Matt Sholler asked me to write a bit about the connection between the emotional sobriety I wrote about last time, and our ongoing message of contemplation. That is easy to do.
You see, contemplation is not first of all about being religious, introverted, or pious—it is about being emotionally and mentally honest! Contemplation is an alternative consciousness that refuses to IDENTIFY WITH or FEED what are only passing shows. It is the absolute opposite of addiction, consumerism, or any egoic consciousness.
Egoic consciousness is the one we all normally operate with, until we are told there is something else! Every culture teaches egoic consciousness, but just in different ways. At that level it is all about me, my preferences, my choices, my needs, my desires, and me and my group as the central reference point. Most people do not even know there is another way of thinking or feeling. It was religion’s job to tell them about a different kind of “software,” and the original word for it was simply prayer. But even the concept and practice of prayer became captive to the voracious needs of the ego. Even prayer became a way to get God to do what we wanted. You know that is true!
So a lot of us started using the word contemplation so people might know we are talking about a totally different operating system, different software where the private self is not the center of attention and interpretation. This is the “grain of wheat” that Jesus says must die “or it remains just a grain of wheat.” But if it dies, “it bears much fruit”! (John 12:24). Mature and contemplative religion has always known that we need a whole new operating system, which Paul called “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16) or a “spiritual revolution of the mind” (Ephesians 4:23).
Brothers, if we are to be elders, we need to learn and practice this new mind or there will be no lasting initiation, no real change, no authentic encounter with ourselves, God, or anybody else. Find your own practice, and learn a new mind. Contemplation really is the change that changes everything.