Self-imposed Religion, Asceticism and Contemplative Mysticism

“Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words… Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ…

Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind… if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations… These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect (asceticism) of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh!” – Colossians 2:4-23


The desert monastic communities that grew out of the informal gathering of hermit monks became the model for Christian monasticism. The eastern monastic tradition at Mt. Athos and the western Rule of St. Benedict both were strongly influenced by the traditions that began in the desert. All of the monastic revivals of the Middle Ages looked to the desert for inspiration and guidance. Much of Eastern Christian spirituality, including the Hesychast [Contemplative] movement, had its roots in the practices of the Desert Fathers.

“It was Anthony the Great who launched the movement that became the Desert Fathers… The solitude, austerity, and sacrifice of the desert was seen by Anthony as an alternative to martyrdom, which was formerly seen by many Christians as the highest form of sacrifice… They chose a life of extreme asceticism renouncing all the pleasures of the senses, rich food, baths, rest, and anything that made them comfortable. [See ]

Anthony the Great – (aka “Anthony of the Desert”) is revered as the “Father of All Monks“. According to his biographer, Anthony resided in an abandoned tomb in the Alexandrian desert. Having sealed himself in, he depended on villagers to bring him food. Anthony had numerous encounters with demonic spirits, even being physically attacked. Anthony tried hiding in a cave to escape the demons that plagued him. There were so many little demons in the cave though that Saint Anthony’s servant had to carry him out because [it was thought] they had beaten him to death. Anthony organized his disciples into a worshipful community and inspired similar withdrawn communities throughout Egypt and, the Greek and Roman world. [See: ]

The contemplative “Prayer of the Heart“, or “Jesus Prayer.” can be traced back to the Desert Fathers. Interior “Stillness” (Hesychasm) (“stillness, silence”) originated with the Desert Fathers and was central to their practice of prayer, but wasn’t widely practiced until the fourteenth century.


Contemplative mysticism was spawned by Catholic monks, as they discovered the power of extreme austerities. Practices such as prolonged isolation (solitude) and other austerities, actually create an altered state of consciousness. In this altered state, one can enter the psychic realms, and thus susceptibility to direct demonic influence. These ascetic practices and their fruit IS IDENTICAL to what Eastern Hindu & Buddhist monks & Yogis practice. What is contacted by this divination is not of God, but of deceiving spirits!

In Indian religions, Some ascetics live as hermits relying on whatever food they can find in the forests, then sleep and meditate in caves; others travel from one holy site to another while sustaining their body by begging for food; yet others live in monasteries as monks or nuns. In the Mahayana [Buddhist] tradition, asceticism with esoteric and mystical meanings became an accepted practice . Practices include the extreme ascetic practices of eating only pine needles, resins, seeds and ultimately self-mummification. [See:]

The practices of Hindu Yogis, and their development of Kundalini forces, also generate what is called “Tapas”. Tapas is the “Heat” or “fire” that is created by the practices of yogis and other Hindu & Buddhist ascetics. The Hindu “Bible”, the Bhagavad Gita – although a work of the 5th century AD, re -addresses incorporates and actually synthesizes several different schools of Hinduism. The system of Yogic practices were adapted to the prevailing Brahmanical school of thought. The Gita itself warns against that the ascetic practices of the yogis – that they inherently cause development of powerful and dangerous occultic powers (siddhis).


“Tapas is described as the process that led to the spiritual birth of the Rsis, or sages of spiritual insights. The fire deity of Hinduism, Agni, is central to many Hindu rituals such as yajna and homa. Agni is considered an agent of heat, of sexual energy, of incubation…” This is where ascetic practices and kundalini and tapas are linked to the “sex magic” of Alister Crowley and others. [See:]

The Hindu Vedas are replete with tales of sages and yogis that attained “siddhis” or occultic powers, through the determined practices of asceticism. Siddhi powers include the classic psychic powers of astral projection, telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, psycho-kinesis. It is not insignificant that these siddhi powers are said to be granted by the various (demonic) Hindu gods.

Contemplative mysticism was birthed from the spiritual (demonic) encounters of cloistered monks in their ascetic rituals. Men who locked themselves in, in caves and even in tiny boxes, in an attempt to restrict or control the desires of the flesh, and to “still” the carnal mind. What may encountered in these practices are deceiving spirits, often appearing as “angels”. Many false doctrines been birthed by such demonic experiences.


The fact that men went to extreme measures to “mortify the flesh” is a recognition of the sinful, fleshly human nature. But, rather than following God’s word, and “reckoning” or considering our sin nature as being crucified with Christ and being dead to sin – men have in their folly, tried every manner of overcoming the flesh by fleshly devices. This never works – for just as it seems one has overcome the flesh, it pops out again in subtler forms.

Here, God’s Word tells us, “These things have an appearance of wisdom”, but ultimately are of no value in overcoming the flesh.


3 thoughts on “Self-imposed Religion, Asceticism and Contemplative Mysticism

  1. Lydia

    Dear brother, thank you for this ministry.

    I just wanted to alert you to two movies of the apostasy coming out shortly.
    One is ‘the shack’ in March which advocates pantheism and the one world religion among other heresies. The “christian” radio stations are already advertising it. (Come one, come all, get your free ticket to hell…)
    The other movie is called ‘the silence’. It deceives people away from discipleship and that it is okay to deny their faith when ‘the going gets tough’.
    You can read all about the commentaries on both Lighthouse Trails and Truthkeepers.
    Interesting that the last one involves contemplative mysticism and jesuits and both you and LT have had posts on that recently!

    God bless!

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