All forms of contemplation share the same goal: to help us see through the deceptions of self and world in order to get in touch with what Howard Thurman called “the sound of the genuine” within us and around us. Contemplation does not need to be defined in terms of particular practices, such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, or lectio divina. Instead, it can be defined by its function: contemplation is any way one has of penetrating illusion and touching reality. —Parker Palmer
The German mystic Meister Eckhart (1260–1328) said, “Let us pray to God that we may be free of God that we may gain the truth. . . .” There is no concept of God that can contain God, as Saint Augustine (354–430) preached, “If you comprehend it, it is not God.”
Thomas Keating described how contemplation evolves our perception of reality and God: Contemplation is awakening to the contemplative dimension of life. In the Eastern traditions some call it meditation or the path to enlightenment. Every development in contemplation reveals more and more of the mystery of silence and the importance of receptivity over effort, especially in prayer. It gives you a whole new perspective on reality. The effectiveness of action depends on the source from which it springs. If it is coming out of the false self with its shadow side, it is severely limited. If it is coming out of a person who is immersed in God, it is extremely effective.
[Contemplative] practices beckon earthbound bodies toward an expanded receptivity to holiness. . . . Receptivity is not a cognitive exercise but rather the involvement of intellect and senses in a spiritual reunion and oneness with God. . . . [The] contemplative moment is a spiritual event that kisses the cognitive but will not be enslaved to its rigidities. —Barbara Holmes