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Celibacy/Abstinence/Attitude to be practiced

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Question
Dear God in the form of Dhananjay,

I have several queries related to the practice of self-surrender and giving up all sense of doership to the all-mighty and practicing bramhacharaya.

1.)

A. I practice most of the asanas you listed, but in addition, I practice several mudras Swami Sivananda also recommended—including the Yoga Mudra and the Maha Mudra. I practice these mudras in between Bandha and Pranayama. Any commentary on these, and how much time I should aim for in the practice of both of these mudras?

B.  I started Pranayama recently and do six pranayams in the morning and six pranayams in the evening doing 16 second retentions. Sometimes, I get a pain in my lower cheekbone on the right side of my face while doing this. Is this a cause for concern? Also, may I increase the number of pranayams from 6 to a higher number if I am feeling comfortable?

C. Books to read. Any spiritual books you would recommend I read to goad my mind to give up this ego completely?

D. Sirhasana. I am unable to practice this. Is this absolutely necessary or can I keep Sarvangasana as a replacement?

2.)
A. When I surrender to the lord, and I am doing any physical activity, should my attitude be:

Ex: The lord is walking through my body…
Ex: The lord is eating through my mouth…. Etc.
Ex: The lord is walking down the street through my body
B. When I am doing an intellectual activity, should my attitude be:

Ex: The lord is learning this through my intellect
Ex: The lord is understanding this through me
Ex: The lord is typing up this message through my hands
C. When an evil thought or a thought relating to the ego (what this body or the intellect in this world), or the women/people that this body or speech affected in the world, what should be my response? Should I think:

The Lord is thinking these thoughts?
The lord has done this/has spoken about this etc…. through my body?
The lord is experiencing this pain through me
The lord is experiencing this feeling of attraction through my mind etc…

D. When I see a woman my mind finds attractive or look at myself in the mirror, should my attitude be: This is the lord’s beauty? This is the lord’s body? This is the beauty of the lord?

3.) What in the world belongs to the Jiva? And does the Jiva indeed do anything?
A. I have heard the Jiva is a drop compared to the ocean of brahman. So is the Jiva indeed powerless compared to Brahman? Therefore, shouldn’t one just completely rely on the Supreme Spirit and not on himself?

B. When a Jiva exerts his willpower to get rid of temptation, is his ego acting or is it his willpower? And from where does this willpower or the motive to improve come from?

I am sorry for so many questions. But I need to understand this in order to clear myself of doubts, and confusing thoughts.

Answer
1A. Bandha-s are to be practiced after Asana and before Nadi Shodhana. 3~5 seconds suffices as the holding period for the Bandha-s.

1B. Limit to the 16 second retention till there is no longer any pain in the cheek bone. Pain is an indication that the body is not yet ready for more. Do not increase the retention for now. That will happen later.

1C. The Ego cannot be overcome through bookish knowledge. It is removed only through honest Sadhana & life experience, which in turn lead to 'Gnyana' (knowledge of the truth). Books conducive to this effect have been listed in past answers.

1D. Perform Sarvangasana for now. 'Shirshasana' will occur on its own, if it is so destined.

2A. The attitude to be applied is -"The Lord makes the body go through these actions, as a part of HIS Leela (play), as dictated by Prarabdha (past karma working out presently), so as to help me realize who I truly am. I am only the impartial witness, not being the body or the mind or Ego but the pure self".

Such an attitude is practiced by remaining neutral, with the Ego subdued. After many years of such practice with unbroken Brahmacharya & Yoga, there will no longer be the need to remind oneself of this fact, as the one who is to be reminded (individual Ego) becomes weak, being replaced by pure consciousness. After Enlightenment, there is no Ego but pure consciousness alone.

2B. The Lord does not have to learn or understand anything, for HE is the all knowing, all powerful one who has no need of any kind. It is the individual body and mind which are subjected to the motions and experiences of life, under the purview of past karma, so as to help the Jiva (individual) overcome its ignorance, leading to self-realization. The attitude to be applied is as that stated in 2A.

2C. Supreme consciousness does not think. It is. The Almighty has no desire, no thoughts, no pain and does not feel attraction or repulsion. One should not mistake these feelings as those of God. They are that of the individual Ego and illusory. With advancement, one eventually realizes the same.

Thoughts, be they good or evil, are the offshoots of the individual Ego, dependent on its past Samskara-s (Impressions) & Vasana-s (tendencies). Hence the Ego is to be cleared of its evil or disagreeable thoughts and brought back under the foot of the Atman (pure consciousness), when such thoughts arise.

2D. The attitude for the beginner, as regards the body of the opposite sex should be -"This body is a bag of flesh filled with blood, bones and human waste which will eventually become foul smelling & old by degeneration and decay. It is not worth losing Brahmacharya over. The beauty seen is a reflection and not real."

The beginner will fail if he or she tries to see the beauty of the Lord through the body of the opposite sex. That occurs naturally in case of the advanced soul nearing Enlightenment and not with others. Such a purified soul experiences only the Lord everywhere, with no sexual response from within. Till then, one should avoid reasoning and remind the idea of the foul nature of the body at the physical level. Else, one gets drowned in the ocean of Maya (cosmic illusion).

3. Since the Jiva (individual) itself is non-existent (being an illusion), the world is also an illusion, for there is no world independent of the Jiva. What then belongs to whom and who does what? There is no belonging and no doing in terms of the absolute. Everything except the Atman (self) is an illusion on the screen of pure consciousness.

3A. One has to rely only on the Supreme. When this is done, the Supreme makes this body & mind do that which is required.

3B. Will power is the apparent power obtained by the powerless Ego by drawing from the Atman (self) as the TV set draws power from the mains. The Jiva has no power of its own. All power comes only from the Atman or Lord. Hence one should remind the Ego of this fact and keep it snubbed under the feet, till it dies for ever. Then, the pure self, no different from the Lord alone functions.

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

Celibacy/Abstinence

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Expertise

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

Experience

The term 'Yoga' is a derivative of the Samskruth verb 'Yuj' which refers to union. 'Yoga', also called 'Brahma vidyâ' is the eternal dissolution of the individual 'Aham' (Ego) into the Atman (self) for 'Mukti' (liberation). Mere indulgence in 'Âsana' or physical postures is not Yoga. Âsana is only one limb or 'Anga' of Yoga. The eight limbs viz. Yama, Niyama, Âsana, Prânâyâma, Pratyâhâra, Dhârana, Dhyâna and Samâdhi 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."

Education/Credentials
Bachelors degree in Engineering.

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