Contemplation teaches a different mind which leaves itself open so that when the “biggies” come along (love, suffering, death, infinity, contradictions, God, and probably sexuality), we still remain with an open field. We don’t just close down when it doesn’t make full sense, or we are not in full control, or immediately feel validated. That calm and non-egocentric mind is called contemplative, or non-dual thinking.
The lowest level of consciousness is entirely dualistic (win/lose)—me versus the world and basic survival. Many, I am afraid, never move beyond this. The higher levels of consciousness are more and more able to deal with contradictions, paradoxes, and all Mystery (win/win). This is spiritual maturity. At the higher levels, we can teach things like compassion, mercy, forgiveness, selflessness, even love of enemies. Any good contemplative practice quickly greases the wheels of the mind toward non-dual consciousness. This is exactly why saints can overlook offenses and love enemies! We must be honest enough to admit that this has not characterized most Christian clergy or laity up to now. It is not really their fault. No one taught them how to pray, even in seminaries or the typical parish.
Adapted from Contemplation AND Action (MP3)
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