In the Practice of Brahmacharya, what is wanted is elimination of lust, but not suppression. Suppression of the sex urge is not eradication. You can never be free of that which is suppressed. The suppressed sex desire will attack you again and again and will produce wet dreams, irritability and restlessness of mind.
Repression or suppression of the sexual desire will not help you much. If lust is suppressed, it will again manifest with redoubled force when a suitable opportunity arises, when the will becomes weak, when Vairagya wanes, when there is slackening in meditation or Yogic Sadhana, when you become weak owing to an attack of disease.
Do not try to run away from women. Then Maya will chase you terribly. What is wanted is a judicious control of the Indriyas. Brahmacharya means control, but not suppression, of the sex desire or sex force. The mind should be rendered pure by meditation, Japa, Kirtan and prayer. If the mind is filled with sublime divine thoughts by meditation, Japa, prayer and study of holy scriptures, the sex desire will be devitalised or de-energised by the withdrawal of the mind. The mind also will be thinned out.
Ojas is spiritual energy that is stored up in the brain. By entertaining sublime, soul elevating thoughts of the Self or Atman, by meditation, Japa, worship and Pranayama, the sexual energy can be transmuted into Ojas Sakti and stored up in the brain. This stored up energy can then be utilised for divine contemplation and spiritual pursuits.
If the sexual energy is transmuted into Ojas or spiritual energy by pure thoughts, it is called sex sublimation in western psychology. Sublimation is not a matter of suppression or repression, but a positive, dynamic, conversion process. It is the process of controlling the sex energy, conserving it, then diverting it into higher channels, and finally, converting it into spiritual energy or Ojas Sakti. The material energy is changed into spiritual energy, just as heat is changed into light and electricity.
Anger and muscular energy can also be transmuted into Ojas. A man who has a great deal of Ojas in his brain can turn out immense mental work. He is very intelligent. He has lustrous eyes and a magnetic aura in his face. He can influence people by speaking a few words.
In Yoga, it is called Oordhvaretas. An Oordhvareta Yogi is one in whom the seminal energy has flown upwards into the brain as Ojas Sakti. There is now no possibility of the semen going downwards by sexual excitement.
The secret of sex sublimation
According to Yogic science, semen exists in a subtle form throughout the whole body. It is found in a subtle state in all the cells of the body. It is withdrawn and elaborated into a gross form in the sexual organ under the influence of the sexual will and sexual excitement. An Oordhvareta Yogi not only converts the semen into Ojas, but checks through his Yogic power, through purity in thought, word and deed, the very formation of semen by the secretary cells of the testes or seeds. This is a great secret.
Allopaths believe that even in an Oordhvareta Yogi, the formation of semen goes on incessantly and that the fluid is reabsorbed into the blood. This is a mistake. They do not understand the inner Yogic secrets and mysteries. Their Drishti or vision is concerned with the gross things of the universe. The Yogi penetrates into the subtle hidden nature of things through Yogic Chakshu or the inner vision of wisdom. The Yogi gets control over the astral nature of semen and thereby prevents the formation of thevery fluid itself.
The body of a man who is truly an Oordhvaretas has the scent of a lotus. A man who is not a Brahmachari, in whom gross semen is formed, may, on the other hand, smell like a buck goat. The semen dries up in those who practice Pranayama seriously. The semen-energy ascends up to the brain. It is stored up as Ojas Sakti or spiritual energy and comes back as Amrita or nectar.
The process of sex sublimation is extremely difficult. It demands constant and protracted Sadhana and perfect discipline. That Yogi who has achieved perfect sublimation has perfect control over lust. Complete sublimation is achieved through ceaseless meditation on Atman and Self-realization. That Yogi or Jnani who has attained the highest Nirvikalpa Samadhi, in whom the seeds of Samskaras are fried in toto, can claim to be a perfect Oordhvaretas or one who has complete sex sublimation. There is no fear of his downfall. He is perfectly safe. He will be absolutely free from impurity. This stage is a very high stage. A microscopic minority only have attained this sublime exalted state. Sankara, Dattatreya, Jnana Deva of Alandi and others reached this stage.
The process of sex sublimation is very difficult, and yet, it is most necessary for the aspirant in the spiritual path. It is the most important qualification for the Sadhaka, be he in the path of Karma Yoga, Upasana, Yoga or Vedanta. It is a fundamental prerequisite for an aspirant. If one has this qualification or merit, all other merits will come and cling to him. All good qualities will come by themselves. You must achieve this at any cost. You will surely attempt this in future births. But why not now?
Is celibacy possible?
It is quite possible for a man to practice celibacy while remaining in the world, albeit there are various sorts of temptations and distractions. Many have achieved this in times of yore. There are many even at the present moment also. A well disciplined life, a Sattvic and moderate diet, study of religious scriptures, Satsanga, Japa, Dhyana, Pranayama, daily introspection and enquiry, self-analysis and self-correction, Sadachara, practice of Yama and Niyama, physical, verbal and mental Tapas in accordance with the teachings of the Seventeenth Chapter of the Gita—all will pave a long way in the attainment of this end. People have an irregular, unrighteous, immoderate, irreligious, undisciplined life. Hence they suffer, and fail in the achievement of the goal of life. Just as the elephant throws sand on its own head, so also, they themselves bring difficulties and troubles on their own heads on account of their foolishness.
