You may have noticed that I’m a fan of combining and mixing techniques to see what works the best, and just like I recommended the combination of sensitivity and movement, so too I will advise the marriage of meditation with intellectual contemplation’s on the nature of reality. Combining these two can be a strong and healthy duo when it comes to gaining insights into the nature of reality, and of course as a means of accessing ones own direct experience.
Now what constitutes and differentiates a contemplation from meditation? This is a good question to ponder on.
My own humble view is that meditation is a silent and detached witnessing to everything that happens in your own subjective reality, the creative process isn’t integral to in the meditative practice. In other words, when it comes to meditation the goal isn’t to create or visualize your way to deeper insights and understanding, rather meditation is understanding through an intuitive and effortless perception. For example you become meditatively aware of your physical body, thoughts and feelings, sense of I am, and of consciousness as a totality.
While contemplation, for me at least, is an active process, an sowing together of ideas, concepts and insights to an intellectual pattern that is compatible with and empowers your direct experience. Contemplation’s are hints and signs that guide you to that which already is true, good and beautiful. In other words to contemplate is to actively create and explore different possibilities that exist in mind and matter.
Combing contemplation with meditation is simply to contemplate on meditative insights and ideas. One of these ideas which I can put forward is that life is experience and experience is life, and the more directly you are experiencing your reality, the more fulfilled you shall be as a sentient human being. This can be argued against or for both that is not the goal with this exercise, the goal is to entertain this perspective in your mind and bare witness to what fruits may grow from that.
So you might be wondering, how is this “meditative contemplation” done? My answer would be is a simple one, just allow yourself to be immersed in the act of creative thinking and entertain powerful ideas in your mind whilst doing so. This will gradually lead to the noticing of patterns between certain ideas. Patterns which make you understand the bigger picture all the better.
With that said, here are a couple of ideas and concepts I’ve found to be most fruitful when it comes to understanding yourself intuitively, intellectually and existentially:
- Self-similarity found in nature and expressions of consciousness, the atom vs galaxy, the walnut vs the brain, consciousness vs camera lens etc.
- Who am I, what is the essence of being a conscious being. Am I merely the body, the mind, the emotions, the spirit? What am I?
- What is spirit and what is matter, are they really two different phenomena or is possible that they are essentially made from the same “stuff”?
- What does it mean to be distracted by your own mental projections? What is it that is distracted and how does it happen?
- Is happiness separate from my essential nature? Or does happiness and joy arise from within or is it caused from the outside?
Self-Similarity in Nature
One of the most powerful contemplation’s I have come across is the phenomenon of self-similarity in nature and the cosmos. A contemplation that most people somewhere in the backs of their minds know but most likely aren’t fully conscious of.
The most classic example would be the structure and mechanism of an atom in the microscopic world in comparison to the structure and mechanism of a solar system. Two completely different scales when it comes to physical space but in many ways very similar in structure and mechanism.
Another example, though perhaps less magnificent, is the similarity between the structure and looks of a walnut and the human brain. A fascinating observation no doubt.
Now what does this mean?
Well obviously this could mean anything under the sun really or nothing at all, this depends entirely on your approach and attitude towards it. Remember belief in many ways creates reality, what you believe in many regards becomes an reality in your experience. What becomes your reality isn’t concerned with what is true, its rather about what is actual and immediate.
Moreover another thing to point out is that nothing really “means” anything unless there is someone, i.e. you to project meaning unto that object in question.
That being said, I find that the actual experience and observation of this self-similarity in nature is compelling. This can be seen in all imaginable expressions of consciousness; the spectrum is incredibly vast and extensive. When you start contemplating more and more about the self-similarity of different structures and mechanics in nature and the cosmos, it’s entirely possible that you start entering a more meditative state of mind, if you allow it.
Contemplate on that!
Daniel Seeker is a wandering dervish and lifelong student of the past, present and future. He realized that he was made of immaculate and timeless consciousness when meditating in his hermit cave on the island of Gotland. His writings are mostly a reflection of that realizaton. Daniel currently studies history, philosophy, egyptology and western esotericism at Uppsala Universitet. He’s also currently writing his B.A. thesis in history which explores how Buddhist and Hindu texts were first properly translated and introduced to the western world in the late 18th and 19th century.