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Keeping A Balance Between Asceticism And Pleasure
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Andreas Offline
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Keeping A Balance Between Asceticism And Pleasure
A few months ago I made a radical change in my life, by deciding to cut out most digital entertainment, junk food, porn and pretty much every other vice you can think of. I was so addicted into those things that I felt like I had to withdraw from them to gain my sanity back. What I eat is also radically different as well.

During the last month however, I feel like I've been slipping away. I would eat a small piece of chocolate here and there, or browse Youtube for a little too long than I wanted to. I also used to fast for 14-15 hours per day, which really helped me speed up my detox, but I don't do it as much. I feel more hungry, but I know that it's not real hunger when the stomach is 'complaining' so to speak.

I understand that I have reached a new level and my standards have gone up, but I keep having thoughts like ''Isn't there a better way to relax my mind after working? Did I really have to watch a T.V show now instead of leaving it for the end of the week?''. For some reason I feel like indulging in these small vices throughout my days (not every single day) is just not necessary. I'm not saying I should cast them out completely, but it would feel a lot better if my vices were my slaves and not the other way.

Apologies for the long intro. Here is my question: How can I keep a balance between harmful but pleasure activities and deep work without fooling myself? Basically, how would I know that I indulge in certain pleasures because it was a more calculated choice as opposed to low impulse control in the moment?
10-10-2019 12:09 PM
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RE: Keeping A Balance Between Asceticism And Pleasure
This is a problem I am facing myself. Despite having a ton of responsibility and a decent amount of work to do, I am always exhausted and can't run my engine 24/7. I find when I am busy its easy to keep the temptation away but as soon as I'm home and hunkered down it almost always comes flooding back as theres nothing to distract me from the guilty pleasures. I'm also trying to find the balance of allowing some pleasures because I notice when I cut everything out and I get my lifting and bike riding out of the way, I would be left with basically nothing but sitting in my recliner reading a book, which isn't a bad thing, but I am human and believe it or not don't find myself doing that every day.
10-10-2019 06:03 PM
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Roosh Offline
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RE: Keeping A Balance Between Asceticism And Pleasure
Asceticism without faith is masturbation.

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10-10-2019 09:28 PM
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RE: Keeping A Balance Between Asceticism And Pleasure
(10-10-2019 12:09 PM)Andreas Wrote:  Basically, how would I know that I indulge in certain pleasures because it was a more calculated choice as opposed to low impulse control in the moment?

By planning it. For example, I have a rule that whenever I eat with friends, I eat what I'm served. Most of the time I follow a strict diet, but I know that if someone invites me over for food I'll eat whatever it is guilt-free.

Make the rules in advance, and you won't have to worry if you're being too lax or not.
10-10-2019 10:42 PM
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RE: Keeping A Balance Between Asceticism And Pleasure
Great thread topic, OP.

What you may be looking for are finer pleasures.

Anyway, beyond that:

Once you have met enough people, and observed their level of self-knowledge vs what they say & end up doing, and then of course tried to achieve your own level of self-knowledge...

You see that asceticism is -- for most -- just a phase to pass through.

Life is short. Enjoy the pleasures. Cultivate them, even.

Some people will take to asceticism. Just like some take to complete abstinence.

But the world will see to it that you suffer, and feel pain, scarcity, loss, and emptiness. You don't need to give it any help. You don't have to view the pleasures as an antidote or distraction to those things.

And then, pleasure and weakness does not have to be synonymous.
10-11-2019 12:01 AM
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RE: Keeping A Balance Between Asceticism And Pleasure
(10-10-2019 09:28 PM)Roosh Wrote:  Asceticism without faith is masturbation.

What about just for improving how you feel on a day to day basis? Cutting porn will boost your mood and energy levels, with or without Jesus.
10-11-2019 12:27 AM
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Andreas Offline
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RE: Keeping A Balance Between Asceticism And Pleasure
Quote:Make the rules in advance, and you won't have to worry if you're being too lax or not.

That makes sense. It will free up thoughts of when I'm I going to experience pleasures A,B,C and lets you focus on work. Though, I only see myself following through with this if I plan it with detail.

