Further Thoughts on Contemplation

We are meditating on the “C” called Contemplation (or meditation) in the context of asking: What does it mean to be human?  Can one be human without some kind of stillness, silence, quiet, emptying in one’s life?  I think not. 

A trailer for the book Occupy Spirituality, by Matthew Fox and Adam Bucko.

Several years ago Adam Bucko, then in his young thirties, and I co-authored a book called Occupy Spirituality: A Radical Vision for a New Generation where we dialogued about a spirituality for young adults.  We defined “young adults” as twenty years old to thirty-three years old and we sent out questionnaires to many in this age range. 

As co-founder of The Reciprocity Foundation, Adam had worked for fifteen years with young adults living on the streets of New York City, so he was especially knowledgeable about this age group (he is now an Episcopal priest working in Long Island parish).

Occupy Wall Street meditation circle, Zuccotti Park, New York. Photo by Kurt Christensen on Flickr.

One of the we questions posed was about meditation practices in their lives. Here are some answers they gave:

In order to really allow the spirit to emerge, you need to fast sometimes, just like Jesus fasted. There’s a secret that comes from that, that you only get by going through the experience of fasting. You need to pray sometimes. You need to know what it feels like to put your head on the ground and submit to your Lord, and to leave the whole world behind you, whether it’s five minutes, seven minutes, or an hour, however long you pray—to take a time-out from your day to say, “I’m just going to turn to God and talk with him, and have a relationship with him.”–Jason

“Occupy Zen Street” Photo by Elijah on Flickr.

One of the goals, of course, of meditation is to get to stillness.  That’s the value of stillness, to try to create space, or to realize that there’s space there already. One of the things that living in a place like New York, as busy as it is, is that space is always at a premium….Stillness is also the place, with a lot of traditions, where they say that the Divine resides.  That God is in all things, of course, but at the same time to experience God, to experience the Divine you need to go into stillness.  –KK, Male 32

We must spend a couple of hours each day in receptive silence—any silent spiritual practice that brings awareness and equanimity to our hearts and minds—and put the inner revolution and the outer revolution together….Sometimes the most radical thing to do in a polluted violence-based system, is to be still.  The mud settles to the bottom and we then have a clearer vision about our next steps—for example, facilitating the growth of the communities we want to live in or realizing that the most efficient tools against a system based on greed, fear, hurry, and violence, are generosity, courage, slowing-down, and loving-kindness.–Pancho Ramos-Stierle

Adapted from Adam Bucko and Matthew Fox, Occupy Spirituality: A Radical Vision for a New Generation, pp. 116-118.

Banner Image: “Love – Occupy Wall Street Meditation: Meditation at the OWS May Day 2012 Rally at Union Square, New York.” Photo by Paul Stein on Flickr.

Do you agree with Pancho that “being still” is a very radical thing to do. What ways do you find to be still?  Do you find that they evolve as you evolve?

Occupy Spirituality: A Radical Vision for a New Generation

Authors Adam Bucko and Matthew Fox encourage us to use our talents in service of compassion and justice and to move beyond our broken systems–economic, political, educational, and religious–discovering a spirituality that not only helps us to get along, but also encourages us to reevaluate our traditions, transforming them and in the process building a more sacred and just world. Incorporating the words of young activist leaders culled from interviews and surveys, the book provides a framework that is deliberately interfaith and speaks to our profound yearning for a life with spiritual purpose and for a better world.
Occupy Spirituality is a powerful, inspiring, and vital call to embodied awareness and enlightened actions.”
~~ Julia Butterfly Hill, environmental activist and author of The Legacy of Luna: The Story of a Tree, a Woman, and the Struggle to Save the Redwoods

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2 thoughts on “Further Thoughts on Contemplation”

  1. Avatar

    I totally agree with this! Stillness and silence are so important to my daily practice. On a very personal level they have helped enourmously with my recovery from alcohol *3rs clean and the whole sinking process around that. In the silence nothing happens, yet everything happens.. i think in Buddhism they call this the pregnancy of emptiness? Certainly jn my experience the silence has been a friend, a companion on the journey,who tells you the truth , good and bad. From that pregnancy rebirth happens or life after life? And after that i find myself uttering thank you …
    Wonderful meditations Mort

    1. Avatar

      As an addition to this, I also find when we have been still,silent we observe more what really is going on. Reality hits and we can see much more clearly , so the inner and outer work dance together.this is important because otherwise just to have a nice quiet contemplative life is not enough, its sentamentalism and lacks justice..the silence therefore reminds us of what is real, not pseudo, it recharges us into biophilia, a love of life, where we are passionate about all injustice and our responses to them.

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