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Mortification of the flesh
Related: Christianity - self-injury - flagellation
Mortification of the flesh literally means "putting the flesh to death". The term is primarily used in religious contexts, and is practiced in a variety of ways. The institutional and traditional terminology of this practice in Catholicism is corporal mortification. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mortification_of_the_flesh [Apr 2006]
In its simplest form, it can mean merely denying oneself certain bodily pleasures, such as by abstaining from chocolate, from meat, from food generally (fasting), from alcohol, or from sex. It can also be practiced by deliberately choosing a simple or even impoverished lifestyle; this is often one reason many monastics take vows of poverty. In some of its more severe forms, it can mean actually inflicting pain and physical harm to oneself, such as by beating, whipping, or other means. Some psychologists associate this practice with algolagnia.--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mortification_of_the_flesh [May 2006]
Practices in Different Religions & Cultures
Various forms of self-denial or voluntary suffering (commonly referred to as Ascetism) are practised in various ways by members of many religions, including Christianity (particularly Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic monks, and numeraries of the Prelature of Opus Dei), and Islam (only in Sufism and Shi'a Islam though).
Various indigenous peoples also incorporated voluntary pain, suffering, and self-denial as part of their spiritual traditions as vehicles to the divine and/or rites of passage.
It has been speculated that the more extreme practices of mortification of the flesh may be used to obtain altered states of consciousness for the goal of achieving religious experiences or visions. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mortification_of_the_flesh [May 2006]
In popular cultureThe use of the cilice on the upper thigh is a prominent signature trait of Silas, a fictional member of Opus Dei, and one of the lead antagonists in Dan Brown's novel, The Da Vinci Code. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cilice [May 2006]
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