Connect with us
cookieFlags="samesite=none;secure"

Spirituality

Heart Sutra: Hidden Meaning Of the Sacred Text

Published

on

Heart Sutra, also known as The Essence of Wisdom is a popular sutra in Mahayana Buddhism. Recited daily by many Buddhist practitioners, this is the shortest of the Perfection of Wisdom texts. Heart Sutra practice opens the connection between the understanding of emptiness and the five stages of the path to enlightenment. In this article, we will share with you this beautiful sutra and its hidden meaning.

The Essence of The Heart Sutra

The Sutra basically describes the teachings of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, who in this context represents the virtue of wisdom.

Avalokiteshvara refers to Shariputra, who in the Sutra represents the early Buddhist school of “perfect wisdom”. The bodhisattva especially emphasizes that “form is emptiness, and emptiness is form” and declares the skandhas to be equally empty.

After this, Avalokiteshvara talks about some of the most important Buddhist dogmas and explains that they are simple explanations of reality, but not reality itself, and therefore are not truth in the highest sense of this concept. In other words, a Buddhist cannot rely on words or traditional dogmas of teaching. The bodhisattva, as an archetypal Buddhist, relies on the perfection of wisdom, which perceives things as they really are, that is, perceives reality directly.

This perfect wisdom is centered in the mantra of the heart Sutra, also called Mahamantra:

गते गते पारगते पारसंगते बोधि स्वाहा

GATE GATE PARA GATE PARA SAM GATE BODHI SVAHA

Which can be translated as “gone, gone, everyone gone to the other shore, awakening, svaha“.

Which means complete liberation from illusions and welcomes enlightenment.

The peculiarity of this Sutra is that the teaching does not come from the mouth of the Buddha himself (which is traditional for all sutras); instead, the Buddha only confirms the correctness of Sri Avalokitesvara’s conclusions regarding Prajnaparamita.

The Translation of the Heart Sutra

Heart Sutra Image

There are multiple translations of the Heart sutra. Here is the most common version.

Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, meditating deeply on Perfection of Wisdom, saw clearly that the five aspects of human existence are empty, and so released himself from suffering.  Answering the monk Sariputra, he said this:

Body is nothing more than emptiness,
emptiness is nothing more than body.
The body is exactly empty,
and emptiness is exactly body.

The other four aspects of human existence —
feeling, thought, will, and consciousness —
are likewise nothing more than emptiness,
and emptiness nothing more than they.

All things are empty:
Nothing is born, nothing dies,
nothing is pure, nothing is stained,
nothing increases and nothing decreases.

So, in emptiness, there is no body,
no feeling, no thought,
no will, no consciousness.
There are no eyes, no ears,
no nose, no tongue,
no body, no mind.
There is no seeing, no hearing,
no smelling, no tasting,
no touching, no imagining.
There is nothing seen, nor heard,
nor smelled, nor tasted,
nor touched, nor imagined.

There is no ignorance,
and no end to ignorance.
There is no old age and death,
and no end to old age and death.
There is no suffering, no cause of suffering,
no end to suffering, no path to follow.
There is no attainment of wisdom,
and no wisdom to attain.

The Bodhisattvas rely on the Perfection of Wisdom,
and so with no delusions,
they feel no fear,
and have Nirvana here and now.

All the Buddhas,
past, present, and future,
rely on the Perfection of Wisdom,
and live in full enlightenment.

The Perfection of Wisdom is the greatest mantra.
It is the clearest mantra,
the highest mantra,
the mantra that removes all suffering.

This is truth that cannot be doubted.
Say it so:

Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha!

The Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore

Thich Nhat Hanh Sutra Image

Let us also share with you the new Heart Sutra translation by Thich Nhat Hanh.

Avalokiteshvara while practicing deeply with the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore, suddenly discovered that all of the five Skandhas are equally empty, and with this realization, he overcame all Ill-being.

“Listen Sariputra,
this Body itself is Emptiness
and Emptiness itself is this Body.
This Body is not other than Emptiness
and Emptiness is not other than this Body.
The same is true of Feelings,
Perceptions, Mental Formations,
and Consciousness.

