Kenosis – self forgetting

Recently I have been engaged in the wonderful task of teaching meditation to members of the local Anglican Church. I have taught meditation on and off for over 20 years but there is a big difference between this group and my previous students. Of course they are not esoterically inclined in anyway, but the main difference I think is honesty. You see, over the years when I have asked people how their daily practice was going, I’d get the sneaking suspicion that some half truths were being told. “Oh, yes, every day”, would be accompanied by a slight sideways glance. Not so with these good Church folk – they are not doing a single jot of meditation between classes and quite happy to declare the fact to the group :).  Whether such honesty makes up for laziness or indifference is an open question, but I do find it refreshing.

However, despite only a weekly dose my fellow meditators are coming along very well and displaying all the characteristics of those delving into new spiritual realms – deeper connection to the One, curiosity, improved health, increased humour and sparkling eyes. And they all put this down to the fact they are meditating – even if only once a week! Much of this I think may also be due to several Christian Masters I am (sneakily) inviting along before and during our sessions. 🙂 Also, with the blessing of the priest, our third session each evening uses more esoteric or depth spiritual techniques than the Centring Prayer approach of the first two sessions.

Many of these later techniques are on the theme of kenosis, emptiness, or as Karen Armstrong likes to translate it ‘self forgetting’. In a general spiritual sense (as distinct from Christian theology) this refers to the emptying of the ego, our precious sense of self, the surrender of all which keeps us separate from the divine. Paradoxically this is in some way a mirror of the Christian theological concept where Christ poured out or emptied himself of His divine attributes in order to become fully human, as indicated in the great Kenosis Hymn quoted by Paul in Philippians:

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.

Though hardly a magical principle per se, it seems to me such ‘self forgetting’ is very much needed in today’s modern pagan and magical communities. Since of course the self we are forgetting when practicing kenotic mysticism is not the self that survives death (or exists at all according to the Buddhists) it is hardly important. Yet too many of today’s ‘I am spiritual’ methods of unfoldment encourage holding onto ourselves. As we label and think of ourselves, as ‘spiritual’, ‘adept’, ‘psychic’, ‘priestess’ we may easily be increasing the self we need to forget.

Now magic approaches the matter from a different angle, seeking to hone and perfect the self according to the deeper purposes of the higher being, rather than emptying the self. The two approaches, of course, hopefully dovetail into a single realisation of the Mystery at the core of our existence. But I still think even the most seasoned and well intentioned magician or pagan can do with an inner spring clean and emptying out once in a while 🙂

Below is a simple kenotic formula which I use with my Anglican buddies. It is really just a series of notes I typed up for the evenings, so it is best considered as a skeleton upon which to build your own group or solo practice. Being adapted from a full ceremonial process used at the solar festivals, it is easily able to be (re)expanded into a group ritual or whatever. There are few Christian concepts here, but with thought and deep connection to another deity, the Christian references can be easily replaced with pagan or Universalist themes for those needing to do so. Enjoy…

Kenotic Meditation

Prayer (leader or group member): Our Father, the One the Eternal, the Archetype – you who manifest as body and blood, warmth and flesh, as Yehoshua, Lord Jesus Christ, and within our community as the Holy Spirit of inspiration, hold us and guide us tonight to let go ourselves, so to be filled with your grace and presence. In your Name, Amen.

Reading: (Philippians 2:1-13)

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.

Preparatory Meditation: The leader introduces this. Everyone gets ready, settles down. Members encouraged to engage in Interior Prayer for a minute or two. Meditation on breath, simple in and out of the nostrils, not following the breath or energy of the breath. When mind wanders, with relaxed attention bring focus back to the breath. Five minutes.

Prayer (Invocation) to the Archangels: See, invoke or pray to the four Archangels at the four directions, according to your tradition. East, Raphael; North, Michael; West, Gabriel; South, Auriel (reverse North and South attributions for the northern hemisphere).

Centre: Build up an image of Christ and His Incarnation. See Him at the centre of the circle. Sense and realise His kenosis, His emptying of the divine nature to become as we are – fully human. Inwardly intone or say

East: Imagine yourself moving to stand in the circle at the eastern boundary, facing the east. Behind you at the centre is Christ, the perfect expression of kenosis, the way towards our self forgetting. Stand at the east and open yourself to Christ. Let His presence hold and guide you to realise now, become deeply aware, see before you all your airy qualities –intellect, mind, communication, symbolising powers, language, etc (use all the airy qualities according to your tradition). As you become aware of these, let them go, pour them out of you. Ask Christ to assist. Inwardly (outwardly in ritual via censing) feel a great wind come from the East and remove, blow away from within you all your airy qualities.

