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Encyclopedia > Asceticism
Ascetic redirects here. You might also be looking for acetic acid. The term should not be confused with aestheticism.

Asceticism (Greek: askēsis) describes a life-style characterized by abstinence from various sorts of worldly pleasures such as maintaining power (especially sexual activity and consumption of alcohol) often with the aim of pursuing religious and spiritual goals. Christianity and the Indian religions (including yoga) teach that salvation and liberation involve a process of mind-body transformation that is effected through practicing restraint with respect to actions of body, speech and mind. The founders and earliest practitioners of these religions (e.g. Buddhism, Jainism, the Christian desert fathers) lived extremely austere lifestyles refraining from sensual pleasures and the accumulation of material wealth. This is to be understood not as an eschewal of the enjoyment of life but a recognition that spiritual and religious goals are impeded by such indulgence. Asceticism is closely related to the Christian concept of chastity and might be said to be the technical implementation of the abstract vows of renunciation. Those who practice ascetic lifestyles do not consider their practices as virtuous but pursue such a life-style in order to satisfy certain technical requirements for mind-body transformation. There is remarkable uniformity among the above religions with respect to the benefits of sexual continence. Religions teach that purifying the soul also involves purification of the body which thereby enables connection with the Divine and the cultivation of inner peace. In the popular imagination asceticism is considered a sort of perversion (self-flagellation by birch twigs as the archetypal stereotype of self-mortification) but the askēsis enjoined by religion functions in order to bring about greater freedom in various areas of one's life, such as freedom from compulsions and temptations bringing about peacefulness of mind with a concomitant increase in clarity and power of thought. R-phrases , S-phrases , , , Flash point 43 °C Related Compounds Related carboxylic; acids Formic acid; Propionic acid; Butyric acid Related compounds acetamide; ethyl acetate; acetyl chloride; acetic anhydride; acetonitrile; acetaldehyde; ethanol; thioacetic acid; acetylcholine; acetylcholinesterase Supplementary data page Structure and properties n, εr, etc. ... The Aesthetic movement is a loosely defined movement in art and literature in later nineteenth-century Britain. ... This article is about the practice of abstinence in general. ... Spirituality, in a narrow sense, concerns itself with matters of the spirit. ... Topics in Christianity Movements · Denominations Ecumenism · Relation to other religions Preaching · Prayer Music · Liturgy · Calendar Symbols · Art · Criticism Christianity Portal This box:      Christianity is a monotheistic[1] religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as presented in the New Testament. ... The Sri Venkateshwara temple at Tirupati is the most visited temple in India India is one of the most religiously diverse nations in the world, with one of the most deeply religious societies and cultures. ... For other uses such as Yoga postures, see Yoga (disambiguation) Statue of Shiva performing Yogic meditation Yoga (Sanskrit: योग Yoga, IPA: ) is a group of ancient spiritual practices originating in India. ... For other uses, see Salvation (disambiguation). ... Look up Liberation in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Buddhism is a variety of teachings, sometimes described as a religion[1] or way of life that attempts to identify the causes of human suffering and offer various ways that are claimed to end, or ease suffering. ... Jain and Jaina redirect here. ... The Desert Fathers were Christian Hermits who lived in the Sahara desert of Egypt, beginning in about the third century. ... Allegory of chastity by Hans Memling. ... Personification of virtue (Greek ἀρετή) in Celsus Library in Ephesos, Turkey Virtue (Latin virtus; Greek ) is moral excellence of a person. ... Inner peace (or peace of mind) is a colloquialism that refers to a state of being mentally or spiritually at peace, with enough knowledge and understanding to keep oneself strong in the face of discord or stress. ...


Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (2024x1735, 288 KB) Cropped version (for philosophy article). ... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (2024x1735, 288 KB) Cropped version (for philosophy article). ... Meditation usually refers to a state of extreme relaxation and concentration, in which the body is generally at rest and the mind quieted of surface thoughts. ... A philosopher is a person who thinks deeply regarding people, society, the world, and/or the universe. ... This article is about the Dutch artist. ...


Look up Asceticism in
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The adjective "ascetic" derives from the ancient Greek term askēsis (practice, training or exercise). Originally associated with any form of disciplined practice, the term ascetic has come to mean anyone who practices a renunciation of worldly pursuits to achieve higher intellectual and spiritual goals. Wiktionary (a portmanteau of wiki and dictionary) is a multilingual, Web-based project to create a free content dictionary, available in over 151 languages. ...

Askesis is a Greek Christian term; the practice of spiritual exercises; rooted in the philosophical tradition of antiquity. Askesis is the discipline of repressing lust. Originally introduced as the spiritual struggle of the Greek Orthodox Church as the style of life where meat, alcohol, sex, and comfortable clothing are avoided, the term is now used in several other relations: A demon sating his lust in a 13th century manuscript Lust is any intense desire or craving for self gratification and excitement. ... Orthodox icon of Pentecost. ... For other uses, see Meat (disambiguation). ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... A baby wearing many items of winter clothing: headband, cap, fur-lined coat, shawl and sweater. ...

Many warriors and athletes, in Greek society, applied the discipline of askēsis to attain optimal bodily fitness and grace. The manner of life, the doctrine, or principles of someone who engages in askēsis is referred to as an ascetic.

