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1. a person who practises great self-denial and austerities and abstains from worldly comforts and pleasures, esp for religious reasons
2. (in the early Christian Church) a monk
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Ascetics practice extremely focused religion, employing various techniques to bring about spiritual discipline. From Hindus to Buddhists, from Jews to Christians to Muslims, virtually every world religion and most indigenous ones have ascetics.

Native American vision quests included denying oneself food and water. Christian monks sat on poles and scourged themselves with whips. The Buddha himself followed the path of asceticism, reaching the point of eating just one grain of rice a day, though it was only in his abandonment of asceticism that he found enlightenment. Some Jains go to extreme degrees to break down the fleshly "crust" formed by Karma.

The idea is that by denying oneself and punishing the "flesh," the spirit will be free to dominate and come into its own. This view always sees the spirit as somehow being "trapped" in the body. The body, with its appetites and desires, is generally seen as evil. Asceticism is the attempt to break free, and it is a direct opposite to so-called wholeness religious movements.

The Religion Book: Places, Prophets, Saints, and Seers © 2004 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
LAHORE: Located about 3 km south of Sukho town is the dilapidated Samadhi of Baba Mohan Das, one of the most popular shrines of an Udasi ascetic of colonial Punjab in Gujar Khan teshsil.
To a question on why the couple, who are in their early 30s, chose to become ascetics, he said that "One cannot define when the feeling to renounce the world will manifest in an individual.
In another example that shows some differences in Bunchi's and Isshi's ascetic practices, Cogan points to Bunchi's decision to build a platform for the bodhisattva precepts, not the Vinaya precepts, which are at the center of Isshi's monastic practice (222).
The imperial mission then was purportedly a philanthropic project that would protect the masses from the tyrannical upper classes as well as from the armed, martial castes and militant Hindu ascetics, and teach the natives to govern themselves.
Just as important, the Besht forcefully rejected and denigrated ascetic behavior based on a verse in Isaiah: "The whole world is full of His glory" (6:13).
The ascetic's body was anointed with oil, herbs and flowers.
As heirs to the martyrs, ascetics embodied and made present the foundational values of the community; "the primordial past resided in the numinous space created by the ascetic" (p.
(87) Moreover, he warns against making products that gratify vain desires; he recognizes, that is, a distinction between "genuine necessities" and "foolish and harmful cravings." (88) Thus ascetics should weave or make shoes in order to produce goods that will be necessary, rather than those that would likely be used for nefarious purposes.
So far, however, there has been little attention given to ascetic practices as they are undertaken now.
In the post-Constantinian years, the division between lay and monastic Christians widened, driven by dedication to ascetic disciplines that differed in degree and kind.
There is a kind of 'feeling for nature' (in the sense of an attitude of aesthetic contemplation and moral admiration) that focuses on certain objects: forests, to which one withdraws to become an ascetic, rivers, mountains, the ocean, trees and the monsoon.
Unlike the Order, the Bloodguard are martial ascetics; they vow to use violence in the defense of right rather than to atone for its wrongful use.