As we can observe there has been an ongoing war going on between man and nature for many millennia – it is the ego’s desire to rule over. predict, and control wilderness, nature, and wildness – a vain attempt at poorly conceived idea of security and immortality of the ego that has been doomed since its conception. However it seems that the ego was doomed to attempt this and especially enticing was the human’s ability to expand and extend his technology as a means to that end. In the end it served to be his undoing, destroying his habitat (nature) and self as a part of nature rather than being apart FROM nature. When the human being succeeds in isolating himself from nature, of course then he will become extinct – a result of man’s suicidal pathologic mindset.
The Controversy over Brahmacharya in the Yoga Sutras
The controversy over why the translation of Brahmacharya in II.38 of Patanjali's YUoga Sutras as being "sexual restraint", celibacy, continence, or repression speaks to an unspoken (verboten) and insidious control issue that has lurked behind the scenes for millennia. It is common in samkhya or alien religion doctrine in general. Samkhya here refers to be the ideology that the self appointed expert “interpreters” of Patanjali have institutionalized. By alien i means a pramana (doctrine) that posits that salvation, god, redemption, liberation is not found here in life, in the present, as living spirit here and now, but rather anywhere “elsewhere” like after the body dies, like in heaven. That view can be understood as a variation of the alien god view; while the opposite view point could be considered more indigenous, endogenous, or immediately relevant to our direct life experiences in Now awareness.
The reason it’s a control trip, is because “authority” is displaced to heaven and heaven’s representatives here on earth; e.g., a church or priesthood, and/or a conspiracy of church and state versus empowering the human being to know directly, to feel, and to act from that innate wisdom. Hence confidence is shifted from prajna (intrinsic wisdom, insight, or intuition) to confidence, faith, or trust in an external law bringer/authority. Such creates dependence and attachment on this ersatz “reality” and thus one becomes habitually addicted.
Anything that separates one from their inner feelings or makes them distrust their feelings, makes them feel sinful and evil, inadequate and incapable of self confidence without sanction from an external authority (agama or sruti), thus serves the agenda of those who benefit from the manipulation, exploitation of, and obedience from a slave class who have become addicted to external authority. The upper castes thus fear that the slave classes will rebel, and hence their security becomes associated with the lie which fuels the dependence/addiction – the dumbing down and killing of the intrinsic light. In this way the slaves believe that they need the politically correct dogma which serves to emasculate and enslave them. One =becomes their own warden, prison guard, and prisoner, but the keys remain hidden/invisible – taboo even to speak about it. That institutionalized denial and ignorance remains insidiousness. Here for the most part we unconsciously perpetuate our own bondage. Our continued unconsciousness will continue to reinforce that artificially contrived matrix which is depleting our energy, strength, and creative power.
In this situation the rend/split from one’s own root feelings and sense of self impoverishment and disempowerment, feeds one’s dependence upon the external order (that which controls one, gives on e meaning, and a sense of ersatz security. In order to maintain control and external order self serving totalitarian systems reinforce the latter.
For the yogis there was an inherent order gleaned from nature and the universe. It was a reflection of Brahma/source. Although they lived independent from manmade conventions and “reality”, they acknowledged source.—Brahma as inherent to creation. This was sometimes referred to as Sanatana Dharma, the natural inherent law embedded in all of creation once one’s discriminating awareness became sharp enough to read it (via functional yogic practices). This was the assumption of the ancient munis and sage yogis (the vita-ragas) of the “simple” mountain yogi tradition.
So in yoga, yogis have traditionally lived independent from conventional social and religious orders whose latter authority stemmed from books, rituals, ceremony, and manmade conventions no matter how “authoritative”. These hippy like yogis wore long hair and lived in nature (mountain caves, forests, or river valleys) far removed from the dominant culture. They were both respected and feared by the those addicted to external conventions – “normal” religious people (feared because they were “strange” and were said to have powers (Siddhis). They posed no real to the mainstream order of kings, religion, and the intelligentsia (those who propagandized the official religion that disempowered the people and addicted them to external authority) until that is Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras were written.
