Asceticism Quotes

Quotes tagged as "asceticism" Showing 1-30 of 53
Diogenes of Sinope
“It is the privilege of the gods to want nothing, and of godlike men to want little.”
Diogenes of Sinope

Friedrich Nietzsche
“Read from a distant star, the majuscule script of our earthly existence would perhaps lead to the conclusion that the earth was the distinctively ascetic planet, a nook of disgruntled, arrogant creatures filled with a profound disgust with themselves, at the earth, at all life, who inflict as much pain on themselves as they possibly can out of pleasure in inflicting pain which is probably their only pleasure.”
Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals / Ecce Homo

Julius Evola
“This kind of renunciation, in fact, has often been the strength, born of necessity, of the world's disinherited, of those who do not fit in with their surroundings or with their own body or with their own race or tradition and who hope, by means of renunciation, to assure for themselves a future world where, to use a Nietzschean expression, the inversion of all values will occur.”
Julius Evola

Dietrich Bonhoeffer
“If there is no element of asceticism in our lives, if we give free rein to the desires of the flesh (taking care of course to keep within the limits of what seems permissible to the world), we shall find it hard to train for the service of Christ. When the flesh is satisfied it is hard to pray with cheerfulness or to devote oneself to a life of service which calls for much self-renunciation.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

Larissa MacFarquhar
“Giving up alcohol is an asceticism for the modern do-gooder, drinking being, like sex, a pleasure that humans have always indulged in, involving a loss of self-control, the renunciation of which marks the renouncer as different and separate from other people.

To drink, to get drunk, is to lower yourself on purpose for the sake of good fellowship. You abandon yourself, for a time, to life and fate. You allow yourself to become stupider and less distinct. Your boundaries become blurry: you open your self and feel connected to people around you. You throw off your moral scruples, and suspect it was only those scruples that prevented the feeling of connection before. You feel more empathy for your fellow, but at the same time, because you are drunk, you render yourself unable to help him; so, to drink is to say, I am a sinner, I have chosen not to help.”
Larissa MacFarquhar, Strangers Drowning: Grappling with Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices, and the Overpowering Urge to Help

Mokokoma Mokhonoana
“It is way more pleasurable to master yourself than it is to masturbate.”
Mokokoma Mokhonoana

Liu Yiming
“Stupidity and Madness

The Tao is clear, yet this clarity requires you to sweep away all your clutter. At all times watch out for your own stupidity, be careful of how your mind jumps around. When nothing occurs to involve your mind, you return to true awareness. When unified mindfulness is purely real, you comprehend the great restoration. The ridiculous ones are those who try to cultivate quietude - as long as body and mind are unstable, it is madness to go into the mountains.”
Liu Yiming, Awakening to the Tao

Fernando Pessoa
“The rustic, the reader of novels, the pure ascetic: these three are truly happy men”
Fernando Pessoa

Wilhelm Reich
“That the idea of God represents the conscience, the internalized admonitions and threats from parents and educators, is a well-known fact. What is less well known is the fact that, from an energy point of view, the belief in and the fear of God are sexual excitations which have changed their content and goal. The religious feeling, then, is the same as sexual feeling, except that it is attached to mystical, psychic contents. This explains the return of the sexual element in so many ascetic experiences, such as the nun's delusion that she is the bride of Christ. Such experiences rarely reach the stage of genital consciousness and thus are apt to take place in other sexual channels, such as masochistic martyrdom.”
Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism

Kate  Cooper
“Within the desert setting, women faced an additional challenge because they had to manage not only their own spiritual progress but also the constant tension caused by men's reactions to them. A story about an anonymous leader of virgins demonstrates the need to deal gracefully with men who often treated them as a source of temptation rather than as fellow seekers. When some monks made a detour to avoid encountering her and her sisters, she commented, 'If you were a perfect monk, you would not have seen us as women.”
Kate Cooper, Band of Angels: The Forgotten World of Early Christian Women

Gautama Buddha
“Patience is the highest asceticism.”

