More on contemplative practice

Picture from anime The Laws of Eternity

If we actually experienced this, emotionally if not visually, every time we took time to pray or meditate, it would probably be a lot more popular! Angels carrying repentant souls upward toward the Light, in the movie “The Laws of Eternity”.

A vocation does not replace spiritual or contemplative practice, even though the vocation may occupy far more of the time.

I am a little worried that my previous entry may have come across as equating studying Japanese vocabulary to spiritual practice such as prayer, meditation or holy reading. The voice in my heart seems to want me to make clear that this is not the case. I just subjectively, emotionally, felt less inclined to such practice. That does not mean it is a good thing to skip it.

Study, when done with a pure heart, is a vocation. The intellectual life is a life in service to Truth, and therefore to The Truth. Even if one does not have a clear goal of making life better for a certain group of people – as one usually has in a vocation – the service to Truth is in itself holy. This I believe.

But vocation is not a replacement for spiritual practice. The two should ideally be the two legs on which one walks forward on the spiritual path: “Ora et labora”, work and pray, as the late medieval monks put it. (This is certainly not a unique Christian concept: Buddhist and Hindu monasticism also have this focus. Monastic life would probably not be possible at all without at least some “labora”.)

There is a Christian saying that “prayer is the breath / respiration of a Christian”. This is sometimes cited followed by some statement ┬áthat in that case many Christians must be dead or zombies. But my experience is that a certain background amount of prayer is going on through the day, in my case perhaps a reaching out to assure myself that the Divine Presence is still there, as the Hebrew Scripture says: “Cast me not away from thy Presence, and take not thy Holy Spirit from me!” Although I am not entirely sure whether it is not the Presence that is reaching out to me instead. It is a bit confusing when your Significant Other is an invisible being overlapping your mental space (or perhaps the other way around). If you know what I mean.

So this background respiration and re-inspiration happens naturally during vocation, at least. (Some hobbies can be more suffocating.) What I refer to as spiritual practice is the setting aside of time to leave the material world behind, to go into one’s chambers (including and especially the chamber of the heart) and close the door to the outward life, and place the focus of one’s mind in the spirit. This withdrawal from the world does not come easily always, even to an introvert. To pray or meditate is to die a bit, I would say. One leaves the world behind, probably temporarily, to step onto the Jacob’s Ladder which lets the mind ascend and descend with the angels. Or something like that.

There is also non-religious meditation, which is seeing a renaissance because of the mental and physical health benefits of meditation. I have done a bit of that over the years, but I have concluded that this is kind of pointless for someone who has been sought out and accompanied by a heavenly being for decades on end.

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I realize that most people who spend enough time on the Internet to find a place like this will not be religious in the old-fashioned way. Still, I hope you will find time for some kind of contemplative practice, if nothing else then because the time you spend on it seems to be actually added to your lifetime, in addition to making you happier and improving your clarity of mind.

Since my last entry I have providentially come across another YouTube video which lays out the benefits of contemplative practice to the individual and society in a strictly scientific perspective, agnostic as to whether there is an actual spiritual reality to which we connect. It should be 100% safe for even goddamning atheists. Please, think of the National Debt and reduce your health care costs by taking up a contemplative practice. And good luck with finding time for it. In fact, good luck with finding time to watch the video, for it is so long that I fell asleep less than halfway through the first time I tried. But even though there is only a chance in a thousand that someone may watch it, I still have to give you the chance. Here you go:

Transform Your Mind, Change Your Brain (Google Tech Talks)

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