Life Without Sex or the Practice of Brahmacharya... : Sticks of Fire

Life Without Sex or the Practice of Brahmacharya...

I've just read an article about some precepts of Brahmacharya and even though I can imagine life without sex - not my own ;) - different questions still remained unanswered... For instance, how do we square time-honored ascetic traditions like brahmacharya with our modern lives?
As you know, celibacy plays an important role in the yoga tradition-indeed, some would say, a critical one. The father of classical yoga, Patanjali, made brahmacharya one of the five yamas, or ethical precepts in the Yoga Sutra that all aspirants should adhere to. Other yogic texts name abstinence as the surest and speediest way to boost our deepest reserves of vitality and power. But today we live in a radically different world from that of the ancient yogis who spelled out the discipline's original precepts, lived in total renunciation and still were happy...
I'm trying to understand - of course I'm far from enlightenment - how someone can call all life without celibacy " insipid and animal like." For instance, 1985, Adrian Piper stopped having sex. A longtime yoga practitioner, Piper committed herself to the practice of brahmacharya (celibacy), which is touted as an important step along the pathway to enlightenment. Still resolutely committed 17 years later, Piper calls this practice the greatest spiritual gift she's ever been given. "Brahmacharya has changed my perception of myself, of others, of everything," she says. "It's been so interesting to realize how much of my ego-self was bound up with sexuality and sexual desire. And the effect on my sadhana (spiritual practice) has been most profound. I'm not sure I can put it into words. Let's just say there's definitely a good reason why all spiritual traditions recommend celibacy. Sex is great, but no sexual experience-and I've had a lot of them-could even come close to this."
But the thought that yogis shouldn't have sex-or at the very least should rein in their sexual energy-challenges our modern notions about both yoga and sex.Even though much of yoga is based on ascetic precepts that counsel denial, today the practice is often touted for its ability to improve one's sex life, not eradicate it-and some people even seem to view yoga classes as prime pick-up spots. So how can we pick and choose among yoga's practices, adopting those we like and sweeping the trickier ones like brahmacharya under the yoga mat?


Wendy said... 2:50 PM  
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