Previously the common man was not wont to climb the mountains and follow the mountain yogi tradition, but with the advent of a written manual, the establishment intelligentsia faced a challenge. There was a need to co-opt and expropriate the Yoga Sutras. Just as they had done in attempting to co-opt and control and own Buddhism (Buddha was an incarnation of Vishnu Not), so it became an important mission for this group to authoritatively “interpret” the Yoga Sutras in terms of “conventional reality”, so specific pro-nature or pro life sections were turned around (See I.19, II.38, II. 43, and II. 45.) while pramana (I.7) was excepted as klista-vrtti. This was set in motion by the brilliant first known and extant commentator the Yoga Sutras , Vyasa, who set the precedence for further interpretations and commentaries which has become entrenched and institutionalized today so that almost every commentator “in the know” has become thoroughly indoctrinated to this system before they could be said to “know” anything :)
In this way, brahmacarya became absolute. sexual continence or celibacy, swadhyaya became studying the scriptures or reciting mantras, tapas became penance ors elf abnegation, and nature and existence was postulated as the being the antithesis of spirituality – the source of woe and suffering. Their solution was simple and straight forward, negate nature, natural function, and the body; do your religious duty via ceremony and ritual and observances; obey your priests and king, perform your religious duties (dharma) according to the Vedas; serve your king in obedience; and you will be rewarded in the afterlife (good karma) – have a favorable rebirth and enjoy riches, comfort, and have slaves (upper caste status) – or maybe you will become a god and go to deva loka. Not unlike some alien god Western religions as well. except I think Western religions had a larger sense of “justice” and social responsibility than the strict other worldly samkhya and orthodox Vedic interpretations of allowing “injustice” or the idea that there was no injustice (a passive view of karma). Here I am addressing the mainstream orthodox Vedic and Samkhya schools. Within India there was also great heterodoxy of course, but none that posed such a threat to Vedism as Buddhism and Pure Yoga .
Buddha (circa 500 BC) of course changed much of that by rejecting the caste system, rituals, ceremonies, priesthoods, gurus, and such dependencies while advocating becoming direct disciples of one’s innate awakening potential which is inside each and every sentient being awaiting to be awakened. Buddha also taught more aggressive practices of taking karma into one’s own hands, As such the religious and social hierarchy judged such an advent as a threat. So too was the advent of Patanjali’s writing of the pure yoga of the Yoga Sutras which in a parallel way also did not create dependence on a church or any other external authoritative structures. Hence a threat to conventional law and order was perceived. .
The Cat is Let Out of the Box – Taboo and Totem
It was well understood, that people could be controlled by training them to fear and dissociate from their own feelings and inner authority/self confidence at an early age This was scientifically articulated in the 20th century by Freud and others (especially his nephew, the father of public relations and propaganda (Edward L. Bernays). Freud and Bernays articulated the mechanisms of repression, inhibition, dissociation, sublimation, and neuroses (often called adaptation) as a tool of social engineering and manipulation. Freud of course advocated conformity and obedience to Viennese society (and hence living with the neuroses rather than to rebel and change the society so that the neuroses (whose root was repression) was rooted out in the first place. Hence the coping mechanism of the ego was reinforced, while again the transpersonal non-dual identifications/association with nature and the commons were again demeaned (in deference to the king). Only at the end of Freud’s life while living in England having fled Viennese Nazis society, did he recant his theories of “civilization” and its discontents (another story told elsewhere).
See this link to Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays
But the point here is that separating a developing young and impressionable mind from their feelings of well being and innate pleasure through negative programming techniques -- mechanisms of sexual inhibition, fear, guilt, and sin – sexual repression creates the ground work for ersatz reality (sublimation) and self perpetuating neurotic symbolic syndromes of constant dissatisfaction and hence cravings for external fixes and possessions (asmita-raga and asmita-dvesa) which can be invisibly manipulated since the root cause is unconscious – deeply =buried in a prior programmed/institutionalized repression and dissociation mechanism which now has become incorporated as the ego.
“We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. We are dominated by a relatively small number of persons who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public.”
