Ascesis can be seen as the highest form of truth or as virtually no truth at all.  For myself, I can say that I have no idea which it is.   The highest knowledge is not known piecemeal, is not discovered by means of experimentation or any sort of induction, deduction or abduction.  Ascesis is a kind of training, a re-wiring.  It seems that Plato had great difficulty with the choice of either thinking ASCESIS and CATHARSIS together or separating them.  To know, to really know, to get it - it is a joy beyond joy.  A sorrow-joy that is also an all-seeing blindness.  It doesn't require any content.  If there's a ladder needed to get to the truth-cloud of ascesis, it can surely be kicked down.   It is beyond obvious to us today that this kind of knowledge has practically nothing to do with the type of knowledge promised by a scientific-cosmological theory of everything, or any quantity of intellectual knowledge.  Plato wanted knowledge and virtue to be the same, and for them to both amount to blessedness.  We can say definitively that this is not so - and yet the question remains.  There is a connection.  The reason that Transcendental Qabala is necessary is that blessedness-knowledge has to be grounded.   If it is couched in religion - whether the creed of a Christian denomination, the gentle exhortations of a  yoga instructor or whatever - it simply is not grounded.   Catharsis drives research into the nature of ultimate reality - by means of all the tools modernity has to offer - and Ascesis drives research into the meaning of blessedness