Basic Ascesis and Purification

Back in the past metaphysical realisation needed only the will of realisation. Later realisation also needed initiation. Even later initiation already presupposed preparation. Today even preparation has to be prepared, but first of all a self-correction should take place.

András László aphorism no.189

One of the actions we consider as a preparation for the preparation for initiation is the purification from toxins of the physical, mental and spiritual body.

How can a person find the path to and begin their spiritual journey in this day and age of degeneration, corruption, spiritual darkness and universal lie? The problem of where to begin is the most common problem for almost all people today and is the first excuse not to do what needs to be done. This is true of the most mundane and simple tasks of everyday life as well as the most profound and sublime metaphysical tasks. How many times have we heard smokers say, when they know they are poisoning themselves: “yes, I know, but I like it,” or “yes, but it tastes so good”? How many times have we heard drinkers of mass-produced, artificial soft drinks full of toxins say: “I know it’s poison, but I drink it anyway,” or “you have to have a vice of some kind”?

Those who say they know but they do not act accordingly in fact do not know what they claim to know. Not everyone stays in this state of ignorance, though. Those who truly know, act accordingly and hence they are what they know. The step from “knowing” to “doing” and hence “being” is astronomical for most people, yet for a small minority this step is virtually non-existent.

Now, some might object and say this has nothing to do with any form of spiritual awakening: “What does it matter for my spiritual development if I drink or do not drink mass-produced, artificial soft drinks?”

Personal experience tells me that this is an issue of ascesis and through it a purification of the body, which is essential for any purification of the soul and spirit to have the potential to take place. My experience is that we are constantly being intoxicated in body, mind and spirit and one of the first bonds that have to be broken is the addiction to “substances” we have become accustomed to consuming, whether these “substances” are consumed orally, aurally, visually, sensually or nasally. With the word ‘substance’ I mean anything that stimulates and/or distracts our minds via any of our five senses.

I first noticed the need for this basic kind of ascesis when I became aware of the near-hypnotic power of tabloid headlines that caught my eye on a regular basis. My attention was automatically caught and before I could act I had already reacted and read the whole headline. Once I became aware of this phenomenon I became more and more frustrated with it because these headlines occupied important “space” in my mind. It got to a point when I simply said to myself: “It is my fault I read these headlines. I cannot blame anyone but myself. Since I now am aware and conscious that I have been reading them unconsciously it is up to me to decide if I want to read them or not.” So I decided that whenever I see the colour combination of black and yellow (the combination used for headlines in my country) I will look away.

Now, the objection most people would have to this kind of behaviour, regardless of area of application, is: “But you will miss something important!” My counter-question is: How many times do you have to repeat the same mistake to finally learn and not repeat it?
My experience tells me that during my life so far I have not ever missed anything “important” by failing to read the tabloid headlines. On the contrary, and quite the opposite, by reading tabloid headlines I have had to become aware of a lot of things I have no interest in whatsoever, in fact, these things are almost all completely counter to what I am trying to achieve: they are designed to obstruct and stop me from reaching my goal. It is all distraction. The base of this craving to be “up-to-date” is the curse of constantly wanting something for nothing. As soon as one becomes aware of this constant “wanting-something-for-nothing” one has the potential of cutting out the root of this craving and removing it altogether. As long as the desire, the craving is there one is always going to be subject to agitation by this desire, this craving.

An example is the telephone salesman offering a 30% cut in your phone call expenses if you change to his company. Either you are subject to the desire and craving to get something for nothing, in which case you cannot resist the offer, or you tell him you are not interested in cutting your phone call expenses, in which case you have rid yourself of the craving and the desire of saving 30%. In the latter scenario, no doubt the salesman will be completely baffled and dumbfounded by your attitude: “who in their right mind does not want to save 30%???”

In our world of quantity that we live in today every value is measured and quantified in terms of material wealth and money. Saving money is “good”, losing money is “bad”; happiness is measured by how luxurious your lifestyle is and how much money you can spend on comfort.

The telephone salesman scenario illustrates a person who is not moved or agitated by the offer of saving any amount of money. He does not measure the value of life in terms of money. In other words, this illustrates the application of simple ascesis, which originally means ‘training’. Deciding to look away when seeing the colour combination black and yellow I trained myself to look away. I took control of myself and my behaviour and did not let the tabloid headlines control me.

Another example of basic ascesis is the choice not to watch television. The amount of utterly and completely corrupted, degenerate, physically, mentally and spiritually destructive material I “miss” far outweighs the value of the occasional and fragmentary, out-of-context pieces of relative truth I actually miss by not watching TV. Consciously and actively choosing and accepting to be wrong 1 time out of a 100 is superior to unconsciously and passively letting oneself be wrong 99 times out of a hundred, with the motivation “I might miss something important!”

Ascesis is the action of deselection; an enacted decision not to let oneself react. Ascesis is the deselection of unwanted reactions, substituting them with pure actions.

I would call this quality an impulse for Order in a noble spirit and it comes from a combination of external and internal sources, both physical and metaphysical. One could almost say it arises when a certain spiritual stage has been reached, where the “external” and “internal” physical and metaphysical sources synchronise and trigger the noble soul to take action.

How many times do you have to repeat the same mistake to finally learn from it and hence not repeat it?

Simple concepts like the ones described in the examples above might seem trivial but they are examples of actions that are necessary if one wants to remove the many, many toxins of various kinds that distract us from the essential spiritual tasks that need to be done. These toxins are like veils obstructing us from the truth; truth conforming to Reality. Once the decision has been consciously taken to remove them and this decision is acted upon and put into determined practice the metaphysical, spiritual rewards follow fairly instantly.

Since one’s own conduct is right, false conduct is got rid of; since one possesses true understanding, false understanding is got rid of; since the manias are shut out, the manias are got rid of.

Anguttara-nikāya, 3.92, as quoted by Julius Evola in “The Doctrine of Awakening”, p.75

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One Comment

  1. Pal Keliger said:

    There are no comments in this page. Most of the people would be freaked out reading it, I like it. Very, very much!
    Anything you read, anywhere (philosophy, religion etc.), they come to certain conclusions and then they try to force they laws on anything else. The process of making saints.
    I like this life-like approach of the whole thing. It supports my idea about, that there is no matter to wich circumstances you were born, you can follow the path. You can come to awareness that you are acting from emotions. Or, even if you’re born in a jungle, you can realise that the society= your mother is a bitch and by no means are having dependency of it for our survival.
    To finish: After walking around nearly fifty years, I would support an idea, that life is: ‘to develop certain skills and abilities of wich we have no practical use, here’
    The weight is on the last word: here. Similar process we are going through in the womb. I guess, my body, my soul and mind is just my second placenta, in wich consciousness can evolute and develop. In the womb all is automatic. Outside it depends on the person.
    It seems Einstein is wrong by saying ‘God doesn’t throw dice’. I think He does, by throwing his seeds around. ‘See what happenes!’

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  • You’ve no idea how hard I’ve looked for a gift to bring You. Nothing seemed right. What’s the point of bringing gold to a goldmine, or water to the ocean. Everything I came up with was like taking spices to the Orient. It’s no good giving my heart and soul, because You already have these. So – I’ve brought You a mirror. Look at Yourself and remember me.

    - Jalaluddin Rumi