Quote:Anyway, beyond that:

Once you have met enough people, and observed their level of self-knowledge vs what they say & end up doing, and then of course tried to achieve your own level of self-knowledge...

You see that asceticism is -- for most -- just a phase to pass through.

Life is short. Enjoy the pleasures. Cultivate them, even.

Some people will take to asceticism. Just like some take to complete abstinence.

But the world will see to it that you suffer, and feel pain, scarcity, loss, and emptiness. You don't need to give it any help. You don't have to view the pleasures as an antidote or distraction to those things.

And then, pleasure and weakness does not have to be synonymous.

It's tricky because it is also an issue of how you frame things. I'm in no mood to eat an oily, greasy meat anymore, even though in the past I salivated just by thinking about it as an example of my past. I think half the battle is not getting into the trap of 'FOMO' - Fear Of Missing Out.

And of course that very important thing you mentioned about pain. I keep thinking, what if it's just a natural thing that you just have to accept will happen? What if I didn't really have to balance out every perceived negative with a positive? I think this is more or less what Zen is, but it seems like I have to keep drilling that into my head and view those moments of negative emotions as a challenge.

Quote:What about just for improving how you feel on a day to day basis? Cutting porn will boost your mood and energy levels, with or without Jesus.

I agree. I am agnostic to religion, even though I was baptized as a Christian Orthodox from birth, and until I really understand the history behind Christianity I can't just couple self improvement with religion. Jesus was known for his discipline and ascetic practices, but I'm more interested in his life in terms of philosophy and self improvement instead.
(This post was last modified: 10-11-2019 10:18 AM by Andreas.)
10-11-2019 10:17 AM
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debeguiled Offline
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RE: Keeping A Balance Between Asceticism And Pleasure
(10-10-2019 09:28 PM)Roosh Wrote:  Asceticism without faith is masturbation.

I don't agree with this. The guy is trying to improve his life through sacrifice and is looking for guidance in finding a balance.

This impulse is distinct from the impulse to masturbate, which is the opposite of sacrificing your pleasures.

God doesn't expect perfection and gives credit where it is due.

Like any reasonable being would do.

“The greatest burden a child must bear is the unlived life of its parents.”

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10-11-2019 10:38 AM
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RE: Keeping A Balance Between Asceticism And Pleasure
Jesus didn’t incarnate to teach “philosophy and self-improvement.” He became man to teach us how to restore the image and likeness of God in our hearts, minds, and souls.

Return Of Kings contributor and best-selling author of "On The Masons And Their Lies."
10-11-2019 07:06 PM
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RE: Keeping A Balance Between Asceticism And Pleasure
(10-11-2019 07:06 PM)MichaelWitcoff Wrote:  Jesus didn’t incarnate to teach “philosophy and self-improvement.” He became man to teach us how to restore the image and likeness of God in our hearts, minds, and souls.

Whether he did what he did for God, the fact still remains, that he was striving to be a better man every day. Fasting, spending time of silence to be more observant and healing others forces you to improve yourself, whether it is religious or not. It builds discipline and a huge list of other benefits that we can spend hours listing here.

There are a lot of other people on this planet who did what Jesus did and they were not motivated by religion. I'm currently on that camp.

My point is that asceticism does not necessarily tie into religion. I don't want to do it for religious reasons at this point in my life. I want to practice it only to be a better man than my previous version.
10-12-2019 03:25 AM
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RE: Keeping A Balance Between Asceticism And Pleasure
I've been on the path of asceticism for quite some time now. I'm so deep into it that I actually derive some pleasure from positive habits. In no specific order: NoFap, keto diet (no sugar), no social media, no drinking, no coffee, regular sleep times, jogging, calisthenics, long walks at night, and meditation.

This does not mean I'm full monk. What I've done is I've whittled down my pleasures to ones that are the least destructive. This is extremely key. Through this philosophy I maintain my sanity - and have things to look forward to - but I don't derail the rest of my life via one destructive vice (I.e alcoholism). My pleasures now exclusively include the following:

- Occasionally deviating from my scheduled, daily timeline to socialize, mostly in the company of women. Hanging with other men usually leads to full derailment (drinking session->high carb meal->fap->and so on). Most high quality men are not available to hang out, accept the fact that the road to success is a lonely one (at least at first).

