Tag Archives: Asceticism

Theory and Practices of Manichaean Asceticism

10th century Manichaean Electae in Gaochang (Khocho), China.

Piras, Andrea. 2018. Sealing the body: Theory and practices of Manichaean asceticism. Religion in the Roman Empire 4(1). 28–44.

The Manichaean conception of asceticism is clearly influenced by the spiritual expe-rience of the founder himself, Mani, whose Baptist-Elchasaite milieu provided him with a Jewish-Christian background of doctrines and behaviours (ritual ablutions, diet, chastity). After the visionary communications with his angel, the Twin (Syzy-gos), Mani stressed the Gnostic aspect of his teaching with ascetical commitments, based on the mastery of body and mind. Guided by wisdom and by means of a strict watchfulness of consciousness, to guard with moral virtues the organs of the five senses, the doctrine aimed at ‘sealing’ the perceptions, thus controlling instincts and passions. A medical approach of the teachings, to pursue a religious science of sal-vation with practical effects – concerning the self-transformation of the believer – is then a distinguishing mark of an original message of redemption, blending different aspects of the relevant religions of its time.