In order to prepare for the practice of
non-attachment required by the act of contemplation, we have to simplify our
lives, ridding ourselves of past clutter and achievements that do not concern us
here and now. Simplicity is not for its own sake. But rather, is a means to an
end. It helps us discover what is really important. Things and ideas can easily
distract us. It has been said that: "Where there is too much ... some-thing is
When we participate in a task with finishing it as our goal, we
can easily lose our immersion in our deeper self. We no longer have awareness of
the spaciousness at our center, of simply being. If we are focused on a goal to
be achieved in the future, we are no longer fully present. We lose touch with
the joy in the task. It is like a kind of sleep-walking, a falling asleep to the
present, yet moving about in the world, disconnected from our essential core and
There is a double movement in the single act of contemplation.
One enters the ground of his or her being and then transcends his or her self.
Finding one's "true self' within requires a passing beyond this introspective
consciousness or a going out of this self towards a fundamental otherness which
grounds the human condition. This "new" or transcendent self is a kind of basic
perduring relation to the whole of real-ity. And awareness of this is
The ultimate purpose of contemplation is to reach our center.
The center of the cyclone is that quiet low-pressure place in which one can
learn to live eternally. Just outside this center is the rotating storm of one's
own ego. In this center, we are liberated from our everyday false self. "It is
... man's entering into the deepest center of himself, and then, passing through
that center, going out of himself to God" (Thomas Merton).
David Crawford taught philosophy at the University of De-troit for
thirty years. He is now retired and lives in Crestone.
from Desert Call, Spring 2007, "In the Presence of Beauty": 15.