Do You notice extremes? Sometimes “extremes” become obvious/apparent…way too much and/or way too little. There is soooo much excess and an over-super-abundance of consumerism (in some places)…which is destroying the planet/ourselves…what about when the pendulum swings in (the so-called) opposite direction (i.e. Asceticism)…is that self-destructive too?? (Bingeing & purging of the planet?)
(i try to live a simple life myself.)
Media portray the lavishing lifestyles of the super-rich and the languishing lifestyles of the super-poor. This past piece (read back when)…poses the question: Asceticism the Key to Wisdom? Awake! 1997: (my highlights aka points of interest)
“HERMITS donned iron shackles, chains, barbed girdles and spiked collars . . . Others rolled in thorns and nettles, deliberately attracted insect bites, burnt themselves with fire and irritated their injuries to chronic purulence. A starvation diet being a matter of course, some improved on this by eating only rotten or otherwise disgusting food.”—The Saints, by Edith Simon.
These were ascetics. Why did they treat themselves so badly? In the book For the Sake of the World—The Spirit of Buddhist and Christian Monasticism, the authors explain that “ever since the time of Socrates (fifth century B.C.E.) at least, it had been widely understood that a life stripped down to essentials, unencumbered with sensual and material luxuries, was a precondition for genuine wisdom.” Ascetics thought that the mortification of the body would heighten their spiritual sensibility and lead to true enlightenment.
It is difficult to define asceticism precisely. To some, it simply means self-discipline or self-denial. The early Christians valued such virtues. (Galatians 5:22, 23; Colossians 3:5) Jesus Christ himself recommended a simple life unhindered by the anxieties that a materialistic life-style can bring. (Matthew 6:19-33) More often, though, asceticism is associated with much more austere and often extreme measures, such as the ones described above. Are these ascetic practices, especially in their more extreme forms, really the key to wisdom?
Based on False Assumptions
Among the philosophies that have given rise to asceticism is the idea that material things and physical pleasures are bad in themselves and hence barriers to spiritual progress. Another concept that opens the way for asceticism is the widely accepted belief that a human is composed of a body and a soul. Ascetics believe that the material body is the soul’s prison and that flesh is its enemy.
What does the Bible say? The Scriptures show that when God completed his creation of the earth, he declared that everything he had made—all his physical, material creation—was “very good.” (Genesis 1:31) God intended for man and woman in the garden of Eden to enjoy material things. The very name Eden means “Pleasure” or “Delight.” (Genesis 2:8, 9) Adam and Eve were perfect and enjoyed a good relationship with their Creator until they sinned. From that time on, imperfection became a barrier between God and man. Yet, satisfying legitimate human desires or enjoying God-given physical pleasures when done in harmony with God’s moral laws could never create a communication barrier between God and his worshipers!—Psalm 145:16.
Additionally, the Bible clearly teaches that man, created from the dust and made of flesh, is a soul. The Scriptures support neither the notion that the soul is some kind of immaterial and immortal entity bound up inside the physical body nor the idea that somehow the flesh prevents one from having a close relationship with God.—Genesis 2:7.
Clearly, the concept of asceticism paints a distorted picture of man’s relationship with God.
People/all of us can get showy…(pompous) with/about much or (pompous) with/about less…is either “extreme” life-styling truly liberating?! Check it out, Please…uh-huh, yep, another article–read with interest: The Hair Shirt and Spirituality W 06
“Mock humility”—a pretense of humility to impress others perhaps by renouncing material things or by treating the body with severity—is an indication of one’s being ‘puffed up by one’s fleshly frame of mind.’
The Hair Shirt and Spirituality
KING LOUIS IX of France wore one. When studying the law in his youth, Sir Thomas More kept awake for 19 or 20 hours a day for several months with the help of his. Indeed, More is known to have worn one for most of his life. And when Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral, one was unexpectedly discovered beneath his clothing. What did these historical figures have in common? They pursued the mortification of their flesh by means of the hair shirt.
The hair shirt was a coarse garment made from goat’s hair that was worn next to the skin so that it would irritate the flesh and chafe the skin, causing great discomfort. It also easily became a repository for lice. Thomas Becket is said to have worn his hair shirt, along with breeches of the same material, until “it swarmed with vermin.” After the 16th century, the goat’s hair was sometimes replaced by fine wire with sharp points turned toward the body. Fashioning the shirt in this way caused even greater discomfort to the wearer.
According to one reference work, the purpose of the hair shirt, as with other forms of mortification, was to “subdue the unruly flesh and so encourage the development of a more spiritually oriented disposition and manner of life.” Not only ascetics wore the garment; ordinary lay persons, including those in positions of high power, were known to use it too. Even today certain religious orders adhere to the practice.
Does wearing a hair shirt or enduring forms of self-imposed physical privations make one a spiritual person? No, spirituality does not hinge on such practices. In fact, the apostle Paul spoke against “a severe treatment of the body.” (Colossians 2:23: “Although those things have an appearance of wisdom in a self-imposed form of worship and a false humility, a harsh treatment of the body, they are of no value in combating the satisfying of the flesh.”) Rather, true spirituality comes from seeking the knowledge of God through a diligent study of his Word and applying that knowledge in one’s life.
Today…my shirt is “grey” with black zipper :)…oh, should zip my lips, eh?-lol…okay, shutting up about now aka closing this post!;)