What is contemplation?
I have always defined contemplation as the confrontation with the Divine or the Sacred. It is not philosophy. It is not an activity (like working). It isn’t even reflection. It is a placing of oneself in the presence of the Divine. This is not done intellectually or by a thought or physical act. It is purely a spiritual matter. By ‘spiritual’ I mean that it is a communication of the Divine in us with the Divine in life.
As such, it has a different language and principles than anything else in life. This language takes a lifetime to learn (if its ever really learned at all).
This contemplation, as I refer to it, is a deliberate act of a person. In other words, a person must do something to achieve it. It just doesn’t happen.
As I said, contemplation is the Divine in us reaching to the Divine in life. But the non-Divine is a big part of each of us. It encompasses a lot of who we are. As a result, a lot of contemplation is having to separate from the non-Divine. This separation can be very difficult. This separation of the non-Divine with the Divine in us create a lot of the drama in contemplation. It creates a lot of the joy and a lot of the pain.
Themes associated with contemplation
– The need to separate from the non-Divine in yourself. By separating from the non-Divine we develop the Divine part within ourselves.
– The need to remove yourself from anything non-Divine. By keeping us within the Divine presence we develop the Divine aspects of ourselves.
– The need for a death and transformation of the self. Because the Divine requires the Divine part of our self there is a need for us to be transformed. Our self needs to change so we can develop the Divine aspect of our self.
– The need to know what the difference is between the Divine and the non-Divine.
– The continual practice of searching for the Divine.
– The continual practice of being aware of the Divine.
What is the Divine?
The Divine refers to the life that is intrinsic in nature and life. It is not associated with any image, object, concept, or thing necessarily. The Divine just IS. It is existence. It is reality.
The Divine is another word, really, for what’s generally called God.
The Divine can also be described as the Sacred in life. By Sacred I mean a deep inner life, a mysterious life that is contained in things. This life permeates all things. As such, it is not a ‘living thing’ but more of a ‘livingness’ that is in life. There is a sense that this ‘life’ is precious.
The Divine, to me, means that it is never known completely. We only know a part of it. It is beyond human. As a result, by its nature it leaves us feeling incomplete and, often, frustrated.
Finding the Divine
The question of finding the Divine is not as easy as it sounds. Surprisingly, I feel that many people have never found the Divine, even religious and spiritually inclined people ( I wonder, sometimes, if I’ve even found it or if I’m being deceived!) Not everyone finds the Divine in a deep way. Or, maybe it’s more accurate to say that people are aware at it on different levels? Very often this never reaches the conscious state.
I can see levels in finding the Divine:
– Through an experience. Some of us have an experience that helps us find the Divine.
– The development of a ‘sense’. Many people have a ‘sense’ of a ‘something’, though they may not be aware of it.
– Being taught it. Many religions and traditions teach the existence and presence of the Divine. This can help people find it but it does not guarantee it.
– Being intellectually aware of it. Many people have an awareness of the Divine as an intellectual idea. This, it seems, seldom is sufficient to finding a deeper awareness of the Divine. This means that a person has to do more than know of it and read about it.
It seems that one must be open to finding the Divine. Very seldom does it just happen. In some sense, contemplation is the receiving of the Divine.