Brahmacharya literally means conduct consistent with Brahma. What does is mean to have conduct consistent with Brahma? This practice can vary from culture to culture. I will examine how we can practice Brahmacharya in an American culture.
In many Indian cultures and religions Brahmacharya is the virtue of celibacy when unmarried and fidelity when married. In Hindu, Jain and Buddhist traditions, Brahamcharya can also imply the mandatory renunciation of sex and marriage. These things are considered mandatory for a spirtitual path.
But there is a flip side to celibacy. According to guru Shrii Shrii Anadamurti, “A suppression of the sexual desire results in other desires, especially anger, taking a more terrible form.” In our American culture, which tends to be very sex driven, in order to practice Brahmacharya we need to find a balance between celibacy and self-indulgence.
Control is necessary to live a balanced life. We not only need to have control over our sex drive, but also our day to day activities such as eating, sleeping and in our modern times use of electronics. We are constantly bombarded with temptations to eat more, eat unhealthy foods and drink alcohol. This unhealthy lifestyle can lead to bad sleep and a poor meditation practice.
We are also constantly distracted by our phones, tablets and computers. This also leads to a very unbalanced life with a lack of good communication with our family and friends which leads to irritability and broken relationships.
To practice Brahmacharya, we must start seeing everything in our life as divine. Everytime we interact with another person, we need to see that person as Brahma. Everytime we have a sexual desire see that desire as Brahma. Visualize eating, sleeping and working as Brahma.
Everything in our life is connected to Brahma. The more we are able to ideate on Brahma in all of our actions, the closer we will come to following Brahmacharya.