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Spirituality

Asteya: Surprising Ways You Could Be Stealing Without Knowing

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Asteya is the Sanskrit term for “non-stealing” and the third Yama of Patanjali’s 5 Yamas of the Yoga Sutras. Most people who practice yoga and follow a spiritual path are pretty sure they never steal. However, this yoga principle means so much more than not physically taking something from someone else. In this article, I want to share with you profound knowledge of what asteya really means and how we can be stealing without even knowing it. Also, I’ll give you some tips on how you can practice Asteya in your daily life.

What Is Asteya?

The word “asteya” is a compound derived from the Sanskrit language, where “a” refers to “non-” and “steya” refers to “practice of stealing” or “something that can be stolen”. Thus, asteya means “non-stealing”.

Asteya is an ethical principle that means not taking what is not ours and not striving to possess what is not ours, as well as honesty and decency.

Asteya is the third Yama of Patanjali’s Five Yamas.

best books for spiritual awakening Patanjali image

Patanjali’s Yamas include 5 ethical and moral principles:

  1. Ahiṃsā (अहिंसा): nonviolence, non-harming other living beings.
  2. Satya (सत्य): truthfulness, non-falsehood.
  3. Asteya (अस्तेय): non-stealing.
  4. Aparigraha (अपरिग्रहः): non-avarice, non-possessiveness.
  5. Brahmacharya (ब्रह्मचर्य): chastity, marital fidelity, or sexual restraint.

All of them impose certain moral restrictions on the actions that we make in our desire to possess the goods that we believe we should have. Most of us, always desire more than what we already have. However, according to yogic philosophy, we always get exactly what we need and what we deserve. And if we think that we deserve or need more than what we already have it means that our ego is overactive and our mind is in disharmony with our spirit.

It is essential to understand that the availability of benefits, both material and non-material, depends on the amount of energy we have accumulated. When we are possessed by our desires, we lose our energy. And what is more important is that we deprive ourselves of the opportunity to self-actualize on the spiritual path, because any desire to gain material possessions leads to the waste of internal spiritual potential.

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As long as a person does not realize that the only source of true happiness is not outside but inside of him, in his spirit, he will not be able to give up external goods that bring him only the illusion of happiness, since it is material, and therefore temporary and transient.

The ego “steals” the spirit of a person, pushing him to such thoughts and actions that, according to egoistic needs, lead to wasting time and effort on something that the person does not really need. For all that he needs, he already has.

We all need to realize that ego can never be satisfied. It will be pushing you for desiring more and promising absolute happiness when you satisfy your desires. Your ego will demand more and more from you and eventually you will start feeling more and more unhappy because you are never satisfied no matter how many material possessions you receive.

It is essential to realize and accept the fact that nothing in the external material world really belongs to us. All the material things that we have are only temporarily our own. The only thing we really have is the spirit. We have come to this planetary incarnation to gain spiritual experience, and this is the only thing we should strive for in our life.

And therefore, we should always remind ourselves to be satisfied with the number of material goods that we have since their true purpose is to help our spiritual development. All the necessary goods that we need for the exact moment we already have. Even if you feel it’s too little, remind yourself that you need to experience this exact “little amount” for your spiritual development, that you need to learn to be satisfied with that “little” that God gives you.

To keep the soul in the body there is no need to get money and material goods dishonestly. We must resolutely get rid of the desire to possess unnecessary material things, realizing that these surpluses only burden the person.

The main focus on the Spiritual Path should not be to receive unnecessary benefits from external objects but to be able to have as much as necessary to advance along the Path.

The Four Types Of Stealing

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According to Shrii Shrii Anandamurti teaching, there are four types of stealing:

#1: Physical theft of any material object

Ordinarily, those persons who steal material objects are called thieves. But thieves are not only those persons who flee with stolen objects after committing armed robbery. Whatever is taken in possession by the use of brute physical force, of arms or of the strength of intellect, whether it is money or goods, amounts to theft, because behind such actions there is the intention of taking others’ property deceitfully. However, acceptance of anything like money, crops, gold, etc., in exchange for money in a proper way is not theft.

#2: Psychic theft

Here you did not take material possession of anything, but you planned it in your mind. This also called “theft”, because you have mentally stolen. Only the fear of law or of adverse criticism prevented you from doing the action physically.

#3: Depriving others of their due physically

Even if you do not take possession of what belongs to others, but you deprive others of what is their due, you become responsible for their loss. This is also stealing.

#4: Depriving others of their due mentally

If you do not actually deprive anybody of what is justifiably their due, but you plan in your mind to do so, that too amounts to theft.

Siddhi

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Siddhi is a Sanskrit noun which can be translated as “perfection”, “accomplishment”, “attainment”, or “success”.

The one who follows this virtue perfectly in his life gets everything he needs in the very near future. But these are not necessarily material things. It can also be health, knowledge, or, for example, favorable circumstances — everything that appears in an intangible form and, as a rule, what you really need at the moment.

