What does it mean to be empty?
Bear with me on this… just for a moment. I’m not about to get all preachy and try to do a Sunday school lesson or a Sunday morning sermon. I get that the Bible is grossly misinterpreted and is currently a sore spot for most of us…. But here’s the thing… I’ve never heard anyone say they didn’t like Jesus. We intuitively know that whenever he spoke… it was through some Mad Love. Whenever his words are spoken… we instinctively listen through the heart. The heart is the vibration of connectedness. The heart is our center… it unifies and transcends the opposites. No matter what religion you are, or whatever faith, or even lack thereof… we still assertively use the argument… “Jesus never f#cking said that!”
What does it mean to be empty?
So, we’ve already established that Jesus has some major street cred… (I don’t know why I’m talking like this). What I mean is… Jesus stands apart from the dogma. Whenever Jesus addressed religious traditions, rules, legalism, religious structure, the law— he challenged them. Over and over he used the phrase, “ you have heard that it was said”…“But I tell you….” (Matthew 5). In other words, he is saying… “this is what you’ve been taught by the law, here’s what you have learned…but it is old narrow consciousness… he then says “but I say”… here is the new expansive consciousness. You can’t fit new wine in old winesskins… meaning you can’t fit new consciousness into your old narrow structure. Old structures cannot hold this kind of new consciousness. Jesus reduces 613 commandments down to two: love of God and love of neighbor —that is “love thy neighbor as thine own self”— not as a separate person, but as an extension of your very own being. Jungian psychology would say that your neighbor is a metaphor for your shadow— or the disowned parts of yourself. The shadow is often the aspect of ourselves that we disown and then project onto others that we see differently than we see ourselves. We see “the problem” clearly in everyone else, but we fail to see it present in our own lives. When we love our darkest most feared parts of ourselves and accept them… then we are automatically more loving and accepting of others. The message that Jesus was trying to get across is that “there is no more separation.” No separation between you and others or between you and God. This new consciousness that Jesus talked about is what made the religious leaders so angry. They spent a lot of time studying the “right” way to live and they spent a lot of effort in storing up the “good” and doing things the “correct” way. They didn’t want to let that go. You must be empty in order to be filled with anything new.
Psychologically though…what does it mean to be empty?
I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be empty… and what it means to let go. As many of you know, Jenni and I lost everything when our house exploded in January 2021. A water heater malfunctioned and the explosion was so powerful that it knocked us off our feet. We had seconds to escape. We are both grateful to be alive. I know that everything happens for a reason and I know that we are held… we wouldn’t have made it out alive if we were not held and if our intuition didn’t warn us that something was wrong. But I still find myself struggling with the surreal experience of working through that kind of loss… mostly with losing my cat. Within seconds we were suddenly homeless; and since then, we’ve been wandering like gypsies, and we are never quite sure where to go, or when we will find a place to call home. I think the shock of that sudden loss and not having a choice in the matter has made it difficult to let go. It’s like I’m stuck in some weird limbo. I’m stuck holding on to nothing. In one ear I hear “just hang on“ and in the other I hear “you need to let go.”
I’m really asking… what does it mean to let go? What does it mean to empty oneself?
It wasn’t losing the house, or everything we owned, or the uncertainty of our future, nor was it the struggles of becoming a gypsy that alerted me to my inability to let go. It was losing our Beloved Magic Cat. I’m having a hard time letting him go. He was magic. I miss him. I still spend hours looking for him at animal shelters and I even send pictures of him to local veterinarians, just in case. At what point does hope become unhealthy? I’m reminded of another story that also begins with fire.
In Greek mythology, Zeus hides fire from mankind because Prometheus tricked him. Fire symbolizes consciousness and the means of life. Prometheus steals it back and gives it to mankind. Zeus is angry and Prometheus knows it. Prometheus means “Forethought” and he warns his duller brother, Epimetheus (meaning ‘Afterthought’), not to accept any gift from the gods. But his brother cannot refuse the gift of a woman: Pandora, named ‘All Gifts’, because all gods gave her gifts like beauty and desirability. Pandora brought a jar with her. When she opened it, out flew the ‘ills’ men have to suffer, like pain and disease. She shut the lid too late to stop them, but Hope remained in the jar. It does not say whether Hope was one of the ‘ills,’ or the only good thing in the jar. 
Does holding onto hope, make us sick? Does it keep us stuck? For how long do we hold on and when is it time to let go? How does hope and letting go fit together?
Side note: there is no sickness worse than choosing to be lukewarm or having only apathy or ambivalence. So the third way between holding on and letting go isn’t to meet in the middle and give up caring. For that one would have to give up a piece of their soul… for without that there is no more passion.
What does it mean to be empty, and how do we let go?
I think of the touching encounter between Mary Magdalene and Jesus at the tomb after he is resurrected. Mary Magdalene comes to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body, and finds the tomb empty. Panicked and distraught… his body is missing. She is the one that stuck with him the entire journey. She leaves to get spices to anoint his body, and when she comes back, he body is gone. Did someone steal him? Where have they taken him? She asks a man who she believes is the Gardner, “Sir, have you seen my beloved? Do you know where they have laid his body?” She doesn’t recognize it is Jesus she is asking, and mistakes him for the Gardner. But when Jesus says her name “Mariam.” As soon as he says her name… she instantly recognizes him. Overcome, with feelings of joy and relief that I can’t even imagine there would be words to describe… she goes to grab him and hold onto to him. I totally understand her. Then Jesus says, “Don’t cling to me.” I always thought that was really mean of him. Someone isn’t a morning person! Grouchyyyy!!!