- Dabbing hashish. Because it's in vapor form, I minimize damage to my lungs. Because it is not caloric (like alcohol), it doesn't affect my physique. I either dab in the morning or at night before a long walk. This is one of the only vices that doesn't adversely affect health and physique. Eventually I'll wean myself off it, but the positives currently outweigh the negatives. Works wonders for my mental health as well.

- Watching visual media, but only if I've stuck to all my other habits that day. This gives me an incentive to continue forging a healthy lifestyle. When I do watch something, it'll either be a high quality movie or red pilled anime. SJW media has no part in my life, nor do corny sitcoms/normie TV. I spend 2 hours a day maximum consuming recreational media, and only when I'm afforded the time to do so. I average about 3-4 hours a week, generally. I've heard some people average this per day #clownworld.

- Recreational reading at the very end of the day (before bed). Because abstention from blue light is important. And because reading is a great way to wind down. Fiction is not a bad vice to have, as long as the material is engaging and not soppy. Same rules apply as with media, no SJW crap allowed on the bookshelf.

In short, pick your pleasures based on what will be least detrimental to your life. In other words, structure your free time so that you enjoy it, and are able to get back on track when it's grind time. Good luck on your journey mate - the road of asceticism is not an easy one. The rewards are tremendous though.
10-12-2019 04:17 AM
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RE: Keeping A Balance Between Asceticism And Pleasure
(10-11-2019 07:06 PM)MichaelWitcoff Wrote:  Jesus didn’t incarnate to teach “philosophy and self-improvement.” He became man to teach us how to restore the image and likeness of God in our hearts, minds, and souls.

It wasn't that long ago you were a Mason, and more recently a Cathar, and even more recently a Protestant.

There was a process of God bringing you to himself by meeting you where you were and guiding you along.

Please extend that same courtesy to other seekers.

“The greatest burden a child must bear is the unlived life of its parents.”

Carl Jung
(This post was last modified: 10-12-2019 12:02 PM by debeguiled.)
10-12-2019 11:24 AM
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RE: Keeping A Balance Between Asceticism And Pleasure
I wasn’t trying to be discourteous. Having learned from my errors, my hope is that other guys won’t have to fall into all the same traps I did along the way. The unhappiest Christians are the ones with a “foot in each world” so to speak, trying to reconcile the concept of success according to the worldly and Christian paradigms - because the truth is they’re largely opposites. There’s nothing wrong with self-improvement or philosophy per se, but unless they lead to transfiguration, they’re largely an exercise in spinning one’s wheels unless they’re gifted to you by God along the way. I know many people only learn by having the experience themselves - people like me for example - but I’m hoping to reach those a little wiser than I was, who can learn from the mistakes of others and get a head start on the Way.

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10-12-2019 06:57 PM
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RE: Keeping A Balance Between Asceticism And Pleasure
(10-10-2019 09:28 PM)Roosh Wrote:  Asceticism without faith is masturbation.

IMHO it leads to things like the modern "art" movement where asceticism as reductionist/post-modernist B.S. gets peddled as "inspired". True asceticism is reducing self (including slavery to pleasure for pleasure's sake), such that your spiritual life can grow.

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10-12-2019 07:17 PM
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RE: Keeping A Balance Between Asceticism And Pleasure
(10-10-2019 09:28 PM)Roosh Wrote:  Asceticism without faith is masturbation.

Define faith. Is adherence to Marcus Aurelius style Stoicism considered faith or must one follow an institutional religion? I've been wondering that for years now.

