Contemplative Consciousness — Center for Action and Contemplation

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Contemplative Consciousness

Dualistic and Nondual Thinking

Contemplative Consciousness
Monday, January 30, 2017

Nondual or contemplative consciousness is not the same as being churchy, reflective, or introverted. Unfortunately this is the way the word is often used today, even by people who should know better. Contemplation is a panoramic, receptive awareness whereby you take in all that the situation, the moment, the event offers, without judging, eliminating, or labeling anything up or down, good or bad. It is a pure and positive gaze, unattached to outcome or critique. Being present and conscious in this way does not come naturally to modern and postmodern people. You have to work at it and develop practices whereby you can recognize your compulsive and repetitive patterns and allow yourself to be freed from them. Moments of great love and great suffering are often the first experiences of nondual thinking. Practices of prayer largely maintain what many people first experience in deep love and suffering.

It seems we are all addicted to our need to make distinctions and judgments, which we mistake for “thinking.” Most of us think we are our thinking, yet almost all thinking—even among highly educated people—is repetitive and immensely self-referential. That is why all forms of meditation and contemplation are teaching us a way of quieting this self-protective and self-aggrandizing mind. After a while, we see that this repetitive process cannot get us very far, simply because reality is not all about us and our preferences!

Nondual consciousness is about receiving and being present to the moment, to the now, without judgment, analysis, or critique, without your ego deciding whether you like it or not. Reality does not need you to like it in order to be reality. This is a much more holistic knowing, where your mind, heart, soul, and senses are open and receptive to the moment just as it is, which allows you to love things in themselves and as themselves. You learn not to divide the field of the moment or eliminate anything that threatens your ego, but to hold everything—both the attractive and the unpleasant—together in one accepting gaze.

The nondual, contemplative mind is a whole new mind for most people! With it, you can stand back and compassionately observe the self or any event from an appropriately detached viewing platform. This is the most immediate and practical meaning of “dying to self” I can think of. As a general rule, if you cannot detach from something, you are far too attached to it! Eventually, you can laugh or weep over your little self-created dramas without being overly identified with them or needing to hate them. Frankly, few people fully enjoy this emotional freedom.

Gateway to Silence:
We are oned in love.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, A Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations (CAC Publishing: 2016), 275.

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