Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


The Third Grave Precept

Honor the body. Do not misuse sexuality.

It is easy to get caught up in the simple, pleasurable responses of the body but as passion cools there is a return to dissatisfaction with the world. Some people spend the majority of their time caught up in the cycle of sexual gratification and unhappiness with life. I’ve seen friends caught in this cycle change to where they see sex as just the means to get favors, material possessions, and other things they believe they need to either feel happier with life, experience more sexual pleasure, or merely because of the way misusing their sexuality makes them believe they have a kind of power. I don’t believe that feeling pleasure and desire is inherently bad, but to get caught up in it, trapped by and clinging to it isn’t healthy. There is great joy that can be shared just by being present to the simple, but profound pleasure of sex. Because of this, I think it shouldn’t merely become a distraction or just another entertainment.

I believe the third precept is vital because particular mindfulness around sex and sexuality is necessary due to the potential to cause grave, lasting harm should they be misused. The deep trust of relationships can be completely broken when dishonesty is tied to sex. When sexual abuse occurs on any level, at any age, the damage done is tremendous. When I read Daido Loori's writing on the precepts from The Heart of Being I especially was affected by his comments related to killing the mind of compassion. To me the potential to destroy or gravely damage the seeds of compassion in a person are very likely part of the consequences when sexual abuse occurs. A person may not suffer physical damage from a sexual abuse, but the compassion within them experiences a kind of death at having their life so intimately violated by another person. All other precepts must be especially observed in those areas where they overlap with sex and sexuality; there is just too great a chance for momentous suffering.

If one has experienced pain and or abuse the fear of being hurt may cause the mind to disconnect from emotions and sensation during sex. It requires fearless, vigilant attention and honesty to see this happening, to work through it requires involving someone else to pain that is more comfortably hidden. When people feel safe enough to be vulnerable with each other while also being profoundly intimate there is a synergistic act of honoring that opens hearts further, heals deep hurts in unexpected ways, and connects us to the greater force of Love in the universe.

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