The Enigma of Consciousness 4 - Contemplative Inquiry

Curriculum Focus



Marshall, Gene, The Enigma of Consciousness, Realistic Living Press, Bonham, TX, 2012. Chapter 4.

The Contemplative Approach to Truth (excerpts from Chapter 4 please read the original material for complete context)

By being objective in its approach, science is silent about interior truth. This vow of silence about the subjectivity of the scientist reveals the presence of and the need for the I approach to truth. I will call the interior inquiry into the reality of consciousness the contemplative approach to Truth. Contemplative inquiry can be defined as consciousness viewing the dynamics of consciousness itself. The field of psychology illustrates the presence of both the scientific and contemplative approaches to truth.

Contemplative inquiry is not about a subject observing an object. Contemplative inquiry is about an individual consciousness being conscious of the processes of that consciousness. The subject doing the inquiry is also the object of the inquiry.

Within the practice of contemplative inquiry, the entire field of what we can indicate with the word reality is ripples in this field of consciousness. We might say that consciousness itself is a ripple in the ongoing field of reality. We do not have consciousness and then reality. We do not have reality and then consciousness of reality. There is just one ongoingness, a reality that includes consciousness. And consciousness (in being conscious of the reality that includes consciousness) is being conscious of being a conscious being within Reality.

From the contemplative perspective the present is the only time there is. The past is only a memory, memory experienced in the present. And the future is only anticipation, anticipation experienced in the present. In the contemplative approach to truth, the time is always NOW. (I will capitalize NOW in order to symbolize the felt lastingness or eternality of our conscious experience of time.) Our contemplative inquiry is inquiry into the NOW of consciously being conscious of the contents of consciousness. This does not mean that there is no time. Rather, time is experienced as a flow, as a ceaseless changing of content. This flowing content is coming into being and going out of being in each moment of experience. This flow can include the relative continuation of some aspects of our experience while other aspects of our experience begin or end with relative abruptness. Consciousness is a flow. And our consciousness of consciousness is a flow. And this flow is taking place through an enduring still point we call NOW. The most completely realized mystic of contemplative excellence still participates in scientific reasoning. And the most dedicated scientist is having (or suppressing) her conscious experiences in the depths of her subjective being.

Reflection Questions

Read one of the lines from this reading that caught your attention.

What is contemplative inquiry (4) How do you understand this process as different from scientific inquiry

What are examples of situations where you find yourself observing your consciousness (Where you find yourself aware of your awareness or noticing your noticings) Where do you find yourself engaged in the activity of contemplative inquiry

Describe what happens interiorly when you give attention to the process of awareness and consciousness How does this activity change us

What does this section communicate to us about the nature of time and flow
How have you experienced this dynamic

How do you experience this material to be in dialogue with the previous material we have encountered with Nikos Kazantzakis

What other line or concept would you like to have the group explore with grounding experiences

How might I live my life differently because of the awareness provoked in this material

What personal practices might be indicted from the encounter with this material

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