Brahmacharya: The Fourth Yama
Brahmacharya is the fourth yama and is usually interpreted to mean the wise use of sexual energy or celibacy. Yet, in today’s Western world, a vow of chastity is almost impossible. Instead of looking at the fourth yama as a vow of celibacy, recognize Brahmacharya as a reminder to lead a life of pure action and pure thought. To break down the word Brahmacharya we get Brahma, the God of creation, and charya, derived from the root “car,” means “to move.” Literally translated Brahmacharya means to walk with God or to move with the divine. Therefore Brahmacharya is to recognize the divinity in all beings and work to spread “purity and sacredness everywhere” (Discourse at “Sai Sruti”).
When I think of Brahmacharya and walking with the Divine, I immediately call to mind Hanuman, the mighty monkey of the Hindu pantheon. Hanuman is known for his loyalty and unwavering devotion to Lord Rama, an avatar of the god Vishnu. When Hanuman first saw Rama, he immediately saw the Divine in Rama and sat before him and vowed his devotion. Everything Hanuman did was for the excellence he saw within Rama — even Hanuman’s heart beat “Rama Rama Rama.” Hanuman, when faced with obstacles never question if he could do something, he instead looked to how he could accomplish his mission. His whole focus was to Rama and that undying devotion helped Hanuman recognized his own strengths.
Brahmacharya asks that we recognize the divine or sacredness in everyone and everything – including yourself. With the fourth yama, we are reminded to cultivate pure thoughts and not worry about the past or the future but instead focus on the present moment. Brahmacharya asks that you cultivate an attitude toward service of a duty because everything you do is important. Everything matters but let go of he need to acquire the end product that you desire.
When we cultivate an attitude of sacredness towards everything we do, we also cultivate a sense of non-attachment. We recognize that our duty is what is important not the outcome. When we cultivate non-attachment we recognize that the only thing we can truly possess is awareness. And with awareness we walk with our Divine self.