Contemplation or Meditation?
Jesus wanted others to contemplate God and the spiritual life. He wanted their minds to turn in the direction of the soul, which is where the line between meditation and contemplation blurs.
Commonly we hear someone say, “I’ll have to meditate on it,” meaning that some idea or situation needs deeper reflection. Shouldn’t this really be called contemplation? Perhaps the distinction doesn’t need to be drawn too strictly. In deeper contemplation, the idea or image you begin with leads to silence.
Contemplation begins with a thought that attracts you; as you consider it, its attraction expands and deepens. As it does, a feeling emerges from the idea or image that you began with. Whatever the feeling, if you stay with it long enough, a change occurs. By subtle degrees the feeling becomes impersonal. It is no longer suffused with personal associations and memories.
Something may be glimpsed behind the screen of thought, a sense that you had entered a deeper reality. Next, you may sense a hidden presence that cannot be described but can still be felt. Grief may give way to joy. Awe may give way to ecstasy, wonder to a sense of lightness or floating. These changes signal the approach of the soul. They transform an everyday idea into something rarefied and pure.
This process is spontaneous and takes place according to its own timing. As you read the verse that follows, sit for a few minutes to reflect on it, letting your mind go where it will. Don’t try to force the words to create an immediate shift inside.
And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:15)
Whatever you feel, let the words stay with you for a while. Let them incubate, and be patient. A result will come in time.
Adapted from The Third Jesus: The Christ We Cannot Ignore, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2008).