I'm struck by your phrase "the useful purpose of asceticism." This sounds like part of the commodification of Eastern religions. If the goal is to live "a great life," this can hardly be done with the "ascetic spirit," since the point of asceticism, from the ascetic's viewpoint (rather than, say, the neoliberal's) is to avoid being entangled in the phony material world.

You're talking about using a semblance of asceticism to avoid judging circumstances. The Stoics avoided judgment to remain tranquil by way of overcoming their fear of death in battle. Ascetics were calm about whatever transpires because they shunned the material world as a pale imitation of a higher reality.

Isn't it a little unseemly to turn the tables on the ascetic without at least acknowledging that the spirit of asceticism is wholly opposed to the more reassuring lesson you're trying to draw?

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