"Worldly" versus "otherworldly"

Max Weber made a distinction between innerweltliche and ausserweltliche asceticism, which means (roughly) "inside the world" and "outside the world", respectively. Talcott Parsons translated these as "worldly" and "otherworldly" (some translators use "inner-worldly", but that has a different connotation in English and is probably not what Weber had in mind). For the politician, see Max Weber (politician). ... Talcott Parsons Talcott Edgar Frederick Parsons (December 13, 1902–May 8, 1979) was for many years the best-known sociologist in the United States, and indeed one of the best-known in the world. ...

"Otherworldly" asceticism is practiced by people who withdraw from the world in order to live an ascetic life (this includes monks who live communally in monasteries, as well as hermits who live alone). "Worldly" asceticism refers to people who live ascetic lives but don't withdraw from the world, much like Vincent Van Gogh in the 1800s. For other uses, see Monk (disambiguation). ... This article concerns the buildings occupied by monastics. ... For other uses, see Hermit (disambiguation). ... van Gogh redirects here. ...

Weber claimed that this distinction originated in the Protestant Reformation, but later became secularized, so the concept can be applied to both religious and secular ascetics. Reformation redirects here. ...

(See Talcott Parsons' translation of The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, translator's note on Weber's footnote 9 in chapter 2) The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism is a book written by Max Weber, a German economist and sociologist in 1904 and 1905 that began as a series of essays. ...

David McClelland suggested that worldly asceticism is specifically targeted against worldly pleasures that distract people from their calling, and may accept worldly pleasures that are not distracting. As an example, he pointed out that Quakers have historically objected to bright colored clothing, but that wealthy Quakers often made their drab clothing out of expensive materials. The color was considered distracting, but the materials were not. Amish groups use similar criteria to make decisions about which modern technologies to use and which to avoid.[1] David McClelland David Clarence McClelland (1917 – March 27, 1998) was an American personality psychologist, social psychologist, and an advocate of quantitative history. ... The Religious Society of Friends, commonly known as Quakers, or Friends, is a religious community founded in England in the 17th century. ... This article is about Old Order Amish, but also refers to other Amish sects. ...

Religious motivation

Asceticism is most commonly associated with monks, yogis or priests, however any individual may choose to lead an ascetic life. Lao Zi, Shakyamuni Gautama (who left ascetism to seek a better way of enlightenment), Mahavir Swami, Saint Anthony, Francis of Assisi, Mahatma Gandhi and David Augustine Baker can all be considered ascetics. Many of these men left their families, possessions, and homes to live a mendicant life, and in the eyes of their followers demonstrated great spiritual attainment, or enlightenment. For other uses, see Monk (disambiguation). ... For other uses such as Yoga postures, see Yoga (disambiguation) Statue of Shiva performing Yogic meditation Yoga (Sanskrit: योग Yoga, IPA: ) is a group of ancient spiritual practices originating in India. ... This article is about religious workers. ... Lao Zi (Chinese 老子, also spelled Laozi, Lao Tzu, or Lao Tse) is a major figure in Chinese philosophy whose historical existence is debated. ... Siddhartha and Gautama redirect here. ... This article or section should be merged with Mahavir Mahavir Swami (Lord Mahavir) or Mahavira (the Great Hero -- Also, Vardhamana (increasing) or Niggantha Nathaputta -- 599 BC - 527 BC) was the 24th, and last, Jainist Tirthankar. ... Saint Anthony the Great (c. ... Saint Francis of Assisi (September 26, 1181 or 1182 – October 3, 1226) was a Roman Catholic friar and the founder of the Order of Friars Minor, more commonly known as the Franciscans. ... “Gandhi” redirects here. ... David Augustine Baker (1575-1641) was a well-known Benedictine mystic and an ascetic writer, born at Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, December 9, 1575. ... The term mendicant refers to begging or otherwise relying on charitable donations, and is most widely used for religious followers or ascetics who rely exclusively on charity to survive. ... Look up enlightenment, Enlightenment in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


See also: Tapas (Sanskrit)

Sadhus, men believed to be holy, are known for the extreme forms of self-denial they occasionally practice. These include extreme acts of devotion to a deity or principle, such as vowing never to use one leg or the other, or to hold an arm in the air for a period of months or years. The particular types of asceticism involved vary from sect to sect, and from holy man to holy man. Rules and Regulations of Brahmanical Asceticism - Yatidharmasamuccaya of Yadava Prakasa/ Translated by Patrick Olivelle (Sri Satguru Publications/ Delhi) is a must read book in this context. It has been suggested that Tapasya be merged into this article or section. ... In Hinduism, sadhu is a common term for an ascetic or practitioner of yoga (yogi) who has given up pursuit of the first three Hindu goals of life: kama (pleasure), artha (wealth and power) and even dharma (duty). ...


Asceticism, in one of its most intense forms, can be found in one of the oldest religions known as Jainism. Jainism encourages fasting, yoga practices, meditation in difficult postures, and other austerities.[2] According to Jains, one's highest goal should be Moksha (i.e., liberation from samsara, the cycle of birth and rebirth). For this, a soul has to be without attachment or self indulgence. This can be achieved only by the monks and nuns who take five great vows: of non-violence, of truth, of non-stealing, of non-possession and of celibacy. Jain and Jaina redirect here. ... For other uses, see Moksha (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Samsara (disambiguation). ...

