Contemplation ( "look at" Latin contemplari, " look " ) generally means tranquility or peaceful contemplation. Contemplation is also known as a mystical way the Western tradition. Typically, a special feeling state or an expansion of consciousness is pursued through a contemplative life or action. A contemplative attitude is determined by calm and gentle attention. Thus it resembles the Vipassana insight meditation.

Historical Context

The Roman augurs foretold the future by observing in a certain pre- defined area of ​​the sky, the templum ( translated observation space ), the flight of birds and indicated. Similarly, a certain sacred area was staked out on the ground, which was only dedicated to the deity, also called templum. When contemplari you looked at the celestial and the terrestrial areas (plural templa ) together (con means together), and meditating on the connection section.


The Deponentialform from Latin contemplari ( probably originally: = can be detected by divine powers ) indicates inspiration -like experiences and sinking while eliminating all volition, see also → intuition, intuition.

Linguistic variance

Vita contemplativa referred to a contemplative life, such as monks of different religions. We use the word often associated with the contemplation of nature or of art. The adjective here means contemplative concentration on intellectual content. However, the most common use has its importance in the religious conception in the sense of spiritual contemplation in God or divine works and views.

Christian meaning

The mystical path within the Christian religion is almost as old as Christianity itself, the 40 - day fast of Jesus in the Judean Desert, in which it appeared that Satan, points out.

The representatives of the contemplative tradition long remained a more tolerated than respected fringe group within Christianity, there were some differences to the dogmatic views of the Roman Catholic Church to the concept of God. While the general doctrine of a God as a person goes to the man - as a people - can speak, the contemplative man practices is to listen to God.

Within the Catholic tradition, there are many highly venerated saints, who exercised the prayer as a contemplation and have with minted from that spirit, the Church, including Teresa of Ávila, which was in 1970 raised to the Doctor of the Church, John of the Cross and Nicholas of Flue.

Even in the Protestant churches is a contemplative tradition has been able to develop, sometimes had their idols in Catholic saints. Significant representatives were often laymen about the shoemaker Jakob Böhme († 1624), the band Weber Gerhard Tersteegen († 1769), or the cobbler's apprentice, George Fox ( † 1691), who was the founding father of the Quakers. Most of them were due to their doctrine in conflict with the ecclesiastical authorities.

The goal of contemplation is, for God's Spirit to open. This can be done in three steps:

The goal of contemplation can be approached in various ways of the mystics, are important:

  • Ignatian Retreat - spiritual exercises
  • Benedictine method ( lectio, meditatio, oratio )
  • Hesychast method, in particular the Jesus prayer (repeated recitation of the word Jesus or the variable rate Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner )

Was particularly marked the Vita contemplativa by Teresa of Avila, Meister Eckhardt, John of the Cross, Angelus Silesius, Hildegard of Bingen. Important living teacher of contemplation include the Benedictines and Zen master Willigis hunters, Ferenc Jalics SJ, Anselm Grün, Peter Dyckhoff, Thomas Keating, John Main OSB and Laurence Freeman.

In a narrower sense is called a community (usually a religious or a community ) then contemplative, when its members have dedicated themselves entirely to this path as a life and faith and operate virtually no effective outside work - in contrast to those orders, the charitable or are active in mission. An example of community are the Pink Sisters of the Divine Word Missionaries (SVD). They were founded by St. Arnold Janssen as a spiritual and prayerful support to judge God's attention to the problems of seconded missionaries, but also to non- missionaries to give the chance that someone is praying for them. Specifically, this means that one. A prayer request or " request to God " are the pink sisters who pray in their prayer meetings for those wish

Western way of Far Eastern mysticism

Unlike many forms of Eastern meditation, in which the students (also called viewfinder) tried to empty his mind to become one with God, understands the Christian mysticism under contemplation is an alignment on a unconditionally loving God. Contemplation is practicing an attitude. The experience of God's presence can not be produced by praying itself, it is a gift and pure grace.

The Rinzai Zen Buddhism source is missing, some New Age movements and the Western lifestyle adapted Eckankar assume that it would be more helpful, an internal viewing, for example, loving thoughts, postulates or of people you love, but also a wisdom or a sense award on to take in the contemplation than to try to empty the mind completely. This technique is intended for the believer to give one the opportunity with universal love to stuff the other hand, as the knowledge is taken into account that a complete silence in the mental area hard to reach and even harder to maintain. To that extent, therefore, certain esoteric schools of the concept of contemplation have served as a simpler path to enlightenment.

In deep contemplation, it is also possible, according to practitioners, to make transcendental experiences such as in meditation.