To one established in truthfulness, actions and their results become subservient.

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (Chapter II, Sutra 37)

When we don’t follow the Asteya principle, we will have to pay back whether we like it or not. If we take or desire something that does not belong to us, sooner or later we will have to pay a karmic debt. It’s not necessarily going to be something material taken away from us, it can be a loss of health, a loss love, a loss of a job, a loss of happiness, a loss of loved ones, etc.

Suprising Ways You Could Be Stealing Without Knowing

Now let me share with you some surprising ways you could be stealing without knowing that go far beyond material possessions.

#1: Desiring something that belongs to somebody else

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Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says that “(Even) sitting and wishing ‘I wish I had those looks’; ‘I wish I had that voice’; ‘I wish I had that car’; ‘I wish I had that power’; ‘I wish I had that money’, you have stolen.”

These kinds of thoughts can be very destructive to you and to the person who owns whatever you desire to have. You are mentally vamping that person and “stealing” his energy. These thoughts lead to jealousy and anger.

Instead of wanting what other people have, switch your attention to what you already have. Focus on gratitude and notice every little gift God gives to you. If you start practicing gratitude instead of “wishing” and “wanting”, very soon you will notice that you have enough and moreover you will feel happy with whatever you have at the moment.

#2: Desiring abilities, talents, qualities, gifts, skills that other people have

It may seem like you get inspired by the way some people express themselves, their talents, creative abilities, etc. You may think: “I wish I was as charismatic as him”, or “as confident as her”, or “as professional and focused as him”, etc. It may seem like an admiration of somebody’s talent, however, it’s not what you think it is.

The feeling of lack of something sounds in your head like “I don’t have this, but I want it!”. First, you start following this person’s Instagram page for daily inspiration. Then you do more research on him/her, start watching his/her videos, reading his/her blog. And the more you do it, the worse you feel about yourself. Slowly and gradually your inspiration gets replaced with envy and jealousy for what they have and what you don’t.

Every time you think: “I wish I had her/his …”, you mentally steal.

Moreover, by thinking these thoughts you may also be causing self-harm by not allowing your own unique gifts to flourish. You see, you steal your own light when you cannot acknowledge and honor the unique gifts that you bring in the world.

Simply recognize all the virtues that you appreciate in others and realize that they are present in you in seed form. You only have to nurture them.

– Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Instead of wishing somebody else’s gifts start noticing your own talents and unique qualities! If we are grateful and appreciate your own unique gifts, the expression in the same instance could be something like, “I truly admire blessings that the Divine has showered upon you, and I feel so blessed and happy that I have a friend with such wonderful gifts. Shine on!” In this case, you are looking at others’ blessings as your own blessings too. Thus, you become capable of an enthusiastic and heartfelt expression of appreciation!

#3: Worrying about the future or brooding over the past

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When we worry about the future or brood over the past we steal energy from the present moment and the opportunity of dwelling in the pure bliss of our being, of living in this very moment.

Think about how many times during the day you’re thinking about planning for the future or worrying about something that may happen? How many times during the day indulge in the memories of your past? All these thoughts distract you from the joy of the present moment. Even when you’re making plans or sharing memories, make sure you are mindful and present in the now.

Asteya principle teaches us not to steal the pure joy of the now of our lives.

#4: Staying in your comfort zone

When you remain in your comfort zone, you steal away your own possibilities to enjoy the best things in life. You restrict your own potential, progress, and growth into the world of limitless opportunities. 

Moreover, when you don’t open up your potential, you restrict the world from enjoying the benefits your inner Light can bring! You have your own unique mission that brought you to this planet. This mission is somehow connected to the collective evolution of human beings. And by staying in your comfort zone, you are suppressing your Light, thus you’re stealing the part of your contribution into collective evolution.

#5: Stealing time

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People have a tendency to steal time not only from themselves, but also from others.

Asteya teaches us to watch how we use our time. We can invest our time in searching for truth, reconnecting with our Higher Self, and fulfilling our mission on Earth. Or we can use our time to pursue illusory things that feed our ego.

There is nothing stable in the outside world. We live inside a huge game of God – “Maya”. Inside this game, everything changes, nothing is permanent. It’s like sandcastles: you can build a castle on the sand but you can’t expect that it will be permanent. One wave can destroy it. And if you are too attached to the castle, its destruction can cause you suffering.

On the contrary, your spirit does not change, it is something that will never leave you. And the better connection you have with your spirit, the more secure you will feel in life.

Therefore, Asteya teaches us that time is precious. And if we spend it on chasing temporary things, instead of investing it into spiritual development, then we violate Asteya.

If we “steal” time from another person, especially from a spiritual practitioner, guru, teacher, master, or yogi, then we also strongly violate Asteya. You see, if you steal time from people who are already wasting it, it is not a big deal. But if you steal time from a person who is focused on spiritual practice, then there is a very strong penalty for this. Hence, there are a lot of legends (for example, the Mahabharata is literally full of such legends), when yogis meditate, and someone disturbs them from this state, then a powerful flow of energy burns the offenders.