Most of the austerities and ascetic practices can be traced back to Vardhaman Mahavira, the twenty-fourth "fordmaker" or Tirthankara. The Acaranga Sutra, or Book of Good Conduct, is a sacred book within Jainism that discusses the ascetic code of conduct. Other texts that provide insight into conduct of ascetics include Yogashastra by Acharya Hemachandra and Niyamasara by Acharya Kundakunda. Other illustrious Jain works on ascetic conduct are Oghanijjutti, Pindanijjutti, Cheda Sutta, and Nisiha Suttafee. Idol of Lord Mahavira at Shri Mahaveerji (the holy town in Rajasthan named after Mahavira. ... In Jainism, a Tirthankara (Fordmaker) is a human who achieved enlightenment, became a Jiva, and whose religious teachings have formed the canon of Jainism; although not Gods, statues of Tirthankaras are found in temples. ... Hemachandra Surī ({{lang-sa|हेमचन्द्र सूरी) (1089–1172) was an Indian Jaina scholar, poet, and polymath who wrote on grammar, philosophy, prosody, and contemporary history. ... Kundakunda (also Kundkund) is a celebrated [[Jainism|Jain[[ Acharya, who may have lived around the first or second century CE, although the exact ime is uncertain. ...

  • Monks and nuns renounce all relations and possessions.
  • Jain ascetics practice complete non-violence. They do not hurt any living being, be it an insect or a human. They carry a special broom to sweep any insects that may cross their path. Some Jains wear a cloth over the mouth to prevent accidental harm to airborne germs and insects.
  • Jain ascetics do not use electricity as it involves violence. They do not use any devices or machines.
  • They travel from city to city, often crossing forests and deserts, and always barefoot.
  • They sleep on the floor without blankets and sit on special wooden platforms.
  • Jain ascetics follow a strict vegetarian diet without root vegetables. Shvetambara monks do not cook food but solicit alms from householders. Digambara monks have only a single meal a day. Neither group will beg for food, but a Jain ascetic may accept a meal from a householder, provided that the latter is pure of mind and body and offers the food of his own volition and in the prescribed manner. During such an encounter, the monk remains standing and eats only a measured amount.
  • Fasting (i.e., abstinence from food and sometimes water) is a routine feature of Jain asceticism. Fasts last for a day or longer, up to a month. Some monks avoid (or limit) medicine and/or hospitalisation out of disregard for the physical body.
  • Other austerities include meditation in seated or standing posture near river banks in the cold wind, or meditation atop hills and mountains, especially at noon when the sun is at its fiercest. Such austerities are undertaken according to the physical and mental limits of the individual ascetic.
  • Jain ascetics are (almost) completely without possessions. Some Jains (Shvetambara monks and nuns) own only unstitched white robes (an upper and lower garment) and a bowl used for eating and collecting alms. Male Digambara monks do not wear any clothes and carry nothing with them except a soft broom made of shed peacock feathers (pinchi) and eat from their hands.
  • Jain monks and nuns practice complete celibacy. They do not touch or share a sitting platform with a person of opposite sex.
  • Jain ascetics do not stay in a single place for more than two months to prevent attachment to any place. However during four months of monsoon (rainy season) known as chaturmaas, they continue to stay at a single place to avoid killing of life forms that thrives during the rains.
  • Every day is spent either in study of scriptures or meditation or teaching to lay people. They stand aloof from worldly matters.
  • Many Jain ascetics take a final vow of Santhara or Sallekhana (i.e., a peaceful and detached death where medicines, food, and water are abandoned). This is done when death is imminent or when a monk feels that he is unable to adhere to his vows on account of advanced age or terminal disease.

Quotes on ascetic practices from the Akaranga Sutra as Hermann Jacobi translated it [3][1]: The Shvetambara (White-Clad) are a Jainism sect. ... The Digambara (Sky-Clad) are a Jainist sect, these are the followers of Bhadrabahu. ... Hermann Jacobi (February 1, 1850 - October 19, 1937) was an eminent German Indologist. ...

“A monk or a nun wandering from village to village should look forward for four cubits, and seeing animals they should move on by walking on his toes or heels or the sides of his feet. If there be some bypath, they should choose it, and not go straight on; then they may circumspectly wander from village to village. Third Lecture(6)”

'I shall become a Sramana who owns no house, no property, no sons, no cattle, who eats what others give him; I shall commit no sinful action; Master, I renounce to accept anything that has not been given.' Having taken such vows, (a mendicant) should not, on entering a village or scot-free town, &c., take himself, or induce others to take, or allow others to take, what has not been given. Seventh Lecture (1)


