Celibacy/Abstinence/Weight training/meat eating/Pranayama for asthma
QUESTION: Dear Brother,
I would like to seek you advice on the following items and its impact on brahmacharya and yogic lifestyle in general:
1) I strength train with heavy weights every weekend. Will such a strenuous training affect brahmacharya and effects of god meditation?
2) I am trying to cut down my meat intake. I am like eating meat 3 time every week. Will taking non-veg adversely affect my system if coupled with yogic practises?
3) Can asthma patients perform pranayama? Pranayama deals with breathin so is it dangerous if the natural pattern of breathing is affected?
ANSWER: 1. One can indulge in exercise, sports, weight training etc.. during the initial years of Brahmacharya. There is no problem. Such activities are required during the initial years for transmutation of semen. It is only from the stage of 'Samadhi' that one gives up on these. (Asana can still be practiced even after reaching the Samadhi state). The principle here is that for deep meditation and complete attainment of the status of an 'Urdhvaretha' (non-semen releasing Yogi) which leads to siddhi-s, attainment of the 'Divya Sharira' (divine body), and finally Samadhi (for self-realization), much 'Prana' (vital energy) must be directed upwards to the brain and not to the muscles.
In a person who is spending much energy towards weight training, sports, exercise etc... on a regular basis, the conserved semen is converted into muscle mass and physical strength. This will work well and to one's benefit in the case of a professional sportsman, bodybuilder, athlete etc.. (as his professional aim is to excel in his sport and win medals) but not for the Yogi aiming self-realization. There will be less Prana (vital energy) left behind for meditation leading to Samadhi. The body becomes strong while the mind remains prone to anger, lust, agitation, moods etc... Eventually, such large scale physical activity increases the 'Rajasic' nature of the mind and this leads to the production of more sex hormones within the system. Production of sex hormones in such volumes results in an increase in production of physical semen and an increase in sexual urges (while the aim of the Brahmachari is to prevent the formation of semen and retain it as 'Soma' or nectar in the brain for Samadhi). This is contrary to Brahmacharya. Hence it is preferable to reduce on weight training and exercise as one advances in Brahmacharya and instead shift to the performance of 'Asana-s' (physical postures).
Which is the exact point of time when one should give up bodybuilding, sports, exercise etc.. and depend only on Asana? The correct point of time is when one is able to reach 'Savikalpa Samadhi'. This is an advanced stage and does not apply to the beginner. It comes only after many years of unbroken Brahmacharya and God-meditation. When the Yogi reaches this stage (after perfecting the stages of Dharana & Dhyana in meditation), there is an automatic disinclination to engage in bodybuilding or external forms of exercise and give more hours to meditation leading to Samadhi. The Yogi feels an inner urge to spend many hours in meditation.
Upon reaching this stage, he does not require physical exercise to transmute and sublimate his semen. Samadhi meditation automatically converts all semen into 'Soma' and then 'Ojas'. A few simple Asanas will do from hereon. Energy is voluntarily directed for Samadhi and not towards the body. The body starts taking care of itself even without exercise further to commencement in the formation of 'Divya Sharira' (divine body) of Yoga from hereon as one starts his journey towards becoming an 'Urdhvaretha'. The old cells in the body are replaced with new cells rich with 'Prana' derived from sublimated semen. The body becomes fresh, youthful, full of energy, and remains free from fatigue throughout the day despite lack of physical exercise which was required earlier for maintaining health. The body is rejuvenated and energized to an extent not possible by physical exercise in 'Samadhi' at this stage.
