Peter, I understand a "deeper self" in the sense of non-verbal thinking (if you'll concede that consciousness is not identical to language -- admittedly a major concession.) But "deeper," especially as it is used here in "immersion in our deeper self" implies "beneath" as in the subconscious. Transcending seems to go in the opposite direction -- upper, over, beyond. Does meditation take one below or above the "self?" (another abstraction that would benefit from description.)
Philosophical texts often engage in uneleucidated contradictions of this kind -- a danger of overly abstract writing about theoretical entities (such as "eternity" which at least some quantum physicists dispute, asserting that the universe may be finite in extent and duration.) Of course a reader who faults airy abstract writing about "contemplation" can be accused of not having transcended duality as the enlightened author has. So mote it be.
"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 missing."
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 deeper self.
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 conversion.
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.
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