Since this ritual is still practiced by devoted Buddhist in the region, we know how those caves were/are used. The devoted pilgrim will come there, crawl back into the cave and stay . . . for weeks or months in total dark isolation. A family member would bring them bland food, such enough to keep them alive, and water. That family member was not allowed to make any verbal or visual contact with the pilgrim.
The point in all of this is an deeper spiritual experience by a complete denial of the self. But Buddhism is very dualistic religion, in which this physical world is seen as a hindrance, at best, to the spiritual world and thus human desire is in opposition to spiritual enlightenment.
I have a sense that some forms of Christianity has taken this non-Biblical approach to denying the self. For example, many sects throughout the medieval period saw the universe in this light. Church history tells us of many monks who sought total isolation from the world and from all human desires.
In the verse that I included in the previous post about this topic, scripture seems to suggest some type of denial of self.
This blog is of course not meant to be a source of great Biblical teaching. At best it is the musings of a not so bright, lay person who is trying to figure things out for himself. In other words, even if I were teaching a Sunday school class on this topic, I would have spent hours in Biblical research. But at best, I have had that passage and my thoughts about that passage on the back burner of my mind in the last few days.
I think that passage makes sense if you put it into its historical context. Jesus was about to be crucified. The entire Christian empire rested on the shoulders of those eleven men (plus faithful bystanders). Soon the whole army would bear down on those individuals, most of whole would be martyred. So the issue was do they, in the face of danger, give up, go home and deny the faith.
I could see the same issue coming up today (if we lived in a fictitious futuristic world) where a Fascist government wanted to kill all the American Christians. Now I say this tongue n cheek, but I do now Evangelicals who are convinced that this scenario is just around the corner.
But in that fictitious world, I can imagine how, if we wanted the faith to continue, that we would have to suffer, giving up our instincts for survival and denying our selves . . . potentially facing grave harm.
But in closing of this post, my real question is whether or not if this concept of self-denial has been taken out of context and influenced by Dualistic thinking to the point that it really becomes a burden to many and even a possible tool of manipulation.