This is a venture in which God alone is sought and gained.
As regards this road to union, entering on the road means leaving one’s own road; and turning from one’s own mode implies entry into what has no mode, that is, God.
A man, then, is decidedly hindered from the attainment of this high state of union with God when he is attached to any understanding, feeling, imagining, opinion, desire, or way of his own and knows not how to detach and denude himself of these impediments. His goal transcends all of this. Consequently, he must pass beyond everything to unknowing.
Our Lord, for our instruction and guidance along this road, imparted that wonderful teaching – I think it is possible to affirm that the more necessary the doctrine the less it is practiced – which I will quote fully: “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself, take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake will save it”. (Mk. 8: 34-35)
Oh, who can make this counsel understandable, and practicable, and attractive that spiritual persons might become aware of the difference between the method many of them think is good and that which ought to be used in travelling this road!
I should like to persuade spiritual persons that the road leading to God does not entail a multiplicity of considerations, methods, manners and experiences – though in their own way these may be a requirement for beginners – but demands only the one thing necessary: true self-denial. In the exercise of this self-denial everything else, and even more, is discovered and accomplished. If one fails in this exercise, the root and sum total of all the virtues, the other methods would amount to no more than going about in circles without any progress, even if they result in considerations and communications as lofty as those of the angels.
Few there are with the knowledge and desire for entering upon this supreme nakedness and emptiness of spirit.
The Ascent of Mount Carmel. Book 2. 4:4-5, 7:3-5