Contemplation is profound thinking about something. In a religious sense, contemplation is usually a type of prayer or meditation.

Nature contemplation


The word contemplation is derived from the Latin word contemplatio. Its root is also that of the Latin word templum, a piece of ground consecrated for the taking of auspices, or a building for worship, derived either from Proto-Indo-European base *tem- "to cut", and so a "place reserved or cut out",[1] or from the Proto-Indo-European base *temp- "to stretch", and thus referring to a cleared space in front of an altar.[2] The Latin word contemplatio was used to translate the Greek word θεωρία (theōría).

Greek philosophy

Contemplation was an important part of the philosophy of Plato; Plato thought that through contemplation the soul may ascend to knowledge of the Form of the Good or other divine Forms.[3] Plotinus as a (neo)Platonic philosopher also expressed contemplation as the most critical of components for one to reach henosis. To Plotinus the highest contemplation was to experience the vision of God, the Monad or the One. Plotinus describes this experience in his works the Enneads. According to his student Porphyry, Plotinus stated that he had this experience of God four times.[4] Plotinus wrote about his experience in Enneads 6.9.xx....


In Islamic tradition, it is said that Muhammad would go into the desert, climb a mountain known as Mount Hira, and seclude himself from the world. While on the mountain, he would contemplate life and its meaning.[5]


Antoine-Émile Plassan - Devotion (Contemplation) - Walters 3745
A woman places rosary beads on a devotional image mounted on the wall beside her bed.[6] The Walters Art Museum.

In Eastern Christianity, contemplation (theoria) literally means to see God or to have the Vision of God.[note 1] The state of beholding God, or union with God, is known as theoria. The process of Theosis which leads to that state of union with God known as theoria is practiced in the ascetic tradition of Hesychasm. Hesychasm is to reconcile the heart and the mind into one thing (see nous).[note 2]

Contemplation in Eastern Orthodoxy is expressed in degrees as those covered in St John Climacus' Ladder of Divine Ascent. The process of changing from the old man of sin into the newborn child of God and into our true nature as good and divine is called Theosis.

This is to say that once someone is in the presence of God, deified with him, then they can begin to properly understand, and there "contemplate" God. This form of contemplation is to have and pass through an actual experience rather than a rational or reasoned understanding of theory (see Gnosis). Whereas with rational thought one uses logic to understand, one does the opposite with God (see also Apophatic theology).

Within Western Christianity contemplation is often related to mysticism as expressed in the works of mystical theologians such as Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross as well as the writings of Margery Kempe, Augustine Baker and Thomas Merton.[9] Dom Cuthbert Butler notes that contemplation was the term used in the Latin Church to refer to mysticism, and "'mysticism' is a quite modern word".[10]


In Christianity, contemplation refers to a content-free mind directed towards the awareness of God as a living reality. This corresponds, in some ways, to what in Eastern religion is called samadhi.[11][12] Meditation, on the other hand, for many centuries in the Western Church, referred to more cognitively active exercises, such as visualizations of Biblical scenes as in the Ignatian exercises or lectio divina in which the practitioner "listens to the text of the Bible with the 'ear of the heart', as if he or she is in conversation with God, and God is suggesting the topics for discussion." [13]

In Catholic Christianity, contemplation is given importance. The Catholic Church's "model theologian", St. Thomas Aquinas wrote: "It is requisite for the good of the human community that there should be persons who devote themselves to the life of contemplation." One of his disciples, Josef Pieper commented: "For it is contemplation which preserves in the midst of human society the truth which is at one and the same time useless and the yardstick of every possible use; so it is also contemplation which keeps the true end in sight, gives meaning to every practical act of life."[14]

According to Aquinas, the highest form of life is the contemplative which communicates the fruits of contemplation to others, since it is based on the abundance of contemplation (contemplari et contemplata aliis tradere) (ST, III, Q. 40, A. 1, Ad 2).