A person who practices Asteya does not steal either their own or someone else’s time. Such a person tries not to attract the attention of other people and respects their time. When a person begins to sink into Asteya, he mostly speaks to the point. His words and questions are very constructive.

People who violate the principle of Asteya always try to draw attention to themselves. Such people may ask lots of questions, send you lots of text messages/emails, but they are not really interested in your answers. All they care about is to get your emotional attention. These situations need to be monitored! Value your time by not letting people steal it from you.

How to Practice Asteya?

As you can see, Asteya practice includes not just taking away something material from other people but also removing such qualities as greed, jealousy, envy, desire for someone else’s property, etc.

Here are helpful tips on how you can make Asteya a part of your daily life.

#1: Practice non-attachment

how to practice asteya image

Start with removing all attachments to existing material things and non-material objects, whether they are fame, success, titles, or any achievements in this world. One who is not attached to anything, is free from possessive claims and does not want anything for himself personally, and accordingly does not consider himself the owner of anything.

#2: Be satisfied with what you have

Every time you start thinking: “I wish I had this or that”, switch your focus to gratitude. Start counting your blessings instead of daydreaming. Bring your attention to the present moment and find at least 10 things you are grateful for.

#3: Value your time

Don’t let others steal your time. If you see that a person asks for help but never follows your advice, asks questions but doesn’t care about your answers if you feel energetically exhausted every time you talk to this person, you’re dealing with energy vampires who are stealing your time and energy. In situations like this, you need to remember about Asteya. Do not let other people steal your time!

#4: Pay your debts

According to Asteya principle, it is not good to take credits. We should strive to live according to our financial possibilities. However, for most of us, credits became a common thing and we can’t imagine life without them. If you already have debts and credits but you still want to practice Asteya, try to pay your debts in time. Do not delay!

#5: Don’t buy lottery tickets

A lottery is a disregard of Asteya. The initial intention is based on the desire of having more than you already have. Greed makes people buy lottery tickets. And the lottery itself is receiving something that isn’t yours.

The Bottom Line

Do not seek to enrich yourself or improve your financial situation at the expense of others. Do not desire more than you have. And most importantly, always remember that all the things that we have been given to us only for temporary use. Focus on your spirit and your soul. Remember that true happiness is always internal. If your happiness and satisfaction depend on external things, you will eventually lose it and it will lead to suffering.


Katya Ki is the Founder of SOLANCHA Magazine, a Metaphysical Expert, a Reiki Master, and Human Rights Attorney. She has been studying Eastern metaphysics, cosmology, and esotericism for almost 20 years now. And she's still discovering new knowledge, which is hidden in ancient teachings. During her pilgrimage to the monastery of Saint Catherine in Egypt, she discovered the SOLANCHA System. This is how the SOLANCHA journey started!

Spirituality

Does Karma Exist? This Is How It Really Works

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In our world, everything is conditioned by the principle of cause and effect. This is reflected in many popular sayings: “What you sow, you will reap”, “What you give is what you get”, “what goes around comes around” and so on. But this is just the tip of the iceberg, a simplified understanding of the law of karma, and it is for this reason that some people ask: “Does karma exist?”.

For example, the same action, but performed in different circumstances, can lead to opposite results. And I’m sure you can find lots of examples of how “bad people” never get punished and “good people” always suffer.

In this article, I will share with you spiritual insights on why this happens by taking a deeper look at how karma works and if it’s really as simple as “what you give is what you get”?

If you’re wondering: “Does karma exist?”, this article will help you figure it out!

The Concept of Karma

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Let me start with clarifying what karma is.

Karma is a Sanskrit term that literally means “action” or “doing”. In the Buddhist tradition, karma refers to action driven by intention which leads to future consequences. Each action can be analyzed through the prism of the four elements of karma:

  • the object of the action;
  • motivation;
  • the action itself;
  • the attitude to the action that has already been completed (judgment).

And only by the combination of all these four elements of karma can you fully determine what kind of action is committed, what consequences it can lead to, and even assume how soon a person will receive a reward/punishment (effect) for his action (cause).

The Four Elements of Karma

#1: The Object of the Action

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This is the first thing we evaluate when we try to analyze an action. There is an opinion that our interaction with people, and in general with living beings, is due to karmic connections.

According to Vedic knowledge, anyone we can see, any living being that comes into view, has a karmic connection with us. In your life, you never meet or see people or other living creatures who wouldn’t have a karmic connection with you. Everyone we interact with in one way or another has a karmic connection with us from our past lives. It’s just that the intensity of these connections is different.

For example, a person with whom we just exchanged glances on the street has a weak karmic connection with us, and our parents are souls with whom a karmic connection has been formed over many lifetimes.

That is why in Buddhism, it is believed that we receive the most active and complete retribution for the actions committed against these three categories of beings:

  1. our parents;
  2. our teachers in the broad sense of this word;
  3. enlightened beings.

