Home Useful ideas Diagrams, Models, Concepts Kenosis – ‘self-emptying’


We are, the great spiritual writers insist, most fully ourselves when we give ourselves away, and it is egotism that holds us back from that transcendent experience that has been called God, Nirvana, Brahman, or the Tao.
What I now realize, from my study of the different religious traditions, is that a disciplined attempt to go beyond the ego brings about a state of ecstasy. Indeed, it is in itself ekstasis. Theologians in all the great faiths have devised all kinds of myths to show that this type of kenosis, or self-emptying, is found in the life of God itself. They do not do this because it sounds edifying, but because this is the way that human nature seems to work. We are most creative and sense other possibilities that transcend our ordinary experience when we leave ourselves behind.

Karen Armstrong

I am not

My mug had this on it: “I’m not bossy – I just have the best ideas”

Now the dishwasher has removed some of the words, leaving “I’m not – I just have”. 

A good reminder to me as I drink my tea, and the mug gets emptied in a process of kenosis. I meditate on the absence of anything that I can define as me. There are just events, interactions, processes, that have been brought together, and which have links to each other.

In the background of my photo are forget-me-not flowers. The latin name for the forget-me-not is Myosotis.

Maybe that should be to opposite of kenosis. We have to live with a balance between the opposing forces of kenosis and myosotis.