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10-12-2019 07:20 PM
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RE: Keeping A Balance Between Asceticism And Pleasure
(10-12-2019 06:57 PM)MichaelWitcoff Wrote:  I wasn’t trying to be discourteous. Having learned from my errors, my hope is that other guys won’t have to fall into all the same traps I did along the way. The unhappiest Christians are the ones with a “foot in each world” so to speak, trying to reconcile the concept of success according to the worldly and Christian paradigms - because the truth is they’re largely opposites. There’s nothing wrong with self-improvement or philosophy per se, but unless they lead to transfiguration, they’re largely an exercise in spinning one’s wheels unless they’re gifted to you by God along the way. I know many people only learn by having the experience themselves - people like me for example - but I’m hoping to reach those a little wiser than I was, who can learn from the mistakes of others and get a head start on the Way.

I can appreciate your good intentions. I tend to think that people won't listen to you and your experiences until they are ready. Hence debeguiled's point. People need to go their path and hopefully through that path they will find God.
(This post was last modified: 10-12-2019 11:05 PM by worldwidetraveler.)
10-12-2019 11:02 PM
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RE: Keeping A Balance Between Asceticism And Pleasure
I think asceticism for the wrong reasons or without a clear guide and path can not last very long. I know this from experience. The human body requires 4 things to keep it from being idle and imbalanced, and even to prevent damage: adequate nutrition, adequate quality sleep and rest, adequate exercise and resistance, and sufficient spiritual (to an extent maybe even social) connection to God, our source and creator. Everything else is non-essential. Fasting is both nutritious and an exercise of faith, prayer and meditation are purely spiritual but will impact the rest of your body too.

To avoid sinning, you must have a desire not to sin. I fall short on this many times, but I never give up on God. Some people may call me stupid or a fool for this belief, but the belief itself is what keeps me from going overboard, and keeps the parts of my human psyche under control that would otherwise lead to my self-destruction. People need faith, and belief, some more than others, but everyone needs it to some degree. Those who claim they need not faith are only buying themselves time before they desperately need it.

You can't cheat nature.
10-13-2019 12:17 AM
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RE: Keeping A Balance Between Asceticism And Pleasure
(10-12-2019 07:20 PM)RIslander Wrote:  
(10-10-2019 09:28 PM)Roosh Wrote:  Asceticism without faith is masturbation.

Define faith. Is adherence to Marcus Aurelius style Stoicism considered faith or must one follow an institutional religion? I've been wondering that for years now.

From what I understand, Roosh and the other meant institutional religion. Perhaps not strictly following what religious all leaders say, because many are unbelievably corrupt just like in any area of life, but at least have a set of rules to follow.

In any case, as I said before, I do not want to practice asceticism for religious purposes. I'm not doing this for any deity. It does not mean that it's impossible for me to follow a religious path at some point in my life, but I just don't want to do it right now.

For the record, I was baptized in Christian Orthodox church, was taught religion in school (though it was more like indoctrination) and read a bit on the allegories of the bible during the past few months, so it's not like I want to attack anyone who practices asceticism for religious purposes. I understand where you are coming from.

My main purpose is to change my lifestyle such that my body and my mind heals from all the years of not treating them right. That means following these habits:

- Getting the most nutritional value from good food.
- Fasting adequate amounts of time per day to detoxify faster.
- Reducing mindless entertainment, or more like scheduling it for no more than 1 hour per day if I have time. Some things like porn are prohibited though. The poison is in the dosage, and that's too much poison to take in at a time.
- Exercise my body at least two times a week to increase strength and mental focus.
- Do heart rate variability training to release the tension in my body and attain a state of restful alertness. I used to have a huge problem with paying attention and it is still a work in progress.

Why do I want to do those things? Because a path of excessive pleasure leads to sadistic impulses, overall dissatisfaction and not being prepared for any higher purpose in life. In case I want to achieve a higher spiritual purpose, I won't be able to do that if my mind and body are weak. If I want to start a business and provide value to others and the world I won't have the energy and concentration to do that. If I want to pursue any hobby like drawing, reading history, study math and physics, etc., I will not be able to do those things by carrying too much 'poison' in my body.

If any deity is priming me for a religious path, then so be it. If not, maybe it will happen on the next reincarnation. Angel
10-13-2019 12:55 AM
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RE: Keeping A Balance Between Asceticism And Pleasure
(10-11-2019 10:17 AM)Andreas Wrote:  It's tricky because it is also an issue of how you frame things. I'm in no mood to eat an oily, greasy meat anymore, even though in the past I salivated just by thinking about it as an example of my past. I think half the battle is not getting into the trap of 'FOMO' - Fear Of Missing Out.

