What religious benefits and insights does asceticism offer?

Answer: Hindu + Buddhist Asceticism Hindus and Buddhists seek to escape the cycle of reincarnation; for the Hindu to be with the Divine and for the Buddhist to become one with nothingness. Whilst the Hindu ascetic will tend to lead a solitary life, Buddhist asceticism is monastic in character. The asceticism of Buddhism revolves around the eight-fold path: right beliefs, thoughts, speech, right, lifestyle, effort, memory and meditation. Physical asceticism is not stressed. Hinduism stresses physical asceticism: frequent fasts, exposure to heat in the summer and cold in the winter. It also involves the cultivation of truthfulness, self-control, obedience, temperance, forgiveness of injuries, meekness and care of the sick. Christian Asceticism Christian asceticism is mostly found within the Catholic, Coptic and Orthodox churches. Christianity does not believe in reincarnation, and so the purpose of Christian asceticism is different from that of Hinduism and Buddhism. The goal is to draw closer to God during this life and become more like Christ. It involves physical penance and well as frequent prayer and the cultivation of such virtues as patience, chastity, meekness, justice, truthfulness and love of neighbour. Christian asceticism developed in after the legalisation of Christianity by the Roman Emperor when some people found being a Christian was no longer a challenge; they went into the Sahara to live as ascetics. Benefits For Hindus and Buddhists, asceticism leads to a higher reincarnation and eventual escape from the wheel of rebirth. For Christians, the benefits of asceticism would be drawing closer to God and developing a greater empathy with other people. All three groups would agree that this earthly life is not our ultimate goal and that asceticism helps to remove (or reduce) focus on the material obsessions of this life and opens the person to what is spiritual and ultimately, most important. Alternative View Some people of faith are cautious regarding asceticism and say that, in the extreme, it displays an unhealthy appetite for self-abuse and is ultimately harmful. Those who do not believe in God or an afterlife see no benefit from the practice. (See related links)