Philosophy: Brahmacharya

or….The Relevance of Celibacy

Full disclosure: I’ve been avoiding this one. It’s a touchy topic, one that can drive even the most serene people to use near screetching tones. “You think what?!”

Because Brahmacharya, another yoga yama, or best-life behaviour tip, refers to celibacy, or avoiding all sense pleasures: mental, vocal, or physical. Are you already feeling defensive? I’m not here to lecture anyone.

Here’s my take, as I’ve learned to interpret this yama, and I offer it as just that: an offering–from a regular human.

Dr. Usharbudh Arya has commented that Brahmacharya, part of Patanjali’s Sutras, can be practiced without taking an oath of celibacy. Essentially, it can be put into place this way: when we’re having sex with our partner, we are there in that moment, fully and completely, but when we’re not, we’re not. We don’t fantasize, we don’t get caught up in desire or daydreams, we stay present in whatever other activity we’re doing.

So what’s the point? Basically, our need to please our senses comes from our ego and our mind, not our true nature. If we feed our ego, it grows, and we get further and further away from our true self. Our true self knows that contentment and happiness comes from within, and that we can discover this by going without.

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Oct 9, 2008 · Comment (1)

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I think it might be useful to point out that anti-sensuality is by no means a universal aspect of Yoga thinking. In all the hundreds of schools of Yoga there is a complete range of attitudes toward sensuality, from avoidance to accepting to enjoying to celebrating.Yoga is at least as diverse in this as is say, Christianity.So, if you don’t want to become a monk or a Yogic hermit, take heart. Just pick a tradition that matches your style!Bob W. (


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