From Sadhu, Beware!
by Swami Kriyananda

We come now to brahmacharya with special emphasis on its more usual connotation of sexual self-control. It is important to understand that the attraction of the sexes for each other is not merely “in the mind.” It is a magnetic force to which everyone, regardless of age, is sensitive. This fact is evident, for example, in the special tenderness old people often demonstrate toward the young, especially of the opposite sex. Yogananda said to me, “The attraction exists at every age.” A relative of mine once, speaking of her three-year-old daughter, told me, “She has a special giggle that she reserves just for little boys her age.”

The attraction between the sexes need not be physical. It depends on where a person’s consciousness is centered in the spine. If one has the slightest feeling that people of the other sex are somehow special, he should recognize that feeling as a warning sign in himself.

One of the principles for brahmacharis always to practice, under every circumstance, is to internalize every slight feeling of attraction. This is true, indeed, of all kinds of attraction and is not limited to one’s feelings for the opposite sex. It may be a simple liking for a piece of beautiful music, or a painting. Whatever pleasure you feel in anything, internalize it. Recognize that the source of that enjoyment is within yourself, in your own reaction.

Consider the example of little children at the zoo. How enthusiastic they are as they behold all those exotic animals! Their fascination dwindles, however, as they become fatigued. It isn’t that the experience ceases to interest them. What diminishes is their ability to appreciate it, for their level of energy has decreased. By the end of the day, they want nothing more than to return home. They’ve learned, perhaps for the first time, that pleasure lies not in things, but in one’s ability to respond to sense stimuli.

Thus, whenever you see a beautiful scene, for example, be aware of that inner lift of pleasure – perhaps even of happiness – within yourself, and then uplift that feeling to God. Share your heart’s feelings with Him.

When you hear a beautiful sound – music, or the soothing sound of wind in the trees or of ocean surf on a beach – bring the consciousness of God into your appreciation of that beauty. In fact, in certain sounds of this world there is a suggestion of the sound of Aum, the creative vibration of the universe. Share your experience of everything with Aum as God, and rejoice with Him.

Train yourself never to enjoy anything avidly. (The exaggerated glee and delight displayed in television commercials is a good example of what I mean by “avidly.”) Don’t pour energy out through the senses toward anything. Internalize whatever sense-stimulation you experience, and remind yourself that the very power to enjoy that experience lies within yourself, not in anything external.

Thus, look…briefly appreciate…and then turn within or look away from the object that engaged your interest. Give thanks to the Creator for every worthwhile experience in life.