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The Passion Book

A Tibetan Guide to Love and Sex

Translated and with an Afterword by Donald S. Lopez Jr. and Thupten Jinpa
The PassionBook is the most famous work of erotica in the vast literature of Tibetan Buddhism, written by the legendary scholar and poet Gendun Chopel (1903-1951). Soon after arriving in India in 1934, he discovered the Kama Sutra. Realizing that this genre of the erotic was unknown in Tibet, he set out to correct the situation. His sources were two: classical Sanskrit works and his own experiences with his lovers. Completed in 1939, his “treatise on passion” circulated in manuscript form in Tibet, scandalizing and arousing its readers.
Gendun Chopel here condemns the hypocrisy of both society and church, portraying sexual pleasure as a force of nature and a human right for all. On page after page, we find the exuberance of someone discovering the joys of sex, made all the more intense because they had been forbidden to him for so long: he had taken the monastic vow of celibacy in his youth and had only recently renounced it. He describes in ecstatic and graphic detail the wonders he discovered. In these poems, written in beautiful Tibetan verse, we hear a voice with tints of irony, self-deprecating wit, and a love of women not merely as sources of male pleasure but as full partners in the play of passion.

160 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2018

Buddhism and Modernity

Asian Studies: General Asian Studies

Gender and Sexuality

History: Asian History


Religion: South and East Asian Religions


"Explicit, unabashed, detailed, and encyclopedic. . . some things in this book may offend you, others may charm you or secretly stimulate you, yet others may seem irrelevant and wrong, or deeply true and sincere. . . .Donald Lopez and Thupten Jinpa’s glorious translation is accompanied by a detailed biography and an extensive commentary that, rather than burdening the text and clouding Gendun Chopel’s essential message, make it even more scintillating and alive. . . a joyful book.”


“An enchanting new translation . . . will delight contemporary readers. . . . Lopez and Jinpa have recreated the poetic form of the Tibetan ‘song,’ or stanza, which is based on cadence rather than rhyme. These direct, sometime curt claims meander, from nearly crass to sublime, from salacious to tender. . . . Chopel’s writing couldn’t be more timely—or timeless for that matter. He confronted the patriarchy, challenging those who dehumanized women or thought the poor deserved less. . . . I cannot think of a better reason to read.”

Los Angeles Review of Books

“Brief but sensual . . . a joyful—and explicit—guide to sex. . . . Gendun Chopel's insight runs deeper than just poetry. . . . He views sexual pleasure as a human right and stresses the importance of female consent and equality.”

Ian Kerner | CNN

"This masterful translation of Gendun Chopel's innovative verses on passion does justice to the Tibetan original by honoring the style of its metered verse and clearly conveying Gendun Chopel's words in a way that is in turn beautiful, erotic, and profound. Lopez and Jinpa have done what is so extremely difficult to do: they have translated not only the meaning of the words, but also the sentiments behind them, keeping this work poetic in both the literal and figurative senses."

Sarah Jacoby, Northwestern University

"This excellent translation. . .admirably conveys the joy and beauty of the poetry as well as the underlying seriousness of Gendun Chopel’s work. . . . It is good to have this wonderful rendition of a modern Tibetan erotic classic in English; it broadens readers’ outlooks on the subject, and takes them beyond the concept, say, of what many people know about “Tantric sex” or the Kama Sutra. It’s to be hoped that this accessible version of Gendun Chopel’s book piques the curiosity of readers to look further into the life and work of this fascinating man."

Asian Review of Books

Table of Contents


A Treatise on Passion

Chapter One: The Sexual Practices of Women of Various Lands
Chapter Two: Types of Embrace
Chapter Three: Acts of Kissing
Chapter Four: Types of Bites [and Scratches]
Chapter Five: Describing the Modes of Pleasure
Chapter Six: Playing with the Organ
Chapter Seven: Mounting and Thrusting
Chapter Eight: Moans
Chapter Nine: Acts of a Man [Done by a Woman]
Chapter Ten: Various Methods of Copulation
Chapter Eleven: Uncertain Deeds
Chapter Twelve: Various Helpful Methods

Afterword: Background to A Treatise on Passion

The Life of Gendun Chopel
Buddhist Sexuality
An Overview of the Text
A Treatise on Passion as a Work of Poetry
About the Translation
Notes for “Background to A Treatise on Passion

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