The historical Siddhartha Gautama adopted an extreme ascetic life after leaving his father's palace, where he once lived in extreme luxury. But later the Shakyamuni rejected extreme asceticism because it is an impediment to ultimate freedom (nirvana) from suffering (samsara), choosing instead a path that met the needs of the body without crossing over into luxury and indulgence. After abandoning extreme asceticism he was able to achieve enlightenment. This position became known as the Madhyamaka or Middle Way, and became one of the central organizing principles of Theravadin philosophy. Standing Buddha, ancient region of Gandhara, northern Pakistan, 1st century CE. Gautama Buddha was a South Asian spiritual leader who lived between approximately 563 BCE and 483 BCE. Born Siddhartha Gautama in Sanskrit, a name meaning descendant of Gotama whose aims are achieved/who is efficacious in achieving aims, he... This article is about the Buddhist concept. ... For other uses, see Samsara (disambiguation). ... Bodhi (बोधि) is the Pāli and Sanskrit word for the awakened or knowing consciousness of a fully liberated yogi, generally translated into English as enlightenment. It is an abstract noun formed from the verbal root budh (to awake, become aware, notice, know or understand), corresponding to the verbs bujjhati (P... Madhyamaka (Also known as Åšunyavada) is a Buddhist Mahayāna tradition popularized by Nāgārjuna and AÅ›vaghoá¹£a. ... Theravada (Pali; Sanskrit: Sthaviravada) is one of the eighteen (or twenty) Nikāya schools that formed early in the history of Buddhism. ...

The degree of moderation suggested by this middle path varies depending on the interpretation of Theravadism at hand. Some traditions emphasize ascetic life more than others.

The basic lifestyle of an ordained Theravadin practitioner (bhikkhu, monk; or bhikkhuni, nun) as described in the Vinaya Pitaka was intended to be neither excessively austere nor hedonistic. Monks and nuns were intended to have enough of life's basic requisites (particularly food, water, clothing, and shelter) to live safely and healthily, without being troubled by illness or weakness. While the life described in the Vinaya may appear difficult, it would be perhaps better described as Spartan rather than truly ascetic. Deprivation for its own sake is not valued. Indeed, it may be seen as a sign of attachment to one's own renunciation. The aim of the monastic lifestyle was to prevent concern for the material circumstances of life from intruding on the monk or nun's ability to engage in religious practice. To this end, having inadequate possessions was regarded as being no more desirable than having too many. A Buddhist Monk in Sri Lanka In Pāli, a bhikkhu (male) or bhikkhuni (female) is a fully ordained Buddhist monk. ... High-ranking Chinese bhikkunis in an alms round. ... The Vinaya (a word in Pali as well as in Sanskrit, with literal meaning discipline) is the textual framework for the Buddhist monastic community, or sangha. ... For modern day Sparta, see Sparti (municipality). ...

Initially, the Tathagatta rejected a number of more specific ascetic practices that some monks requested to follow. These practices — such as sleeping in the open, dwelling in a cemetery or cremation ground, wearing only cast-off rags, etc. — were initially seen as too extreme, being liable to either upset the social values of the surrounding community, or as likely to create schisms among the Sangha by encouraging monks to compete in austerity. Despite their early prohibition, recorded in the Pali Canon, these practices (known as the Dhutanga practices, or in Thai as thudong) eventually became acceptable to the monastic community. They were recorded by Buddhaghosa in his Visuddhimagga, and later became significant in the practices of the Thai Forest Tradition. Sangha (संघ saṃgha) is a word in Pali or Sanskrit that can be translated roughly as association or assembly or community. It is commonly used in several senses to refer to Buddhist or Jain groups. ... Standard edition of the Thai Pali Canon The Pali Canon is the standard scripture collection of the Theravada Buddhist tradition. ... Please wikify (format) this article as suggested in the Guide to layout and the Manual of Style. ... Bhadantācariya Buddhaghosa was a 5th century Indian Theravadin Buddhist commentator and scholar. ... The Visuddhimagga (The path to purity) is a Theravada Buddhist commentary written by Buddhaghosa approximately in 430 CE in Sri Lanka. ... The Thai Forest Tradition is a loosely organized movement within Thai Theravadin Buddhism, emphasizing meditation and strict adherence to the vinaya over intellectual pursuits. ...

The Mahayana traditions of Theravadism received a slightly different code of discipline than that used by the various Theravada sects. This fact, combined with significant regional and cultural variations, has resulted in differing attitudes towards asceticism in different areas of the Mahayana world. Particularly notable is the role that vegetarianism plays in East Asian Buddhism, particularly in China and Japan. While Theravada monks are compelled to eat whatever is provided for them by their lay supporters, including meat, Mahayana monks in East of Asia are most often vegetarian. This is attributable to a number of factors, including Mahayana-specific teachings regarding vegetarianism, East Asian cultural tendencies that predate the introduction of Buddhism (some of which may have their roots in Confucianism), and the different manner in which monks support themselves in East Asia. While Southeast Asian and Sri Lankan monks generally continue to make daily begging rounds to receive their daily meal, monks in East Asia more commonly receive bulk foodstuffs from lay supporters (or the funds to purchase them) and are fed from a kitchen located on the site of the temple or monastery, and staffed either by working monks or by lay supporters. Relief image of the bodhisattva Kuan Yin from Mt. ... Theravada (Pāli: theravāda (cf Sanskrit: स्थविरवाद sthaviravāda); literally, the Teaching of the Elders, or the Ancient Teaching) is the oldest surviving Buddhist school, and for many centuries has been the predominant religion of Sri Lanka (about 70% of the population[1]) and most of continental Southeast Asia (Cambodia... Vegetarianism is the practice of a diet that excludes all animal flesh, including poultry, game, fish, shellfish or crustacea, and slaughter by-products[1] [2]. The reasons for choosing vegetarianism may be related to morality, religion, culture, ethics, aesthetics, environment, society, economy, politics, taste, or health. ... This article is about the geographical region. ... A Confucian temple in Wuwei, Peoples Republic of China. ...