See also


  1. ^ Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos: "The vision of the uncreated light, which offers knowledge of God to man, is sensory and supra-sensory. The bodily eyes are reshaped, so they see the uncreated light, "this mysterious light, inaccessible, immaterial, uncreated, deifying, eternal", this "radiance of the Divine Nature, this glory of the divinity, this beauty of the heavenly kingdom" (3,1,22;CWS p.80). Palamas asks: "Do you see that light is inaccessible to senses which are not transformed by the Spirit?" (2,3,22). St. Maximus, whose teaching is cited by St. Gregory, says that the Apostles saw the uncreated Light "by a transformation of the activity of their senses, produced in them by the Spirit" (2.3.22).[7]
  2. ^ "Stillness of the body is a limiting of the body. 'The beginning of hesychia is godly rest' (3). The intermediate stage is that of 'illuminating power and vision; and the end is ecstasy or rapture of the nous towards God' (4). St. John of the Ladder, referring to outward, bodily stillness, writes: 'The lover of stillness keeps his mouth shut' (5). But it is not only those called neptic Fathers who mention and describe the holy atmosphere of hesychia, it is also those known as 'social'. Actually in the Orthodox tradition there is no direct opposition between theoria and praxis, nor between the neptic and social Fathers. The neptics are eminently social and those in community are unimaginably neptic."[8]


  1. ^ templum
  2. ^ Online Etymological Dictionary
  3. ^ Plato: Critical Assessments, Nicholas D. Smith, Routledge, 1998. ISBN 0-415-12605-3
  4. ^ See the Life of Plotinus
  5. ^ Bogle, Emory C. (1998). Islam: Origin and Belief. Texas University Press. p. 6. ISBN 0-292-70862-9.
  6. ^ "Devotion (Contemplation)". The Walters Art Museum.
  7. ^ Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos (2005), Orthodox Psychotherapy, section The Knowledge of God according to St. Gregory Palamas. Birth of Theotokos Monastery, Greece, ISBN 978-960-7070-27-2
  8. ^, Orthodox Psychotherapy, section on Stillness and Prayer.
  9. ^ "Contemplation", Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent. Retrieved March 19, 2008.
  10. ^ Western Mysticism: Augustine, Gregory and Bernard on Contemplation and the Contemplative Life, by Dom Cuthbert Butler. Dover: Mineola, NY, 2003, p.4.
  11. ^ [1], samannaphala sutta Digha-Nikaya-2
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-05-04. Retrieved 2010-10-26.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link), Patanjali, Yoga Sutras
  13. ^ A contemporary discussion of differences between meditatio and contemplatio is available in Father Thomas Keating's book on contemplative centering prayer, Open Mind, Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel (1986) ISBN 0-8264-0696-3. Brief descriptions of centering prayer and lectio divina are available online at
  14. ^ "Says Pope a Universal Voice for the World" Archived 2008-02-05 at the Wayback Machine, Carrie Gross, February 1, 2008,

Further reading

  • Butler, Cuthbert. Western Mysticism: Augustine, Gregory and Bernard on Contemplation and the Contemplative Life. Dover, Mineola, New York, 2003. 2nd ed. (Originally published by E.P. Dutton, London 1926). ISBN 0-486-43142-8
  • Papanikolaou, Aristotle. Being With God. University of Notre Dame Press, 2006. ISBN 0-268-03830-9
  • Plested, Marcus.The Macarian Legacy: The Place of Macarius-Symeon in the Eastern Christian Tradition. Oxford Theological Monographs, 2004. ISBN 0-19-926779-0
  • Spidlik, Tomas. The Spirituality of the Christian East: A Systematic Handbook. Cistercian Publications, Kalamazoo Michigan, 1986. ISBN 0-87907-879-0
  • Staniloae, Dumitru. The Experience of God: Revelation and Knowledge of the Triune God. Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, Volume 1. Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2005. ISBN 0-917651-70-7
  • Staniloae, Dumitru. The Experience of God: The World, Creation and Deification. Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, Volume 2. Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2005. ISBN 1-885652-41-0

External links


Abhinavabharati is a commentary on ancient Indian author Bharata Muni's work of dramatic theory, the Natyasastra. It is the oldest commentary available on the treatise. The Abhinavabharati was written by Abhinavagupta (ca. 950-1020), the great Kashmiri Saivite spiritual leader and a yogi.

