Third precept interpretation

Hi guys,

There are many women that one should not engage sexual relationship with, one of them is “those who are protected by law”.

Does anyone know what does “women who are protected by law” mean? Some translate it as “a prisoner”, “monks and nuns”, etc., there are many interpretations.

If the local laws prohibiting sexual intercourse outside marriage, does it mean breaching this law is considered having sexual relationship with “those who are protected by law” therefore is considered sexual misconduct?

If you understand what does this terms mean can you please share? Any source provided will be great. Thanks.

… perhaps any woman or being who cannot consent, or does not consent?

It sounds to me as if two different types of prohibited women are being confused here: the dhammarakkhitā and the saparidaṇḍā. In the suttas’ account of the third precept neither term is defined, but the Vinaya’s word definitions for the bhikkhus’ fifth saṅghādisesa rule give:

Dhammarakkhitā nāma sahadhammikā rakkhanti gopenti issariyaṃ kārenti vasaṃ vattenti.
“The one protected by her religion” – her fellow believers protect, guard, wield authority, control.

Saparidaṇḍā nāma kehici daṇḍo ṭhapito hoti: yo itthannāmaṃ itthiṃ gacchati ettako daṇḍoti.
“The one protected by the threat of punishment” – those who punish will punish anyone going to her.

If one were to take the above definition of saparidaṇḍā in unqualified form, then breaching such a law would indeed appear to be a transgression of the third precept. But if one accepts the additional details given in the commentaries then it would not be, for the commentaries limit it to cases where the reason for liability to punishment is that the woman is already owned by someone or promised to someone.

The discussion in the attached paper by the recently deceased Steven Collins is one of the best-sourced that I know of.

Steven Collins, Third Precept.pdf (138.7 KB)

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Looks at this statement, the reasoning and history in it, the delusions of identity and “freedom” from kamma suggested by this View. …

However one offered perhaps an accurate account of the commentaries…

Edit: author Collins article seems thoughtfully written.

May all beings have peace, insight, and ultimately liberation.

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To avoid causing harm to others, see them no more as a disposable object for use, than one sees one’s “self”. Consider all as students of the way, students of our revered Teacher, as much as one’s self. Expose no one to unknown risk or harm, physically, psychologically, socially, spiritually; respect others’ life as one respects one’s own, as one respects one’s parents or ancestors.

Coerce by no means anyone; deceive by no means anyone. This applies to one’s “self”, one’s life, as well. Rationalizing one’s intentions and acts assaults one’s own life/lives…

These are some of thoughts i have had about the 3rd precept…