Wednesday 16 June 2010

The role of asceticism

Perhaps the importance is that a person may learn to stop seeking this-worldly pleasure and stop avoiding this-worldly suffering as the *primary* aim of their life. This enabling the person to seek other-worldly values. It is a disengagement from the relentless focus on this world; necessary, permissive of further steps, but not in itself generative of the Kingdom of God. Asceticism should therefore be voluntary, and any voluntary act of turning from pleasure or acceptance of discomfort in any mode can perhaps be asceticism; or the beginning of asceticism. Imposed hardship, even of the most extreme, is not asceticism at all unless it is voluntarily accepted and consecrated. The point is that withdrawal from the Kingdom of Man is necessary but must be accompanied by a turning toward the Kingdom of God; a turning from the concerns of psychology in this world to a perspective of eternal concerns.