In this monumental work, Abhinavagupta explains the rasasutra of Bharata in consonance with the theory of abhivyakti (expression) propounded in Anandavardhana's (820-890) work Dhvanyaloka ("aesthetic suggestion"), as well as the tenets of the Pratyabhijna philosophy of Kashmir.

According to Abhinavagupta, the aesthetic experience is the manifestation of the innate dispositions of the self, such as love and sorrow, by the self. It is characterised by the contemplation of the bliss of the self by the connoisseur.

It is akin to the spiritual experience as one transcends the limitations of one's limited self because of the process of universalisation taking place during the aesthetic contemplation of characters depicted in the work of art. Abhinavagupta maintains that this rasa (literally, taste or essence, the final outcome) is the summum bonum of all literature.

Christian contemplation

Christian contemplation, from contemplatio (Latin; Greek θεωρία, Theoria), refers to several Christian practices which aim at "looking at", "gazing at", "being aware of" God or the Divine. It includes several practices and theological concepts, and until the sixth century the practice of what is now called mysticism was referred to by the term contemplatio, c.q. theoria.

Christianity took up the use of both the Greek (theoria) and Latin (contemplatio, contemplation) terminology to describe various forms of prayer and the process of coming to know God. Eastern and Western traditions of Christianity grew apart as they incorporated the general notion of theoria into their respective teachings.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that, "the Christian tradition comprises three major expressions of the life of prayer: vocal prayer, meditation, and contemplative prayer. They have in common the recollection of the heart." Three stages are discerned in contemplative practice, namely purgative contemplation, contemplation proper, and the vision of God.

Christian mysticism

Christian mysticism refers to the development of mystical practices and theory within Christianity. Mysticism is not so much a doctrine as a method of thought. It has often been connected to mystical theology, especially in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christianity (both the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox traditions).

The attributes and means by which Christian mysticism is studied and practiced are varied. They range from ecstatic visions of the soul's mystical union with God to simple prayerful contemplation of Holy Scripture (i.e., Lectio Divina).

Contemplation (short story collection)

Betrachtung (published in English as Meditation or Contemplation) is a collection of eighteen short stories by Franz Kafka written between 1904 and 1912. It was Kafka's first published book, printed at the end of 1912 (with the publication year given as "1913") in the Rowohlt Verlag on an initiative by Kurt Wolff.

Eight of these stories were published before under the title Betrachtungen ("Contemplations") in the bimonthly Hyperion. The collection Description of a Struggle, published in 1958, includes some of the stories In English, in whole or in part. All the stories appear in The Complete Stories of Franz Kafka (1971) and were published in a single volume edition by Twisted Spoon Press, illustrated by Fedele Spadafora. They have also been translated by Malcolm Pasley and are available in the Penguin Books edition, The Transformation and Other Stories (1992).

The book was printed in 800 editions and had in a year (1 July 1915 – 30 June 1916) sold 258 copies, the book wasn't sold out until 1924, the year Kafka died.

Cosmology (philosophy)

Philosophical cosmology, philosophy of cosmology or philosophy of cosmos is a discipline directed to the philosophical contemplation of the universe as a totality, and to its conceptual foundations. It draws on several branches of philosophy—metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of physics, philosophy of science, philosophy of mathematics, and on the fundamental theories of physics. The term cosmology was used at least as early as 1730, by German philosopher Christian Wolff, in Cosmologia Generalis.


The cosmos (UK: , US: ) is the universe. Using the word cosmos rather than the word universe implies viewing the universe as a complex and orderly system or entity; the opposite of chaos.

The cosmos, and our understanding of the reasons for its existence and significance, are studied in cosmology – a very broad discipline covering any scientific, religious, or philosophical contemplation of the cosmos and its nature, or reasons for existing. Religious and philosophical approaches may include in their concepts of the cosmos various spiritual entities or other matters deemed to exist outside our physical universe.

