The asceticism is the condition, the doctrine and
the result of an ascetic life. Thus is called the existence
marked by austerity, the rejection of materialism and the
search for spiritual elevation.
asceticism can be said to be a philosophy linked to religion. The
ascetics held that by resisting material pleasures they were able to purify
their spirit. In this way they led a sober life, guided by iron ethical
Although it can be considered as an independent doctrine, asceticism was
incorporated, throughout history, to religions such as Christianity, Buddhism and Islam. The
ascetics, in this framework, appealed to this lifestyle to relate to God.
In Christianity, several monks and religious communities began to abandon the
cities to lead an ascetic life in the desert or in other remote areas. The goal
was to consecrate themselves to prayer, meditation, and penance without
the intrusion of worldly matters.
San Antonio Abad, San Simón Estilita and Pablo
de Tebas are some of the Christians who opted for asceticism. They are
part of the group known as the Desert Fathers as they retired
to desert regions of Egypt and Syria.
Asceticism also appears in different ways in Buddhism. At a
general level, the Buddhas believe that meditation and detachment allow one to
free oneself from suffering and achieve nirvana.
In Islam, asceticism has been linked to Sufism in the
search for a pure life and in close proximity to God (Allah).
Lao-Tse is the name of one of the most important Chinese philosophers,
although many scholars doubt that it was a real person. Since his biographical
data indicates that he lived in the 6th century BC. C., it is not easy to verify
that it was not a fictional character. In any case, the wisdom of
this individual represents a valuable legacy, and one of the quotes assigned to
him is very suitable for talking about asceticism today: "Material goods make us
lose our balance and peace of mind."
We are in an era in which the existence of each human being has lost meaning
and value, since the systems have turned us into mere pieces of
complex machinery: we are laboratory subjects, part of a series of experiments
that are leading us through the path of consumerism without giving us a break to
be aware of it.
Modernity is characterized by a tireless routine that always points to the
conquest of material goods, which give us ephemeral happiness,
which vanishes just in time to go after the next. In this way we remain faithful
to the current fashion, so as not to be out of society, no matter what we give
in return. Asceticism is often seen as an extreme measure, as part of a reality
so distant that it seems fiction; However, it could be the perfect antidote to
reunite with ourselves as a species.
One of the consequences of excessive attachment to material goods that we
often overlook is the fracture that society suffers from economic
differences. Since only a part of the population can access them,
the rest become part of another reality, detached from the present day in the
eyes of the privileged, but unfailingly subject to it and forced to bear it. The
purification of the spirit that asceticism can provide us goes far beyond both
realities, and could lead to a revaluation of the individual who
breaks down social and economic barriers.