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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


(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.

References in periodicals archive ?
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).
Sizgorich's fascinating argument would have been even more engaging had he contextualized it within the range of roles ascetics played in the late antique world.
Instead, he focuses on a different, but just as important, factor in the differentiation of bodhisattva groups from the Buddhist mainstream: the text's ascetic orientation.
Those who first retreated into the Egyptian desert to live the ascetic life were also withdrawing from ecclesiastical structures and practices, including the regular celebration of the Eucharist, so how can we speak, apart from metaphorically, of 'the Eucharist being central to the discussion of the ascetic body'?
The picture that emerges from the treatment of work in the Responses is that of a community of devoted ascetics, men and women, who after much deliberation had disbursed their possessions in response to the Gospel mandate, (81) taken up a trade, and were now living under the guidance of a superior.
David Hunter hopes to address this misrepresentation of the complicated development of ascetic orthodoxy by detailing the range of ascetic positions held in the first four centuries C.
In the Life of Antony he saw ascetic experience as giving Antony authority, but elsewhere he argued that his own authority was rooted in the grace of priesthood.
Parody though this name is, it aptly captures a moral stance shared by ascetics in Michael Cassutt's "Perpetual Light," Stephen R.
Their image of a spiritual lifestyle conjures up gaunt, denial-driven ascetics out of touch with the real world.
The lives of the saints and great ascetics of the Church are examples to us of a loving relationship with the whole of creation.
So, too, did mystics, ascetics and Jansenists, who looked inwards to find a new spirituality.
1800), Ascetics in Landscape, India, Rajasthan, Marwar (Jodhpur); c.