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Yoga Sutras - Bramacharya

Questioner2010-07-05 00:32:05 +0000 #1
I have so many teachings on brahmacharya that I can refer

to. I.e. Sivananda's text and Alice Christensen's Yoga of the Heart, etc. Do

you have a favorite text that helps explain this complicated yama to the

average student/householder? Thank you for your thoughts, A
Mukunda2010-07-05 00:47:11 +0000 #2
While brahmacharya is variously translated from the extreme

of celibacy for unmarried yogis to the concept of continence (retaining

sexual appropriateness or withholding the sexual fluid) for householders it

is a concept that is difficult to grasp. The orthodox yogis take the

extreme point of view of celibacy being necessary for serious yogis to have

successful sadhana. However for householders they say it means to respect

your vow of marriage and be faithful to your partner. For myself I think of

this as meaning to respect the Divine Presence as always being with you.

This rendition is for both singles and couples and encourages us to

cultivate conduct that conceives of God as always watching you. This

entices us to wish to please God, with our righteousness and consideration

for others. So with regards to sexuality it implies that we act to hold

respect for the one we are with and consider them as Divine. On a more

Tantrik note, I focus on being passionate when I make love and yet back away

from the lust, as a result I do not regularly ejaculate. This is how I

personally practice brahmacharya.

I just found a quote from Ramana Maharshi in The Maharshi

newsletter (May/June 2004, pg. 4) sent free (contact Arunachala Ashrama: or email to

"To live and move in Brahman (God) is the real brahmacharya. Continence is very helpful to

achieve that end. But so long as you identify yourself with the body you

can never escape sex-thought and distinction. It is only when you realize

that you are the formless, Pure Consciousness that sex-distinction

disappears for good and there is brahmacharya - effortless, spontaneous."
Hubert2010-07-05 00:43:41 +0000 #3
Regarding the quote, this means (for me) that until the goal of Pure Consciousness is achieved, brahmacharya is forced. Good starting point for further discussion.

Mukunda's example is very inspiring, I am still trying to balance things in my life. This indeed is a great challenge for every one of us, and we rarely are prepared for it. At least, I wasn't.

I dare to share my limited experience.

We live in bodies of flesh, and bone. As we can't control our heart to beat, our stomach to digest, our cells to do whatever they are doing, why do we think we can control, or eliminate perhapes the strongest physiolgic impulse, after self preservation ?

But as yoga teaches that fear of death is an obstacle, so we must accept the fact that sexual pleasure is an obstacle too.

So, should we not make love than ? Beside of preservation of the species, this experince is where most people can experience the emotion of love at it's peak. Could we just throw this away so easily ?

These obstacles are not passed by ignoring them. That just makes them bigger. We must not take them for more than they are. These obstacles are not passed by rejecting them, but transcending them. This is brahmacharya.

As Mukunda says: "For myself I think of this as meaning to respect the Divine Presence as always being with you."

When you make love with this thought in your mind and heart, the sexual act of the body, with it's pleasure, the intimacy with another being, are all lived to their highest limit, but are also transcended by the silent witness. This does not detract from the act's value, but this is what makes one realize it's real beauty, place in the world, and yes, it's limitedness.

There are blessed people who are pure, and wise, and do not need to pass this. But for us who are not them, the path goes through transcendence, not rejection. The objects of desire must not be ripped from us, but let fall as leaves fall when autumn comes. Autumn will come inevitably, why hurry it ?

"However for householders they say it means to respect

your vow of marriage and be faithful to your partner."

This can be be very hard at times. But as one who is passing through this trial, I say, it worths the effort. Again, not rejection. Ahimsa. See the passion, where it comes from. Do not kill it, do not spoil it. Let it be. Accept it. Than, eventually your eyes open, and you'll suddenly find the beauty of the other in the one you already have. The freshness of feeling towards your old companion. It is not a matter of choice. It is a matter of union of passion with compassion. The real cause of passion is deep in you, and not in it's targets.

It will be hard because you will have to let go the one you thought you'll be forever with. Than you'll let go the one you found. Than thorn and cut by the blade of passion, you will have to let go yourself, and surrender. Than the Witness remains. The pain of attachment will remain, the flame of passion will burn, compassion will retain it's warmth, but you'll not identify with either of these. You just stick to the Witness, as it is the only place you are safe.

So, it really worths your while.
Hubert2010-07-05 01:06:40 +0000 #4
I finally understand what Mukunda says by " For myself I think of

this as meaning to respect the Divine Presence as always being with you."

This is in fact a word to word translation, brahma = the self-existent spirit, carya, to follow. So simple.

It is not about not to do this or that, but simply: follow the divine spirit ! It is not negation, but a totally positive attitude.
Lars Rimböck2010-07-05 01:38:42 +0000 #5
Thanks Mukunda and Hubert

I was allways thinking about the same.

But the simple conclusion in your post Hubert is short exact and understandable.

Sunny greetings


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Patanjali Yoga Schule Münster:



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