Meaning, the actions committed against these three categories of beings will have the maximum impact on us. If we do good, this good will multiply many times and, most likely, the reward will be faster than in other cases. If we commit evil against these categories, this evil will multiply many times and the retribution will also overtake us faster.

The sutras tell the story about a woman who donated the last thing she had to the Buddha — her cape. And the Buddha said to the kings and rulers who were present at that meeting: “This woman’s donation exceeds all your donations, for she gave the last thing she had.” And immediately the woman received a reward for her act — everyone who was present at the meeting gave the woman many precious gifts.

Thus, if we perform an action in relation to those people with whom we have a strong karmic connection, the reward for such an act will be much greater and will overtake us faster. It is believed that for the actions that we perform in relation to parents, teachers, and enlightened beings, we will receive a reward in this life. And if we do bad things against them, we will not be able to develop, even if we encounter the most powerful yoga practices.

Therefore, in order to have good karma, remember to always pay respect to your parents, teachers, and enlightened beings. And this respect should be sown not just in your actions but also in your thoughts and words about them (even when they cannot hear you).

#2: Motivation

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The second, no less important, component is motivation. Paradoxically, actions can often look the same, but it is the motivation that determines how a given action can be characterized.

For example, I’m sure you’ve heard about brutal methods Zen teachers have been using for helping their students on the spiritual journey. Zen teachers have been using hits, jabs, and shouts to cut off a moment of thought. For the same purpose, they could through away a student from the window. As you can see, the action itself may look cruel, however, the motivation behind the action is noble. The Masters were not hurting their students out of anger or frustration but rather from the sense of compassion.

At the same time, we can see lots of violence in the world coming from anger, jealousy, hate, etc. In such cases, the motivation creates negative karma.

Thus, you can see that the same form of action can have radically different motivations that lead to different karma.

#3: Action

Now let’s talk about the action itself. People often believe that if you have the intention to do something bad but you couldn’t do it due to circumstances beyond your control, then it doesn’t count as a bad action.

However, according to the Divine Law, any action, complete or incomplete, causes the karmic effect.

However, during the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ (Matthew 5:21) But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” (Matthew 5:22).

Thus, if a person has a desire to kill someone, but does not commit murder, for example, because of physical weakness or because of fear of punishment, it is not at all his choice, but rather it is just a coincidence. And if the circumstances had been different, he might well have carried out his plan.

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Jesus also said: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ (Matthew 5:27) But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28)

Again, Jesus is talking about the fact that the inability to commit a vice does not release a person from responsibility.

We should always keep in mind that karma accumulates on three levels: the level of the body, speech, and mind. And if a person in his thoughts “executes” somebody — this is the same as he would do it on the physical level.

This is confirmed even by modern science – according to neuroscientist Jeremy Bennett, our brain does not distinguish real events from our fantasies and reacts to everything in the same way. Karma works the same way!

#4: Attitude to the Action

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This is the final stage of creating karma. There is an opinion that even if a person committed the most terrible act against, for example, his parents and his motivation was the vilest, but after committing the act, he realized that he was wrong, and sincerely repented — this will facilitate the retribution for the committed act.

But this rule also works in the opposite way. For example, if a person made a donation, but his motivation was selfish, for example, he learned about the law of karma and purely out of commercial interests decided to donate money so that even more would return to him, then, in this case, such an attitude to the completed action will affect the final result: either the reward for the act will come much later, or in a much smaller amount.

The Philosophy Behind

There are many examples of enlightened beings and great teachers who have committed seemingly immoral and terrible acts. But it is important to understand that they see reality somewhat more broadly and act out of compassion for their students, so they sometimes use various radical means to help them develop.

For example, the story of how the great yogi Marpa “mocked” his disciple Milarepa. And at first glance, it may seem that Marpa was just a sadist. But looking at the situation from the perspective of the situation itself is the same as evaluating the overall picture from one piece of the puzzle. If we consider the entire history of Milarepa’s life, it becomes clear that by his seemingly cruel actions, Marpa freed Milarepa from his karma so that he could develop.

Marpa and Milarepa Image

And perhaps the most important thing in our judgment of action is motivation. If we act out of good intentions, then our actions will always benefit others, and it is no longer so important who the objects of our actions will be and what our actions will look like for others.

And if you repent from what you have done, that can ease the accumulated karma. It is important that remorse is sincere and leads to actions that will allow you to neutralize the consequences of your “bad” actions as much as possible.

The reward from our actions, and how quickly the result will return to us, depends on the motivations and intentions mentioned above. And by analyzing your actions from the perspective of these four elements, you can manage your life.

Does Karma Exist?

Thus, karma does exist but the action itself is only the tip of the iceberg, it is only the form behind which the essence is hidden. And if you are judging actions only by the form, you can get only a very narrow perception, which may raise doubts that the law of karma even exists.


