Also known as Analytical Meditation, contemplation is an active process wherein the mind is directed to logically analyse an experience.
The object of contemplation here is the sense of personal identity - the I. This analysis is technically the most precise action to realise Non-duality.
Contemplation may also be performed on poetry or scripture that you find resonant, or even the ramifications or logic of a particular text. In this case, however, we will be using the sense of a personal identity - the self.
When performed effectively upon the sense of an independent, thinking self, contemplation is a kind of autolysis, or self digestion!
A couple of weeks of regular Breathing Meditation or Mindfulness practice may be beneficial to sharpen the mind prior to contemplation.
- Choose a time and place where you will not be disturbed. The time for this meditation will vary (allow anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour). Note: A timer is not needed for this meditation.
- Sit with a straight back and relaxed posture, in a chair or cross-legged on the floor - whatever is most comfortable, stable and relaxed.
- You may close your eyes, or simply rest your gaze on the floor in front.
- Take a few moments to reflect on your reasons for sitting, to set your intent.
- Consider doing a short Relaxation Meditation prior to beginning the breathing meditation, to settle the mind-body.
You may find a pen and paper, or a full-screen computer notepad (without distractions), handy during the latter part of this exercise.
Note: It is not unusual to experience very strong emotions, sensations and physiological response during this contemplation. But if you experience none of these things, that is okay too.
- You will be examining your essential nature as an apparently independent, free-thinking person. More specifically, you will be attempting to find the essence of this apparent entity.
- Pick a starting point, for example, a classic is 'Who am I?' - which really means - 'What am I?'
- Initially, you are exploring the fundamental nature or essential essence of the entity you feel yourself to be. Begin by playfully exploring and looking for the essence of what makes you, you.
- Where is that which is seeing? Where is that which is seen?
- What saw that thought?
- Between thoughts, is the thinker still there?
- During thoughts, what is the nature of the thinker?
- Is the thinker distinct from the thought?
- Is the seer distinct from the seen?
- Who hears? Who feels?
- Why is discomfort uncomfortable? Why is pain painful?
- Why does discomfort imply movement? Does it? Why?
- What is the essence of suffering?
- Beyond your oval field of vision, what colour is it?
- Where is the thinker when you sleep?
- What are you if not your thoughts?
- Is consciousness mechanical (material)?
- Are you conscious?
- If you are conscious, what is conscious?
- Is your body you? What if you are minus a leg? Minus an arm?
- Which bit of the brain are you?
- When are you?
- Are all thoughts internally vocalised?
- Would you be alive without your internal dialogue?
- Does your internal dialogue matter?
- Who is speaking? Who sees that which speaks?
- Are you are defined by your personality?
- Does your personality change? When does it?
- If you are defined by your personality, then what are you?
- If your personality is something you have, what are you?
- Where did your thoughts come from?
- What is mind doing?
- What is mind?
- What do you know for certain?
- Who or what is doing and observing this exercise?
- Could there be a hidden assumption in the motivation to do this work?
- What is the nature of awareness?
- Where is the boundary between you and the world? You and your ideas? You and your thoughts?
- Is there a body when you dream?
- At the moment you make a decision, how do you do it?
- What is the nature of thought?
- When do thoughts arise? What role do you have in their arising?
- Is the concept of yourself the same as your self?
- What is the nature of experience?
- Could you be without experiencing?
- Is there anything in reality that does not depend on something else?
- Can you know warm, without cold and hot?
- Can you know number without form?
- Why is red, red?
- What is up?
- Can you ever be something other than yourself?
- Do you perceive an effort? If you perceive effort, are you the one who exerts it?
- Does it take effort to be yourself?
- Eventually, you want to find yourself as if your life depended upon it. At this point, you may write down everything that you know to be true, or everything that appears directly relevant to this exercise.
- Continue to analyse the analyser in this way until:
- You feel you can't continue in this sitting - you're tired or overcome by some emotion, or
- You have been sitting for an hour, or
- An 'Aha!' moment or epiphany-like realisation occurs.
For an alternative exercise with more graduated and pointed questioning, also take a look at Awakening to Non-Duality.
- Be gentle when you arise from contemplation.
This exercise can be difficult. The fundamental reason it is difficult is because in performing it, you are of an attitude that already has implications for what you may or may not find.
Check up on your motivation.
Consider exploring the following questions to aid your motivation:
- Have you, or anyone you know ever had an experience that clearly does not fit the predominant view of your community, religion or science?
- Have you ever experienced syncronicity?
- Have you ever explored the depths of apparent good fortune, intelligence and complexity behind the 'things' of existence: Earth, nature, the Universe, and all this diversity?
- Have you ever been struck by awe or wonder?
- If you believe in an omnipresent and omnipotent God, is there anywhere He is not? Why does he need you to worship Him? If His love is unconditional, will He punish you for not loving Him? If He created you with reasoning, intuition, emotion and free-will, could He reasonably expect you to be anything other than confused?
- Could there be a common 'message' in all science, sprirituality and religion? Why is it such a difficult question?
- Accounts of past lives, spirits, telepathy, psychic phenomena, out-of-body experiences and other such phenomena are often viewed with skeptism. Have you talked or listened to people who have had such experiences? Have you had such yourself?
- Have you explored the possible, often mind-boggling interpretations of contemporary Physics?