The Yamas | Brahmacharya

The fourth of the Yamas (restraints) that Patanjali outlines is Brahmacharya. The earliest commentary translates brahmacharya as celibacy. But while the renunciates were celibate, there were also householders who had spouses and children. And since this was common, a better translation might be “self-restraint.”

The Sanskrit word is a combination of Brahma (which can mean holy, divine or the absolute) and charya which can mean walking or roaming about. So the idea is walking around as someone who has the divine in them. And because this is a “yama” or restraint it is about not doing something that is against that divinity.

The idea of self-control is an important one. The Apostle Paul lists it as one of the fruits of the Spirit in his letter to the Galatians. The more we walk around in awareness of the image of God that we carry, the less we are tossed about by every desire.  We restrain what we do to be in keeping with that light so that we become something better.

How do you practice brahmacharya?

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