On undetached people who are full of self-will.4 People say: ‘O Lord, I wish that I stood as well with God and that I had as much devotion and peace with God as other people, and that I could be like them or could be as poor as they are.’ Or they say: ‘It never works for me unless I am in this or that particular place and do this or that particular thing. I must go to somewhere remote or live in a hermitage or a monastery.’ Truly, it is you who are the cause of this yourself, and nothing else. It is your own self-will, even if you don’t know it or this doesn’t seem to you to be the case. The lack of peace that you feel can only come from your own self-will, whether you are aware of this or not. Whatever we think – that we should avoid certain things and seek out others, whether these be places or people, particular forms of devotion, this group of people or this kind of activity – these are not to blame for the fact that you are held back by devotional practices and by things; rather it is you as you exist in these things who hold yourself back, for you do not stand in the proper relation to them. Start with yourself therefore and take leave of yourself. Truly, if you do not depart from yourself, then wherever you take refuge, you will find obstacles and unrest, wherever it may be. Those who seek peace in external things, whether in places or devotional practices, people or works, in withdrawal from the world or poverty or self-abasement: however great these things may be or whatever their character, they are still nothing at all and cannot be the source of peace. Those who seek in this way, seek wrongly, and the farther they range, the less they find what they are looking for. They proceed like someone who has lost their way: the farther they go, the more lost they become. But what then should they do? First of all, they should renounce themselves, and then they will have renounced all things. Truly, if someone were to renounce a kingdom or the whole world while still holding on to themselves, then they would have renounced nothing at all. And indeed, if someone renounces themselves, then whatever they might keep, whether it be a kingdom or honour or whatever it may be, they will still have renounced all things. St Peter said, ‘See, Lord, we have left everything’ (Matt. 19:27), when he had left nothing more than a mere net and his little boat, and a saint5 comments that whoever willingly renounces what is small, renounces not only this but also everything which worldly people can possess or indeed even desire. Whoever renounces their own will and their own self, renounces all things as surely as if all things were in that person’s possession to do with as they pleased, for what you do not wish to desire, you have given over and given up to God. Therefore our Lord said, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’ (Matt. 5:3), which is to say those who are poor in will. Let no one be in any doubt about this: if there were a better way, then our Lord would have told us, who said, ‘If anyone would follow me, he must first deny himself’ (Matt 16:24). This is the point which counts. Examine yourself, and wherever you find yourself, then take leave of yourself. This is the best way of all.