I hope you are enjoying these short articles about Yoga philosophy as much as I am enjoying writing them. It is helpful for me to review these philosophical points, looking at my own life and behavior, and seeing my own spiritual progress.
Brahmacharya has gotten a bad rap. Traditionally, brahmacharya has been associated with chastity and celibacy. EGAD! But at the heart of brahmacharya is the idea of contolling our desires or non-lusting. It doesn't mean that to be a good yogi or yogini you have to let go of sex. It means being responsible with your sexuality, and forming relationships which foster spiritual growth. Our behavior should move us, and our partner, toward Truth.
In Teaching Yoga, Donna Farhi says,
The fourth yama, sexual propriety (brahmacharya), tells us to use our sexual energy in a way that makes us feel more intimate not only with our partner but also with all of life. When we are connected to our Divinity, how can we use another for our own selfish desires or hurt another through our inabiity to contain our desires?
By practicing brahmacharya, one retains continence of the body, speech and mind. Additionally one sees Divinity in all beings, and in the Universe as a whole. This allows one to move about peacefully in the world, but not have his or her heart in it, thus seeing the world as it really is.
In Light on Yoga, B.K.S. Iyengar says,
When one is established in brahmacharya, one develops a fund of vitality and energy, a courageous mind and a powerful intellect so that one can fight any type of injustice. The brahmachari will use the forces he generates wisely: he will utilise the physical ones for doing the work of the Lord, the mental for the spread of culture and the intellectual for the growth of spiritual life. Brahmacharya is the battery that sparks the torch of wisdom.Your assignment is to review the history of sensual lusting in your life, and be aware of your current sensual lusting, and think about how has affected, and will affect, your body, mind and spirit. Journal about your personal investigation.