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Spirituality

Exploring Saucha: The Purity Of Mind, Speech, and Body

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Saucha is the first Niyama of yoga, mentioned in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. It can be translated as ‘purity’, ‘cleanliness’, and ‘clearness’. Saucha focuses on the purity of mind, speech, and body.

In this article, I will share with you how you can keep your mind, speech, and body pure, and how you can apply this Niyama to your daily life.

Saucha on Physical Level

When we talk about cleanliness at the body level, we mean not only the physical body but also everything that surrounds us physically: clothing, premises, personal belongings, work desk, etc.

The matter is to a certain extent a reflection of our inner state. For example, people who are not able to get rid of old things tend to live in the past.

If you look closely at the living space of any person, you can quite accurately determine what he is interested in, what his preferences are, what he lives by.

It often happens that a person’s worldview has changed but the external component – the house he lives in – still has the style, interior design objects, etc. that has a strong reflection of his old views. This contradiction of the internal and external can slow down his personal evolution and spiritual development. Therefore, it is important to monitor the correspondence of the external to the internal.

This can also happen in a reverse way. If you start changing the external component in correspondence to your future goal, your internal world will adjust to it. This is one of the main benefits of Feng Shui and Vastu – to help us create harmony and peace through external space.

Therefore, it’s good to start Saucha practice by decluttering, cleaning, and organizing your house. The cleanliness of your home will help you to develop the purity of your body and mind.

Purity of the Physical Body

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According to Bhagavad Gita (Book 17), the purity of the body comes from the cleanliness of the body as well as from what one eats and drinks. 

Thus, the purity of the physical body includes not only external purity but also the purity of internal organs and tissues. The yogic texts pay a lot of attention to this aspect. In order to get acquainted with this topic in more detail, we need to refer to the Shatkarmas.

The Shatkarmas are a set of Hatha yoga purification techniques that are used for the preparation of the physical body for the main work of yoga towards moksha. These practices, outlined by Svatmarama in the Haṭha Yoga Pradipiks as kriya, are:

  • Neti – a nasal wash;
  • Dhauti – the cleansing of the whole digestive tract;
  • Nauli –  a self-administered abdominal massage, using only the muscles of the abdominal wall;
  • Basti – colonic irrigation;
  • Kapalabhati – also called the breath of fire – is a steady repetition of forceful exhalations followed by slightly slower inhalations.
  • Trataka – gazing at a fixed point such as a black spot or a candle flame.[.

In addition, asanas and pranayamas are also excellent tools in keeping the body clean. And, of course, the food should be healthy and sattvic.

Saucha on Speech Level

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According to Bhagavad Gita, purity of speech comes from being truthful and through the use of words that are not injurious, hurtful, or distressing to others or self. 

The purity of speech also includes the absence of profanity, abstinence from meaningless words, having a pleasant intonation, and the absence of excessive emotionality.

Pure speech is calm, full of meaning, pleasant, and understandable to anyone.

Oddly enough, but the practice of long silence (one day or more) is actually a very good tool for improving your speech. It’s due to the fact that when we are silent for a long time, we see that most situations do not require our comments, much is clear without words. Reading spiritual books and sacred texts aloud also contributes to the purification of speech.

Also, it’s very important to learn to recognize the cascade of negative emotions that prompt you to twist reality. Once you have understood and processed those emotions, your thoughts, speech, and actions can be realigned with the truth and inner wisdom. Outwardly, refrain from telling lies and speak with kindness, compassion, and clarity.

There is a beautiful Sufi saying:

“Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates.
At the first gate, ask yourself ‘Is it true?
At the second gate ask, ‘Is it necessary?
At the third gate ask, ‘Is it kind?”

Saucha on Mind Level

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According to Bhagavad Gita (Book 17), purity of thoughts comes from reflection, peace of mind, silence, calmness, gentleness, and purity of being.

Through the practice of mental purity, one attains the ability to be cheerful, to be one-pointed, to control the senses, and to see the self. Hence, it is clear that mental purity means refraining from negative, low-vibrational thoughts associated with toxic emotions such as anger, lust, condemnation, greed, etc. In addition, mental purity includes mindfulness.

You may well be familiar with the phrase ‘where attention goes, energy flows’, and this is one of the keys to unlocking the sometimes seemingly big door that stands between us and realization.

Thus, to practice mental purity, we need to occupy our own mind before it is diverted in an undesirable direction. Mantras are a great tool for this purpose. By focusing on the mantra, you’re directing your mind towards the Divine. No matter what kind of negativity is around, you can repeat the mantra to yourself in any place and at any time. Also, meditation with concentration is an excellent way to become more mindful.

Asana, Mantra, Mudra

Each Niyama has asana, mudra, and mantra that help you to accept and practice a niyama more effectively. Try practicing this asana, mudra, or mantra while thinking about Saucha.

saucha niyama image

Asana

The asana associated with Saucha is Legs Up the Wall or Viparita Karani:

  1. Sit on the floor and wiggle your seat as close as possible to the base of the wall.
  2. From there lie on your back and swing your legs up onto the wall with your feet toward the ceiling. The knees should be soft with zero tension in your hamstrings. 
  3. Your legs will align directly above your hips. Your legs should feel weightless, your back relaxed, and maintaining the natural curves of the spine.

