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Celibacy/Abstinence/Virtue, Vice, Yoga, Spiritual Progress


Dear Sir,

I have a question relating to the virtues of character prior to the practice of yoga.

Some fellows often have many virtues (such as humility, purity, modesty and kindness) naturally and these virtues have prevented them from engaging in a life of recreational sexuality or masturbation, and have protected them from the wiles of lusty and bad women, and they have pursued other things. Swami Sivananda says that virtue brings a Jiva closer to self realization. However, many of these virtuous souls do not pursue the self and their character remains constant.

Before the practice of the self, I was not virtuous, I was willing to get money by any practice if society approved of it, and politics and societal thought ruled my actions to a greater degree than consideration of ethics. However, I did have an inclination for the self and did struggle for brahmacharaya. Why did I, a fellow with selfishness, cruelty and a lack of virtues, pursue the self when far more virtuous souls do not pursue the self? Some fellows on this forum pursued the self even though they have slept with many different girls and their character has completely changed soon after pursuing brahmacharaya. Do the actions and behavior of a saint prior to the path of the self indicate any level of actual spiritual progress of the saint? For example, Saint Augustine was a licentious man in his youth, but then took to the path of the self soon afterward. Yogi Vemana, for example, was a terrible man and was in love with a prostitute before he turned to the path of the self and became a reputed saint.

Also, I know some atheists who do not have bad habits (such as recreational sexuality and alcohol) yet some people who consider themselves religious and pray have many bad habits. Does religion have any connection to character? Why do I see atheists with bad habits and religious fellows who struggle to be upright?

And if I am born again, will some virtues I may develop protect me in my next birth and prevent me from committing immoral acts? Does virtue, really, have any connection with spiritual progress of a Jiva?

1. One's character & nature at any given moment is the product of his past Samskara-s & Vasana-s. Atma Sadhana starts to gradually annul the same, bringing one closer to purity. The why and how of Jiva taking up such Sadhana is divine will, as is all else.

2. Religion is a path & belief. The inner nature nature of a person does not change drastically, just because he/she follows a certain religion. Nature, which is the effect of the seeds of past karma takes time to alter.

3. Virtue is the positive effect of consciousness coming closer to the self. That itself is spirituality.

ॐ तत् सत्
(That Supreme being is the absolute truth)


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Questions concerning the practice of 'Brahmacharya' to know the self, & the means required are dealt with here.


The term 'Yoga' is a derivative of the Samskruth verb 'Yuj' which refers to union. 'Yoga', also called 'Brahma vidy‚' is the eternal dissolution of the individual 'Aham' (Ego) into the Atman (self) for 'Mukti' (liberation). Mere indulgence in '¬sana' or physical postures is not Yoga. ¬sana is only one limb or 'Anga' of Yoga. The eight limbs viz. Yama, Niyama, ¬sana, Pr‚n‚y‚ma, Praty‚h‚ra, Dh‚rana, Dhy‚na and Sam‚dhi are the means to Yoga. Brahmacharya or spiritually based continence is one of the important components of 'Yama'. 'Brahmacharya':- "Brahmani charyathey ithi" - "To surrender one's Ego and go with the will of the Almighty."


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