Brahmacharya is one of the Yamas of Yoga and key to many conceptions of spiritual practice. It is commonly translated to mean celibacy. Celibacy is thus deemed necessary for real spiritual progress. However, while a small percent of people are natural monks, for most people abstinence is more a form of resistance or denial. That is actually a barrier to progress rather than a help. And there are ample examples of failure in both east and west, often to the detriment of people around them. Healthy expression denied becomes it’s shadow: abuse. Celibacy is not a householders way. It is not natural for most people.
On this blog, I’ve been translating Brahmacharya as moderation, based on an interpretation of the Sanskrit root words.
I’ve also seen it observed that Brahmacharya means the one who’s teacher is Brahman.
Another place the word comes up is in association with dharma, in ashrama, the stages of life. The first stage is student, the learning youth. The word used – Brahmacharya. In other words, a student of Brahman. If one’s studies include spiritual content, it makes perfect sense.
And of course, other traditions use sex as a spiritual practice.