Contemplation may be a lost art in your life, but there are rewards in bringing it back.
| Is contemplation an art long lost in this frantic society that convulses around us? I have recently begun to wonder if such a reflective and ruminative life was at all possible in these bustling times in which we live. It is not in the least difficult to find copious volumes on this very subject of our attention, all of which attempting to school us in the very art. But exactly what is the art of contemplation, and why would we wish to learn it?
Basically, contemplation means to profoundly consider or think about something. Usually, the context is a spiritual one, such as the deep consideration of one's personal life or of the essence of God, and how those relate to one another. When one sets out to contemplate the person of God, it is in the most profound sense that we think of his being. It is the state of beholding God or being in union with Him. In the West, this translates as a mind which is free from the extraneous concerns of the world and directed solely towards an awareness of God. All of this, of course, necessitates a belief in God in the first place - but not entirely so. I will explain what I mean shortly.
Through the centuries contemplation has been employed by those who practice the disciplines of every religion. For that matter, contemplation has been practiced by religious and non-religious alike. Whether men have sought to touch the face of God or to gain some comprehension of the vast universe and their place in relation to either - it matters not, for Thomas Aquinas wrote: "It is requisite for the good of the human community that there should be persons who devote themselves to the life of contemplation. Contemplation was essential in such colossal undertakings. Plato considered contemplation the necessity for realizing the divine essence.
And what of our opportunities for the discipline of contemplation? It would certainly be the grandest of understatements to say that we live in a very time-conscious society. It seems that everything we do is regulated by the terms of time. In particular, we have no time for waiting or being still. You are no doubt familiar with the medical terms that have been affixed to these many syndromes. For all of those who drone through their daily lives, all things are expected to move at an expected cadence or beaten with the flagellum of impatience until they do. The rowers must row to the beat of our internal drum.
But it would most surely seem obvious that any effort in getting in touch with the inner self would take time; that which we feel we have so little of. The time to which we refer is not to be understood in the sense of long or short duration, but such as we withdraw from the bank of time which safeguards our minutes and hours. No well-ordered life can ever be achieved if time has not been placed in your account from which you can draw. Do not protest that you have no free time to be alone with your thoughts, for you have as much as you are willing to relinquish from your business and apply to your solitude.
And where might this solitude be found, you ask? It can only be found when you are willing to separate yourself from the company of others. A truth difficult to refute is that which teaches that very rarely are men made better by seeking out the maddening crowd. It is, of course, true that such companionship as is found and enjoyed in those interactions with friends and associates, can be of a great good to a well-grounded social and emotional life. However, there are times when quiet and solitude is necessary. It would be of great benefit to all to simply be alone and learn to enjoy their own company. Lives can be changed when they are simply given the opportunity to reflect and think deeply. It may truly amaze us to discover what we might learn about ourselves And, remember that I promised to explain something I left hanging earlier. Well, it is simply this; a belief in God's existence may not be part of your belief system when you begin your contemplation's, but you may be remarkably surprised in what you discover after giving your mind and spirit the freedom to express themselves, unshackled from bias and resolute credos. Free from those harassing taskmasters of life. Turn off the iPad and the iPhone. As best you can, clear your mind of the flotsam of a seizing world, and be still. Record your thoughts. You may be amazed at what begins to flourish in a mind you considered a hoard, impossible to clear. But be careful, for you may well be changed more than you ever thought possible.