“For two thousand years or more man has been subjected to a systematic effort to transform him into an ascetic animal. He remains a pleasure-seeking animal.”
Norman O. Brown, Life Against Death: The Psychoanalytical Meaning of History

Patrick Leigh Fermor
“Mental discipline, prayer and remoteness from the world and its disturbing visions reduce temptation to a minimum, but they can never entirely abolish it. In medieval traditions, abbeys and convents were always considered to be expugnable centres of revolt against infernal dominion on earth. They became, accordingly, special targets. Satan, issuing orders at nightfall to his foul precurrers, was rumoured to dispatch to capital cities only one junior fiend. This solitary demon, the legend continues, sleeps at his post. There is no work for him; the battle was long ago won. But monasteries, those scattered danger points, become the chief objectives of nocturnal flight; the sky fills with the beat of sable wings as phalanx after phalanx streams to the attack, and the darkness crepitates with the splintering of a myriad lances against the masonry of asceticism.”
Patrick Leigh Fermor, A Time to Keep Silence

Athanasius of Alexandria
“It was a dictum of his that the soul's energy thrives when the body's desires are feeblest.”
Athanasius of Alexandria, The Life of St. Anthony

Friedrich Nietzsche
“[N]othing is more easily corrupted than an artist.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

“This is a nation that professes to be a Christian nation," [Suelo] tells me, surveying his temporary kingdom. "And yet it's basically illegal to live according to the teachings of Jesus.”
Mark Sundeen, The Man Who Quit Money

Kate  Cooper
“A story is told of one of the most revered abbots of fourth-century Egypt, Pachomius the Great, who refused to see his sister Maria when she came to visit him. The explanation was his own urgent need to avoid someone who might entangle him in the bonds of family feeling, and he was even praised for his self-control in being able to forgo the pleasure of her visit. It is not surprising that women sometimes found the self-involvement of male ascetics irritating.”
Kate Cooper, Band of Angels: The Forgotten World of Early Christian Women

“Wasn't that what Jesus said: do what I do? He was here as an example for us to follow. Same with all prophets. Didn't the prophets tell us to be like them? That's what's wrong with Christianity. They make Jesus and the prophets into icons, take them off of earth, and put them in heaven to worship them, so they're no longer accessible. You've taken a reality and made it into a worthless idol. Christians talk about the idolatry of other religions, but when they no longer live principles and just worship the people who taught them, that's exactly what they're doing.”
Daniel Suelo, The Man Who Quit Money

أبو نعيم الأصبهاني
“He went into their temple and there met their teacher, who had shaved his head and beard and wore scarlet robes. Shaqīq [of Balkh] said to him, 'This upon which thou art engaged is false; the men, and thou, and all creation—all have a Creator and a Maker, there is naught like unto Him; to Him belongs this world, and the next; He is Omnipotent, All-providing.' The servitor said to him, 'Thy words do not accord with thy deeds.' Shaqīq said, 'How is that?' The other replied, 'Thou hast asserted that thou hast a Creator, Who is All-providing and Omnipotent; yet thou has exiled thyself to this place in search of thy provision. If what thou sayest is true, He Who has provided for thee here is the same as He Who provides for thee there; so spare thyself this trouble.' Shaqīq said, 'The cause of my abstinence (zuhd) was the remark of that Turk.' And he returned, and gave away all he possessed to the poor, and sought after knowledge.”
أبو نعيم الأصبهاني, Sufism: An Account of the Mystics of Islam

Aldous Huxley
“It is only by making physical experiments that we can discover the intimate nature of matter and its potentialities. And it is only by making psychological and moral experiments that we can discover the intimate nature of mind and its potentialities. In the ordinary circumstances of average sensual life these potentialities of the mind remain latent and unmanifested. If we would realize them, we must fulfil certain conditions and obey certain rules, which experience has shown empirically to be valid.”
Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy

