Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Embracing reverence for life: A critique of ascetic practice
by Morita, Diana B., M.A., California State University, Long Beach, 2014, 141; 1582871
Abstract (Summary)

Because ecstasy and visions often result from ascetic practice, they have been used to gain access to the divine. An alternative view, backed by scientific evidence, is that these are natural phenomena. The body reacts to pain by producing endorphins, which relieve pain, and to sensory deprivation by creating its own sensory stimuli. From this perspective, ascetic practice can be viewed as a form of masochistic form of auto-eroticism. It is no accident that mystics often describe their experiences in sexual terms. The body is made to experience pleasure. Pain is a signal that something is wrong. Rather than punish the body for its ability to feel pleasure through the senses, positive ways of experiencing pleasure should be encouraged; for it is in engaging with the physical world that we develop our moral sense. This is backed by scientific evidence as well.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Stewart, David Tabb
Commitee: Hubbard, Benjamin J., Stone, Jon R.
School: California State University, Long Beach
Department: Religious Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: MAI 54/03M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Religion, Philosophy
Keywords: Asceticism, Masochism, Mysticism, Neurophysiology, Reverence for life
Publication Number: 1582871
ISBN: 9781321526189
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