Is Contemplation Boring?

My latest column has been posted at Patheos — it dares to ask the question Is Contemplation Boring?

Follow the link and see what you think!

When Contemplation Feels Like Dying
Creative Conversation Begins with Contemplative Compassion
Do You Need a Spiritual Teacher?
What To Do When Your Prayer Doesn't Get 'In The Zone'


  1. roger p. martin says:

    The heart is not just an”organic pump”It is also the place of” silence beyond thoughts” through which shines “the mysterious presence”

    • Carl McColman says:

      Indeed. And many in the tradition would say it is the heart, far more so than the mind, which functions as “ground zero” for contemplative experience.

  2. AreWeThereYet? says:


    I enjoy reading your posts and am bored only by the articles of authors that divine from the Bible as one would from tea leaves, as they shore up a particular theological or secular argument that they seek to push down their reader’s throat.

    It would appear that you take such unwarranted criticism in your stride as evidenced by your using the comment as an opportunity for insight rather than self-defence. So my comment here is not to provide unsolicited advice but rather just a self-reflection.

    I used to think it was important to develop a ‘thick’ skin to respond to the slings and arrows, but now consider that a much better strategy is to have ‘no’ skin. It is especially tricky with unjustified criticism where someone is obviously having a very bad day or life – and is using criticism of another to avoid looking within.

    It is my experience that my illusionary ego is caught up by the perceived injustice of such criticisms, railing against them, as it tends to its injured pride and seeks to restore its delusional self-image within the false tabernacle of one’s own mind.

    Nevertheless, such criticisms are an opportunity to be skinless! If the insult passes straight through me without wounding – it provides a real sign that I am truly embedded in that spacious silence. Unfortunately, it is something easier said then done!

    Keep up your silence-evoking work.

  3. Contemplation isn’t really boring if you do it right. Think of what we are contemplating: God/Christ. Think of how we are contemplating: with love and awe. Think of why we are contemplating: to realize that Presence in our lives. How can any of that be boring?

    • Carl McColman says:

      I think it’s dangerous to start judging contemplation as if there is a difference between “doing it right” and “not doing it right.” As Thomas Keating points out, the only way to fail at contemplation is simply not to show up. We enter the silence and then what happens, happens. And what if what happens is profound restlessness, a sense of boredom? I agree with you that it’s not God/Love/Nondual Consciousness that’s boring. But just as beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, so can boredom be — not in the giver of the gift, but in ourselves, the restless recipients.

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