Similarly, divergent scriptural and cultural trends have brought a stronger emphasis on asceticism to some Mahayana practices. The Lotus Sutra, for instance, contains a story of a bodhisattva who burns himself as an offering to the assembly of all Buddhas in the world. This has become a patterning story for self-sacrifice in the Mahayana world, probably providing the inspiration for the auto-cremation of the Vietnamese monk Thich Quang Duc during the 1960s, as well as several other incidents. The Lotus Sutra or Sutra on the White Lotus of the Sublime Dharma (Sanskrit: Saddharma PuṇḍarÄ«ka SÅ«tra; 妙法蓮華經 Chinese: MiàofÇŽ Liánhuā JÄ«ng; Japanese: Myōhō Renge Kyō; Korean: Myobeomnyeonhwagyeong) is one of the most popular and influential Mahāyāna sutras in East Asia and... Lands Bhutan â€¢ China â€¢ Korea Japan â€¢ Tibet â€¢ Vietnam Taiwan â€¢ Mongolia Doctrine Bodhisattva â€¢ Bodhicitta Karuna â€¢ Prajna Sunyata â€¢ Buddha Nature Trikaya â€¢ Eternal Buddha Scriptures Prajnaparamita Sutra Avatamsaka Sutra Lotus Sutra Nirvana Sutra VimalakÄ«rti Sutra Lankavatara Sutra History 4th Buddhist Council Silk Road â€¢ Nagarjuna Asanga â€¢ Vasubandhu Bodhidharma      A statue of a Bodhisattva, Akasagarbha. ... For other uses, see Buddha (disambiguation). ...   (IPA: ; (born Lâm Văn Tức in 1897 – died June 11, 1963) was a Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk who burned himself to death at a busy Saigon road intersection on June 11, 1963. ...


Main article: Asceticism in Judaism

The history of Jewish asceticism goes back thousands of years to the references of the Nazirite (Numbers 6) and the Wilderness Tradition that evolved out of the forty years in the desert. The prophets and their disciples were ascetic to the extreme including many examples of fasting and hermitic living conditions. After the Jews returned from the Babylonian exile and the prophetic institution was done away with a different form of asceticism arose when Antiochus IV Epiphanes threatened the Jewish religion in 167 BCE. The Hassidean sect attracted observant Jews to its fold and they lived as holy warriors in the wilderness during the war against the Seleucid Empire. With the rise of the Hasmoneans and finally Jonathan's claim to the High Priesthood in 152 BCE, the Essene sect separated under the Teacher of Righteousness and they took the banner of asceticism for the next two hundred years culminating in the Dead Sea Sect. Asceticism is a term derived from the Greek verb ἀσκέω, meaning to practise strenuously, to exercise. ... The word Jew ( Hebrew: יהודי) is used in a wide number of ways, but generally refers to a follower of the Jewish faith, a child of a Jewish mother, or someone of Jewish descent with a connection to Jewish culture or ethnicity and often a combination of these attributes. ... Not to be confused with Nazarene. ... Babylonia was a state in southern Mesopotamia, in modern Iraq, combining the territories of Sumer and Akkad. ... There are several monarchs known by the title of Antiochus IV: Antiochus IV of Syria, who ruled during the time of Caligula; Antiochus Epiphanes, the Seleucid oppressor of the Jews who provoked the revolt of the Maccabees. ... The Seleucid Empire was one of several political states founded after the death of Alexander the Great, whose generals squabbled over the division of Alexanders empire. ... The Hasmoneans (Hebrew: , Hashmonaiym, Audio) were the ruling dynasty of the Hasmonean Kingdom (140 BCE–37 BCE),[1] an autonomous Jewish state in ancient Israel. ... The Essenes (Issiim) were a Jewish religious sect of Zadokites that flourished from the 2nd century BC to the 1st century AD. The name Essene, itself, is either a version of the Greek word for Holy, or various Aramaic dialect words for pious, and is probably not what the...

Asceticism is rejected by modern day Judaism; it is considered contrary to God's wishes for the world. God intended for the world to be enjoyed, in a permitted context of course [2]. The Talmud says that "if a person has the opportunity to taste a new fruit and refuses to do so, he will have to account for that in the next world".[citation needed]

There are different categories of pleasure. From simple, short lived things, like eating something tasty, to more complex pleasures, such as the satisfaction of succeeding in a difficult task. The closest Judaism comes to asceticism is when it tries to teach people to enjoy the more intellectual and spiritual pleasures, and not to chase after the simpler pleasures.

However, Judaism does not encourage people to seek pleasure for its own sake but rather to do so in a spiritual way. An example would be thanking God for creating something enjoyable, like a wonderful view, or tasty food. As another example, sex should be enjoyed while remembering that a person may be fulfilling the commandments of marriage and pru-urvu (procreation), but that it should also be enjoyed. Food can be enjoyed by remembering that it is necessary to eat, but by thanking God for making it an enjoyable processes, and by not overeating, or eating wastefully.

Jews believe that God could just as easily have made food nutritious but bland, or sex could be an uncontrollable drive, however that is not what God wanted. God wanted people to take pleasure in living in his world.

