I am quite skeptical of asceticism or devote compliance- which in this case refers to the act wherein one must adopt a strict, regimented lifestyle along with an undying obedience to some sort of dogma or creed. For example, Christian Nuns and monks seem to adopt this approach – where they reject worldly pleasures and devote a great amount of time to studying ‘God’, though they do so under strict rules, watchful eyes, and punishment for disobedience. However, I am critical of this simply because every human being is different – we have different desires, different psyches, different genetics, different temperaments etc. Many of these ‘ascetic’ societies seems to claim that there is only one true way, and that this way can somehow be taught to everyone who puts in the effort – and that this way will lead to the same results in everyone.
What I am trying to say is that I am critical of the strict, regimented lifestyles of ascetics because in my opinion, the ascetic wishes to break the bonds of the material world, yet they are only adopting another position of servitude – servitude that is still self-motivated yet is passed off as ‘service to God’ or ‘service towards enlightenment’. They are still ‘in chains’ in the sense that they are now under the command of a religious authority and a ‘spiritual master’.
Every person is different – therefore some methods may not work for other people. Just because your method of ‘ascetic meditation’ worked for you does not mean it will also work for me. I believe that one should learn and study other people’s ‘methods’ (and if they seem legitimate, then practice them), however I still think one ought to devote time to creating their own ‘methods’ towards self-discovery or inner peace. ‘My method’ may not work for you. ‘Their method’ may not work for you. But ‘your method’ is yours, therefore it will be best suited for your own personal needs, and will also be familiar and can even come off as ‘natural’ when practiced.
One ought to learn from others – but one must also learn about themselves, and learn to create a path in their lives best suited for themselves. The best path for you is the one that you created – not the one created by others. My path is for me, your path is for you. Find, create, modify your path. Take inspiration from others, but be weary of directions.