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Advanced Yoga Practices
Tantra Lessons
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Note: For the complete lessons, with additions, see the AYP Easy Lessons for Ecstatic Living Books.

Lesson T9 - The relationship of brahmacharya, tantric sex, and celibacy

From: Yogani
Date: Sun Feb 8, 2004 3:26pm

New Members: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the AdvancedYogaPractices main group web archive, as previous lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why This Discussion?" It is also recommended you read from the beginning of this tantra yoga archive. The first lesson is, "What is tantra?"


Now we are going to touch on a really taboo subject, and tie it in with the tantra discussion. These days, it is a more taboo subject than sex. It is called, "celibacy."

Don't run screaming for the door yet. Celibacy is not going to be a suggested practice here. It will not be pooh poohed either. We only want to understand how it fits in, because some people are naturally drawn to it. Others may be forced into it either by self-will or the will of others.

But before we get into celibacy, we should talk about "brahmacharya," because it is the key to understanding the spiritual implications of both tantric sex and celibacy, and what they have in common. They have more in common than is generally believed.

Brahmacharya means to walk or abide in the creative force of God, which is the sexual energy in each of us. What do we mean by walking or abiding in sexual energy? Two things: First, to preserve it. And, second, to cultivate it. This is the essence of brahmacharya – to preserve and cultivate sexual energy.

So far in these lessons on tantra we have introduced the primary methods necessary to undertake a process of transformation in sexual relations to do just that – preserve and cultivate sexual energy. We talked about the prerequisite bhakti (desire for something more) necessary to pursue it, the various challenges involved, and the divine consequences of making the journey of tantric sexual relations. Pretty far reaching stuff.

We mentioned the tie-in between tantric sexual relations and the advanced yoga practices we have been discussing in depth in the main group, how both kinds of practices have the same aims, and how tantric sex can compliment meditation, pranayama, and our other daily yoga practices.


Where does celibacy fit in? It is a matter of choice, a matter of inclination, a matter of lifestyle. It happens. Maybe we surrender to a guru or organization and they choose it for us. Maybe we do it on our own. Maybe we are never attracted to it at all. Any of these are okay. It is up to each of us to follow our own feelings about it.

What is celibacy? Technically, it is abstention from marriage and sexual relations, including masturbation. It is defacto preservation of sexual energy, though "preservation" may not be what the celibate has in mind. There are other reasons for celibacy that are more oriented toward going away from something negative about sex (obsession, excess, injury) than going toward something positive about it (inner expansion, divine ecstasy, enlightenment).

Celibacy is the first half of brahmacharya, but not necessarily all of it, because without prerequisite purification of the nervous system and then encouraging sexual energy to move to a higher manifestation, there is no cultivation, which is the second half of brahmacharya. This concept of celibacy being one half of brahmacharya is an important point. Without the second half of brahmacharya, celibacy can lead to stagnation and to the emergence of unbalanced obsessive behaviors, particularly if it is an "enforced" celibacy.

So, while celibacy (preservation) is in the direction of brahmacharya, it is incomplete as a spiritual practice without activating (cultivating) sexual energy for a higher purpose. That, of course, is the purpose of tantric sex. Ironically, those who are diligent in their tantric sexual practices can have better spiritual prospects than celibates who are not diligent in their sitting yoga practices and ongoing loving service to others to cultivate sexual energy to a higher manifestation in their nervous system.

Is celibacy a better path to enlightenment than tantric sexual relations? Who can say? It depends on how motivated a practitioner is in one or the other lifestyle. It is the level of bhakti in the practitioner that determines the outcome more than any particular approach. If bhakti is abundant, the nervous system will continue to open, one way or the other.

For either the tantric lover or the celibate, the core practices of meditation and pranayama will have the greatest influence on the degree of bhakti rising in the nervous system. It is the global purification going on daily in the nervous system that determines how much inner silence will be available. This is pure bliss consciousness, our source, our deepest divine quality rising in us. If we have that, then whether we are inclined to be a tantric lover or a celibate, we will hunger constantly for the same destination, divine union. Whatever our chosen lifestyle may be, we will naturally incorporate the elements of brahmacharya -- preserving and cultivating our sexual energy as we travel our inner highway to heaven.

The guru is in you.

Note:  For detailed discussion on brahmacharya in relation to the broad scope of yoga practices and the enlightenment process, see the AYP Tantra book.

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