Today we examine the science of finding your spiritual self and how we can move towards a definition of contemplation that you can apply to transforming your life. Contemplation is the ultimate expression of our higher or spiritual lives and just like yoga, just like any other mindful or spiritual practice, contemplation requires one to go beyond the mind or in other words, it gets us to move beyond the bounds of all we know. It is more about the learning how to un-know than know. It is coming to know your true self, their true self and every other living thing’s true self and how it is all in divine relationship to the entire world without exclusion. When you look at the world, including yourself, other people and the Creator, exactly as they all are without distortions and self-created boundaries, then you will be able to grasp and comprehend what is really going on here in this mysterious and wonderful, and oftentimes chaotic universe. Perhaps this is what Jeremiah heard in the voice that said call to Me and I will answer you, and I will show you marvellous and wonderful things which you know nothing about (which you do not know and understand and cannot distinguish).
Contemplation is simply being fully present in heart, mind, and body, to what is in a way ‘that’, that allows you to creatively respond and work toward what could be. Contemplation is both personal and communal, internal and external. It helps us let go of our usual, self-focused way of thinking and doing things so that our compassionate, connected, and creative self can emerge.
While psychology, and neuroscience have all shed light on the cognitive processes that enable us to survive and flourish, contemplative science offers a groundbreaking perspective for expanding our capacity to realise genuine well-being, making us understand that the ultimate Intelligence is Contemplation. It also forges a link between the material world and the realm of the subconscious that transcends the traditional science-based understanding of the self.
Through contemplation we develop the capacity to witness our egoic motivations, bringing this awareness into our day-to-day actions and living with increased freedom and authenticity through deeper awareness of self, other and God. What is contemplation about? Well, imagine for a moment that you could be all-knowing. Where would that get you? Although we can’t be all knowing like God is, we can benefit from knowledge and wisdom. The more we have, the more we will benefit in all areas of our lives. So let’s not under rate it! At the very least it is a kind of self actualisation and God realization at depth.
Contemplation evolves in stages from a humble genesis to an ever deepening revelation. Interestingly, namesakes of the Bibles first and last chapters. Notice the last chapter of the bible is not an epilogue, conclusion or ending. Nothing ever
truly ends. It is a deepening into more and more consciousness and then falling blissfully back into mystery through an omega point rather than a finish line. An omega point is that mysterious and invisible force that guides us to wherever it is we are going. It is the force that won’t allow you to stay the same. It won’t allow you to settle, be someone that you are not or live happily without a true sense of purpose.
Contemplation encompasses embracing the mysterious, not just the known and it is a mindset that can shift us from a survival to a thrive mind. It is thinking about thinking. It is Meta-thinking that uses all the faculties of what you call yourself. It uses body, heart, emtotions, mind, actions and even consequences. It uses imagination, memory and adapts them into a language of presence.
What we plant in the soil of contemplation, we shall reap in the harvest of action.Meister Eckhart
When we move towards a definition of contemplation we quickly realise that it is the highest expression of our intellectual and spiritual life. It is that life itself, fully awake, fully active, fully aware that is alive. It can help us heal, grow and enrich our lives pretty much like yoga, a good online course, a book or a profound life-experience can. Thomas Merton, a famous Monk who used the Power of Contemplation a lot said “It is gratitude for life, for awareness and for being. It is a vivid realization of the fact that life and being in us proceed from an invisible, transcendent and infinitely abundant source”.
To enter into the realm of contemplation, one must in a certain sense die: but this death is in fact the entrance into a higher life. It is a death for the sake of life, which leaves behind all that we can know or treasure as life, as thought, as experience as joy, as being.Thomas Merton
10 steps towards a definition of contemplation
Here are some of our favourite definitions of contemplation gathered from the book The Power of Contemplative Intelligence we can use as we move closer towards a definition of contemplation. Once we learn to speak the language of contemplation everything else becomes free of distortion. Once you learn the language of contemplation you are able to begin to see the common denominators in all things as separation slowly disintegrates. Contemplation is the end of two.
- Contemplation is a prayer of the heart, more so than a prayer of the mind.
- Contemplative practices are practical, radical, and transformative, developing capacities for deep concentration and quieting the mind in the midst of the action and distraction that fills everyday life.
- It is universally relational.
- Contemplation is a way — a way of seeing, a way of praying, a way of beholding, a way of wondering — of meditating, of musing, of recognising.
- Contemplation is beyond personality and ego defences Contemplation: it is a way of seeing, but also a way of thinking, a school of knowledge, a path of formation and discipline.
- Contemplation is self-inquiry. Contemplation is the concentration on spiritual things that manifests mystical awareness.
- Contemplation is re-looking, re-feeling and re-experiencing everything in the present moment rather than from mind and memory.
- Contemplation is meeting as much reality as we can handle in its most simple and immediate form Contemplation is a way to keep the mind free from confusion and in clarity, even when there is chaos around you. Poetry, music, art, the abstract and eccentric are also understood better through contemplation.
- Contemplation grounds people into empathy by eliminating the ego identities separation perspective.
- Contemplation is the response to a universal call that is beyond words. It is coming to know your true self, their true self and every other living thing’s true self and how it is all in divine relationship to the entire world without exclusion.
To find out more about how we move Towards a definition of contemplation, or about The Power of Contemplative Intelligence Books and courses check out the website.