Self-denial is necessary to overcome the hindrances of egoism, pride, and selfish desires which obscure the true nature within. The person who is always concerned with himself or herself, is trapped in “the ego-cage of ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘mine.'” Consequently, he can neither realize his own true self nor relate to Ultimate Reality. From a Hindu perspective, denying “I,” “me,” and “mine” is in fact a way to find the true “I” that is transcendent and one with Reality. In the Western perspective it is a way to recover the true self, which is loving and compassionate, having been created in the image of God. Both perspectives affirm the paradox that “he who loves his life loses it, and he who hate shis life will keep it.”
Buddhism also teaches that the path to the religious goal requires one to deny the self and all egoistic grasping. But it goes further, grounding the practice of self-denial on the ontological statement that any form of a self is unreal. Buddhism is most sensitive to the insight that self-denial, when done for the purpose of seeking unity with an Absolute Self or God, can become subtly perverted into a form of pride and self-affirmation. Total self-denial should therefore dispense even with the goal of a transcendent Self. There is no self, either on Earth or in Heaven; all forms are transient, subject to birth and death.
(from the book: World Scriptures II)