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Celibacy/Abstinence/Interaction with worldly people


QUESTION: Dear Dhananjay,

Because of the study groups I have formed, I am forced to interact with worldly people and people who do not even attempt to practice brahmacharaya, and other rank materialists. I try to avoid their company as much as possible, but in certain situations I am forced to interact. I would like to avoid the evil vibrations that they send out and protect my sattvic bhava, and my desire for liberation. Please tell me how I can do so when around them.

Thank You.

ANSWER: 1. This occurs when one's Ego and the world are taken to be real. Who is evil and who is getting affected by the evil? It is the Ego in both cases, for the Atman (self) is ever untainted and unaffected. When one lets go of the 'Aham' (I-ness) which is being affected, the world does not pose any problem.

2. As long as one's Prarabdha (karma that dictates the events of this birth) remains, one will have to complete some obligation or the other as regards the world and its people. One can neither sidestep his responsibilities, nor is doing so beneficial. Every person has to be true to his Dharma and abide by the path shown by destiny.

3. It is neither realistic nor correct to expect others to know or practice Brahmacharya, for every Jiva is in its own state of evolution. To be in the midst of the world and yet maintain Brahmacharya in thought, word and deed is what is required. This is possible when the world is realized to be a drama, with people as the actors playing a role; and one remembers himself also as an actor playing a character, without taking the character to be real.

Just as an actor does not get affected by the part he plays or by the events occurring in the drama in terms of reality, the aspirant takes the world lightly and plays as an actor, always keeping his mind fixed on the reality. When the same is practiced with a life of honest Sadhana for many years, one becomes insulated from worldly vibrations and stays in the light of the Atman (self). Such a Yogi lives in the realm of reality (pure consciousness), whatever be his external activity; be the place a forest, the office or some other.

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

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------


I hope this message finds you well. It's been more than a year since I've asked the above question, but the following contradiction appears in my mind when I attempt to apply the principles you've stated:

In one portion of this forum, you have instructed aspirants to stay "aloof" and "minimize interaction," while in the above advice, you've instructed one to play his "role." If this role means being social, and interacting with many for the sake of properly fulfilling one's work duties (such as a job), should the aspirant disregard the advice to stay aloof and rather feel completely free and unhesitant to interact with many? I find this also strange to follow because Swami Sivananda has expressly stated that an aspirant should never mix with "worldlings" and should never be intimate with anyone, yet if one's role requires one to mix and become intimate with people and work colleagues, which guidance should the aspirant follow?

If the aspirant must shave his beard, groom his hair, and apply certain natural moisturizers to his skin to play the requirements of his role, even though these behaviors are restricted by yogic law for yogis, should the aspirant do so?

If one's role requires one to make many friends, and perhaps even be around these friends when they "drink" or do something sensual, can one become intimate with them?

I know an advanced aspirant (as described above) is not affected by these different worldly vibrations, but as a beginner aspirant who may be easily affected yet is forced by god's circumstances to violate yogic advice for the sake of his "role" in society, what should I do?

1. Aloof internally, always detached, yet interacting and behaving social externally. One should groom himself to the extent required by his occupation, yet be indifferent to appearance internally.

2. One follows the same with friends, limiting interaction as per necessity.

3. Do your Sadhana and leave the rest to HIM.

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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