Return of the Eunuch: Gender Disobedience as a Path to Awakening in Buddhist Tantra
This paper surveys tensions in Buddhist scripture around gender norms and gender abnormality and argues that, in the context of Vajrayana (or Tantric) Buddhism, gender disobedience-or 'gender insubordination', to deploy Judith Butler's phraseology-can be understood to be a legitimate path to Awakening, in and of itself. The paper extends the notion of gender disobedience beyond an engagement with the transgender to a practice/performance of the sexless and genderless which is evoked, the paper argues, by the figure of the eunuch. The paper uses the traditional Tibetan sacred image of the enlightened protector (Wrathful Buddha) Gonpo Maning Nagpo as a case in point. The paper is reflective as well as theoretical and informed by spiritual praxis. The paper also foregrounds similarities between Buddhist and Queer Studies perspectives on sex, gender and sexuality.
Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts and Contemporary Worlds
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Philosophy and Religious Studies not elsewhere classified