Self punishment is seen as a way of cleansing one's guilt and sometimes as a way to increase ones chances of getting into heaven.  Some religious people inflict pain on themselves for the pleasure they think will get after they die.

    Jesus's suffering on the cross is seen as cleansing the guilt of Christians.  He is seen as having suffered for us.   An good web page about this topic is called Spiritual Growth Through Pain.  Flagellant sects emerged in late medieval Europe in an attempt to expiate the sins of Christendom and to avert divine retribution in times of crisis, such as war, famine and plague. Self Flagellation still occurs in the Phillipines during holy week as a ritual re-enactment of the scourging of Jesus Christ at the pillar.  Iraqi Shiite Muslims carve themselves up on the festival honoring Hussein in penitence for their ancestors having abandoned him.  This is described on the Islam and Jihad web page and a picture of the ceremony is given below.

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On the day of atonement Jews fast as penitence for their sins.   These concepts carry over into the idea that seeking pleasure is wrong. Medieval Christians thought that seeking pleasure was sin, and prevented realization of the spiritual self.  In Africa there is widespread circumcision of females leaving them with reduced of no ability to feel sexual pleasure.  Opponents say that this is done in order to make them less likely to become sexually active before marriage or to seek an extra-marital affair after marriage.   So desire for pleasure is seen as leading to sin.  

  Beliefs that pleasure is wrong are wrong.  Happiness is a virtue.  If one can bring happiness to oneself, one's happiness will shine into other people's hearts and one will be able to give love and happiness to others.   Even if one just brings happiness to one person and that person is oneself one has done a good deed.

 

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