The Red Thread: Buddhist Approaches to Sexuality, Bernard Faure (Princeton University Press, 1998) The Power of Denial: Buddhism, Purity, and Gender, Bernard Faure (Princeton University Press, 2003) A Bull of a Man: Images of Masculinity, Sex, and the Body in Indian Buddhism, John Powers (Harvard University Press, 2012) contemporary Buddhist Responses to Gender and sexuality issues: Buddhism After Patriarchy: A Feminist History, Analysis, and Reconstruction of Buddhism, Rita Gross (State University of New York Press, 1992) Being Bodies: Buddhist Women on the Paradox of Embodiment, Lenore Friedman and Susan Moon, editors (Shambhala Publications, 1997) Meeting the Great Bliss Queen: Buddhists, Feminists, and the Art of the Self, Anne Klein (Beacon Press, 1997; Snow Lion, 2008)