And of course that very important thing you mentioned about pain. I keep thinking, what if it's just a natural thing that you just have to accept will happen? What if I didn't really have to balance out every perceived negative with a positive? I think this is more or less what Zen is, but it seems like I have to keep drilling that into my head and view those moments of negative emotions as a challenge.

For sure, FOMO is something you should be aware of. But pleasures also change.

In some cases, maybe it was a refinement of taste. In others, you just stopped getting pleasure for who knows what reason. And yet another is simple aging.

I went from not drinking alcohol (pre-18), to being deeply quenched and satisfied by beer (20s), to being pretty much disgusted by all alcoholic beverages except for fine wines (late 30s). But the pleasure I get from fine wines is (currently) even beyond sex.

What you said about pain is true (it's inevitable and you do have to accept it, and there are a myriad of ways you can benefit from going through pain).

That's why I wrote what I wrote. I don't think pleasures are just an antidote or response to pain.

A sunset, for instance, will never not be beautiful and enjoyable (unto itself). Now, if your beloved parent died that day, will the sunset make up for it? No. Maybe you won't appreciate the sunset that day. But it doesn't mean that the sunset, typically, doesn't bring you pleasure, or that there is something artificial or insignificant about appreciating a sunset simply because you lost your parent.

A lot of people are subject to what I call the "authenticity trap", where they can appreciate a sunset but somehow a man-made building or a girl's cleavage being propped up by clothes is not "as worth" appreciating. I call baloney on that.

Mankind creates and acts and ruminates on things -- depending on how you want to approach it -- "like their creator". A thing can be pleasurable by itself, and then your weakness or depravity can run with it and make it something destructive. But that is not the fault of the pleasurable thing.

I'm rambling, but I'll leave you with this:

After I traveled to Italy, upon returning, when cooking meals for friends and family, they now all express massive appreciation (during, and often up to weeks later with messages, letters, etc) how "good a cook you are". I didn't take any classes, certainly don't have any advanced technique, and, if anything, got much simpler in the kitchen.

But minimal, fresh ingredients, well paired... with a bit of patience and often using fresh herbs and some broth/wine... produce really nice experiences, bursting with flavor and texture. The experience is social, because you are sharing it with guests. It is memorable, because taste -- and especially smell -- embeds deeply into your memory. And of course it is practical because we all need nourishment. Combine that with conversation with loved ones, and it is an intensely pleasurable experience. It's bordering on decadent, but I think ends up on the right side after all.

Compare that with a minimalist health nut / bodybuilder counting calories and only eating the same pre-made meal over and over (albeit a very clean meal). They would look at what I wrote and say "waste of time, excessive, unnecessary, etc". And for their goals/pleasures, they might be right. For my pleasures, if you are going to eat the same thing every day you may as well live in the 3rd world or in a prison cell. I've ate like that before. I also understand the pleasure derived from taming the body and the passions. But it's funny when we pursue one pleasure (could even be oneness with God), then we have a tendency to discount all the other pleasures.

Something to keep in mind.
10-13-2019 03:31 AM
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debeguiled Offline
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RE: Keeping A Balance Between Asceticism And Pleasure
(10-12-2019 11:02 PM)worldwidetraveler Wrote:  
(10-12-2019 06:57 PM)MichaelWitcoff Wrote:  I wasn’t trying to be discourteous. Having learned from my errors, my hope is that other guys won’t have to fall into all the same traps I did along the way. The unhappiest Christians are the ones with a “foot in each world” so to speak, trying to reconcile the concept of success according to the worldly and Christian paradigms - because the truth is they’re largely opposites. There’s nothing wrong with self-improvement or philosophy per se, but unless they lead to transfiguration, they’re largely an exercise in spinning one’s wheels unless they’re gifted to you by God along the way. I know many people only learn by having the experience themselves - people like me for example - but I’m hoping to reach those a little wiser than I was, who can learn from the mistakes of others and get a head start on the Way.

