Duality of Sexuality in Buddhist Ethics

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Irigaray’s Meditations on the Duality of Sexuality in Buddhist Ethics

Sokthan Yeng
Adelphi University

I suggest that the tension surrounding Irigaray’s interpretation of Tantric sexual meditation practices can be helpful for understanding how both Irigaray and Buddhist thinkers link sexuality to dualism—positively in the former and negatively in the latter. Contemporary Western debates about the merits or demerits of Irigarayan ethics can obfuscate this integral connection between sexuality and dualism. A Buddhist critique of Irigaray, however, can point to the problems within her ethics while being mindful of the relationship that she sought to establish. Likewise, Irigaray’s insightful reading of Buddhism can help show why Buddhists would resist sexuality not necessarily because it is associated with sin, as it often is in the West, but because of the dualism that they think accompanies it. In other words, contrasting Irigaray’s ethics of sexual difference with Buddhist ethics can provide a deeper understanding and appreciation of both.

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