“Contemplation is the highest expression of man’s intellectual and spiritual life. It is that life itself, fully awake, fully active, fully aware that it is alive. It is spiritual wonder. It is spontaneous awe at the sacredness of life, of being. It is gratitude for life, for awareness and for being. It is a vivid realization of the fact that life and being is us proceed from an invisible, transcendent and infinitely abundant Source. Contemplation is, above all, awareness of the reality of that Source.” — Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation
Mindfulness is now mainstream, or at least the version that promises a more enriching life through paying attention to the moment.
Do we seriously need another methodology to understand that this moment is the most precious gift we possess?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not knocking the underlying principles, grounded as they are in Eastern philosophy, but until we dispel our addiction to tension, despair, grief, anger and a whole slew of other destructive emotions, we’ll never be at peace — being in the moment or otherwise.
At this stage you’re just as likely to lurch off into the usual ‘all-that-Hippy-speak-crap’ which posits that what I’m proselytizing is to ‘zone out’, but you’d be wrong. Seriously wrong.
To live fully in the moment is premised on complete acceptance wherein there’s no place for anything else. (Think about, if you were to accept everything about this moment, how would it feel?) I could be wrong but as with all methodologies, as soon as we don’t get our mindfulness trip, we’ll soon be on to the next thing — it’s how the ego works.
I’m sure you’re familiar with the felt sense of oneness that comes from falling into nature’s enchanting beauty, or the sense of wonderment that comes from looking skywards at night, or the aliveness that comes from bathing in silence or, most powerfully, when you’re blissfully and unconditionally in love. In case you haven’t noticed, none of these require a posture, routine or non-thinking/thinking process. They just are — you’re completely in the moment.
But of course for a lot of people they either don’t get a chance to experience such bliss-consciousness or more likely they’re too afraid of being without their daily routine which provides them, or so they think, with their identity in the world.
What I’m really getting at is the fact that long before meditation became fashionable there were many more ways to live a contemplative life. If nothing else, all it required was to live with a lot less, to find harmony with nature, to be at peace with a silent space and not to yearn always for something better. If that’s what you call mindfulness then I’m all up for it.