Five Tathagatas

In Vajrayana Buddhism, the Five Tathāgatas (pañcatathāgata) or Five Wisdom Tathāgatas (Chinese: 五智如来; pinyin: Wǔzhì Rúlái), the Five Great Buddhas and the Five Jinas (Sanskrit for "conqueror" or "victor"), are emanations and representations of the five qualities of the Adi-Buddha or "first Buddha" Vairocana or Vajradhara, which is associated with Dharmakaya.They are also sometimes called the "dhyani-buddhas", a term first recorded in English by the British Resident in Nepal, Brian Hodgson, in the early 19th century, and is unattested in any surviving traditional primary sources. These five Buddhas are a common subject of Vajrayana mandalas.

These five Buddhas feature prominently in various Buddhist Tantras and are the primary object of realization and meditation in Shingon Buddhism, a school of Vajarayana Buddhism founded in Japan by Kūkai.

Gift (law)

A gift, in the law of property, is the voluntary transfer of property from one person (the donor or grantor) to another (the donee or grantee) without full valuable consideration. In order for a gift to be legally effective, three requirements must be met:

Intention of donor to give the gift to the donee (donative intent)

Delivery of gift to donee.

Acceptance of gift by donee.

Kundasang War Memorial

The Kundasang War Memorial (Malay: Tugu Peringatan Perang Kundasang) is a memorial located in Kundasang in the Malaysian state of Sabah, which is dedicated to the British and Australian soldiers who died in the Sandakan POW camp during their death marches to Ranau. Besides that, it also recognises the suffering and sacrifice of the native population of Sabah.

Lectio Divina

In Christianity, Lectio Divina (Latin for "Divine Reading") is a traditional Benedictine practice of scriptural reading, meditation and prayer intended to promote communion with God and to increase the knowledge of God's word. It does not treat scripture as texts to be studied, but as the living word.Traditionally, Lectio Divina has four separate steps: read; meditate; pray; contemplate. First a passage of scripture is read, then its meaning is reflected upon. This is followed by prayer and contemplation on the Word of God.The focus of Lectio Divina is not a theological analysis of biblical passages but viewing them with Christ as the key to their meaning. For example, given Jesus' statement in John 14:27: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you", an analytical approach would focus on the reason for the statement during the Last Supper, the biblical context, etc. In Lectio Divina, however, the practitioner "enters" and shares the peace of Christ rather than "dissecting" it. In some Christian teachings, this form of meditative prayer leads to an increased knowledge of Christ.The roots of scriptural reflection and interpretation go back to Origen in the 3rd century, after whom Ambrose taught them to Augustine of Hippo. The monastic practice of Lectio Divina was first established in the 6th century by Benedict of Nursia and was then formalized as a four-step process by the Carthusian monk Guigo II during the 12th century. In the 20th century, the constitution Dei verbum of the Second Vatican Council recommended Lectio Divina to the general public and its importance was affirmed by Pope Benedict XVI at the start of the 21st century.

Louis Hayes (album)

Louis Hayes (also called Louis Hayes with Nat Adderley and Yusef Lateef) is the eponymous debut album by American jazz drummer Louis Hayes recorded in 1960 for Vee-Jay Records. The personnel includes the Cannonball Adderley's 1960 Quintet with Yusef Lateef in place of the leader. The album was also re-released in 1974 under Lateef's name as Contemplation.

Maria Gaetana Agnesi

Maria Gaetana Agnesi (Italian pronunciation: [maˈriːa ɡaeˈtaːna aɲˈɲeːzi; -ɛːzi]; 16 May 1718 – 9 January 1799) was an Italian mathematician, philosopher, theologian, and humanitarian. She was the first woman to write a mathematics handbook and the first woman appointed as a mathematics professor at a university.She is credited with writing the first book discussing both differential and integral calculus and was a member of the faculty at the University of Bologna, although she never served.