“Listen Sariputra,
all phenomena bear the mark of Emptiness;
their true nature is the nature of
no Birth no Death,
no Being no Non-being,
no Defilement no Purity,
no Increasing no Decreasing.

“That is why in Emptiness,
Body, Feelings, Perceptions,
Mental Formations and Consciousness
are not separate self entities.

The Eighteen Realms of Phenomena
which are the six Sense Organs,
the six Sense Objects,
and the six Consciousnesses
are also not separate self entities.

The Twelve Links of Interdependent Arising
and their Extinction
are also not separate self entities.
Ill-being, the Causes of Ill-being,
the End of Ill-being, the Path,
insight and attainment,
are also not separate self entities.

Whoever can see this
no longer needs anything to attain.

Bodhisattvas who practice
the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore
see no more obstacles in their mind,
and because there
are no more obstacles in their mind,
they can overcome all fear,
destroy all wrong perceptions
and realize Perfect Nirvana.

“All Buddhas in the past, present and future
by practicing
the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore
are all capable of attaining
Authentic and Perfect Enlightenment.

“Therefore Sariputra,
it should be known that
the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore
is a Great Mantra,
the most illuminating mantra,
the highest mantra,
a mantra beyond compare,
the True Wisdom that has the power
to put an end to all kinds of suffering.
Therefore let us proclaim
a mantra to praise
the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore.

Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha!
Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha!

Hidden Meaning of the Heart Sutra

Now let’s dive deeper into understanding the hidden meaning of the Heart Sutra.

Let’s take a closer look at the mantra that is found at the end of the Heart Sutra.

GATE GATE PARA GATE PARA SAM GATE BODHI SVAHA

Gate means gone.

Paragate signifies gone to the further shore and is a stock Sanskrit expression used by Buddhists and Jains to refer to arahants. (The word para signifies the bank of a river opposite to the one on which one is presently standing).

Parasamgate signifies completely gone to the further shore. (The syllable sam means: altogether, thoroughly, or completely.)

The syllable bodhi is a feminine noun that signifies awakening, knowledge, and enlightenment.

The syllable svaha is an indeclinable part of Vedic Sanskrit. It is said to be the name of the wife of Agni, the god of fire. This syllable is used at the end of a chanting that accompanies a burnt offering made at a Vedic sacrifice (rather as “amen” is used at the end of a prayer in Christian liturgy). This syllable cannot really be translated since it is a performative word.

We can read the first “GATE” or “gone” as an incentive to enter the path of accumulating merit, and the second “GATE” or “gone” as a way to prepare the mind for a deep perception of emptiness.

Gone to the further shore” refers to the path of seeing reality, the direct perception of emptiness. One who attains this vision becomes Arya, or “noble.”

The words “completely gone to the further shore” indicate the path of meditation in which the practitioner through constant practice becomes familiar with emptiness on a deeper level.

The last words of this mantra “Bodhi Svaha” are an incentive to take root in the soil of enlightenment, that is, to enter the final Nirvana.

Stages of enlightenment image

There are five stages of the path to enlightenment:

  1. accumulation;
  2. preparation;
  3. vision;
  4. meditation;
  5. no further learning.

These five stages can be connected with various fragments of the main text of the Heart Sutra.

Four-part representation of emptiness at the beginning of the Sutra:

“Body is nothing more than emptiness,
emptiness is nothing more than body.
The body is exactly empty,
and emptiness is exactly body.”

is a way of practicing emptiness in the first two stages – accumulation and preparation.

The emptiness of the eight aspects of phenomena, expressed in the words:

All things are empty:
Nothing is born, nothing dies,
nothing is pure, nothing is stained,
nothing increases and nothing decreases.

is the realization of emptiness at the stage of vision.

The words:

There is no ignorance,
and no end to ignorance.
There is no old age and death,
and no end to old age and death.
There is no suffering, no cause of suffering,
no end to suffering, no path to follow.
There is no attainment of wisdom,
and no wisdom to attain.

indicate the method of practicing emptiness at the stage of meditation.

