Chapter 18: Self-Denial And Renunciation
1. Self-denial and No-self
Because sin, ignorance, and the evil passions cloud human beings' original nature, it is exceedingly difficult to reach God or the goal of religion simply through faith, prayer, worship, offerings, and good works. Our turbid and inconstant self, strengthened by the passions and desires of the body, causes even our good motives and desires to become distorted and confused. The ego gets in the way of a true relationship to God. We are caught up in pride, bound to our possessions and relations, desirous of having ample food and drink and comforts of life. For these reasons, the religious life is not only a straight path towards God, but also a negative path to deny the self, the body, and all the bright and attractive things of the world.
The path of self-denial includes denial of self, mind, desires, body, wealth, family, the world, and life itself. Through self-denial and separation from everything tempting and attractive about the world, the soul is purified and becomes an absolute void. In Buddhist terms, it realizes the truth of Emptiness. From a theistic perspective, we can say that only when the soul becomes empty of ego does it become a vessel suit- able to be filled by God.