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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 ?
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).
Colonial representations in literature, history, anthropology, and missionary writings, among others, collectively produced and circulated the "truth" about Hindu asceticism as a world-renouncing doctrine, while colonial legislations punished those ascetics who did not meet this criterion of detachment from the sociopolitical realm.
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.
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'?
72) The Responses can be traced back to intimate conversations that took place when Basil, having visited local communities to celebrate the liturgy or to attend a synod or festival, would be sought after for guidance by aspiring ascetics.
In his section on Siricius, Hunter details the pope's concerns to impose (post-marital) clerical celibacy to ensure clerics' uninterrupted ritual purity (which would enable them to administer Christian sacraments at any time) and to curb the seemingly frequent occurrence of rapidly promoting ascetics through clerical ranks.
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.
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 householder Naths preserve an identity as yogis and lay claim to the traditions and lore of legendary Nath ascetics, but in fact exist as an hereditary caste.