The words in the next section:

The Bodhisattvas rely on the Perfection of Wisdom,
and so with no delusions,
they feel no fear,
and have Nirvana here and now.

indicate the practice of emptiness of the last of the ten levels of bodhisattva, where he resides in a state of meditative concentration.

The actual transition from one stage to another takes place while you are in a state of meditative balance.

At the initial stage, when the practitioner goes through the path of accumulation, his understanding of emptiness is primarily intellectual. Practitioners with a sharp mind can reach a sufficiently deep understanding of emptiness before generating the altruistic attitude of bodhichitta. Those who are less inclined to intellectual thinking, first develop the intention to free all living beings from suffering.

In any case, a deep understanding of emptiness has a powerful effect on all other practices, enhancing and complimenting them. It can lead to a powerful renunciation, which is the desire to free oneself from the sufferings of the cycle of being, as well as to become the basis of strong and all-encompassing compassion.

In the accumulation stage, awareness of voidness is mainly the result of learning, reflection, and intellectual understanding. Through meditation on what has been learned, the practitioner further deepens his understanding until eventually, he attains full clarity of penetrating vision.

From this moment, the preparation stage begins. Here the understanding of emptiness is no longer purely intellectual or conceptual, but rather has the character of an experience, although it is not yet a direct comprehension of it.

In the preparation stage, the understanding of emptiness becomes more and more deep, subtle, and clear. The use of conceptual thinking in meditation is gradually fading into the background.

When all the dual perception of subject and object, conditional reality and self-existence is eliminated, the practitioner enters the path of vision. At this stage, there is no division into subject and object. Subjective perception and its object merge into one, and meditation is carried out in the direct perception of emptiness.

As this direct experience of emptiness deepens, the practitioner steadily counteracts the various obscurations that occur during the stage of meditation or assimilation by passing through the so-called seven levels of contamination.

In a Nutshell

Dalai Lama Sutra Image

According to Dalai Lama XIV interpretation, the stages work like this:

Accumulation refers to realizing emptiness as an intellectual exercise.

Preparation represents actually experiencing emptiness, but indirectly. Here one progressively sees emptiness while concepts gradually recede.

The path of Vision is attained when dualistic perceptions of subject and object are removed, and where emptiness becomes unmediated and direct.

During the stage of meditation, one progresses through subtle “imprints” of mental afflictions, eventually eradicating them.

This finally leads to full Buddhahood, or the stage of No More Learning.

The Bottom Line

First, it may seem very difficult to understand Heart Sutra. Therefore, it is recommended to meditate on it. By meditating on the Heart Sutra, you will, again and again, enter deeply the mysteries of these sacred words. And by making the Mahamantra your daily practice you will see that you’re observing your life experience from a higher perspective.


Spirituality

Does Karma Exist? This Is How It Really Works

Published

on

does karma exist image

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

how does karma work image

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

karmic relationship healing image

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

Zen stories and tales image

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.

Sermon on the Mount Image

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

remorse image

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.


Continue Reading

Spirituality

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

Published

on

Saucha image

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

detox woman image

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

Satya Yama Image

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

mindful meditation image

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.


Continue Reading

Spirituality

Brahmacharya: How Abstaining From Sex Benefits Your Spiritual Evolution

Published

on

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/


Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Health

wounded inner child signs image wounded inner child signs image
Healing2 days ago

8 Signs You Have a Wounded Inner Child

Every child deserves to feel safe, protected, and secure. However, not every child does. Most parents see safety as physical...

healing affirmations image healing affirmations image
Healing1 month ago

60 Powerful Healing Affirmations For Befriending Your Body

The thoughts that arise in our heads have an impact not only on our mood but also on our health....

Saucha image Saucha image
Spirituality1 month ago

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

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

Hakini mudra Image Hakini mudra Image
Yoga1 month ago

Boost Your Intuition, Mental Power, And Creativity With Hakini Mudra

Hakini mudra is a sacred hand gesture named after the goddess Hakini and is associated with the third eye chakra....

