Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday Morning Blues; Precept #3.1 Careless Love

Love, oh love, oh careless love,
You fly to my head like wine,
You've ruined the life of many a poor girl,
and you nearly wrecked this life of mine


3. Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami

I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual misconduct.

Sexual misconduct for a monk was described as;

Voluntary sexual intercourse — genital, anal, or oral — with a human being, non-human being, or common animal is a pārājika offense. 

Intentionally causing oneself to emit semen, or getting someone else to cause one to emit semen — except during a dream — is a saṅghādisesas offense. 

Lustful bodily contact with a woman whom one perceives to be a woman is a saṅghādisesas offense. 

Making a lustful remark to a woman about her genitals, anus or about performing sexual intercourse is a saṅghādisesas offense. 

Telling a woman that having sexual intercourse with a bhikkhu would be beneficial is a saṅghādisesas offense. 

For us lay-practitioners, a bit of leeway is afforded.

I undertake the course of training in refraining from wrong-doing in respect of sensuality.

I appreciate how the emphasis is simply on refraining from wrong-doing, not than anything else. There's no talk of being born from sin or anything like that, just born of sensual desires maybe!

There is, in the Buddhist view, nothing uniquely wicked about sexual offenses or failings. Those inclined to develop a guilt-complex about their sex-life should realize that failure in this respect is neither more, nor, on the other hand, less serious than failure to live up to any other precept. In point of fact, the most difficult precept of all for nearly everybody to live up to is the fourth — to refrain from all forms of wrong speech (which often includes uncharitable comments on other people's real or alleged sexual failings!).

-M. O'C. Walshe

It does put the responsibility on us, though, to be aware of the wrong-doing caused by the pursuit of sensual pleasure. As a whole, I can't say we're very good at that!

I think this also reflects well on the realistic view the Buddha had. He didn't expect the world to stop having sex. There's still a long ways to go before the human race is ready to call it a day...

Love, oh love, oh loveless love
Has set our heart on goal-less goals
From milkless milk and silkless silk
We are growing used to soul-less souls

Such grafting times we never saw
That’s why we have a pure food law
In everything we find a flaw
Even love oh love oh loveless love


  1. I've found a useful distinction between "relational" sex and "auto-erotic" sex. In my experience, it's common to have auto-erotic sex with a partner - meaning that the sex is primarily about my own pleasure and needs. Relational sex, on the other hand, would be primarily about the relationship between the two partners. Perhaps it's a subtle distinction, and it takes real work to perceive it, at least for me. But it offers a way to deepen my understanding of the precept, since sex certainly does kick up some lust!

  2. Sex and mindfulness definitely don't seem to arise simultaneously, but I think "relation" sex requires at least that bit of mindfulness to come through amidst the desires are lust.

    I know when my wife is the most pleased, is when I don't think about my own pleasure, but in the end, that makes me the happiest.