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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 ?
The landscape of the Potohar region in Punjab was once dotted with the samadhis and shrines of Udasi ascetics.
An ascetic is someone who, though he or she may very well have a "taste for the finer things of life" abstains, usually for religious or spiritual reasons, from not only indulging that taste, but partaking in many ordinary bodily gratifications.
To further demonstrate the importance of the court to Bunchi's ascetic practice, Cogan cites Bunchi's decision to build her convent at Shugakuin, only three miles from the court.
To James Mill, renowned for his three-volume The History of British India, completed in 1817, which became the prescribed textbook on India for British officers of the Indian Civil Service (Thapar, "Interpreting" 6), the Hindu ascetic signified "an absolute renunciation of all moral duties, and moral affections" (History 1: 294).
Who better to lead us to an attention to those sacred and desecrated places than those poets, artists, writers and ascetics endowed with a passion for seeing the beauty and brokenness of the material world?
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).
makes clear that ascetic practices have a variety of meanings depending on context.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi paid homage to the departed ascetic.
The muj[]hid[]n, warriors imaged as ascetic horsemen, fulfilled much the same function, as a had[]th cited by the eighth-century <Abd All[]h Ibn al-Mub[]rak (d.
The intellectual substratum of Jasper's reflections is considerable, and philosophical arguments from Kant, Hegel, and particularly Heidegger break through the surface of the narrative and provide contours for navigating issues of ascetic judgement and of the existential condition of human beings, who paradoxically, find final resolution in the holding together of opposites, of light in darkness and of life in death.
His counsels to ascetic communities, which influenced St.