In order to live with love instead of fear and to live with oneness instead of separateness, we must practice contemplation. I describe this practice in my book’s chapter on “Stillness.” There I note the variety of ways one can reach a contemplative state. What is crucial to note is that contemplation is one of the key gateways to Love and Oneness. As Cynthia Bourgeault puts it when writing about how Centering Prayer leads us to a state of contemplative oneness or what Thomas Merton called “unitive wisdom.” Cynthia writes, “You see oneness because you see from oneness.” (The Heart of Centering Prayer, p. 50), Contemplation gives us an internal experience of oneness so that we can act with a mindset or consciousness of oneness.
This signals another of my passions – that of neuroscience and its discoveries of the dysfunctional impact fear has on brain functioning as well as the ability to change brain functioning (neuroplasticity) through mindfulness meditation.
My experience with contemplation is that it also consistently leads to and empowers fruitful action – action to transform personal, relational, political, and cultural separateness into oneness and to transform policies and systems that are fear-based into ones that are love-based. So you cannot have religion without politics. Gandhi says that those who think politics and religion don’t mix don’t understand either. Action born of contemplation is unitive not divisive. That is why we need all our activists to also be contemplatives.
Presentation by Ed Bacon in the Rector’s Forum at All Saints Church on Sunday, November 12, 2017.
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"We have to show up as a heart person." Watch @RevEdBacon, rector emeritus of All Saints Church in Pasadena, speak about being a person of peace in our latest 'Practicing Democracy' video."
Cynthia Bourgeault, The Heart of Centering Prayer
Richard Rohr, The Center for Action and Contemplation
Fr. Richard Rohr writes a daily meditation which nourishes thousands who wish to have a life of both contemplation and action.