Recently I’ve been thinking about and researching the differences between meditation and Christian contemplation. For example, Thomas Merton saw contemplation as “a deep and vital experience which is beyond the reach of any natural understanding” (Dupré and Wiseman 449). In other words, it is not a brain activity.
And then I love this from Merton: “God touches us with a touch that is emptiness and empties us. He moves us with a simplicity that simplifies us. All variety, all complexity, all paradox, all multiplicity cease. Our mind swims in the air of an understanding, a reality that is dark and serene and includes in itself everything” (Dupré and Wiseman 450)
And so Christian contemplation isn’t about wandering around inside our brains in order to build and satisfy something about ourselves. As Merton wrote, Christian contemplation isn’t about “the five senses,” or “the hunger of desire,” or “the imagination,” or the “discoursing mind” (Dupré and Wiseman 451). Contemplation is God’s spirit moving in us. Our role is only the yielding, the allowing.