Edward Bernays, “Propaganda”
Of course there exist many ways to create obedient children, and willing slaves, but sexual repression and sublimation is a major training method. where the child becomes convinced that they can not trust their deepest feelings, hence they begin their quest for the external larger good – the doctrine and dictates of those who promise them escape from “self”, existence, and nature.
"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country."
The Institutionalization of the Yoga Sutras
So back to Brahmacharya in the Yoga Sutras. Besides in Sutra I.19, Brahmacarya is a very large reference where Patanjali is addressing how we consciously relate to nature and the evolutionary seed source; that is other animals, flora, habitat, the evolutionary force, creation, and creativy as well as future generations. It is all about propagating life as being a part OF nature, not apart FROM it as human beings. As such, Brahmacarya was turned around by the samkhya dualists whose salvation is found in the rejection, renunciation, diminution, depreciation, and escape from nature, creation, the universe, and the creative act. It's rather an overly simplistic philosophy, just say no -- negate it.
Of cousre not all people succumb to negative conditioning, propaganda, vrtti, spin, or political correctness. The more a person has confidence that they can think for themselves independently from external authority, the more they are able to consult and access their inner wisdom. The more they are capable of critical thought and discernment (viveka). Thinking as an individual does not mean that the intelligence operating behind that process is it is coming from ego, rather the contrary; it is coming from intrinsic wisdom (purusa). It is not the ego (the ego is dependent upon buddhi/intellect and buddhi/intellect belongs under the control of the ego, but the source of buddhi (mahat and purusa). The more one is capable of this kind of “independent” thinking from conventional thought, the less likely his or her ideas are affected by those with external agendas, media campaigns, or wish to manipulate one. This is why, while most people today believe in the premise that they need big brother, the more they believe that, the more they clutch on to their own prison bars, the more they will have a need to =feel threatened by ideas which contradict conventional thought – the pramana-vrtti which they cling to and hence wish to demean and blame “the enemy” who contradicts their unquestioned belief in external authority (agama). Being aware of how our unconscious mind can influence our thoughts can get us to investigate more of the rigid confines (prison bars) of what we take for granted which is not true – what “authority’ tells us at each and every “bend”, what self serving institutionalized propaganda mechanisms and the media tells us before reaching an “informed” and functional transconceptual (nirvikalpa) conclusion which is informed by innate wisdom (prajna).
So walking with Brahma is taking a walk in nature and being informed by it in terms beyond the three times –a sit is not isolated in time and place, but in its fullest grandeur – great spaciousness and openness of emanating from the inherent true nature of mind beyond conception or separateness.
For more, see "Accessing Patanjali (below)", the commentary after Pada I.7 (Pramana), I.19 (Prakrti), I.49 (sruti and anumana); II. 38 (Brahmacharya), II. 40 (saucha), II.43 (tapas), and II.44 (swadhyaya).
“It's not what we don't know that hurts us, it's what we know for certain that just ain't so.” Mark Twain
An Extended Commentary to Pada II Sutra 38 (Brahmacarya)
Yoga Sanskrit to English Annotated Glossary
Professor Whicher's commentary on Prakrti (Nature) and Purusa (Spirit)
Countering World-Negation: The World Affirming and Integrative Dimension of Classical Yoga by Ian Whicher (PDF Adobe File)
Yoga Sutra Chapter I: Samadhi Pada
Yoga Sutra Chapter II - Sadhana Pada
Yoga Sutra Chapter III: Vibhuti Pada
Yoga Sutra Chapter IV: Kaivalyam
Yoga Sutras Made Accessible: Extracted from the morass of over intellectualization
Back to Yoga Sutra Index
Back to HeartMind Home Page
Swami Venkatesananda Source Page
Yogiraj Sri Shyamacharan Lahiri Mahasaya's Source Page (Warning! This is a large Adobe PDF file requiring Adobe PDF Reader)
Sri Pungaliya on Patanjali and Sri Jnaneshwar
An Earth Based Spirituality -- Embodying Love and Wisdom: The Living Abode of Spirit
Tree Legends, Myths, and Wisdom Tales: The Indigenous Spirit