Upon full formation of the 'Divya sharira' (divine body) produced by 'Yogaagni' (fire of Yoga) just before 'Nirvikalpa Samadhi', it is no longer the ordinary body as was earlier. The ordinary body is prone to disease, rapid ageing and loss of vitality. Hence it requires regular exercise to maintain health. If exercise were not given, immunity and strength rapidly deplete. This is not the case with the 'Divya Sharira' of Yoga. It draws all that is required for health and well being from Samadhi. When the Yogi is in union with 'Brahman' (Almighty or pure consciousness), he draws immense Prana from the cosmos. The body is energized and recharged this way. It is now dependent on Samadhi for well being and no longer needs cardio-vascular and strength training exercises. It can live for many hundreds of years (if so destined by God) with no trace of disease or weakness. The effects of the fully formed 'Divya Sharira' are mentioned in the Upanishads:
|प्रुथिव्यापत्तेजो आनिलखे समुथिते
पन्चात्मिके योगगुणे प्रव्रुत्ते
न तस्य रोगो न जरो न म्रुत्युहु
प्राप्तस्य योगाग्निमयं शरीरं ||
-- Chapter II/12 - 'Svethashvathara Upanishad'
| When the elements of Earth, water, fire, air and space within the body have attained to perfection through complete purification,
When the five-fold perceptions arising due to such purification are manifest,
Unto him does not come disease, nor old age nor death (due to disease),
He who has a body purified by 'Yogaagni' (the fire of Yoga)||
However, till one reaches 'Savikalpa Samadhi' and the above process of divine body formation starts, it will be required to subject the body to adequate and regular 'Asana' or physical exercise. Till this point is reached, bodybuilding, sports, exercise etc...are necessary to transmute physical semen into 'Ojas'. If physical exercise were not to be given, there will be breaks in Brahmacharya and other health problems. The conserved semen is to be transmuted through exercise, intellectual-mind work and simple meditation in the beginner. A beginner Brahmachari cannot reach Samadhi. That occurs in the advanced stage after many years of unbroken practice. Hence the need for exercise. Even in advanced stages, performance of a few Asana-s is always beneficial for flexibility and fitness.
2. As you make true progress in Yoga and Brahmacharya, meat eating will gradually reduce and finally disappear. One who is getting established in Yoga will not get the mind to eat meat. His mind does not allow him to. When there is not the least urge from within to eat meat, one can be sure that one is making true progress in becoming a Yogi. You will eventually give up meat eating. Why not strive from now itself and derive the benefits of faster progress, better purity and lesser karma by giving up on the habit? Gradually reduce the intake to once a week, then to once in two weeks and in this way taper it away into nothing.
3. Asthma patients can perform Pranayama provided the practice is taken up in a slow and gradual manner. Refer past posts on Yoga and Pranayama for details. 'Kapalabhati' and 'Ujjayi' Pranayama-s are beneficial for asthmatics before commencing regular Pranayama. Start with lesser counts of 'Kumbhaka' (breath retention) and very gradually increase the retention time over many months. Do not hurry. With proper Pranayama, a life of Brahmacharya and Yoga, asthma can be cured in course of time.
For details on Pranayama refer Swami Sivananda's free booklet: http://www.dlshq.org/download/pranayama.htm
ॐ तत् सत्
(That Supreme being is the absolute truth)
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Dear Brother,
Thank you for the detailed reply. However, I do not understand some contradictive matters in the article and prev articles.
1) One, brahmacharya is lived to conserve energy, being prana to raise it up to higher chakras and attain mukti. However, you mentioned that when one is maintaining brahmacharya, they should involve in some sports and use the energy if not it will become tamasic in the body. One one hand, we need alot of prana for samadhi, on the other hand, we need to use up the energy on sports/physical training to prevent tamasic buildup. In then end prana is going to used up from maintaining brahmacharya?? Abit contradictory. Isnt god meditation transmute the semen?
2) Does eating meat constitute bad karma? If that is so, how can kannappa nayyannar who had direct vision of siva was able to even see god despite a low, tribal, meat eating hunter? Will god forgive if i stop meat eating and become vegterian?
3) I have heard the story of arunagirinathar. Some of my friend who indulge in dating, casual relationships used to cite that if murugan can bless arunagirinathar who was a compulsive visitor of prostitute, casual relationships and datings are minute in comparison. How can for someone like arunagirinathar who did not maintain brahmacharya was saved by the lord? Isn't it contradictory?
