Meditation and Contemplation

Meditation and Contemplation

Ambrose Alexander Worrall

This talk was given at The New Life Clinic, Mount Vernon Place Methodist Church, Saturday, February 11, 1956.

1. Much has been said and written on meditation, contemplation, and kindred subjects. Great minds have tried to explain the meaning and substance of these words in a way that might solidify them into a concrete idea that could be visualized and understood by people in all walks of life.
2. It is important to define the meanings of these two words before entering into a discourse on the subject.
3. Meditation is a continuous application of the mind to the consideration of religious or moral truth in order to promote personal wholeness, holiness, and the love of all that is Divine.
4. Contemplation is a state of rapt regard for things Divine. It requires the ability to keep the selected idea in full mental view while giving earnest consideration to all of its obvious and hidden virtues.
5. From these definitions you find that meditation and contemplation have much in common. In fact meditation in its highest form brings one to the threshold of contemplation.
6. Meditation requires the concentrated effort of the mind, a one-pointed attention to the subject, by the continued application of which one becomes aware of such qualities as, for instance, the shape and color of a thing.
7. Contemplation is the natural result of repeated meditation on the same subject. Meditation allows one to see. Contemplation allows one to feel. This is not feeling by the sense of touch but rather by intuition.
8. The lack of understanding of the words, meditation and contemplation, arises from our way of life.
9. The first response to physical impressions occurs to man at or near the time of his birth. This is the awakening of his consciousness and memory to the existence of forms and forces separate from himself.
10. He becomes aware of certain physical desires that must be satisfied. Nourishment and sleep are the first important items. Time adds the desire to exercise, also the curiosity aroused by things seen, heard and touched. He is developing conscious awareness of his surroundings on the physical plane of existence.
11. If he is conscious at all of things of a spiritual nature these are soon ignored as he becomes absorbed by the desires and needs of his physical existence. Thus he narrows his awareness, and recognizes only the things pertaining to the earth, being particularly concerned with the sources of supply, pleasure and pain.
12. The experiences of his waking hours tend to make him increasingly aware of his separateness from others. Soon he shows that he desires that which he enjoys for himself, and is ready to take aggressive action if this privilege is denied him.
13. As he grows older the law of self-preservation becomes an important force in his life. He is ready to fight for what he believes to be his rights, and to keep for himself what he has acquired thus far in his journey through life.
14. He becomes involved in the treasures and the pleasures of earth. He is faced on every side with regimentation, man-made laws, error, diversities of opinion as to what is right and what is wrong. Often he rebels against restrictions, the selfishness of others, and even against himself.
15. He reaches a state of confusion. The highest recognized authorities differ on so many points. He can choose to ignore a subject, agree with one of the authorities, or form a theory or opinion of his own.
16. False representation, misdirection, self-deception, fear, selfish desires, and other forces at work create illusions in his mind that, for a time, seem to eliminate the confusion. He then believes that others who do not agree with his concepts are confused.
17. Having passed from confusion into illusion he may remain in this latter state for years, even unto death.
18. Fortunately some have experiences that dispel their illusions. The orderly nature of their thinking which had followed a pattern acceptable to the masses, becomes no longer acceptable to themselves.
19. Such a person passing out of a state of illusion will find his new thoughts in conflict with those he entertained in the past. His previously accepted ideas; the constant pressure of friends to restore him to his former state; the ridicule of his opponents; the pity of those who feel superior and are sure they are right; and a host of other forces such as doubt, fear, indecision and loneliness will tend to drive him into seclusion.
20. The world seems against him and bent on his destruction. His thinking becomes chaotic, as, tired of the constant battle, he becomes weary and disinterested.
21. Finally in his loneliness and utter despair he raises his voice like a child lost in the wilderness, and utters a vocal prayer to God asking to be shown the way, the truth, and the light.
22. He is appealing, as it were, to the last tribunal, but his words seem to fall on the emptiness of space. Again and again, day after day he repeats his impassioned plea, trying to reach out and get response from that realm which he believes is far, far away, where peace and understanding reign supreme. He receives no answer, no encouraging sign. He wonders if God has failed him.
23. In silence he ponders over this apparent aloofness of the Heavenly Father. He begins to measure the effectiveness of the spoken prayer. It was true that he felt an elevation of his soul, a step nearer to the Almighty, when he prayed aloud, but did not his Heavenly Father know all his needs? Why then should he pray aloud?
24. Without realizing it, he begins, for him, a new form of devotion, meditative prayer.
25. He thinks of the attributes of God. Love, Wisdom, Justice, Mercy, Omnipotence, Omniscience, Omnipresence.
26. He visualizes the majesty, beauty and depth of a Being thus endowed. He is spiritually enlightened by a new concept of God. He is here now, and always available regardless of time and place. The shadows of doubt and fear are dispelled, there is no longer a feeling of being alone.
27. Continuing his meditations and visualizations of the Divine attributes brings new understanding of the Scriptures to him. God is very close, yes, “Closer than hands and feet.”
28. This latter thought with all its implications is startling. Spiritually, it was unacceptable to him, for he had been taught to regard himself as a sinner. Why should God be closer to him than hands and feet?
29. Here was something to be resolved. Physically he could not conceive of two occupying the space of one. The proposition was untenable. He had reached an impasse. Yet, in spite of his reasoning, his inner consciousness whispered, “It is true. God is closer than hands and feet.”
30. Now is the time when such a man may cross the threshold into the Hall of Contemplation. If he does he will find himself in a strange silence, the material world including his physical body, takes on an aspect of unreality. He passes through the portal into an intuitive consciousness of the Divine Reality. At the threshold he touches the hem of HIS garment; within the Hall of Contemplation he becomes enfolded in that garment.
31. Continuing his contemplation by awaiting alertly for further knowledge, he becomes more and more aware of his affinity with the Supreme Being until at last he reaches the realization that all are one, and the full significance of the words, “The Father dwelleth in me and I in Him,” dawns upon his awakened spiritual consciousness, and he says, yes indeed, God is “closer than hands and feet.”
32. What then are meditation and contemplation? They are steps that lead upwards from the plateau of vocal prayer. They are advanced forms of prayer which in its highest form is so simple that it is difficult to describe.
33. Simple prayer has no words; no images; no ideas; the mind is pure; passive; non-selective; however, the consciousness is alert. A watchful, listening vigilance is maintained with an expectance to receive impressions not generated by oneself or the mental or physical stimuli that abound on every hand, but from the Supreme Intelligence that transmits only truth and knows what one needs to know.
34. Yes! this is prayer. When a man has reached this plateau he is one with God.
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