North: Imagine yourself moving to stand in the circle at the northern boundary, facing the north. Behind you at the centre is Christ, the perfect expression of kenosis, the way towards our self forgetting. Stand at the north and open yourself to Christ. Let His presence hold and guide you to realise now, become deeply aware, see before you all your fiery qualities – power, will, force, illumination, etc (use all the fiery qualities according to your tradition). As you become aware of these, let them go, pour them out of you. Ask Christ to assist. Inwardly (outwardly in ritual via the use of candles or torches) see flames approach from the north and remove, burn away from within you all your fiery qualities.

West: Imagine yourself moving to stand in the circle at the western boundary, facing the west. Behind you at the centre is Christ, the perfect expression of kenosis, the way towards our self forgetting. Stand at the west and open yourself to Christ. Let His presence hold and guide you to realise now, become deeply aware, see before you all your watery qualities – emotions, intuition, flow, depth, feelings, love, attachment, etc (use all the watery qualities according to your tradition). As you become aware of these, let them go, pour them out of you. Ask Christ to assist. Inwardly (outwardly in ritual via sprinkling) see a great waves come from the Western shore and remove, wash away from within you all your watery qualities.

South: Imagine yourself moving to stand in the circle at the southern boundary, facing the south. Behind you at the centre is Christ, the perfect expression of kenosis, the way towards our self forgetting. Stand at the south and open yourself to Christ. Let His presence hold and guide you to realise now, become deeply aware, see before you all your earthy qualities – spatial sense, body, practical action, home, family, etc (use all the earthy qualities according to your tradition). As you become aware of these, let them go, pour them out of you. Ask Christ to assist. Inwardly (outwardly in ritual via burying your name in a small pot of earth) enter a deep, dark forest in the South and allow yourself to become one with the forest, letting go and surrendering all your earthy qualities.

Centre: Stand before Christ and ask him for help to further empty, to let go of your self. Inwardly or softly outwardly, repeat your name over and over softly, each time slower and slower, softer and softer until there is only silence.

Leader recites slowly and carefully:

Be still and know that I am God

Be still and know that I am

Be still and know

Be still

Be

Silence

Path of Return

Leader softly intones Yehoshua or Christ several times. Directs everyone to inwardly intone His Name, alternately with their name, for example ‘Yehoshua, Morgan… Yehoshua, Morgan” several times.

South: Be aware of the south, of earth and Auriel… (depending on circumstances the leader will extend these return sections to ensure all return well and grounded by listing all the qualities of the element if required). Again, the leader directs everyone to inwardly intone His Name, alternately with their name, for example ‘Yehoshua, Morgan… Yehoshua, Morgan” several times.

West: Be aware of the west, of water and Gabriel… Again,the  leader directs everyone to inwardly intone His Name, alternately with their name, for example ‘Yehoshua, Morgan… Yehoshua, Morgan” several times.

North: Be aware of the north, of fire and Michael. Again,the  leader directs everyone to inwardly intone His Name, alternately with their name, for example ‘Yehoshua, Morgan… Yehoshua, Morgan” several times.

East: Be aware of the east, of air and Rapahel. Again,the  leader directs everyone to inwardly intone His Name, alternately with their name, for example ‘Yehoshua, Morgan… Yehoshua, Morgan” several times.

Thanks and Closing.

All perform a Qabalistic Cross or the Lord’s Prayer.

Prayer: Our Father, the One the Eternal, the Archetype – you who manifest as body and blood, warmth and flesh, as Yehoshua, Lord Jesus Christ, and within our community as the Holy Spirit of inspiration, thank you for your guidance and holding tonight, for the mystery of Kenosis. May we be formed anew by your grace and light, to love and serve the world.  Amen.

The Leader ensures everyone is fully grounded and if required leads further grounding processes.

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4 comments

  1. Satima Flavell · October 13, 2011

    A lovely practice, Peregrin, and it’s nice to know that your priest is open-minded enough to support its use in his congregation.

  2. Peregrin · October 14, 2011

    Hi Satima,

    thanks, it is a lovely practice. And the priest does not mind – though she does mind being called a ‘Priestess’ 🙂

  3. Julie B-L · October 14, 2011

    Correction Peregrin – at least ONE of your meditation group engages in (almost) daily meditation (day off is usually day off from regular daily patterns)!!! And let’s be fair – I think one or two others do as well. But you are very right about not liking being called a Priestess!

  4. John · October 21, 2011

    When I shared this article with my wife (a Christian), she pointed out that your group may be less honest about whether they are praying daily.

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