Modern normative Judaism (and the Pharisees that developed it) is in opposition to the lifestyle of asceticism, and sometimes cast the Nazirite vow in a critical light. There did existed some ascetic Jewish sects in ancient times, most notably the Essenes and Ebionites. Some early Kabbalists may have, arguably, also held a lifestyle that could be regarded as ascetic.[citation needed] For the followers of the Vilna Gaon, see Perushim. ... Not to be confused with Nazarene. ... The Essenes were a Jewish religious group that flourished from the 2nd century BC to the 1st century AD. Many separate, but related religious groups of that era shared similar mystic, eschatological, messianic, and ascetic beliefs. ... The Ebionites (Greek: Ebionaioi from Hebrew; , , the Poor Ones) were an early Jewish Christian sect that lived in and around the land of Israel in the 1st to the 5th century CE.[1] Without authenticated archaeological evidence for the existence of the Ebionites, their views and practices can only be... This article is about traditional Jewish Kabbalah. ...


Asceticism within Christian tradition includes spiritual disciplines practiced to work out the believer's salvation, and express one's repentance for sin, with the ultimate aim of purifying the heart and mind, by God's grace, for encounter with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, (see Kenosis). Although certain monks and nuns today such as those in the Roman Catholic religious orders of the Carthusians, and Cistercians, are known for especially strict acts of asceticism, even more rigorous ascetic practices were common in the early Church. The deserts of the middle-east were at one time said to have been inhabited by thousands of hermits, amongst the most revered include St. Anthony the Great, St. Mary of Egypt, and St. Simeon Stylites. For other uses, see Christian (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Salvation (disambiguation). ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... For other uses, see Sin (disambiguation). ... Look up grace in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... This article is about the Christian Trinity. ... Kenosis is a Greek word for emptiness, which is used as a theological term. ... For other uses, see Monk (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Nun (disambiguation). ... The Roman Catholic Church, most often spoken of simply as the Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with over one billion members. ... A Carthusian Monastery in Jerez, Spain The Carthusians are a Christian religious order founded by St Bruno in 1084. ... Cistercians coat of arms The Order of Cistercians (OCist) (Latin: ), otherwise White Monks (from the colour of the habit, over which a black scapular or apron is sometimes worn) is a Roman Catholic order of enclosed monks. ... The traditional Middle East and the G8s Greater Middle East Political & transportation map of the traditional Middle East today The Middle East is a historical and political region of Africa-Eurasia with no clear definition. ... For other uses, see Hermit (disambiguation). ... Saint Anthony the Great (c. ... Venerable[2] Mary of Egypt (ca. ... 6th century depiction of Simeon on his column St Simeon Stylites or Symeon the Stylite (c. ...

Christian authors of late antiquity such as Origen, Jerome, John Chrysostom, and Augustine interpreted meanings of Biblical texts within a highly asceticized religious environment. Through their commentaries, they created a new “asceticized Scripture,” and in the process an asceticized version of Christianity. Scriptural examples of asceticism could be found in the lives of John the Baptist, Jesus, the twelve apostles and Saint Paul. The Dead Sea Scrolls revealed ascetic practices of the ancient Jewish sect of Essenes who took vows of abstinence to prepare for a holy war. Thus, the asceticism of practitioners like Jerome was hardly original (although some of his critics thought it was), and a desert ascetic like Antony the Great (251-356 CE) was in the tradition of ascetics in noted communities and sects of the previous centuries. Clearly, emphasis on an ascetic religious life was evident in both early Christian writings (see the Philokalia) and practices (see hesychasm). Other Christian followers of asceticism include individuals such as Simeon Stylites, Saint David of Wales, and Francis of Assisi. (See The Catholic Encyclopedia for a fuller discussion.) To the uninformed modern reader, early monastic asceticism may seem to be only about sexual renunciation. However, sexual abstinence was merely one aspect of ascetic renunciation. The ancient monks and nuns had other, equally weighty concerns: pride, humility, compassion, discernment, patience, judging others, prayer, hospitality, and almsgiving. For some early Christians, gluttony represented a more primordial problem than sex, and as such the reduced intake of food is also a facet of asceticism. As an illustration, the systematic collection of the Apophthegmata Patrum, or Sayings of the desert fathers and mothers has more than twenty chapters divided by theme; only one chapter is devoted to porneia ("sexual lust"). (See Elizabeth A. Clark. Reading Renunciation: Asceticism and Scripture in Early Christianity. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999.) Origen Origen (Greek: ÅŒrigénÄ“s, 185–ca. ... For other uses, see Jerome (disambiguation). ... This article refers to the Christian saint. ... Augustinus redirects here. ... The Bible (From Greek βιβλια—biblia, meaning books, which in turn is derived from βυβλος—byblos meaning papyrus, from the ancient Phoenician city of Byblos which exported papyrus) is the sacred scripture of Christianity. ... Many religions and spiritual movements hold certain written texts (or series of spoken legends not traditionally written down) to be sacred. ... Topics in Christianity Movements · Denominations Ecumenism · Relation to other religions Preaching · Prayer Music · Liturgy · Calendar Symbols · Art · Criticism Christianity Portal This box:      Christianity is a monotheistic[1] religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as presented in the New Testament. ... For the hip-hop producer with the same name, see John the Baptist (producer). ... This article is about Jesus of Nazareth. ... Topics in Christianity Movements · Denominations Ecumenism · Relation to other religions Preaching · Prayer Music · Liturgy · Calendar Symbols · Art · Criticism Important figures Apostle Paul · Church Fathers Constantine · Athanasius · Augustine Anselm · Aquinas · Palamas Luther · Calvin · Wesley Arius · Marcion of Sinope Archbishop of Canterbury · Pope Coptic Pope · Ecumenical Patriarch Christianity Portal This box:      For... Paul of Tarsus (b. ... The Dead Sea scrolls consist of roughly 1000 documents, including texts from the Hebrew Bible, discovered between 1947 and 1979 in eleven caves in and around the Wadi Qumran (near the ruins of the ancient settlement of Khirbet Qumran, on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea) in the West... The Essenes were a Jewish religious group that flourished from the 2nd century BC to the 1st century AD. Many separate, but related religious groups of that era shared similar mystic, eschatological, messianic, and ascetic beliefs. ... The Philokalia (Gk. ... Hesychasm (Greek hesychasmos, from hesychia, stillness, rest, quiet, silence) is an eremitic tradition of prayer in the Eastern Orthodox Church, and some other Eastern Churches of the Byzantine Rite, practised (Gk: hesychazo: to keep stillness) by the Hesychast (Gr. ... 6th century depiction of Simeon on his column St Simeon Stylites or Symeon the Stylite (c. ... For other uses, see Saint David (disambiguation). ... Saint Francis of Assisi (September 26, 1181 or 1182 – October 3, 1226) was a Roman Catholic friar and the founder of the Order of Friars Minor, more commonly known as the Franciscans. ... Celibacy refers either to being unmarried or to sexual abstinence. ... This article is about the emotion. ... Compassion is best described as an understanding of the emotional state of another; not to be confused with empathy. ... For other uses, see Prayer (disambiguation). ... For the Venetian Snares album, see Hospitality (album). ... Alms Bag taken from some Tapestry in Orleans, Fifteenth Century. ...

