Practice Continence in Brahmacharya

The Ashramas or stages of life are four, viz., Brahmacharya, the stage of student life; Grihastha, the stage of householder life; Vanaprastha, the stage of seclusion (forest-living); and Sannyasa, the stage of total renunciation. Each order of life has its own duties. In none of these stages must a man grasp at the special duties of the other three. At the present moment, it is difficult to maintain or observe the exact details of the ancient rules, as the conditions have changed very much. But, if we can have a clear idea of the fundamental duties of each, we shall still be able to shape the life through a regulated course of development and steady growth… He [the householder] must give good education to his sons and daughters and treat his wife well as she is his partner in life and religious performances (Ardhangini). Parents are veritable gods on earth. Therefore he should serve them nicely, and carry out their behests to their entire satisfaction. He should perform Sraddha (annual rites to the departed souls) every year and offer Tarpana to his Pitrus or ancestors. When the householder sees that his sons are able to bear the burden of his duties, when his grandsons are around him, the time has come for his wife and himself to retire from the world and spend their time in study and meditation. - Sri Swami Sivananda

The practice of continence is required in the Ashrama of Brahmacharya; Sri Swami Sivananda goes so far as to say that it is the foundation of Brahmacharya.  Continence is different than abstinence: someone can learn and even perfect continence of body, heart and mind through strength training and practice.  A child learns continence of their bowels and bladder not by withholding their filth, but by reacting properly when they have developed the necessity of expelling that filth.  There are numerous waste products to living besides urine and feces: exhalation, sweat, even analytical thought.  All are necessary to the biological function of the human body, and should not be abstained from - even if continence in them should be learned and perfected.

Continence of sexual activity is usually made more complicated by societal norms which, in some societies, prohibits even the polite discussion of the subject.  In Brahmacharya, sexual activity broadly includes everything from affectionate touch (such as a handshake between friends) to the transmission of semen into the uterus; whenever the identity of sex (male, female, both male and female, or neither male nor female) takes form through actions of body, mind and heart, this is sexual.  There should not be abstinence from sexual activity, but continence in sexual activity.  The thought that "I am a man," or "I am a woman," or "I am neither man nor woman," or "I am both man and woman" is irrelevant: all beings can achieve liberation from suffering, form is changing and impermanent, identification of any form leads to suffering.

The Brahmacharya seeks a nobler nature than that to which they were born.  Just as a child is born without teeth, without the ability to walk, the human experience requires maturation beyond the womb in so many ways.  True maturation will take sometimes two or even three decades of life's training and practice.  Through self-control and righteousness, one becomes a Brahman.