Julius Evola
“​The vital condition of every true state is a well-defined climate: the climate of the highest possible tension, but not of forced agitation. It will be desirable that everyone stay at his post, that he takes pleasure in an activity in conformity with his own nature and vocation, which is therefore free and desired for itself before considering utilitarian purposes and the unhealthy desire to live above one’s proper condition. If it is not possible to ask everyone to follow an ‘ascetic and military vision of life’, it will be possible to aim at a climate of concentrated intensity, of personal life, that will encourage people to prefer a greater margin of liberty, as opposed to comfort and prosperity paid for with the consequent limitation of liberty through the evitable economic and social influences. Autarchy, in the terms we have emphasised, is a valid Fascist formula. A course of virile, measured austerity is also valid and, finally, an internal discipline through which one develops a taste and an anti-bourgeois orientation of life, but no schoolmarmish and impertinent intrusion by what is public into the field of private life. Here, too, the principle should be liberty connected with equal responsibility and, in general, giving prominence to the principles of ‘great morality’ as opposed to the principles of conformist ‘little morality’.

A doctrine of the state can only propose values to test the elective affinities and the dominant or latent vocations of a nation. If a people cannot or does not want to acknowledge the values that we have called ‘traditional’, and which define a true Right, it deserves to be left to itself. At most, we can point out to it the illusions and suggestions of which it has been or is the victim, which are due to a general action which has often been systematically organised, and to regressive processes. If not even this leads to a sensible result, this people will suffer the fate that it has created, by making use of its ‘liberty’.​”
Julius Evola, Fascism Viewed from the Right

Leo Tolstoy
“Fasting is an indispensable condition of a good life; but in fasting, as in abstinence in general, the question arises with what shall we begin: how to fast,—how often to eat, what to eat, what to avoid eating? And as we can do no work seriously without regarding the necessary order of sequence, so also we cannot fast without knowing where to begin,—with what to commence abstinence in food.
Fasting! And even an analysis of how to fast, and where to begin! The notion seems ridiculous to the majority of men.
I remember how an evangelical preacher who was attacking monastic asceticism and priding himself on his originality, once said to me, "My Christianity is not concerned with fasting and privations, but with beefsteaks." Christianity, or virtue in general—with beefsteaks!
During the long period of darkness and of the absence of all guidance, Pagan or Christian, so many wild, immoral ideas became infused into our life, especially into that lower region concerning the first steps toward a good life,—our relation to food, to which no one paid any attention,—that it is difficult for us even to understand the audacity and senselessness of upholding Christianity or virtue with beefsteaks.
We are not horrified by this association solely because a strange thing has befallen us. We look and see not: listen and hear not. There is no bad odor, no sound, no monstrosity, to which man cannot become accustomed, so that he ceases to remark that which would strike a man unaccustomed to it. Precisely so it is in the moral region. Christianity and morality with beefsteaks!”
Leo Tolstoy, The First Step: An Essay on the Morals of Diet, to Which Are Added Two Stories

Thomas C. Oden
“Does biblical psychology, then, merely ask us to value good things a little less? Does the Bible seek a reduction of guilt by an overall deflation of the currency of moral ideals, so we can live more comfortably with an uneasy conscience? That would exaggerate a valid point. Although the Bible holds that no finite relationship is of infinite value, it does not embrace an extreme ascetic view that the source of happiness lies essentially in the reduction of desire. Some ascetic strategies try to diminish desire and reduce all valuing so as not to allow any loss to become an overwhelming disappointment. According to this view, the less one values created goods, the happier one is.

In contrast, life-affirming Christianity hopes that love, desire, and appreciation of limited values can be increased or decreased to the measure of their real proportional value. Jesus does not call for a stark reduction of all finite valuing merely as a preventative measure against disappointment. He calls for a love of good things with an awareness that they exist within the boundaries of birth and death, and are therefore under the judgment of the giver and source of all value (Matt. 6:19-21).”
Thomas C. Oden, Guilt Free

