CHAPTER 18: Self-Denial and Renunciation
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 attract-
ive 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.