Stay here for 5-8 breaths or as long as necessary to relax, restore and cleanse the mind from distracting thoughts and toxic emotions.

This asana facilitates the drainage of the lymphatic system and helps purify the body while boosting your immune system.

Mantra

The mantra associated with Saucha is Om Aim Hridayam Namaha.

Chant this beautiful mantra 108 times to focus on bringing awareness to, and then building heat to burn through, whatever blocks you from recognizing your true, unchanging, authentic, whole, Self.

Mudra

The mudra associated with Saucha is Tattva mudra

To perform this mudra, spin your palms open toward the ceiling and place your thumbs against your palms resting your thumb pads on the knuckle pad of your ring finger. Let your four fingers rest softly together.

This mudra symbolizes the true nature of our Self and helps us to realize that our authentic essence is unchanging, that we are, in our fundamental selves, pure and whole. 

The Bottom Line

It is through purification that a person is transformed, both on the gross and subtle levels. Saucha practice makes the aura lighter and brighter. When your energy body starts vibrating on a higher level, the world around you starts vibrating in resonance with you.

Following Saucha, makes it easier to follow the rest of the vows, accelerates progress on the yoga path, and generally has a positive effect on the life of not only the practitioner himself but also his environment.


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Spirituality

Brahmacharya: How Abstaining From Sex Benefits Your Spiritual Evolution

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What Is Brahmacharya Image

The word Brahmacharya has several meanings. It literally means “conduct consistent with Brahman” or “on the path of Brahman”. This is the way of life through which you understand Brahman (God) when you cultivate the purity of thoughts, words, and actions.

In Yoga, Hinduism, and Buddhism it often refers to a lifestyle characterized by sexual continence or abstinence. However, Brahmacharya is somewhat different from the English term “celibacy,” which means non-indulgence in sexual activity. Brahmacharya has a deeper meaning where you do not only control your instincts but more importantly – your mind throughout ascetic means. By practicing Brahmacharya, you increase your life span, strength, radiance, vigor, wisdom, virtue, and devotion to the Truth. Moreover, Brahmacharya is the basis for acquiring immortality.

In this article, I will share with you what Brahmacharya is, why it’s so important for your spiritual practice, what its benefits are, and how to practice it.

What Is Brahmacharya?

The word Brahmacharya consists of two Sanskrit roots:

  • Brahman, which means “ultimate unchanging reality”, “absolute consciousness”.
  • Charya, which means “occupation with, engaging, proceeding, behavior, conduct, to follow, moving in, going after”.

Hence, Brahmacharya can be translated as “conduct consistent with Brahman” or “on the path of Brahman”.

This concept usually includes cleanliness, ahimsa, studies, simple living, meditation, and restraints on certain foods (eating only Sattvic food), intoxicants, and sexual behavior which is no sex and no masturbation.

Brahmacarya is one of the five yamas. It is a form of self-restraint. For a married practitioner, it means marital fidelity, and for a single practitioner, it means celibacy. As stated in Shandilya Upanishad (chapter 1), Brahmacharya is “refraining from sexual intercourse in all places and in all states in mind, speech or body”.

Yogic Celibacy

Yogic Celibacy Image

Now let’s take a closer look at Brahmacharya from the yogic celibacy perspective.

The term celibacy comes from the Latin word “cælibatus” meaning “unmarried”.

Many spiritual traditions see celibacy as the foundation of morality, the gate of liberation, and the path to eternal bliss. Absolute celibacy is an essential condition of the divine life, or higher spiritual life. Many believe that celibacy is the path that leads to Nirvana.

Celibacy means controlling not only your sexual instincts, but also controlling all your feelings, thoughts, words, and actions. This is the key to all the realms of divine bliss. The path to eternal peace begins with celibacy.

Celibacy has two aspects: physical and mental. Physical celibacy is about controlling your body, whereas mental celibacy is about controlling your mind (lustful thoughts do not arise in the mind or even in your dreams when you’re sleeping).

8 Traps Of Lust

life without sex Image

It’s not just sex that prevents you from following the celibacy path but also other actions, thoughts, and desires that keep you trapped in lust. Different spiritual traditions warn about many different mental traps your consciousness can fall into. Here are the 8 most common traps of lust that anyone following a spiritual path should be wary of:

  1. Sexual objectification – seeing a person solely as an object of sexual desire;
  2. Flirting or coquetry;
  3. Lustful thoughts;
  4. A strong desire to perform sexual intercourse;
  5. Sexual fantasies or dreams;
  6. Sexual suggestiveness – visual, verbal, written, or behavioral material or action with sexual undertones implying sexual intent in order to provoke sexual arousal;
  7. Sexual acts based on lower instincts.

