Hinduism’s ethical restraints are contained in ten simple precepts called yamas. They define the codes of conduct by which we harness our instinctive forces and cultivate the innate, pristine qualities of our soul. Aum.

The yamas and niyamas are scriptural injunctions for all aspects of thought and behavior. They are advice and simple guidelines, not commandments. The ten yamas, defining the ideals of charya, are: 1) ahimsa, ”noninjury,” do not harm others by thought, word or deed; 2) satya, ”truthfulness,” refrain from lying and betraying promises; 3) asteya, ”nonstealing,” neither steal nor covet nor enter into debt; 4) brahmacharya, ”divine conduct,” control lust by remaining celibate when single, leading to faithfulness in marriage; 5) kshama, ”patience,” restrain intolerance with people and impatience with circumstances; 6) dhriti, ”steadfastness,” overcome nonperseverance, fear, indecision and changeableness; 7) daya, ”compassion,” conquer callous, cruel and insensitive feelings toward all beings; 8) arjava, ”honesty,” renounce deception and wrongdoing; 9) mitahara, ”moderate appetite,” neither eat too much, nor consume meat, fish, fowl or eggs; 10) shaucha, ”purity,” avoid impurity in body, mind and speech. The Vedas proclaim, ”To them belongs yon stainless Brahma world in whom there is no crookedness and falsehood, nor trickery.” Aum Namah Sivaya.


Every culture acknowledges the power of relationships between men and women and seeks to direct it toward the highest good, both for individuals and for society. The masculine and feminine forces, partly sexual but more broadly tantric, can either create or destroy, bring peace or contention, foster happiness or misery, depending on how consciously they are understood and utilized.

Hindu ideals of manhood and womanhood and their interaction are among the most subtle, insightful and graceful in all the world. When followed, these principles strengthen man and woman, sustain a joyous and balanced marriage, stabilize the family and assist husband and wife in their mutual spiritual and worldly goals. Of course, such high ideals are rarely followed to perfection. But the soul’s inner perfection is naturally revealed in the attempt.

What is religious life? It is the balance of two forces, the odic force and the actinic force. In married life this means that there is a prevailing harmony between the man and the woman. This guides and governs the inner currents of the children up until the age of twenty-five. For the single person living a celibate life and performing sadhana, this means balancing those same forces–the masculine/aggressive force and the feminine/passive force–within himself or herself.

Brahmacharya, the yoga of celibacy, is a traditional practice in Saivite Hinduism. It allows the adolescent or young adult to use his vital energies to prepare for a rewarding life, to develop his mind and talents for his chosen vocation. The first of the four stages, or ashramas, of life is actually called the brahmacharya ashrama. Love, including sex, is one of the legitimate four goals of life, according to our religion. Sex is not bad. Its place, however, is properly within the confines of a sanctified marriage. Nor are sex drives unnatural. The goal of the brahmachari and brahmacharini is not to become fearful of sex, but to understand sex and the sexual impulses in a balanced way. During the time of brahmacharya, the goal is to control the sex urges and transmute those vital energies into the brain to gain a great mental and spiritual strength. Yes, this vital life force must be focused on studies and spiritual pursuits. Brahmacharya maintained until marriage, and faithfulness thereafter, helps enable the devotee to merit a good wife or husband, a happy, stable marriage and secure, well-adjusted children.

The spiritual value of celibacy has long been understood in the Hindu tradition. Most religions also provide a tradition of monastic life in which young men take lifetime vows of celibacy. Many of our greatest spiritual lights were celibate throughout their entire life, including Siva Yogaswami, Sankara and Swami Vivekananda. Others, such as Buddha, Gandhi and Aurobindo, became celibate after a period of marriage. For the individual preparing for monastic life, brahmacharya is essential in harnessing and transmuting the powerful sexual life energies into spiritual and religious concerns.
Siva’s devotees may elect to protect the home, the village and the nation by eradicating predators, pests, bacteria and disease-carrying creatures that threaten health or safety. This is ahimsa’s third and last exception. Aum.