It is only for passionate people that the Grihastha Ashram or householder’s life is prescribed, because they cannot control their lust. If one is born with sufficient spiritual Samskaras, inborn Viveka and Vairagya, like Sankara or Sadasiva Brahman, he will not enter the Grihashtha Ashram. He will at once take to Naishthik Brahmacharya and then embrace Sannyasa. The Srutis also endorse this. Says the Jabala Upanishad: “Renounce the world on the very day you get Vairagya”.
To some, marriage hinders the spiritual progress; to others, it helps. For Raja Bhartrihari, it was a hindrance; for saint Tukaram, it was a help. Man reaches the same goal in the long run. Let the run be the shortest. Let the short cut be preferred to the long walk.
Brahmacharya is the straight road to God-realization; marriage is a serpentine route. The realization of the Self, however, is not denied even to a Grihasthi just because he has the burden of a family on his shoulders. Saint Tukaram was married twice and had children; yet, he reached Vaikuntha in a Vimana or an aerial car. If your outlook on worldly life is simple, true and honest, if your would-be partner is one who is pious and one who will obey you in all matters, there is no harm in marrying. But if the married life is more likely to prove burden, a curse on one, why should one marry and entangle oneself in chains that can never be cut asunder?
Do not be too familiar with anybody. Familiarity breeds contempt. Do not multiply friends. Do not court friendship with women. However strong you may be through the practice of Tapas and meditation. Do not expose yourself to temptation. Do not test your spiritual strength and purity when you are a beginner on the spiritual path.
God places some temptations before the aspirant to test his spiritual strength. He gives him also strength to conquer the temptations. The strongest temptation in this world is lust. All the saints passed through temptations. Temptations are profitable. People are instructed and strengthened.
He who lives in seclusion is more exposed to temptations and danger. He will have to be very careful and vigilant. The mind will be tempted to do anything as there is nobody to witness its evil action. All suppressed evil Vrittis will be waiting for an opportunity to attack him with redoubled force. The enemies anger, lust and greed will take you unawares. When you walk alone in the spiritual path, they will attack you like the thieves who attack a lonely passenger in the dense forest. Therefore, be always in the company of the wise. Do not go astray.
STOP THAT LUSTFUL LOOK!
Those who practice Brahmacharya should control the sexual gazing impulse. This kind of impulse is a great menace, as it stimulates curiosity and sexual desire. Vasanas grow from lustful look.
There is no harm in looking at a beautiful object; but you will have to develop the Divine Bhav. You will have to feel that everything is a manifestation of God. Purify your thoughts and feelings. Purity is Brahman. Thou art pure in essence. Thou art an embodiment of purity.
You have no lustful look when you see your mother or sister although they are beautiful, well-dressed and decorated with ornaments and flowers. You look at them with affection and pure love. This is Suddha Bhavana. There are no lustful ideas. You will have to develop such a pure love or Bhavana when you look at other women also. If there is impurity behind the gaze, it tantamounts to adultery. Looking at a woman with a lustful heart is tantamount to sexual enjoyment. It is one form of Maithunam. That is the reason why Lord Jesus says, “If you have a lustful look at a woman, you have already committed adultery in your heart.”
You will have to cultivate feelings of devotion, admiration and awe when you look at an alluring form by remembering the Creator of that form.
The dictum, “Do not look even at the picture of a woman”, is for passionate people who have no self-control. Yajnavalkya taught Atma-Vidya to his wife Maitreyi. Raikva had the daughter of King Janasruti to serve him. He was a Naishthik Brahmachari.
There is no harm in looking at a beautiful woman. You can admire the beauty of a girl just as you admire the beauty of a rose, the beauty of the sea, the stars or any other natural scenery. Think that the beauty of your wife belongs to Nature and Nature’s Lord, Isvar. Whenever you see a lady, put this question to your mind: “Who is the creator of this beautiful form?” At once, a sense of wonder, a sense of admiration and a sense of devotion will arise in your mind. It is only when you dart a lustful, unchaste look at a woman that you commit sin. You commit adultery at heart. Only when you entertain lustful thoughts, bondage and misery come.
The beauty that you perceive in the faces of the ladies is the beauty of the Lord. You can have admiration in this manner. Woman is a symbol of beauty. She is a symbol of power. She talks to you in the language of silence: “I am a representative of Adi Sakti. See God in me. See Mother Kali in me. Realize God in and through me. Worship God as an embodiment of beauty. Adore Him as an embodiment of power. ” Again and again think that the beauty of the face is the beauty of the Lord. Godly feeling will arise in you when you look at a woman.
Excerpts from “Practice of Brahmacharya” by Swami Sivananda