She devoted the last four decades of her life to studying theology (especially patristics) and to charitable work and serving the poor. She was a devout Catholic and wrote extensively on the marriage between intellectual pursuit and mystical contemplation, most notably in her essay Il cielo mistico (The Mystic Heaven). She saw the rational contemplation of God as a complement to prayer and contemplation of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.Maria Teresa Agnesi Pinottini, clavicembalist and composer, was her sister.

Mystical theology

Mystical theology is the branch of theology that explains mystical practices and states, as induced by contemplative practices such as contemplative prayer.


Omphaloskepsis or navel-gazing is contemplation of one's navel as an aid to meditation.The word derives from the Ancient Greek words ὀμφᾰλός (omphalós, lit. 'navel') and σκέψῐς (sképsis, lit. 'viewing, examination, speculation').Actual use of the practice as an aid to contemplation of basic principles of the cosmos and human nature is found in the practice of yoga of Hinduism and sometimes in the Eastern Orthodox Church. In yoga, the navel is the site of the manipura (also called nabhi) chakra, which yogis consider "a powerful chakra of the body". The monks of Mount Athos, Greece, were described as Omphalopsychians by J.G. Minningen, writing in the 1830s, who says they "...pretended or fancied that they experienced celestial joys when gazing on their umbilical region, in converse with the Deity".However, phrases such as "contemplating one's navel" or "navel-gazing" are frequently used, usually in jocular fashion, to refer to self-absorbed pursuits.

Outline of Buddhism

Buddhism (Pali/Sanskrit: बौद्ध धर्म Buddha Dharma) is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha, "the awakened one".

The following outline is provided as an overview of, and topical guide to, Buddhism.

Prayer in the Catholic Church

In the Catholic Church, prayer is "the raising of one's mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God." It is an act of the moral virtue of religion, which Catholic theologians identify as a part of the cardinal virtue of justice.Prayer may be expressed vocally or mentally. Vocal prayer may be spoken or sung. Mental prayer can be either meditation or contemplation. The basic forms of prayer are praise, petition (supplication), intercession, and thanksgiving.

Richard Rohr

Richard Rohr (born 1943) is an American author, spiritual writer, and Franciscan friar based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was ordained to the priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church in 1970. He has been called "one of the most popular spirituality authors and speakers in the world."

Suicide intervention

Suicide intervention is a direct effort to prevent a person or persons from attempting to take their own life or lives intentionally.

Most countries have some form of mental health legislation which allows people expressing suicidal thoughts or intent to be detained involuntarily for psychiatric treatment when their judgment is deemed to be impaired. These laws may grant the courts, police, or a medical doctor the power to order an individual to be apprehended to hospital for treatment. This is sometimes referred to as being "committed". The review of ongoing involuntary treatment may be conducted by the hospital, the courts, or a quasi-judicial body, depending on the jurisdiction. Legislation normally requires police or court authorities to bring the individual to a hospital for treatment as soon as practical and not hold them in locations such as a police station.

Mental health professionals and some other health professionals receive training in assessment and treatment of suicidality. Suicide hotlines are widely available for people seeking help. However, some people may be reluctant to discuss their suicidal thoughts, due to stigma, previous negative experiences, fear of said detainment, or other reasons.

Unmoved mover

The unmoved mover (Ancient Greek: ὃ οὐ κινούμενον κινεῖ, translit. ho ou kinoúmenon kineî, lit. 'that which moves without being moved') or prime mover (Latin: primum movens) is a concept advanced by Aristotle as a primary cause (or first uncaused cause) or "mover" of all the motion in the universe. As is implicit in the name, the "unmoved mover" moves other things, but is not itself moved by any prior action. In Book 12 (Greek: Λ) of his Metaphysics, Aristotle describes the unmoved mover as being perfectly beautiful, indivisible, and contemplating only the perfect contemplation: self-contemplation. He equates this concept also with the active intellect. This Aristotelian concept had its roots in cosmological speculations of the earliest Greek pre-Socratic philosophers and became highly influential and widely drawn upon in medieval philosophy and theology. St. Thomas Aquinas, for example, elaborated on the unmoved mover in the Quinque viae.

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