The Red Thread by Bernard Faure
Buddhist Approaches to Sexuality

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Synopsis

Is there a Buddhist discourse on sex? In this innovative study, Bernard Faure reveals Buddhism's paradoxical attitudes toward sexuality. His remarkably broad range covers the entire geography of this religion, and its long evolution from the time of its founder, Xvkyamuni, to the premodern age. The author's anthropological approach uncovers the inherent discrepancies between the normative teachings of Buddhism and what its followers practice.

Framing his discussion on some of the most prominent Western thinkers of sexuality--Georges Bataille and Michel Foucault--Faure draws from different reservoirs of writings, such as the orthodox and heterodox "doctrines" of Buddhism, and its monastic codes. Virtually untapped mythological as well as legal sources are also used. The dialectics inherent in Mahvyvna Buddhism, in particular in the Tantric and Chan/Zen traditions, seemed to allow for greater laxity and even encouraged breaking of taboos.

Faure also offers a history of Buddhist monastic life, which has been buffeted by anticlerical attitudes, and by attempts to regulate sexual behavior from both within and beyond the monastery. In two chapters devoted to Buddhist homosexuality, he examines the way in which this sexual behavior was simultaneously condemned and idealized in medieval Japan.

This book will appeal especially to those interested in the cultural history of Buddhism and in premodern Japanese culture. But the story of how one of the world's oldest religions has faced one of life's greatest problems makes fascinating reading for all.

 

About Bernard Faure

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Bernard Faure is George Edwin Burnell Professor of Religious Studies at Stanford University. He is the author, most recently, of" The Will to Orthodoxy: A Critical Genealogy of Northern Chan Buddhism "(Stanford1997).
 
Published November 15, 1998 by Princeton University Press. 324 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Religion & Spirituality, Self Help, History. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Red Thread

Publishers Weekly

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This book opens with an intriguing question: Why have so many prominent Buddhist leaders in recent times (e.g., roshi Richard Baker, Osel Tendzin, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche) been involved in scandals o

Nov 02 1998 | Read Full Review of The Red Thread: Buddhist Appr...

Publishers Weekly

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This book opens with an intriguing question: Why have so many prominent Buddhist leaders in recent times (e.g., roshi Richard Baker, Osel Tendzin, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche) been involved in scandals of excess, especially sexual?

| Read Full Review of The Red Thread: Buddhist Appr...

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