“There is a story about a man who was a famous recluse and ascetic.
He was also a great scholar and something of a saint, wearing sackcloth next to his skin and practicing self-abnegation.
One day he went to visit one of the great Chasidic rabbis.
On arrival, he thought it would be appropriate to open his jacket a little and expose the sackcloth underneath.
The Rabbi peered at him and kept saying, ‘How clever he is. How wise he is.’
After hearing this repeated several times, the ascetic could not refrain from asking, ‘Who? Who is wise?’
And the Rabbi answered: ‘The Evil Impulse — who took such a one as you and put him into a sack.’
The truth is that a person can remain all his life a modest and frugal and decent and can still be doing it entirely for himself.”
From “Klipat Nogah, The Shell of Light” p. 30, in The Long Shorter Way by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz