It seems to me that contemplation is nothing but a different state of awareness. The hallmark trait of contemplation is a change in a persons awareness. All its techniques, methods, and procedures are related to this.
By changing our state of awareness we change our state of mind. What we seek, then, is a specific state of mind, one that is close to ‘life’ or ‘divinity’ or ‘god’ (however you want to call it). Contemplation is nothing but the questing after this state of mind. And a quest it is, for it goes on forever. Contemplation is never completed or finished but is a practice, something someone does.
What this shows is that contemplation requires a condition removed from the normal hubbub of life. It must be removed from this condition in order for this other state of mind to become dominant. As such, it is an experiencing of life in a particularlistic and unique way.
By no means is it the ‘ultimate’ way of experiencing life, for most of the world does not partake of the contemplative way. It seems a specific way that suites a specific type of person. This is because it requires a certain personality to do it. It’s not for everyone.
But, still, people often do mild variations of it. One of these is prayer. Since prayer is closely associated with contemplation, it shows that prayer also often has this quality of creating a different state of mind. Going to church can have similar functions, as can be reading certain books, thinking, or even relaxing.
But, because this is a different state of mind, a person still encompasses other states of mind. This means that the ‘contemplative state of mind’ does not overcome these other states of mind. They continue to exist. Often, a lot of the struggle of contemplation is dealing with these other states of mind. What this means is that contemplation has the quality of trying to develop only those states of mind that support or are beneficial or do not interfere with the ‘contemplative state of mind’. In this way, contemplation becomes more than just an act a person does. It becomes a way of life. This is because many states of mind conflict and interfere with it. This requires a life style change. All the more, this shows how contemplation, and its state of mind, is a very particularistic and special way of being.
Many of us seem as if drawn to it, as if we need to do it. No doubt, this is because, for a person with the ‘contemplative nature’, it is their means of associating with the world and life. For these people, contemplation is more than ‘contemplation’. It is the window to life. Through it life is experienced. As a result, the ‘contemplative state of mind’ becomes a means to live life and to be.
Seeking this state of mind is very individulistic. That is to say, it is something a person does as a person. Because of this contemplation tends to lead people away from society and people in general. This can cause great problems with people with a contemplative nature. It can cause loneliness, feelings of dejection, despair, and depression. Often, it will force them to move away from contemplation.
It’s very important for a person to have a concept of contemplation. If a person does not have a concept of ‘contemplation’ they will often be led away from it by many factors. Many of the people with a ‘contemplative nature’ don’t know it. They also have no concept of it to put it into perspective. In some ways, its like having something and not knowing you have it. Just knowing that contemplation exists can greatly help a person, I think. In this society, unfortunately, it is not acknowledged. If it is its usually very religious people. This means that the concept of contemplation is not known to most people.
The existence of contemplation reveal that there are different ‘states of being’. This means that there are different ways of experiencing life, of being as a person, and in living in existence. This is more than just a character trait (such as that so and so is more introverted, or ‘thinks alot’, etc.). To me, contemplation is an act a person performs, something some people are compelled to do. A character trait is a quality that a person has that determines how they do things. Contemplation is a condition where ‘something’ seems to make them want to do it or leans them in that direction. But that doesn’t mean they will do it. A person must choose to do it. Unlike a character trait, a person must deliberately contemplate as an act regardless of whether they have a ‘contemplative nature’ or not. This means that just because a person has a ‘contemplative nature’, that doesn’t mean they’re going to do it. Many don’t.
Seeking a different state of mind is not easy. It can be frightening. By going into a different state of mind we often are as if stepping out into darkness, into the unknown. This alone, I think, make many people spurn contemplation.
It seems that the more ‘social’ the society we live in is the less likely people are going to contemplate. This is because the ‘social’ mentality requires us to do the ‘social norm’. Everything is looked at, and guaged, from that perspective. This conflicts with the effects of contemplation, which tends to make a person move away from society, as well as its personalized nature, as I’ve mentioned above.