Nowadays, the monastic state of Mount Athos, having a history of over a millennium, is a center of Christian spirituality and asceticism in Eastern Orthodox tradition. Capital Karyes Largest city Karyes Official languages Greek, Church Slavonic, Bulgarian, Georgian, Romanian, Russian, Serbian Government  -  Head of State2 Dora Bakoyannis  -  Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I Area  -  Total 335. ... Eastern Orthodoxy (also called Greek Orthodoxy and Russian Orthodoxy) is a Christian tradition which represents the majority of Eastern Christianity. ...


The Islamic word for asceticism is zuhd.

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is quoted to have said, "What have I to do with worldly things? My connection with the world is like that of a traveler resting for a while underneath the shade of a tree and then moving on." He advised the people to live simple lives and himself practiced great austerities. Even when he had become the virtual king of Arabia, he lived an austere life bordering on privation. His wife Ayesha says that there was hardly a day in his life when he had two square meals (Muslim, Sahih Muslim, Vol.2, pg 198) taken from--[4]


Sufism evolved not as a mystical but as an ascetic movement, as even the name suggests; Sufi refers to a rough woolen robe of the ascetic. A natural bridge from asceticism to mysticism has often been crossed by Muslim ascetics. Through meditation on the Qur'an and praying to Allah, the Muslim ascetic believes that he draws near to Allah, and by leading an ascetic life paves the way for absorption in Allah, the Sufi way to salvation. (See Alfred Braunthal. Salvation and the Perfect Society. University of Massachusetts Press, 1979.) Sufism is a mystic tradition within Islam that encompasses a diverse range of beliefs and practices dedicated to Divine love and the cultivation of the elements of the Divine within the individual human being. ...

Secular motivation

Examples of secular asceticism:

  • A Starving Artist is someone who minimizes their living expenses in order to spend more time and effort on their art.
  • Eccentric inventors sometimes live similar lives in pursuit of technical rather than artistic goals.
  • Hackers often consider their programming projects to be more important than personal wealth or comfort.[citations needed]
  • Various individuals have attempted an ascetic lifestyle to free themselves from modern day addictions, such as alcohol, tobacco, drugs, fast food, gambling and sex.
  • Many professional athletes abstain from sex, rich foods, and other pleasures before major competitions in order to mentally prepare themselves for the upcoming contest.
  • Straight Edge people abstain from alcohol, tobacco, drugs and casual sex as part of a sub culture lifestyle choice.
  • Many revolutionaries have also adopted asceticism. The most important perhaps being Vladimir Lenin, who was the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. Lenin adopted ascetics after reading 'What is to be Done', a book written by Nikolai Chernyshevsky.[citation needed]

A starving artist is an artist who sacrifices greatly in order to enhance his or her artwork. ... This article is about computer hacking. ... This article is about the concept of addiction. ... For the drawing or cutting tool, see Straightedge. ... Lenin redirects here. ... Chernyshevsky redirects here. ...

