Asceticism (or asceticism) is a way of life that can be characterized by abstinence from various worldly pleasures and unwholesome deeds. Often, they resort to it for the sake of achieving any religious goals, but attitudes toward a particular religion are not a necessary condition. Many spiritual traditions (for example, Buddhism, Jainism, Christian deserts) include practices that impose restrictions on the actions of the body, speech and mind. The founders and adherents of these religious teachings led a very simple way of life, refraining from sensual pleasures and the accumulation of worldly goods. Ascetic is a mode of action and thinking that is practiced not as a rejection of the joys of life, nor also because it is in itself virtuous, but for the sake of physical and spiritual health.
Sociology and psychology about asceticism
German sociologist Max Weber made a distinction between asceticism "outside the world" and "in the world", which was translated into English as "renounced" and "worldly" austerity, respectively. Full asceticism is practiced by people who leave the society to concentrate on their spirituality (this applies both to community monks and to single ascetics). "Worldly" ascetics, the author calls those who practice restraint in action, without leaving their usual place. In the 20th century, the American psychologist-theorist David McClelland suggested that, under normal conditions, austerity is a way of life directed against pleasures that distract a person from his calling, but allowing those pleasures that do not interfere with him.
Religious and worldly motivation
Practice of restraint is characteristic of both religious and secular people. For example, from the point of view of spiritual motivation, a person can starve, abandon sexual activity and resort to other forms of self-denial in order to achieve awareness or find a closer connection with the object of devotion. Worldly asceticism is a way of life that can be practiced for the sake of a multitude of other material or non-material goals: a vivid example is the Spartans, who observe severe discipline in preparation for the battle.
Examples of secular asceticism
- Man minimizes his life expenses in order to devote more time to creativity.
- Many professional athletes abstain from sexual activity, fatty foods and other pleasures before important competitions to prepare for them morally and physically.
- Refusal of alcohol, tobacco, drugs and promiscuity is part of the ideology of some subcultures.
- The individual can lead an ascetic lifestyle during the day, month, or any other period as a test of willpower.
- Some types of meditation practices for lay people suggest abstinence in the actions of the body, speech and mind.
- The ascetic way of life for a certain period of time can be a tribute to tradition, for example, to accompany the remembrance of ancestors and their difficult fate.
- Refusal of food and basic necessities is part of a hunger strike.
- Women's austerity, involving the conduct of a physically and mentally healthy lifestyle, can be undertaken as a preparation for pregnancy.