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'''Asceticism''' (from the ἄσκησις, ''áskēsis'', "exercise") describes a life-style characterized by abstinence from various sorts of worldly pleasures (especially [[sexuality|sexual]] activity and consumption of alcohol) often with the aim of pursuing religious and [[spirituality|spiritual]] goals. [[Christianity]] and the Indian religions (including [[yoga]]) teach that salvation and moksha (liberation) involve a [[process]] of mind-body transformation that is effected through practicing restraint with respect to actions of [[body]], speech and [[mind]]. The founders and earliest practitioners of some religions (e.g. [[Buddha|Buddhism]], Jainism, the Christian desert fathers) lived extremely austere lifestyles refraining from sensual pleasures and the accumulation of material wealth. This is to be understood not as an eschewal of the enjoyment of life but a recognition that spiritual and religious joy supercede such pleasure.
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'''Asceticism''' (from the Greek ἄσκησις, ''áskēsis'', "exercise") describes a life-style characterized by abstinence from various sorts of worldly pleasures (especially [[sexuality|sexual]] activity and consumption of alcohol) often with the aim of pursuing religious and [[spirituality|spiritual]] goals. [[Christianity]] and the Indian religions (including [[yoga]]) teach that salvation and moksha (liberation) involve a [[process]] of mind-body transformation that is effected through practicing restraint with respect to actions of [[body]], speech and [[mind]]. The founders and earliest practitioners of some religions (e.g. [[Buddha|Buddhism]], Jainism, the Christian desert fathers) lived extremely austere lifestyles refraining from sensual pleasures and the accumulation of material wealth. This is to be understood not as an eschewal of the enjoyment of life but a recognition that spiritual and religious joy supercede such pleasure.
    
It may be a misunderstanding in the popular [[imagination]] that "extreme" asceticism is considered a sort of perversion (e.g., self-flagellation by birch twigs as the archetypal stereotype of self-mortification).  However, the [[intention]] of ''askēsis'' enjoined by [[religion]] is to bring about greater freedom in various areas of one's life (such as freedom from compulsions and temptations) and greater peacefulness of mind (with a concomitant increase in clarity and [[power]] of [[thought]]).
 
It may be a misunderstanding in the popular [[imagination]] that "extreme" asceticism is considered a sort of perversion (e.g., self-flagellation by birch twigs as the archetypal stereotype of self-mortification).  However, the [[intention]] of ''askēsis'' enjoined by [[religion]] is to bring about greater freedom in various areas of one's life (such as freedom from compulsions and temptations) and greater peacefulness of mind (with a concomitant increase in clarity and [[power]] of [[thought]]).

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