Religious versus secular motivation

The observation of an ascetic lifestyle can be found in both religious and secular settings. For example, practices based on a religious motivation might include fasting, abstention from sex, and other forms of self-denial intended to increase religious awareness or attain a closer relationship with the divine. Non-religious (or not specifically religious) practices might be seen in such examples as Spartans undertaking regimens of severe physical discipline to prepare for battle, or the belief in Rome that the purity of the Vestal Virgins was a safeguard against harm to the city. For modern day Sparta, see Sparti (municipality). ... Ancient Rome was a civilization that grew from a small agricultural community founded on the Italian Peninsula circa the 9th century BC to a massive empire straddling the Mediterranean Sea. ... A vestal Virgin, engraving by Sir Frederick Leighton, ca 1890: Leightons artistic sense has won over his passion for historical accuracy in showing the veil over the Vestals head at sacrifices, the suffibulum, as translucent, instead of fine white wool In Ancient Rome, the Vestal Virgins were the...


In the third essay ("What Do Ascetic Ideals Mean?" [3]) from his book On the Genealogy of Morals, Friedrich Nietzsche discusses what he terms the "ascetic ideal" and its role in the formulation of morality along with the history of the will. In the essay, Nietzsche describes how such a paradoxical action as asceticism might serve the interests of life: through asceticism one can attain mastery over oneself. In this way one can express both ressentiment and the will to power. Nietzsche describes the morality of the ascetic priest as characterized by Christianity as one where, finding oneself in pain, one places the blame for the pain on oneself and thereby attempts and attains mastery over the world,[5] a tactic that Nietzsche places behind secular science as well as behind religion. On the Genealogy of Morals (German: Zur Genealogie der Moral), subtitled A Polemic (Eine Streitschrift), is a work by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, composed and first published in 1887. ... Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (October 15, 1844 – August 25, 1900) (IPA: ) was a nineteenth-century German philosopher and philologist. ... Ressentiment (pronounced r&-sän-tE-män, or ray-sawn-tea-mawn) is a term used in Psychology and Existentialist Philosophy that comes from the French word ressentiment (meaning resentment: fr. ... The will to power (German: Der Wille zur Macht) is a concept prominent in the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. ... Topics in Christianity Movements · Denominations Ecumenism · Relation to other religions Preaching · Prayer Music · Liturgy · Calendar Symbols · Art · Criticism Christianity Portal This box:      Christianity is a monotheistic[1] religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as presented in the New Testament. ...

See also

For other uses, see Lent (disambiguation). ... This article is about religious observances during the month of Ramadan. ... Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy, founded by Zeno of Citium in Athens in the early third century BC. It proved to be a popular and durable philosophy, with a following throughout Greece and the Roman Empire from its founding until all the schools of philosophy were ordered closed... Fasting is primarily the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. ... This article does not cite any sources. ... Epicureanism is a system of philosophy based upon the teachings of Epicurus (c. ... For other uses, see Minimalism (disambiguation). ... Monasticism (from Greek: monachos — a solitary person) is the religious practice in which one renounces worldly pursuits in order to fully devote ones life to spiritual work. ... Sensory deprivation is the deliberate reduction or removal of stimuli from one or more of the senses. ... Simple living (or voluntary simplicity) is a lifestyle individuals choose to minimize the more-is-better pursuit of wealth and consumption. ... For other uses, see Hermit (disambiguation). ... Gustave Flaubert Gustave Flaubert (December 12, 1821 – May 8, 1880) was a French writer who is counted among the greatest Western novelists. ... For the ethical doctrine, see Altruism (ethics). ... A fakir or faqir (Arabic: فقیر poor) is a Sufi, especially one who performs feats of endurance or apparent magic. ... Rechabites - the descendants of Rechab through Jonadab or Jehonadab. ... Flagellants, from a fifteenth century woodcut Flagellants are practitioners of an extreme form of mortification of their own flesh by whipping it with various instruments. ... This article is about the ancient Greek school of philosophy. ...


  1. ^ McClelland, The Achieving Society, 1961
  2. ^ Frank William Iklé et al. "A History of Asia", page ?. Allyn and Bacon, 1964
  3. ^ Hermann Jacobi, "Sacred Books of the East", vol. 22: Gaina Sutras Part I. 1884
  4. ^ Though it should not be over looked that in eastern culture it is not a wife's position to cast an 'evil eye' by stating the obvious, however in obeyance to state her 'spouse' as being virtuous (though not necessarily virtuous) and humble (though not necessarily humble). It would also be interesting to see that he had more than one wife the youngest was 8 years old? ~~~~ USC-MSA Compendium of Muslim Texts
  5. ^ The final sentence of the book puts it like this: "For man would rather will even nothingness than 'not will.'" (Kaufmann's trans.)

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Asceticism - LoveToKnow 1911 (3543 words)
We may therefore expect in primitive asceticism to find many abstentions and much self-torture apparently valueless for the training of character and discipline of the feelings, which are the essence of any healthy asceticism.
It is not that savages are devoid of the ascetic instinct.
Asceticism then in its origin was usually not ascetic in a modern sense, that is, not ethical.
JewishEncyclopedia.com - ASCETICISM: (1781 words)
Asceticism is indigenous to the religions which posit as fundamental the wickedness of this life and the corruption under sin of the flesh.
Simon ben YoḦai is depicted as an ascetic in the traditions preserved in rabbinical literature.
Moreover, his ascetic practises were not inspired by a consciousness of the futility of this life and its sinfulness, but by the anxiety to fulfil to the letter the Law, to ponder on the Torah day and night.
  More results at FactBites »



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