Compare and contrast the physical and mental asceticism required during his respective journeys?
Pete has to push himself to the limit physically, mentally and spiritually in all his journeys. He does this in a bid to understand the different religions. He has to show a great amount of spiritual, physical, and emotional endurance all through the pilgrimages (Michael, 2006). He shows a great deal of endurance through all the exhaustion and strain that he undergoes. In china, he has to train in martial arts. It is a very physical activity. In china, they attain spirituality through the practice of article arts. The religion in china is very physical. They express their religion through the physical. He trains in kung fu, which leaves him both physical and mentally tired. He had to use all his muscles. For him, it was absolute agony.
In Egypt, he travels to the desert to try to understand the Christian hermit who was also the founder of monastic practices. He spends a lot of time alone in caves in the wilderness. This is not as physical challenging as the experience in china. It is however lonely (Robert, 2008). According to the Christian hermit, they can achieve communion with God only through isolation and constant prayer. He spends three weeks in isolation in a cave above the monastery.
How are the practices essential to the religious goal?
In Egypt, practices such as prayer and isolation help the individual feel closer to God. One has to take their quest seriously because otherwise demons will attack them. A father in the Egyptian monastery warned the traveler that if he did not take the quest seriously his demons would attack him. This encouraged him to spend three weeks in isolation in search of closeness to God.
In china, it was about expressing the faith through strenuous physical activity. They practice martial arts that strain the body. For a normal person, the martial arts can be quite strenuous. The Chinese monastery is the home to all martial arts. They practice the physical to attain spiritual enlightenment (Kelly, 1972) These activities strain the individual both physically and mentally. At times, they practice the martial arts together in an unselfish and non-possessive manner.
What are the religious goals of the pilgrimages?
The religious goals of the pilgrimages were to understand and explore the physical elements of religions considered as the three most powerful religions in the world. The traveler receives little satisfaction from his religion and sets off on three extreme pilgrimages to explore Buddhism in china, Hinduism in India and finally ascetic Christianity in Egypt. He seeks to find a religion whose faith is not only that of the head, like the religion in England. The traveler seeks a religion that has a more physical and mystical path of spirituality. The religious goals of the pilgrimages were therefore to find a religion that encompassed all aspects of the body.
Does the pilgrim successfully submit to the ascetic requirements to achieve his goals as a temporary monk?
The pilgrim succeeds in submitting to the ascetic requirement s to achieve his goal as a temporary monk. At first the experience leaves him exhausted both physically and mentally. Through a period, he finally begins to understand the art of Zen Buddhism. He was able to practice the martial arts without even thinking about it. In the end, he was able to feel the love in Buddhism.
BBC: Extreme Pilgrim - Shaolin Monastery. (2013, March 19). Retrieved November 4, 2014, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIAVx5KHHZ0&feature=youtu.be
BBC: Extreme Pilgrim - Ascetic Christianity. (2012, April 14). Retrieved November 4, 2014, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VjU_505i6E&feature=youtu.be
Fastiggi, R. L. (2010). New Catholic encyclopedia. Detroit, MI: Gale/Cengage Learning.
Kelly, D. (1972). Early Christian Creeds, New York: World Wisdom
Michael, A. (2006). Eastern Christianity, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Robert, B. (2008). The New Church History, Louisville: John Knox Press.