Once I realized that I had projected my own hurt feelings and my own fear of rejection into the story—I began to SEE what Jesus meant when he said “Don’t cling to me.” Mary didn’t recognize Jesus and neither did I. She couldn’t see through her lover’s grief and she couldn’t let go of her fixation on his physical body. She was looking for where they had laid his body. She was caught up in another story. In her story, she was searching for whatever physical reminder remained, even in a form that was so temporal that it was about to decompose right before her eyes. I couldn’t see what Jesus meant because of my fear of rejection. That’s a gnarly thing to say to someone who went through all that for you. “Don’t cling to me.” But throughout the story… over and over, Jesus is constantly holding up a mirror saying, “what do you see?” “What story is clouding your vision?” “Where are you stuck?” “What has your attention?” In therapist language we would say, “what does that bring up for you?” In other words, “what haven’t you let go of?” “What is preventing your transformation of consciousness?” “What are you unable to let die, so that resurrection might take place?”It’s all about re-cognition. “What or who inside of you recognizes me? “ That’s the message Jesus was trying to get across until the very end.
What does it mean to be empty? What does it mean to let go?
The morning after the fire. I still had my phone because I used it to call 911. I opened up my kindle app, and I read this beautiful passage out of Cynthia Bourgault’s book, “The Wisdom Jesus.”
“The act of self-giving is simultaneously an act of self-communication; it allows something that was coiled and latent to manifest outwardly. “Letting go” (as in nonclinging, or self-emptying) is but a hair’s breadth away from “letting be,” and our Judeo-Christian tradition remembers that it is through God’s original “Let there be . . .” that our visible world tumbled into existence.
The path of Kenosis (self-emptying, letting go) was a path that Jesus himself walked to the very end. In the garden of Gethsemane, with his betrayers and accusers massing at the gates, he struggled and anguished but remained true to his course. Do not hoard, do not cling—not even to life itself. Let it go, let it be—“Not my will but yours be done, O Lord. Into your hands I commend my spirit.”
Thus he came and thus he went, giving himself fully into life and death, losing himself, squandering himself, “gambling away every gift God bestows.” It was not love stored up but love utterly poured out that opened the gates to the Kingdom of Heaven. Over and over, Jesus lays this path before us. There is nothing to be renounced or resisted. Everything can be embraced, but the catch is to cling to nothing. You let it go. You go through life like a knife goes through a done cake, picking up nothing, clinging to nothing, sticking to nothing. And grounded in that fundamental chastity of your being, you can then throw yourself out, pour yourself out, being able to give it all back, even giving back life itself. That’s the kenotic path in a nutshell. Very, very simple. It only costs everything. 
What does it mean to be empty? What does it mean to let go?
Let get back to hope. That which makes us sick, is also that which can heal.
When we think of the word “hope” most of us think of it as wish fulfillment, but there is another more dynamic meaning than that. The hope that I am referring to is the body of hope. What some traditions refer to as the subtle body, astral body, or “wedding garment.” Understanding this is crucial to any continued soulwork beyond the grave. The Subtle Body is our nonmaterial, energetic manifestation—and it is that which “embodies” us beyond physical form. The body of hope is a living, palpable, and conscious energy that holds the visible and invisible worlds together. It is what makes possible the intercommunion of substances between two people and the continuing growth their souls even when separated by death. It is the “holy element,” as that straddles heaven and earth and makes possible the most intimate connection between these two planes. The body of hope is itself universal, but our individual connection to it is made by animating something within ourselves or that can directly receive it. So, you have to be able to “let go” of attachment to the physical. 
If I zoom out of my current experience of grief and look at my dreams and experiences over the past few years… I notice a pattern emerges. I notice that preparation has been underway to establish linkages between the physical and material world. Last year, Jenni’s brother passed away. Jenni and I moved in with Scotty and Teryl to help during the last months of his life. What we didn’t realize was during those months, we were establishing a link that he would carry with him into the world beyond this world. Scotty was terrified to die… terrified of the unknown. But that connection and love in the months prior to his death made it possible for us to keep connected after he passed from this life into the Larger Life
The first Beatitude… ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven is connected to the root chakra. As you will see, in the articles to come, each beatitude is connected to a chakra. The chakras are energy centers in the subtle body. Jesus was teaching ancient Wisdom… wisdom that transcends religion, dogma, doctrine, or creed.
If you notice the triangle in the symbol of the root chakra. That symbol is the yoni of the Great Cosmic Mother. Within her womb, which we are all inside, contains time, space, and matter. What Scotty learned through dying, was that actually—he was being born. Death is Birth onto another plane. As we move through each chakra and each beatitude, we must begin with letting go.
2. Bourgault, Cynthia. The Wisdom Jesus
3. Bourgault, Cynthia. Love is Stronger Than Death.