Saturday, September 5, 2009

Fluttering Contemplation

Caught up as usual in the business of the day, two butterflies chased across my window view: chaotic flight. Fluttering contemplation is not an oxymoron. Contemplation is understood as "going deeper" than standard operating procedures, not reflecting shallowly, nor flitting from thought to thought. We contemplate when a truth alights our consciousness and interrupts our mental routine. This is not simply chasing butterflies.

Some may say contemplation does not require external stimulus: they conceive that their spirit contains longings which of their own accord draw them into contemplation. This may be, and yet it may also involve the oneness of the universe, such that there is nothing external: all material things touching each other, interconnecting, such that (for example) our subconcious and the need of our gardens for water interact and intersect. Certainly our internal longings cannot logically be completely dissasociated from the rest of the material universe ("nature"), since we are made of it and cannot remove ourselves from it--yet the difference between these two modes is useful for discussion. Since we are inextricably caught up in our "habit and skin" (Bruce Cockburn), contemplation is so important as a tool to "know ourselves," and why we should accept the invitation to contemplate, even if it comes on the wings of the temporary butterfly.

Another explanation for the original cause of contemplation is that there is something or someone beyond the realm of our material confines, of this mortal coil. Let's imagine God calls us out of ourselves, away from our prideful existence which, left to its own accord, operates like a child's Slinky toy: a spring falling through time, reacting within its physical shape and within physical law, not unlike any other material substance, awaiting the bottom of the stair. So, contemplation may be seen as (a) within one's own self, (b) connection with the rest of nature, or (c) God calling us out of (a) and (b). If this last is so, it would lend evidence that everday miracles do occur:

The defensive measure or contrary use of the contemplative exercise is a glance out of the corner of your eye.* All animals' senses are heightened when they perceive danger. You may have noticed, when you are concerned with crossing a very busy street, that your peripheral vision reflexively kicks into turbo. However, this is the opposite of contemplation, for it directs us outwardly towards that which opposes us. This is one example of (a) and (b) above, and it is an exercise we share with non-human animals, a more reasoned (perhaps) approach to the fight-or-flight instinct. Thus we may consider contemplation to be NOT this defensive response, but rather a momentary countermeasure. We may then entertain that the ability to contemplate is one faculty which makes us different from the rest of nature.

If that is so, logic requires we consider that humanity is not alone in this structure or capacity, but rather there exists another who is that much different from us than we are from the rest of nature. This is just another way of describing one historical argument for the existence of God, and one thing we have in common with our Creator, which is separate from the rest of nature.

*Postnote: I have just read about "stress induced tunnel vision." This contrasts the example in an analogy discussed above. We will contemplate this further.

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