Satya Yama Image Satya Yama Image
Yoga2 months ago

Satya Yama: The Power Of Truthfulness

Satya, or truthfulness, is the second of the five yamas and one of the highest callings of yoga. In this...

Prana Mudra Benefits Image Prana Mudra Benefits Image
Yoga2 months ago

Prana Mudra: Powerful Tool For Rejuvenating Your Life Force

Prana mudra is often called the mudra of life. This powerful mudra has many benefits, such as rejuvenation, vitality increase,...

Feng Shui For Health And Longevity Image Feng Shui For Health And Longevity Image
Health3 months ago

Feng Shui For Health And Longevity: Protect Yourself Against Premature Death!

The Chinese believe that there is no good luck without good health and long life. Though most people who are...

What Is Bhakti Yoga Image What Is Bhakti Yoga Image
Yoga3 months ago

Bhakti Yoga: 9 Principles To Heart-Centered Life

Bhakti yoga is one of the main yoga paths that can lead you to full awareness of your true nature. It...

types of pranayama Image types of pranayama Image
Yoga3 months ago

8 Essential Types Of Pranayama To Calm Your Mind

Living in uncertainty in the midst of the worldwide pandemic, most of us experience stress and an increase in anxiety....

Emotional eating Image Emotional eating Image
Health3 months ago

Emotional Eating: What Do Your Emotions Taste Like?

Have you ever thought about how your cravings are connected to your emotional state? The fact is that we don’t...

Advertisement

Awareness

does karma exist image does karma exist image
Spirituality4 hours ago

Does Karma Exist? This Is How It Really Works

In our world, everything is conditioned by the principle of cause and effect. This is reflected in many popular sayings:...

essential oils for money image essential oils for money image
Abundant Living1 day ago

15 Powerful Essential Oils For Money Attraction & Success

The benefits of essential oils and their ability to influence the psychoemotional state, attract subtle energies have been known since...

Healing Frequencies List Image Healing Frequencies List Image
Meditation3 days ago

Healing Frequency List To Improve Your Meditation

When we hear healing frequencies, our body and mind vibrate in harmony. We feel it when we hear Sanskrit chants...

Inner peace quotes image Inner peace quotes image
Inspirational quotes4 days ago

80 Inner Peace Quotes To Help You Find Yours

In this article, we want to share with you 80 inspirational inner peace quotes. The modern world takes a heavy...

Energy In 2021 Image Energy In 2021 Image
Astrology1 week ago

Make Sure You Protect Yourself From These 3 Types Of Energy In 2021

Like any other year, the year 2021 carries both positive and negative energies. These energies do not stand still, they...

Horoscope 2021 Image Horoscope 2021 Image
Astrology1 week ago

Most Accurate Horoscope 2021: Predictions And Recommendations

According to the Chinese calendar, the new year starts on February 12th, 2021, and will last until January 31st, 2022....

Patanjali Quotes Image Patanjali Quotes Image
Inspirational quotes2 weeks ago

Patanjali Quotes: 33 Lessons Of Spiritual Wisdom

Patanjali was a sage in ancient India who was considered the author of a number of Sanskrit works. He compiled a collection...

Predictions For 2021 Image Predictions For 2021 Image
Astrology2 weeks ago

Predictions For 2021: What To Expect In the Year of the Metal Ox

According to the Chinese calendar, the new year starts on February 12th, 2021, and will last until January 31th, 2022....

55 Be Yourself Quotes Image 55 Be Yourself Quotes Image
Inspirational quotes2 weeks ago

55 Be Yourself Quotes To Encourage You To Reveal Your Inner Magic

In a world where conformity is the norm, it can be difficult to truly be yourself. It’s easy to give...

Lucky Feng Shui Colors In 2021 Image Lucky Feng Shui Colors In 2021 Image
Abundant Living3 weeks ago

What Are Your Lucky Feng Shui Colors In 2021?

Feng Shui astrology believes that each year has its unique energy and character. Therefore, each year’s energy is expressed through...

Advertisement

Daily Inspiration