A Contemplative Connection

I have a morning ritual about which I am quite “religious.”  The aim of this ritual is, more or less, to become present and mindful and prepared to make the most of the coming day. There are four short sayings – I might loosely call them mantras – that give structure to this ritual. The last of these is a reminder to “maintain a contemplative connection with the Source.” In a sense, these seven words contain everything I know and have experienced about spirituality.

In an article I published here many years ago, I wrote that when I encounter the word “God” in spiritual writings, I translate the word as “the source and ultimate context of all things.”(1) In another article I published here, I wrote that the source and ultimate context of all things, for us humans, is a mystery.(2)

Some cosmologists use the equation T=0 for the duration before the Big Bang. They have much to say about the universe a fraction of a second after T=0, but of T=0, they can say nothing. It’s as if we have nothing and a fraction of a second later all of the ingredients to make the universe as we know it have appeared. Or is there a T=<0 that provides an explanation for this? That too is a mystery. 

The images being produced by the WEBB telescope are a revelation of what has happened since T=0. A universe of unthinkable magnitude and multitude has emerged; A trillion or so galaxies each with a billion or so stars. Buzzing around at least one of those stars is a creature capable of contemplating the magnitude and multitude of it all and of being in awe.

In making a contemplative connection with the Source, I enter a kind of communion with that great creational process that arose from T=0. I abandon all the tiny cares and concerns that occupy me as an ephemeral organism, and I settle into the Otherness that is my ultimate parentage. 

Every morning I prepare myself and open myself to this contemplative connection with the Source. I don’t always make the connection, but when I do, my day gets off to a heavenly start.

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Michelangelo’s fresco on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is considered by many one of Western art’s greatest achievements. Perhaps it is, but from a spiritual point of view, I find it hideous. Such a parochial vision of God – human, white and male. It shows the wisdom of banning craven images, particularly of God. 

The Islamic use of intricate abstract art to decorate their mosques gives a greater sense of God as something beyond our imagination and comprehension. At least for my taste, much of this Islamic art is spiritually beautiful.

If Spiritual Naturalism ever reaches the level of popularity where we can afford to build meeting houses where members can gather and give honor to ultimate things, I think a projected image of deep space photos from WEBB or Hubble would serve well as our equivalent of the religious art of Christian or Islamic architecture.

Most religions are rather parochial in how they think about God – something like us, only bigger and better. To contemplate what the deep space images reveal about the Creation requires us to transcend our parochialism to the greatest extent we can. 

Though the Creation is unthinkably vast, each of us is a part of it and no part of us is not a part of it. The mystery of the Ultimate Source is also the mystery of our source, the mystery of our being.

The light of one of the Creation’s countless stars powers our life and our awareness. Should we not use a little of this life and awareness in contemplation of its Source?

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Notes:

  1. The Naturalistic Equivalent of God
  2. 1-1=The Great Mystery

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