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The Summer 2012 issue of Tricycle featured an article by Zen teacher Nancy Baker on the third Zen precept: refraining from sexual misconduct. In her article, Nancy explored the differences between "sexual misconduct" and "misuse of sex," our conscious and unconscious impulses, the sacred energy of sex, and how we can apply the third Zen precept to modern life. Nancy writes:
The third Zen precept, refraining from impure sexuality, probably originated in a monastic setting where celibacy was practiced. As laypeople who are not tempted to engage in physically violent sexual misconduct...we might wonder how this precept relates to our lives. In fact, if we look more closely, it is a subtle and interesting precept; there is more to it than first meets the eye. There are several different translations of its subject matter: “adultery,” “impure sexuality,” “sexual misconduct,” “unchaste conduct,” and “misuse of sex.” What causes the misconduct and the impurity has been translated as “attachment,” “greed,” “grasping,” and “desire.” A consideration of some of the differences among these translations actually allows us to see the richness of the precept.
In this week's Tricycle Talk, Nancy speaks with Tricycle's Rachel Hiles about sexual misconduct, our complicated relationship with pleasure, and whether Buddhists make too big of a deal about sex.
Read Nancy's article here and listen to her Tricycle Talk below, then join our week-long discussion about sexual misconduct and the third Zen precept. Nancy will be answering your questions and responding to your comments throughout the week.