Almost every religion and spiritual path recognizes the importance of contemplation in some form. But what is it?
In Eastern Christianity, contemplation literally means to see God or to have the Vision of God. They describe this as a state of beholding God, or being in union with God.
The idea here is that once someone is in the presence of God, they can begin to properly understand, and there “contemplate” God. This form of contemplation is to have an actual experience, rather than a rational or reasoned understanding, of a theory.
Within Western Christianity, contemplation is often related to mysticism as expressed in the works of mystical theologians such as Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross as well as the writings of Margery Kempe, Augustine Baker and Thomas Merton.
In Christianity, contemplation refers to a ‘content’-free mind directed towards the awareness of God as a living reality. This corresponds, in some ways, to what in Eastern religion is called samadhi. (Meditation, on the other hand, often refers to a more cognitive exercise.)
The spiritual teacher Adyashanti defines contemplation as the art of holding a word or a phrase patiently in the silence and stillness of awareness until it begins to disclose deeper and deeper meanings and understandings.
Contemplation, he says, has the power to transcend beyond (not regress back from) the limits of analytical thought and logic, and open consciousness up to an order of wisdom and Truth that can only be described as revelation.
This topic will be carefully examined during an upcoming conference in Winnipeg, Healing the World through Contemplative Practice. Here, you’ll hear from several experts in the area of contemplation and spiritual growing and healing. Please check out the link below to register.
Also — we’d love to hear your definition of contemplation! What does it mean to you? Look forward to hearing your comments.