People speak of the ”light of understanding.” Before the bright light of spiritual perception is experienced, the light of understanding must be laid as a foundation of philosophical training and appreciation–learning to understand life, for instance, through action rather than reaction. The purified, integrated mind, so perfected in its own understanding, lives in close communion with the soul radiance so that light becomes the constant experience of the mind. It is this to which the yoga student aspires. Living in the light, everything that formerly was hidden becomes revealed. Answers to questions that you had been pondering for many years become instantaneously unraveled in the light of the superconscious. But the mind has a way, in its instinctive, intellectual nature, of casting shadows over the natural radiance of the inner light.

Doubt is the by-product of the intellect’s inability to cope with light. When a person depends upon memory or reason for meaningful answers, the mind will break down in doubt. Only when the higher elucidation of the intuition is sought is doubt dispelled.

When the instinctive mind becomes lifted into the light, a person is strong enough to be kind when he could have become angry. He generates enough spiritual power to be generous when he might have reacted selfishly. Disciplined periods of meditation nurture a magnanimous and benevolent nature. Such a being is naturally in the light of the supreme consciousness. His great strength is humility, a shock absorber for the malicious experiences in life. Humility makes one immune to resentment and places everything in proportion and balance within the mind. A person lacking in humility does not give the appearance of being firmly rooted and poised within himself. At the other extreme, the arrogant person who lives in the shadows of the mind presents a pitiful picture of insecurity and incompleteness.

Seeking for God in the depths of one’s being through control of the mind, control of one’s thoughts, feelings and emotions, gives birth to the highest qualities of nature. This transformation begins to take place as the light of the soul becomes more and more apparent within the mind.

The spiritual path is a constant turning within, turning the light of the superconscious into the dark corners and recesses of the mind. ”What is hidden shall be revealed,” and so it is on this path as man reveals his Self to himself. As you sit in meditation in a darkened room, practice directing your consciousness inward, to the center of your brain. If you are able to perceive light within your body, you are on the path to immortality. But should darkness prevail, work diligently each day to clear out resentment, jealousy, fear, worry and doubt from your nature. Then you can sit in a darkened room and be a being of light.

The next time you are in a state of worldliness–jealous, angry or feeling sorry for yourself–sit down and seek for the light. If you cannot find it, visualize a light bulb within your head or a flashlight at the top of your head shining down into it. Flash the light on and off mentally, and when the flashlight does not go off, even if you have mentally turned off the switch, then you know that you have the inner light. You will watch awareness move out of the darker area of the mind. It’s a wonderful feeling, and it’s a basic practice of the contemplative life of living two-thirds within oneself and one-third in the external world.

I’m often asked, ”Do I see light or do I just think that I am seeing light?” I reply, ”If you were in a darkened room, you would see light within you just as you’d see on the outside if lights were on in the room or you were in broad daylight. This is because you are seeing with your inner eye, your third eye, which you actually use all of the time. You use your third eye, for example, when you study your subconscious mind and see the memories of your past. The light around the memories is the inner light. If it wasn’t there, you could not see your memories. Take away the mental pictures, and the light alone is before you. You will learn to consciously use the inner eye to see with as you spiritually unfold. All of a sudden, one day you will realize that you are seeing light with your third eye at the same time you are seeing physical things with your two physical eyes.

The inner light is so beautiful. It is firm, like a plasma. It is sometimes fibrous and full of energy. And yet, it is quiet and full of colors. You begin to see color, and in that realm you can hear color at the same time that you see color. You can hear sound and see color all at the same time, and you have the faculty to turn hearing on and to turn hearing off, because you hear with an inner ear. This is, of course, very useful in daily life. When you listen to someone talking, you begin to know exactly what they are meaning because of your listening through your inner ear. When you look at someone, you know exactly where they are in consciousness, because you are looking at them with your inner eye.

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