4) I want to clarify how meditation on the trikuti is performed - do we need to cross our eyes i.e. turn the eyeballs towards the nose lining first and then in this position turn the eyeballs towards the intersection between the eyebrows? I have tried this before and I have experienced eye pain.pls correct me if i am wrong.
Thanks in advance.
1. There are two important reasons for the practice of Brahmacharya:
A. To help overcome slavery to sexuality, thereby helping one develop ‘Indriya Nigraha’ (control and restraint of the senses), which is mandatory to purify the mind for the attainment of self-realization.
B. To conserve Prana through transmutation of ‘Rethas’ (semen) and make use of this Prana for various objectives such as the removal of past Samskara-s (impressions), Vasana-s (tendencies) and purify the body, mind and psyche, making it a fit vehicle for ‘Samadhi’ and self-realization.
In the beginner Brahmachari, the ‘Sthula Sharira’ (physical body), ‘Linga Sharira’ (astral body) and ‘Karana Sharira’ (causal body) are dense with impurities carried forward from past deeds of this and former lives. Hence the ‘chakra-s’ are rife with blockages. Prana cannot flow freely in the ‘Naadi-s’ (astral energy channels). To attain Samadhi, the Naadi-s must be clear and free from blocks. The chakra-s must be fully deflowered. Only then will the Prana flow unhindered into the higher chakra-s and finally the ‘Sahasrara chakra’ in the brain. Till this purification has progressed to a large degree, it will not be possible for a beginner to enter ‘Samadhi’. Since transmutation of semen through Samadhi is not possible in the beginner, there is a need for adequate physical, mental and spiritual activity, to aid effective transmutation of semen.
2. ‘Kannappa Nayanar’ plucked out both his eyes and offered them to the Lord when he saw the 'Siva lingam' in tears. Such was his devotion. He was not a meat eater and hunter by choice but by force of circumstance. Does the common man have this much ‘Bhakthi’ (devotion)? Will he be ready to cut out his eyes and offer them to the Lord? If one has such innocent love, surrender and devotion to the Lord, it does not matter what one eats or doesn't. Though born a hunter, 'Kannappa' was a very spiritually advanced soul. Lord Siva appeared before him not because he ate meat but because of Kannappa’s unconditional love and devotion.
For all other ordinary people, giving up meat at least during the initial years is beneficial to progress in Brahmacharya if self-realization is the aim. Eating meat builds aggressive tendencies which make one more prone to anger, lust, agitation unrest etc… Deep meditation becomes almost impossible. It promotes the release of sex hormones in the system which leads to strong sexual undercurrents. Unbroken Brahmacharya becomes very difficult. Hence at least till the state of an Urdhvareta is not attained, meat is best avoided.
3. ‘Arunagirinathar’ smashed his head against the temple steps/pillars and finally threw himself from atop the temple ‘Gopuram’ (tower) when he realized the great mistake he committed through his womanizing ways. Such was his repentance and shame upon the dawning of knowledge. Lord Muruga gave him Darshan not for his womanizing ways but upon being impressed with the devotion and repentance shown further to getting free of ‘Avidya’ (ignorance). When your friend associates himself with the actions of this great man prior to sainthood, he should also be ready to follow the footsteps of this Saint in the extreme steps he took to cleanse himself of his sin. Is he ready for the same?
One should take the essence and morals of the lives of such great men and apply it in one’s own life. Today, people remember these Saints not for the mistakes they committed before the attainment of knowledge but for the sacrifice and devotion they displayed upon the dawning of knowledge. The wise man acts accordingly and eats the fruit of knowledge, while the fool discards the fruit and settles for the peels.
4. It is not necessary to practice ‘Aghochari Mudra’ (nose tip gazing) if one feels discomfort. This is a preliminary exercise to aid concentration and not mandatory. The method of practicing meditation is available in past answers. Kindly go through each and every past answer to get clear with the methods of Yoga, Brahmacharya and meditation.
ॐ तत् सत्
(That Supreme being is the absolute truth)