I don’t have much perspective on kenosis, the wearing out of remaining identifications. A wearing out of taking stories – and their viewpoints and corresponding identities – as true, and as what we are.

But here are a few things I notice from my own experience, and that of some others….

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Whatever the “I” is doing…

At some point on the process, quite late, we paint ourselves into a corner.

There is a sense that whatever this “I” is doing is not going to do it. It can’t touch what I am and everything is.

And there is also an acute sense of the irony of this “I” trying to get rid of itself.

In both cases, this “I” is only spinning its wheels. And gradually wearing itself out.

This “I” as a doer/observer is a gestalt, a fabrication, and it is wearing itself out. (Or more accurately, wearing identification with it out.)

And it is completely innocent. A part of the play of God.

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Letting go of past, future, present

The process of waking up, and embodying/living it, is a process of letting of of identification with (images of) past, future and present.

For a while, it may be quite abstract. But eventually, it is very real and gritty.

There is a need to let go of identification with the past. With my history defining who I am. There is a need to let go of everything I was.

There is a need to let go of identification with the future. With my visions of who I may be in the future. There is a need to let go of everything I hoped or expected to be.

And there is a need to let go of identifications with the present. With my images of who I am or wish to be. There is a need to let go of everything I take myself to be, or wish to be. All circumstances, roles, identities, life.

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Don’t work

Practices work in a limited sense, inviting in shifts within content of experience, and also in what we take as what we are.

They are an invitation and nothing more, so they don’t work if we expect something more.

Sometimes, they may not work at all, they don’t give me the effect I wanted or expected, and this is an opportunity for coming to terms with what is, and that “I” – the sense of separate I – cannot “do” anything. It is humbling, and really an invitation for beliefs and identities around wanting things to be different to wear off, and the same with a sense of a doer. (Because these are imagined in the first place.)

The next one is where I am now, so there isn’t that much perspective or familiarity with it yet. It is one that may emerge further into the path, as an inevitable and lived experience. As with all of these, if is made into a belief it gets weird. And if it is triggered by stories (teachings) and not arrived at organically, it also gets a little weird. The value of mentioning this one is to have an idea of what to expect, and for those who already in it to see that it is normal. Otherwise, it is not important.

Practices have served me well for a long time, and I may continue to have a great deal of appreciation for them. But at some point, even if they continue to work in the usual sense, they don’t work.

They may invite in shifts within content of experience, and even in identification, but none of those touches what I am and everything is. And that is where this process is going, shifting identification into that which is not touched by any practice.

Also, this is a process of wearing off of all beliefs and identifications, so there is an acute realization of the irony of an “I” doing a practice to allow that illusory “I” to wear off. There is a sense of having painted oneself in a corner, with nowhere to go.

Practices have their time and place, and they are still valuable in a limited sense – maybe especially in allowing my human self to continue healing and maturing. I may still continue to use them, because what else is there to do, but the hope for what they can do is not there as before.

There is a very healthy disillusionment here.

It is a beautiful place to be, in many ways. There is still appreciation for practices and what they do, a wearing off of hope for what they can do in this situation, and a recognition that the grittiness of life itself wears off remaining beliefs and identifications.

So to summarize, practices work in a limited sense, in inviting a shift in content of experience or what we take ourselves to be. They don’t work if we expect them to be anything more than an invitation. They may not work at all, which is an invitation for us to notice that everything lives its own life, on its own schedule. And they may work as before, but now don’t “do it” since what is left is a wearing out of the last identifications as an “I” and a doer, and that process lives its own life and happens (at least partly) through the grittiness of daily life.

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Seeking escape

When there is a belief in a story, there is automatically escape from experience as well. Whenever there is friction between our stories of what is and what should be, there is discomfort, and a seeking to avoid that discomfort… by changing our stories of what is, what should be, or changing our attention to something else. And when this is done to escape the tension, there is a sense of compulsiveness to it, avoidance, and discomfort.

There are, at least, three ways for this to change.

The most crude one is to repeat this over and over until there is an exhaustion of this pattern. If we pay attention, and repeat it often enough, we see that it really doesn’t work, and the pattern may wear out and fall away.

Another is to explore being with whatever comes up, to actively go against the pattern and see what happens. What is the difference between trying to escape an experience, and going into it, fully being with it, allowing it, in a wholehearted and heartfelt way?

And yet another is to inquire into the pattern, to explore it more thoroughly through inquiry, learn about it in its many aspects and flavors, for instance using The Work or the Big Mind process.

In most cases, there is probably a combination of each of these three, and probably other ones as well. There is a wearing out of the pattern, from seeing over and over that it really does not work. There is an inevitably being with of whatever is, even accidentally, and a noticing of the shift that happens. And there is an exploration of the dynamics of the pattern itself, a familiarity with it.

From my Zen days, I see that sitting practice, probably just about any sitting practice when done enough, includes each of those three.