Understanding the Concept of Asceticism
Vuolanto (16) defined asceticism as the practice of abstaining voluntarily from physical goods and worldly pleasures central to the well-being of humankind for religious or philosophical reasons. The goods in question are particularly those associated with satisfying human needs and wants, and ensuring the survival of the society, such as sexual relations, clothing, food, drinks, sleep, material possession, family and relationships, and worldly titles or positions. However, Conrad (18) disagreed with the above claims, arguing that in some cases, scholars were unable to distinguish the reasoning behind ascetic behaviors from other types of abstention, in that a significant majority of the scholars agreed that the primary aim of ascetic abstention was to render the practitioner morally acceptable before the divine. On the other hand, Zaleski (19) argued that some experts also claimed that some people engaged in several abstention practices whose purposes was ritual or cultic purity, as evidenced in the practice of black magic or devil worshipping.