I can appreciate your good intentions. I tend to think that people won't listen to you and your experiences until they are ready. Hence debeguiled's point. People need to go their path and hopefully through that path they will find God.

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10-13-2019 12:18 PM
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RE: Keeping A Balance Between Asceticism And Pleasure
(10-10-2019 09:28 PM)Roosh Wrote:  Asceticism without faith is masturbation.

I disagree. You can be a disciplined man without being religious. Some need the dogmatics to reinforce the discipline, but it's not sine qua non.
10-13-2019 01:49 PM
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RE: Keeping A Balance Between Asceticism And Pleasure
Humans are definitely motivated by pleasure. I think there is a distinction between earned pleasures and unearned pleasures.

For example, real accomplishment is very satisfying and pleasurable, but you can get a fake substitute by playing video games and winning. You can also get fake satisfaction and pleasure from drinking or drugs.

Real seduction or courting and marriage is a real pleasure, but you can get a substitute by masturbation, or by having sex with prostitutes.

So, in general, it is better to focus on getting that dopamine fix from doing something real in life than from using some kind of hack like cheap sex or drugs. However, there is a grey area here. While drinking, or smoking pot, can be a source of fake pleasure, there is definitely a legitimate place for these in life, in moderation. Likewise, video games, or other non-productive fun activities are acceptable, as long as they are kept in their place.

So, I think as long as you make sure to be productive and to have real accomplishments to be pleased and satisfied with, and as long as you don't let artificial pleasures take an excessive part of your life, you are OK.

Avoiding pleasure as a specific goal seems dysfunctional to me. Making sure your pleasures are based on a well structured life is what's important.

I'm the tower of power, too sweet to be sour. I'm funky like a monkey. Sky's the limit and space is the place!
-Randy Savage
10-14-2019 09:53 AM
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Roosh Offline
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Post: #23
RE: Keeping A Balance Between Asceticism And Pleasure
(10-11-2019 10:38 AM)debeguiled Wrote:  
(10-10-2019 09:28 PM)Roosh Wrote:  Asceticism without faith is masturbation.

I don't agree with this. The guy is trying to improve his life through sacrifice and is looking for guidance in finding a balance.

This impulse is distinct from the impulse to masturbate, which is the opposite of sacrificing your pleasures.

God doesn't expect perfection and gives credit where it is due.

Like any reasonable being would do.

Who says what he's doing is "improvement"? What is the standard you're measuring against?

Roosh
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10-15-2019 01:40 AM
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worldwidetraveler Offline
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Post: #24
RE: Keeping A Balance Between Asceticism And Pleasure
(10-15-2019 01:40 AM)Roosh Wrote:  Who says what he's doing is "improvement"? What is the standard you're measuring against?

You don't consider this self improvement?

"A few months ago I made a radical change in my life, by deciding to cut out most digital entertainment, junk food, porn and pretty much every other vice you can think of. I was so addicted into those things that I felt like I had to withdraw from them to gain my sanity back. What I eat is also radically different as well."

Sounds like it is to me. He may need to find some balance and may be going to far down the improvement rabbit hole.
(This post was last modified: 10-15-2019 07:52 AM by worldwidetraveler.)
10-15-2019 07:51 AM
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debeguiled Offline
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Post: #25
RE: Keeping A Balance Between Asceticism And Pleasure
(10-15-2019 01:40 AM)Roosh Wrote:  
(10-11-2019 10:38 AM)debeguiled Wrote:  
(10-10-2019 09:28 PM)Roosh Wrote:  Asceticism without faith is masturbation.

I don't agree with this. The guy is trying to improve his life through sacrifice and is looking for guidance in finding a balance.

This impulse is distinct from the impulse to masturbate, which is the opposite of sacrificing your pleasures.

God doesn't expect perfection and gives credit where it is due.

Like any reasonable being would do.

Who says what he's doing is "improvement"? What is the standard you're measuring against?

The standard is: denying yourself isn't masturbation.

“The greatest burden a child must bear is the unlived life of its parents.”

Carl Jung
10-15-2019 11:54 AM
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