How do you define contemplation?

Hello my fellow human Beings:

How do you explain the act of contemplation to someone who is hearing it for the first time?

Can you describe the feeling of contemplation in plain words?

Can you tell someone how to be in contemplation?

Thomas Merton, an Anglo-American Catholic Trappist monk, writer, mystic, poet, social activist and student of comparative religion, attempts to describe contemplation in his book, New Seeds of Contemplation:

“Contemplation is the highest expression of [a person’s] intellectual and spiritual life.  It is that life itself, fully awake, fully active, fully aware that it is alive.  It is spiritual wonder.  It is spontaneous awe at the sacredness of life, of being.  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.  Contemplation is, above all, awareness of the reality of that Source.”

Merton’s description of contemplation is awe-inspiring and tremendous – making it seem like contemplation is something beyond our reach, but yet something to strive for.

I would liken learning how to contemplate to what the Zen Buddhists say about meditating on koans.  Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist, Thich Nhat Hahn notes that:

 “A koan is a meditation device, a special kind of Zen riddle.  Koans are solved not with the intellect but with the practice of mindfulness, concentration and insight.”

In fact, “How do you define contemplation?” may be considered a koan in and of itself.  Words cannot adequately express the feeling and state of being when one is in contemplation.  Rather it is something that needs to be experienced through meditation – mindfulness, concentration and insight.

So I invite you to set aside some time to be still and connect to your infinitely abundant Source through meditation.  Sit in meditation with the question: “Who am I?”

Who AM I?

                                    WHO AM I?

                                                                        Who am I?

Don’t try to intellectually respond to the question.  Instead, just be with it, be with You (Your Essence, Your Being, Your True Self), and be connected to the Source of all.

Experience the answer, “I AM,” and you’ll be living more abundantly!

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4 thoughts on “How do you define contemplation?

  1. This is beautiful, StillValerie. While our busy lives don’t lend easily to contemplation (There is always something else we could be doing!), I have found that nothing nourishes me quite as much as taking time for silence and reflection. Thank you for this beautiful reminder to take time for contemplation.

    • Thank you for taking the time to leave this lovely comment, Shuba. I find your lessons learned from your meditation practice with your daughter uplifting and encouraging.

      Blessings!

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