This yamas has many definitions and interpretations. From the internet, I have gathered that most are led to believe that this yamas represents celibacy. Which is odd, how could this be an outward community value? Wouldn’t your sexual activity be concerned with you, yourself? But I guess if it takes two to tango in the dance of life, it could very well make sense.
In sanskirt Brah means expansion (of consciousness) and charya means to follow. Or going after supreme, self, god.
Some definitions of this are:
- Non-stealing of Vital Energy
- Maintenance of Vitality
- Right use of Energy
Vital energy can be defined in many ways, looking back on the root of this yamas, Buddah was a married prince. He fully indulged in sex, however, refraining from it was often prescribed. It is thought that by allowing sexual energy to flow downward for sexual intercourse, it wastes precious resources that could otherwise be directed upward and inward for self-realization.
By following the path of Brahma (the divine) we are able to achieve many great things. Harnessing and not wasting your vital energy is an important part of life so some choose to live in celibacy.
But is the energy they are talking about just sexual energy?
I ponder further:
Here, I take a viewpoint of tantric yoga. Where sex is not the problem, not knowing about sex and sexuality is the problem. By exploring who we are sexually so that we are able to know ourselves and our partners energy intimately we are able to expand out conscious thought. If we understand our vices and things that make us fall, a poison can become a nectar, elevating our abilities in all aspects of life especially if we understand it and use it correctly. Directing our vital energy towards things we hope for. We are not wasting it, we are learning, studying & understanding it to protect it or use it in the “right” way.
But still, the roots of Brahmacharya outlines nothing of sexuality. I desire to understand how I can practice this niyamas truly.
Finally, for the sake of Patanjali who in sutra 2.38 states the virtue of Brahmacharya leads to the profit of Virya (वीर्य) or virility. Harnessing your powers with strength and capacity. By learning to harness your powers, this virtue will lead to advances in other good qualities.
Something I can understand for once! I think of two distinct examples, one I greatly struggled with prior to defining my path of yoga & something I could see as hard to handle.
I choose to often times be.What does this mean? Non-analyzing, non-judging, allowing others to be in their own space and for myself to live in the moment. I think this is one of the hardest things to do and often times why some are unwilling to pursue a career in psychology as they are unable to stop the flow of knowledge into their personal life, scared they will manipulate, judge and control others with knowledge they have gained.
So I let go of my knowledge & passion when not appropriate and harness it when helping others seeking assistance in life.
Another instance would be in the workplace.
This Yamas is why we hate having micromanagers, narcissists, rules that don’t make any sense. Our energy is not meant to be spent doing things that are unhealthy for its presenter.
Our vital energy, our passion in life is often time our work. Often times a micro-managers are stealing our vital energy but not allowing us to put personal touches on our work, stripping us of our unique energy which others seek out. Have you ever thought about seeing Joy in a yoga class with you? I’ve always struggled with the concept of my teachers joining me in class, maybe because I idolize them or think of how strong their home practice may be. But Joy does not go to another teacher’s class, with all of her knowledge and tell the teacher what to do. She enjoys the class, harnessing her energy, learning from it and sharing her energy at an appropriate time. If she were to introject in class, she would be stealing others vital energy and wasting her own greatly.
This is how I see Brahmacharya, pick your battles, honor and respect those being around you and use your knowledge for good, not evil. Spend your mental energy & thoughts on positivity, don’t mentally project negativity; grow flowers not weeds.