The Decision for Celibacy

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Introduction Brahmacharya or celibacy, according to Swami Sivananda Saraswati, is “self-restraint, particularly mastery of perfect control over the sexual organ or freedom from lust in thought, word and deed.” He calls for a conversion of sexual desire to spiritual energy, also known as ojas, through meditation, yoga and prayer. He also uses Freud’s term ‘sublimation’ and claims it “is not a matter of suppression or repression, but a positive, dynamic, conversion process. It is the process of controlling the sex energy, conserving it, then diverting it into higher channels, and finally, converting it into spiritual energy or ojas sakti.” Ojas, according to Swami Saraswati, is “spiritual energy that is stored up in the brain.” The ultimate spiritual ideal is to be free of sexual desire and Swami Saraswati claims that only total sublimation can make this happen. He argues that if an individual is able to attain perfect sublimation, “there will be purity in thought, word and deed. No sexual thought will enter the mind at any time.” Sigmund Freud, who introduced the concept of sublimation in modern psychology, defined it as “a process that concerns object-libido and consists in the instinct directing itself towards an aim other than, and remote from, that of sexual satisfaction; in this process the accent falls upon deflection from sexuality.” Freud argues that sublimation originates in suppression, which he describes as the “progenitor of the period of sexual latency” and then leads to redirection. Individuals pursue another activity as a substitute to confronting their sexual desires. Roger Balducelli, from The Catholic University of America, argues “it is not the man who chooses his own celibacy; it is rather celibacy tha... ... middle of paper ... ...nces. Howard, V. R. (2013) Rethinking Gandhi's Celibacy: Ascetic Power and Women's Empowerment. Journal of the American Academy of Religion 81.1 Gandhi, M. (2012). Autobiography: The story of my experiments with truth. Courier Dover Publications. Khandelwal, M. (2009). Research on Hindu Women’s Renunciation Today: State of the Field Brooke, T. (1999). Avatar of Night. End Run Pub Balducelli, Roger. The decision for celibacy. Theological Studies 36.2 (1975): 219-242. Donnelly, D., Burgess, al (2001). Involuntary Celibacy: A Life Course Analysis Tyagananda. Why Celibacy? A Hindu Perspective Potterie, I. The Biblical Foundation of Priestly Celibacy.

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