Contemplation (of Self and Reality)

Contemplation is an invitation to wisdom. It is a practice which the student of self-realization performs to make consciousness receptive to the truth:

There is only one Self / Reality / God.

The practice of contemplation configures the experience so as to bring to the surface the most fundamental beliefs about who and what we are, and to contrast these beliefs with the direct subjective experience – since the subjective is actually the only 'thing' with which we ever have direct 'knowledge' or contact.

In so doing, spontaneous experiential understanding arises. In time, as an unavoidable side-effect of this understanding, our beliefs are significantly revised, and for the most part, dropped.

The understanding that contemplation invites and the knowledge we are discussing here is neither conceptual nor intellectual. It exists prior to mind, in fact. The knowledge we are discussing here is akin to the 'knowledge' one has when one is conscious – the knowledge consciousness has in seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching, understanding and so on.

How to Contemplate

To contemplate, one first selects a starting point. Any fundamental ideas you have that pertain to the nature of Self or reality are fair game. All such fundamental ideas and beliefs must eventually be thoroughly explored. You could also try to invalidate one of the observations of the nature of reality (as listed on the homepage). Some potential starting points include:

Attitude is important. One must adopt a mental posture which is relaxed, patient, open and generally receptive to new ideas, and free of overt expectation as to what (if anything) will be discovered. The general attitude of meditation is ideal for this purpose. Open-mindedness is a prerequisite to any serious investigation. If you already believe you know what you will find, the investigation is inherently crippled from the beginning – you will look to find what you want to see.

The activity is a thorough, patient inspection of the subjective experience, in pursuit of answer(s) to your questions, or, direct evidence that either always affirms, or at any time invalidates, a fundamental belief or idea.

The source of evidence in order of descending relevance and dependability (higher is more trust worthy) is as follows:

  1. Whatever is appearing Now – the totality of your awareness, including all gross phenomena such as colours, sounds, textures, tastes, smells, etc.
  2. Memory glimpses of the totality of your awareness, and what was known or understood at the time of a recent event during only the present day or prior evening

All other 'knowledge' of the mind should be discarded (or at least, temporarily suspended to the maximum extent possible.) Such knowledge is of no use to self-realization. The only obvious exception is the use of language, and any pointers to the contemplation.

You are looking for certainty. You are looking to make fundamental (re)discoveries about yourself and the true nature of reality. You are looking for something upon which conviction and trust must inevitably follow.

Do not rest until you cannot go any further, until all doubt is overturned.

Take nothing you thought you knew for granted. Whatever you thought you knew is wrong.

You will know you have understood clearly when there are no questions, and when the conviction that the Self is the All is unshakeable, and when you see that all teachings are nonsense.

Journalling and Writing

Consider using a journal or a notepad during these exercises. It will help you to go step-by-step through your own reasoning and hold the mind to account. Remember that memory can be unreliable!

Short Example Guided Contemplation

What am I?

One of the most common beliefs that we have usually inherited from our society and culture, is that we are principally a body-mind: a flesh and blood being which has somehow become aware of itself. Is this true? Or is this belief contradicted? What direct evidence do we have?

What is the most fundamental thing you know, the intellectual fact which ontologically preceeds all others and is the closest thing you can intellectually call a certainty? Is it not, "I Am" ?  – that you exist?

Can you be equally certain of anything else? Or are all other facts somewhat dependant upon the knowledge, "I Am", and upon the appearance of still other facts which are also dependant upon the knowledge, "I Am" ? How much of your knowledge is 'second-hand' or inherited from culture 'out there'?

Is there something more intimate, more immediate to you than any knowledge? Is it not consciousness itself – the very principle we sometimes call 'subjectivity' or 'consciousness'? Have you ever directly experienced (had direct knowledge of) anything outside of subjective awareness?

Must not all things – all phenomena – appear within subjective awareness, within consciousness? For all practical intents and purposes, can you ever directly interact with anything other than consciousness?

Do you directly know of anything other than consciousness / subjective awareness?

What is the size of subjective awareness, or consciousness? Where is it located? When is it? Or are space and time something which appears within it?

Is it more accurate to say that you are subjective awareness / consciousness, or the body-mind that appears within it?


The focus of your on-going contemplation should always be a deeper insight into the nature Self and reality. Specifically, you should try to keep your investigations focused around one central working hypothesis:

There is only one Self / Reality / God.

Later, as you develop confidence in this idea, you can also deploy your contemplation skills to investigate the many ramifications of such a statement. Particularly as it pertains to your human life. From there, you can also explore how you will embody your emerging insight.

© Copyright 2020 Joshua W. Hawcroft