When we observe the precepts, they have a humane effect on us and everyone affected by us. We align with the understanding of karma, that the most important powers shaping our experience are the thoughts, words, and deeds we choose in the present moment. Every choice of action, in every aspect of life, contributes to making the world.
The precepts do not invite guilt over past lapses, but to regard and commit to everyone’s desire for happiness as equal to our own, reflecting loving-kindness, mindfulness, generosity and ethics in our actions. Yet, it’s hard to be good-hearted, generous and restrained when the messages of the culture belittle and undermine fostering qualities of goodness and restraint and glorify such things as sexual prowess and success at any cost.
The third precept invites us “to refrain from sexual misconduct,” to exercise responsibility, avoid creating harm through this powerful energy, avoiding sexual exploitation or relationships of a sexual nature outside the bounds of relationship commitments we or others have made. The text says:
“… abandoning illicit sex, the disciple … abstains from illicit sex. In doing so, the disciple gives freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings. In [this way] one gains a share in limitless freedom from danger, … from animosity, and … from oppression.”
Sexual energy, used responsibly, lovingly, appropriately and intimately can bring passion and compassion together in a skillful way, be a gateway to intimacy and yes, even a brief glimpse or experience of transformative unconditional love.