It is believed that only those who completely free themselves from all these traps can consider that they observe true celibacy.

The Importance Of Saving Sexual Fluids

Whereas western research on sexual healing doesn’t emphasize the importance of retaining and recirculating sexual fluids, the Eastern systems make a vital distinction. According to Vedic science, one drop of semen is equal to sixty drops of blood in the energy it bestows on the body.

Semen is rich in easily absorbable nutrients and energy that can revitalise mind and body. It’s a treasure house of vitamins, minerals, trace elements, hormones, proteins, irons, enzymes and other vital nutritional substances including calcium, albumin, lecithin, phosphorus and nucleoproteins. It’s been scientifically proven that a weak nervous system, depleted energy and brain function were connected to excessive seed loss.

A New York Times report reiterated “creating sperm is far more difficult than scientists imagined, demanding a diversion of resources that otherwise might go into assuring a male’s long-term health.”

Taoist works claim excessive semen loss causes premature aging, loss of eyesight, damage to the nervous system, poor digestion, muscular weakness, and loss of energy.

It’s not just humans but all species tend to deplete their energy after expelling reproductive fluids. Even plants have greater longevity if they are kept from going to seed. This energy loss explains why many athletes including Mohammed Ali abstained from intercourse before competing, so they’d have reserve strength and energy to compete.

Women are more fortunate than men as they naturally tend to retain their vital fluids since their reproductive organs are internal and they have a yin receptive nature whereas men loose it easily. The fact that women live an average six years longer than men can be explained by their receptive nature and the ability not to waste their vitality as easy as men do.

Benefits Of Brahmacharya

Brahmacharya benefits Image
  1. Alchemical transmutation of base sexual energies into spiritual vigor. According to Ayurveda, semen was considered to be a vital elixir that housed important subtle energies. Ejaculation was said to lead to loss of power, energy, concentration, and even spiritual merit. And conserving it through Brahmacharya was said to help develop rich stores of Ojas, thereby building vitality, character, and health.
  2. Developing control over mind, body, and speech.
  3. Developing the ability to remain stable no matter what life challenges are faced and deal with the situation at hand.
  4. Concentration and grasping power increase.
  5. Will power increase.
  6. Gaining the ability to follow through on vows and commitments.
  7. Immunity increase. Since the energy reserves of your body are much higher now so your body will find it easier to deal with illnesses.
  8. The increase of physical, mental, and intellectual strength.
  9. Gaining the ability to understand the bliss of the Self completely.
  10. The decrease in anger, pride, deceit, and greed.
  11. Eyesight improvement.
  12. It’ll become hard for you to get scared. In a dangerous situation, you’ll be aware of the risk but you will also be able to deal with it calmly instead of panicking and worsening the situation.
  13. Memory increase – you will find it easier to remember things and even dreams that you had a long time ago.
  14. Your mind will become much sharper.
  15. Intuition boost.
  16. Vigor and confidence increase.
  17. Your body will naturally become more supple and flexible.
  18. Gaining freedom from earthly distractions so you can devote yourself more fully to spiritual transcendence.
  19. Overcoming duality and gaining a profound sense of relationship and intimacy with all beings, not just a select few.
  20. Transformation of our most primitive instinctual energies into a deeper, brighter vitality that promises good health, great courage, incredible stamina, and very long life.

Brahmacharya practice renovates the system or constitution, rebuilds the cells and tissues, energizes digestion, and gives the power to face the difficulties in the daily battle of life. A true celibate possesses tremendous energy, a clear brain, gigantic will-power, bold understanding, and retentive memory.

How To Practice Brahmacharya?

Here are some tips on how you can start practicing Brahmacharya.

#1: Perceive people as divine beings

Adi Shakti Mantra Image

The key philosophy that will help you to take your lower desires under control is perceiving all people as divine beings.

If women are the object of your lust then learn to see the Divine mother in each of them. When you start seeing the Divine mother in a woman, you won’t be able to project lower instinctive desires on her. All you will feel is pure divine love.

If men are the object of your sexual desires, then, similarly, learn to see God in each of them. The interaction with a man should be based on the expression of pure love, not seduction.

#2: Check your social media

Analyze your behavior and the signals you’re sending to people. Check your social media profile. Maybe you will notice that some of the pictures on your Instagram are sending a double message. What is it for? Attention for masking low self-esteem? Be honest with yourself. You see, sexual energy is sacred and when it gets expressed in a form of sexy photos or videos, it loses its divinity. This goes against the main brahmacharya principle.

#3: Wake up during Brahma Muhurta

how to practice brahmacharya image

The literal translation of Brahma Muhurta is ‘the hour of Brahma‘ or ‘Creator’s Hour‘.

Brahma Muhurta is a 48-minute period that begins 1 hour 36 minutes before sunrise and ends 48 minutes before sunrise.

The interaction of our planet’s energy with the energies of the Sun and the Moon creates certain physiological changes in the human system at this time. Medical science has even found that the waste material in your body, such as urine, for example, has certain qualities at that time which it does not have at any other time of the day.

