Kathleen's Blog

Can We Live A Contemplative Life In A Modern World?

Can We Live A Contemplative Life In A Modern World?  In a word, ‘yes’.

Does this mean sitting on the proverbial rock?  Does it demand following an established, proven meditation practice?  Does it require divesting ourselves of the world’s events, activities, routines and pleasures?  In a word, ‘no’.

If we are fully in anything, surely we can see that to be fully in life we must have a contemplative relationship with it.  Origins of the word suggest that to contemplate something is ‘to observe it in a temple’.  Early definitions include the notion to ‘observe omens carefully’.  With these meanings as background, living a contemplative life in today’s world is not only possible, it is critical and paramount on so many levels.  Consider the evidence: the environment, world economy, international security, universal peace efforts, developing countries, and more.  Let’s face it, from the perspective of observing in a temple and observing omens carefully, we have abundant indications and ample opportunity.  This post is not going to go down that road, however.  Instead, my invitation lies a little closer to home.  It is an invitation for you and for me, right here in our own backyard.  Will I live a contemplative life?  Will you live a contemplative life?  Can we each live a contemplative life in our little corner of the modern world?

What does this mean and what might it look like?  We can answer that only for ourSelf.  And it does require response…. for our present world and most certainly for the future we are creating.  Varying from individual to individual and ultimately from community to community and culture to culture, its importance is universal.  I can offer my own version and ask you to consider what yours might be.

For me, living a contemplative life is ‘Quiet Luxury’.  It is meeting my existence every day in all circumstances from this state.  These two words are for me, the very EssenceExpression of my being.  Of course, yours are different – different from mine and from every other human being’s on the planet.  Therein lives the very elegance of our unique lives, each one’s integrity and impeccability.  In touch with this core of my being, I have a touchstone that guides my path and illuminates my process.  From this place, I can maintain a discipline of inquiry-exploration-discovery in support of living a contemplative life.

What is this Inquiry-Exploration-Discovery process?  It is both simple and powerful, subtle and impactful.  At the level of inquiry, it has me pay attention to the question that emerges in my circumstances and then take the question to my life for exploration.  It may seem obvious and yet, we are wired for something else.  We are not trained for ‘observing in the temple’.  Our instruction has provided us with structures that move us quickly to answers.  Contemplation is viewed as slower, less direct, and lacking analysis.  It is too bad because taking this less familiar, less automatic path leads directly to Discovery, the third element of the triad.

Resting in Inquiry and staying present in Exploration are the keys to a contemplative path that keeps us fully in life rather than taking us out.  These cornerstones expand our vision and widen the highway to the destinations of pure desire.  Inquiry and Exploration lead naturally to the gift of Discovery over and over and over again.  Day in and day out, year after year from the innocence of youth to the wisdom of age.

In our modern world, these three cornerstones and the distinction of our EssenceExpression living at the core of our being are keys to the unique life that is each one of us.  Aware and awake or oblivious and asleep, it is our individual choice and our greatest opportunity to ‘observe in the temple’ and bring the difference we are to our modern world.

What’s the EssenceExpression of your being?  Where do you stand with respect to living a contemplative life in a modern world?  What is your experience of Inquiry-Exploration-Discovery as a way of life?

One Response to “Can We Live A Contemplative Life In A Modern World?”

  1. Everyone should read The Cloud of Unknowing, author unknown but considered to be exquisite statement on the value of contemplation and “listening” for the voice of higher states of consciousness smothered by mundane needs of daily life. This book always shakes me out of my robotic numbness when I forget to pray and meditate.

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