Nothing in your head is formless. Nothing in your head is without “words”. Is why in psycho-analysis they use word association, but it can be sounds or even body language. Just has to be language.
Mortification of the flesh to what purpose, dis-identification? Yes, indeed. When people still undertook it with the proper intent, but it has no merit if it’s merely a self destructive act.
Are there not other ways less destructive to dis-identify? Yes, and “destructiveness” is a key concept. It is not the key concept of self mortification. It is the red flag. In a sense, when you meditate, you destroy something, if only your normal routine. Your thought patterns stagger when you start watching them. Destruction isn’t by itself an evil. When we still ourselves it is like a little death, if only of a rhythm or pattern. To what degree you need to test yourself is largely individual, and most people push themselves to an extreme. It’s funny, if you seek punishment for atonement it will fail.
How many of us feel awful about what we do, and somehow atone for some wrong we perceive in ourselves? What good comes of it? Like stuffing ourselves with junk food, potentially. Addictive behaviour is an attempt to compensate for another need that has become painful, but abstaining from the other need is often seen as somehow virtuous even if it makes us miserable.
What about just hating ourselves for something someone else did to us? I have used this argument before in the case of self loathing. People tend to do things only in part, and it is part of how they get stuck. When they loath themselves it’s because they feel that someone else should see they didn’t mean it, to seem better. So they put a cap on how much they hate themselves, and they don’t explore the experience in depth, which makes it plausible to them. If you take self loathing to its logical extreme, rational thought ceases. Self loathing isn’t sane, but they rationalize it at the more sedate level and can stay locked in it for a lifetime. When a child does something like hit themselves, we get very disturbed, but ignore it in adults and the self destructive acts are far worse. We fail to see the simple root, and become enamoured of the suffering that is our self identity.
Addiction is a form of self loathing. I have known many addicts. It isn’t from self love that they do what they do. They want more than the addiction, and deny that they can have it for themselves. Addiction can be a slow form of suicide until they begin recovery and start living it instead of the guilt.
Mortification of the flesh in a ritualized setting can help people get over these bad addictions that hurt them. Today, there is a small movement in Native American culture that is closely monitored legally. It is with the consent of the person being healed, but they use a combination of sweats and exertion to exhaustion with intense social stress to break the person. In this case, an alcoholic. Then they work to show them after that the tribe doesn’t actually hate them, and that they can have and do still have a positive place. People become very wilfully addicted to their self image.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.