Self-Denial is the first order of Moral Code. All Virtue aligns with it. All Vanity scoffs at it.
Religions offered their denouement at the limit of self-denial, in the perfection of self-mortification.
‘When he is brought to nothing, the highest degree of humility, the spiritual union between his soul and God will be effected‘.
So wrote St. John of the Cross, the Spanish Mystic.
St. John of the Cross who gave us the scary poem: ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ [La noche oscura del alma] and his close collaborator Teresa of Ávila, have influenced every famous modern Western Mystic [Merton, Dali, et al].
The roots of St. John’s Mysticism, as that of Teresa, go back to medieval Neo-Platonism, the ‘One’ of Plotinus, itself linking to Greek and Sanskrit text.
Virtue etymologically roots in the Sanskrit, Vir; Latin, virtut. [Virility, Manliness]. Courage is the first Virtue. Give me a Manly Culture anyday.
‘Civilization is self-restraint’ declared Rajagopalachari, a man of scholarship; and of God [a prolific translator of Sanskrit epics that crowded my boyhood bookshelf]. It was a favored maxim of Sigmund Freud, an acute observer of the Human Condition; and an Atheist.