From St. Benedict in the 5th century to the seven great women mystics of the medieval church to Thomas Merton and James Finley today, contemplative prayer (meditation) has been used to bring clarity into the lives of Christians by providing a springboard to the Divine. In Judaism, which has perhaps the oldest tradition of meditation, meditation can provide the highest form of spiritual experience, the direct experience of God. Similarly, in certain Islamic traditions (Sufi), meditation provides the means to the fusion of the individual back into the oneness of the Universal Reality.
In Buddhism, contemplation is analysis and observation, of a question or condition, and simultaneously of Self. It is analysis of a phenomenon so that we can see its true nature clearly; observation of Self and the realization that this self is just a conventional construct.
Contemplative meditation is just sitting down and thinking about something spiritual and specific. It is seeing what you can discover by observation, analysis, reflection, parsing, intellectual scrutiny, introspection, etc. It is establishing, as much as you can, continued attention to the particular thought, idea, concept, doctrine, practice, etc.
Note what you are observing and its implications for reducing suffering and living a more meaningfully beneficial life.
Usually one would start with a short contemplative period of meditation, say 3-5 minutes, maybe 10. This would be repeated several times over a period of days and weeks. In between meditations, the idea is to see how one’s observations can be applied to living a more peaceful, easier, more beneficial life.
Emptiness and No-Self Contemplative Meditation
Meditate on these for 3-5 each, in sequence, three times a week for a couple of months. That’s 12-20 minutes, a few times a week, for a few months, to let the idea of emptiness and no-self sink deeply into your psyche.
- Contemplate the impermanence of events.
- Contemplate the absence of a coming and going in those events.
- Contemplate that there is no “beingness” to “inner” or “outer” appearing events.
- Contemplate that all “Truths” are only I-centered mental constructs.
Do this contemplative meditation for 3-5 minutes a day for a couple of weeks and it will change your life.
Contemplate the relationship of impermanence to patience, and of patience to impermanence.
Production and No-Self Contemplative Meditation:
First contemplate this: “The function of production, originating, making, doing, acting, changing, and creating, cannot be established.”
Next contemplate this: Since production cannot be established, “origination, duration, and destruction cannot be established. Created things cannot be established. Since created things cannot be established, non-created thing cannot be established, all sentient beings cannot be established.”