My Motives For Asceticism In the Modern Age (And a Poem)
Updated: Aug 11
A few years ago, I wrote a poem that explains my motives for living a more ascetic life and renouncing it to an extent. For those who do not know, a few years ago I decided to become a self-described monk, abstaining from romance, sex, and many other pleasures and unnecessary aspects of life. Not in the name of a religious deity, but in the name of strength, serenity, and saving money.
In other words, I am an irreligious monk who tries to live only the smaller aspects of life, such as daily chores and work, consuming entertainment as a form of rejuvenation, and resting. You will almost never see me socializing, going on dates, hanging out in nightclubs, having sex, or even going abroad for tourism. I only rarely go to restaurants (I will probably even minimize this activity after the quarantine is finally over, as I have found out that I do not really need it either).
I am therefore a contemporary, young semi-hermit who aspires to dedicate his life to providing philosophical content and to achieve a state of continuous serenity, both optimally gained from partial abstention from the External World and its many, many unnecessary things.
"But why are you doing this for yourself, Tomasio, when most of your life has yet to be experienced?" You may probably ask. The reason for that will be momentarily presented in the following poem, where I take the image of a jester, heavily inspired by Diogenes, the ancient Greek philosopher, who critiques the orthodox ways of living; the endless pursuit of many after ultimate happiness and mental security.
I, have ascended
From the unnecessities
Of our universe.
There is no glow,
Which can convince me
To end my life and blow.
I observe the people who
Build pyramids of sand,
Tying themselves to others
With emotional glue,
And call their love "true",
Following the herd's command,
Afraid to face their own emptiness.
But I find it so humorous,
When I contemplate this in my seclusion.
Inhale, and exhale,
The universe's ignored hell.
My heart is so pale,
With such amusement.
Noises and coloured lights,
Are things which without them makes people,
So afraid, so lone, with their frights.
Meaning is a subjective term,
But only few wonder and claim
Whether subjectivity is or not actually existent.
We, are, surrounded with emptiness, but we deny it,
As many of us afraid, and the rest are blind,
With their closed eyes of deep thoughts,
And continue to play with their draughts,
And never look around and beyond their projector's varied lights.
Sexuality is something so central in the human thoughts, yes, yes, indeed.
And yet, but still,
What is there beyond, beyond our mental inventions,
Which put our consciousness in cages of pure concrete and steel?
Recreation, is worthless,
Romantic adventures – a complete mess.
There is nothing, beyond what I already do,
That I crave, that I wish to woo.
Excessive activity is, a sign of anxiety,
To keep one away, from the void's immortality,
I've produced so much meaning through my creations,
But how come that a grain of meaninglessness is still intact?
In my seclusion, I have contemplated,
And above the earthly, I have ascended.
The tragic of existence, I have attended,
And now, my inner mask can be truly dead!
Life is a one-time game,
But you cannot restart, save, or pause.
But why should I "carpe diem," When I understand That the void is something that cannot be fully overcome?
All the glamour, fame, sparks, heights, sex, and love
Cannot make me, change me, or elevate me beyond the final bound.
Granted, granted, Happiness and joy do exist. I do not disagree. But they are only short-term satisfactions, Satisfactions that exist for a certain period of time, And then we feel like we need to provide them all in a continuous loop.
I have no fear of exploring the strange and the obscure.
I am no conformist.
I can accept and live with this void.
This post was practically made to create another path of thought in your minds; a path which asks:
Do I have to live life the way I've been told by socialization that I should go in?
Do I need to spend much of my money on things that I can do well without?
How much do I actually need in life in order to be a happy, satisfied person with good wellbeing?
What's the point of a hedonistic lifestyle when it is but a cycle of never-ending spikes of short-term pleasures, waiting passionately for the next spike without any permanent happiness overall from life?
Do I really need a romantic partner to be happy?
Does marriage actually the path I need to go in in order to be happy? Do I need to raise kids like everyone else?
Do I really should live life like "everyone else" wants and preaches to live?
Does the constant stress I am in worth my regular endeavors?
Does life needs to be structured in a sysiphus-ian way; working hard to fulfil a desire, just to see the desire for the same thing becoming present again in my mind?
All of these questions have eventually lead me to pursue asceticism; for much of what life has to offer, doesn't necessarily worth my time and effort for me to become a person of good wellbeing. Such words have already been said before and were already proven by those who chosen either asceticism or monasticism, whether religiously or philosophically.
Specifically because life can be enjoyed with so little, I recommend you to consider applying some asceticism into your life. This will allow you to see and better understand my own point of view empirically. It will also help you to see how much unnecessary consumption there is in our mass-consumerist world, which is constantly chasing after the "pill of joy."
This period of forced isolation in the name of fighting back against the COVID-19 virus is an especially suitable time to experiment with the application of a more ascetic lifestyle. Listen to the void, and see how you could find yourself within it, instead of against or attempting to run away from it.