We've all heard of spiritual practices such as meditation, prayer and contemplation but a powerful less-known spiritual practice is self-emptying or "kenosis." Self-emptying is practiced in many faith traditions from Sufism, Buddhism, Judaism and Christianity.
The practice of self-emptying moves us away from the egocentric operating system to an open heart space that allows the living light of the Divine to shine through in all its glory. This Divinity is always present inside of us; but, all too often, we are so filled up with junk that it is overshadowed by the ego's creations. We live in a society that is plagued with materialism, consumerism, greed, corruption, violence and competition. We are so overwhelmed with the demands of daily living that we get filled up emotionally with anger, fear, clinging, regret, shame and blame which takes up space in our hearts, minds and souls. With our culture's pull to fill us up with what we don't need, there is not much room for loving kindness and compassion let alone for God's divinity within us to be experienced in totality.
The Christians, for example, look at Jesus as the great example of self-emptying. He showed us a way of living which entails breaking free of clinging, attachments and all notions of the "I" and relying on the Divine Presence for everything. He showed us how to move away from the egocentric operating system, which thrives on separateness, into unitive consciousness that can only be gleaned from deep within the heart space. He didn't cling to his Divinity; rather, he humbly took human form to minister to people - he was willing to empty himself to become human while his divinity existed at the same time. In much the same way, the Divine Presence eternally lives within us. All we need to do is allow our humanness to fade away and rely on Divine Principle for everything - and I mean everything. It's not that we become empty to be filled with the Divine Presence, because we are already filled with it; rather, we become empty to reveal the Divine Light of God that is eternally present but overshadowed by the ego's creations.
Emptying ourselves allows us to take on the mind of Christ. This means to have the same mind that Jesus used, which is the mind of God. In metaphysical teachings, it is believed there is only one Mind, this Mind is our mind and it operates in, as and through us. We don't have to go anywhere to access a God out there somewhere because God (the one Mind) is within us right now. Dr. Ernest Holmes tells us, "We have the mind of Christ in such a degree as we trust implicitly in the Universe, and no longer do things which contradict the fundamental goodness...Every man [woman] has the mind of Christ...but can only use this Mind when in harmony with Life."
How, exactly, do we empty ourselves and take on the Mind of Christ? Is it even possible in this turbulent world where we are filled with regrets, sorrow, suffering, anxiety, unresolved relationships, anger and busyness to make space for God's action in us? First we must become self-aware and discover what traits we need to expel. Do you have fear? Anger? Greed? Selfishness? Pettiness? Negativity? Hopelessness? Ask yourself what you need to get rid of to put on the mind of Christ. We must let go of the false self or small self for the true Divine self to emerge.
Take a deep look inside of yourself. Can you trust God for everything? Can you give up attachment to worldly form and stand naked and ready to let God fill you up? As Meister Eckhart says, "When God finds you ready and empty, he must act and fill you to overflowing with himself, just as sunlight must flood and fill the clear, pure air. He cannot fail to do this when he finds you so empty and bare."
I invite you to be bare before God, to shed Earthly pulls and fascinations, to be without negativity, without the ego, without clinginess, hate, greed or selfishness - to let go of control and trust that a Universal Power of Good meets all of your needs. Doing so will unleash a love bursting in your heart that is unstoppable. Compassion and humility become your only way of living in the world. It's an ecstatic place to live in the sacredness of the most high. Your light is urgently needed in the world. Empty yourself of everything unlike God and shepherd in a new world - one of love, light and compassion for all living things.
As always drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and share with me how you are doing. If you need assistance with the practice of self-emptying, we can work together in coaching sessions.
Peace to all,
Dr. Barbara Gulbranson is one of the nation's leading spiritual teachers, author, spiritual coach, ordained minister and director of the Suicide Prevention Center, a program of United Health Services.