Your entire body is immersed in a certain conducive atmosphere. The melatonin level is increased, which boosts the pineal gland’s activity. Therefore it is so beneficial to use this time consciously.

Brahma Muhurta time is ideal for spiritual practices, such as yoga, meditation, spiritual studies, etc. Serious spiritual practitioners all over the world, get up at this time to devote themselves to prayer and meditation.

Performing spiritual practices during Brahma Muhurta time alone will solve more than 90% of the difficulties you may face in the Brahmacharya practice.

Most people find Brahmacharya so hard because they sleep during Brahma Muhurta while all of nature is supporting the awakening of Sushumna, raising up of kundalini and hence, a natural, fast-paced evolution of our awareness.

#4: Practice brahmacharya on mental level

Whenever lustful thoughts manifest, perform some thoughtless awareness technique or 5-10 rounds of Maha Bandha or 3-5 min of Sarvangasana. This will transform the excess energy of lust into intellectual energy by pulling up the nerve currents up the spine towards brain centers, thus giving you more mental powers of thinking, concentration, and memory.

#5: Give you energy creative expression

Sexual energy is a powerful creative power. If not used for procreation, it can be used for creative expression. It doesn’t mean you should express the lower vibrational lustful desires in your art. Just do what you love but let it pass the “divinity” filter first. For doing this, follow tip #1.

#6: Fasting

As you may already know, fasting is an excellent tool to cleanse your body, physically and energetically. Fasting helps to raise your vibration on a level where lust cannot reach. It will help you to see your desires more clearly and realize that their satisfaction doesn’t serve your highest good.

#7: “Detox” your mind

How to practice celibacy image

Think about how lustful thoughts and seductive behavior were implanted into human minds. TV, social media, magazines, etc. made people believe that seduction and sexual objectification lead to success and power. Mass media wants us to sell our sexual energy in any possible form (sexy pictures, erotic videos, flirting, seductive dances, sexual music, etc.) in exchange for success and fame. And we obediently do it without question: “Why?”.

Sexual energy is our most sacred part – the gate to bliss and immortality. And whoever is governing our planet is aware of it. To keep us away from bliss and true freedom, they make us do whatever is most self-destructive for us. When we get so destructed by external reality, we can’t even see what we’re doing and for what. Of course, we get something in exchange – attention, fame, success, promotion, career, etc. But isn’t it too big of a price?

Therefore, it’s so important to start seeing things for what they are. Wherever your sexual energy is used in a demonstrative way – watch out – you could be used as an energy source for some purpose that doesn’t serve you! Don’t let them fool you. You don’t need to publicly demonstrate your sexuality just to prove that you are not ashamed of your body and you are free. This is the most common tool that is used to keep a human mind in the trap of sexual slavery.

Once you let go of these toxic beliefs, you will never waste your sexual energy on meaningless acts of seduction, flirting, or random hookups.

#8: Immerse yourself into spirituality

This will inspire you and intensify your motivation. Only a fully motivated person succeeds in maintaining Brahmacharya.

Try to spend 20 min every day in the morning on spiritual reading. For example, 10 min on brahmacharya and 10 min on meditation and self-realization topics. You can use sacred scriptures like Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads, Patanjali Yoga-Sutra, and life-stories of great sages. Sacred texts are a perfect source of “spiritual food” for our minds that provide daily soul-elevating thoughts as much as our bodies need daily the material food for its nutrition needs.

#9: Daily meditations

brahmacharya in yoga image

Meditation and brahmacharya are two wings of spiritual growth. With more growth of brahmacharya practice, meditative experiences become deeper. With deeper meditative experiences, the mind starts remaining in the state of brahmacharya more naturally and much longer.

Conclusion

When contemplating the idea of taking up the practice of brahmacharya, it’s important to remember to avoid any extremes in hopes of progressing more quickly in your development.

The Middle Path, as described in Buddhism, is a good philosophy to practice such that you do not fall into the trap of escaping one’s life journey by polarizing too deeply into sensual pleasures or entering too quickly into extreme asceticism.

The path of spiritual development and ascension is a journey of raising one’s consciousness or awareness up the vibrational scale of reality until one reaches nirvana. Your actions, thoughts, ideas, and behaviors all determine the center of gravity in which your consciousness holds, anchoring you to your current level of reality that exists within that vibrational scale.

Try to truthfully assess your current state of consciousness and what negative thoughts and behaviors you have that might be adversely holding your consciousness back from ascending higher up along the vibrational scale. Ask yourself, “Is this thought or action in alignment with the highest expression and divine will of God?” If not, what changes must be made in your personality such that you are more aligned?

Instead of trying to do everything at once, select one or two initial negative behaviors or thought patterns, you would like to transmute into a positive. By applying the principles of brahmacharya you will be surprised how quickly you are able to change your thoughts, behaviors, and life!

Main picture credit: https://www.instagram.com/hitesh_desai_11/


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