Complicitous Asceticism

There are so many payoffs from ascetic disciplines that have nothing to do with any kind of principled resistance to human appetites. Given that the word actually means “discipline”, it is worth remembering that discipline is not an end in itself, but a way of fitting someone to perform some act more powerfully or efficiently. A ninja, therefore, undergoes plenty of ascetic training to make him a more successful assassin, the Marine similarly, and it is hard to see in what way either is mounting a defiance of man’s predatory nature. At the beginning of last century H.G. Wells wrote of the physical training that was required to be a good lover; I do not know whether he had read tantric manuals or had merely found himself becoming short of breath during his philanderings.

Another Complicitous form of asceticism is wherever the true aim is to achieve social status, or self-admiration with its constant companion the scorn of others. One does not defy one’s own predatory nature by looting others of self-esteem resources. What then shall we say of the man who practises asceticism in order to attain a thing that he calls “salvation”, and where this salvation actually means a future existence in which all his desires are met? This is surely the equivalent of starving oneself today in order to enjoy stuffing tomorrow, or making with the oiled peacock feather at a Roman feast.

The ascetic whose discomforts are causing his body to release endorphins is simply doing drugs, and so in no wise different from a self-indulgent abuser of medical morphine derivatives. If he is tormenting his body in order to win visions and altered states, therefore, he has no reason to look down on the user of LSD and magic mushrooms. In fact, he may in a worse state, because the very fact that he is achieving these experiences without having to make hazardous economic transactions in dark alleys may induce him to think that his visions are more real, i.e. that they are perceptions of what is really there.

Posted on February 19, 2011 at 11:12 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: AGAINST NATURE, Defying The Demiurge

Leave a Reply