Aleister Crowley
There is one doubt. When souls attain
Such an unimagined gain
Shall not others mark them, wise
Beyond mere mortal destinies?
Such are not the perfect saints.
While the imagination faints
Before their truth, they veil it close
As amid the utmost snows
The tallest peaks most straitly hide
With clouds their lofty heads. Divide
The planes! Be ever as you can
A simple honest gentleman!
Body and manners be at ease.
Not bloat with blazoned sanctities!
Who fights as fights the soldier-saint?
And see the artist-adept paint!
Weak are those souls that fear the stress
Of earth upon their holiness!
The fast, they eat fantastic food,
They prate of beans and brotherhood,
Wear sandals, and long hair, and spats,
And think that makes them Arhats!
How shall man still his spirit-storm?
Rational Dress and Food Reform!
I know such saints.
                    An easy vice:
So wondrous well they advertise!
O their mean souls are satisfied
With wind of spiritual pride.
They're all negation. "Do not eat;
What poison to the soul is meat!
Drink not; smoke not; deny the will!
Wine and tobacco make us ill."
Magic is life; the Will to Live
Is one supreme Affirmative.
These things that flinch from Life are worth
No more to Heaven than to Earth.
Affirm the everlasting Yes!
Those saints at least score one success:
Perfection of their priggishness!
Enough. The soul is subtlier fed
With meditation's wine and bread.
Forget their failings and our own;
Fix all our thoughts on Love alone!”
Aleister Crowley, AHA!: Being Liber CCXLII

Rod Dreher
“To rediscover Christian asceticism is urgent for believers who want to train their hearts, and the hearts of their children, to resist the hedonism and consumerism at the core of contemporary culture. And it is necessary to teach us in our bones how God uses suffering to purify us for His purposes.”
Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation

“Man" it was said, had two natures, a rational nature and an animal or bodily nature. These two natures, it was thought, were continually at war with each other. Whereas reason should have been able to rule the body, all too often, it seemed, the body asserted its own needs and desires. The practice of asceticism, in the East as well as the West, arose out of the attempt to control the unruly body through denial and sometimes punishment. While women also practiced asceticism, the literature of asceticism, written primarily by men, is filled with images equating the temptations of the body with women and the female body. Instead of accepting the changing body as part of the self, asceticism attempted to deny it. Great cruelty to the self and the body have al too often been the fruits of this view.”
Carol P. Christ, She Who Changes: Re-imagining the Divine in the World

Kate  Cooper
“[T]he new interest in asceticism came at a time when many Christians were reassessing their relationship to the institutional Church. Whether by becoming an ascetic or by showing support for the ascetic movement, ordinary Christians could take a stand against the greed and corruption that threatened to erode the values of the Church in its new, privileged, circumstances.”
Kate Cooper, Band of Angels: The Forgotten World of Early Christian Women

Kate  Cooper
“This is why humility was so important. It was the soul's way of short-circuiting the damage that could be done by the constant need to know where one stood with respect to others.

The point of humility was not to think ill of oneself but to protect oneself from this craving for status. This, in turn, would free the spirit to see life in a new way.”
Kate Cooper, Band of Angels: The Forgotten World of Early Christian Women

Kate  Cooper
“Women were accustomed to making substantial efforts to please men, while men spent comparatively little of theirs trying to please women. The reports women received from their mothers and married older sisters about intimacy with men probably suggested that it was not all sweetness and light. Living with men required something of the caution needed for handling wild animals. Even for women who were skilled at managing them, there was always an element of danger because of their power and unpredictability. So it would not be at all surprising if women were less troubled by distracting thoughts of the opposite sex.”
Kate Cooper, Band of Angels: The Forgotten World of Early Christian Women

A.J. Arberry
“Here we may observe fully developed the doctrine of passing away in God (fanā) which from Abū Yazīd's time onwards assumes a central position in the structure of Sufi theory. It was after all not a difficult transition to make from saying that all else but God is nothing (which is the logical outcome of the extreme ascetic teaching that the world is worthless and only God's service is a proper preoccupation of the believer's heart), to claiming that when self as well as the world has been cast aside the mystic has passed away into God.”
A.J. Arberry, Sufism: An Account of the Mystics of Islam

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