Exercising Contemplative Power

Reflections and Conference Proceedings

Contemplative Power is within us. It is the divine indwelling to which we have access.

It is a consciousness with us since birth but needing to be retrieved–a subliminal awareness. It is invisible but it engages and emerges within each of us and all of us. It is our capacity to be, to act, out of a space that invites us to see anew, invites us to observe and interpret with new eyes, with new ears and to see what is my/our egoic selves and what is my/our God-selves that are trying to emerge.

Contemplative Power is compassionate. It is centered in our knowing that we are all one, we are all connected. It is to see things as God sees them as, Dorothy Soelle writes. Such seeing, she said, leads to an active resistance to evil and inspires efforts to alleviate suffering. It is to see as Jesus saw when he defied his society’s definition of “the other” and chose to relate to each person in an exchange of mutual love and respect no matter the personal cost.

Contemplative Power is communal. Although we each exercise our own contemplative power we want to grow in our capacity to exercise it together. We liken it to a jazz ensemble where each player needs to be open to the others; attentive to what is being sung and played; willing to shape the next response attuned to what went before and moving it forward.

As pianist Mary Lou Williams would say to audiences “such music will heal you.” Communal contemplative power can heal the world. It is letting go of thinking that we are going to come to something that no one has thought of; rather it is believing that as we let ourselves be in this deep space things will realign in us and in the world. It happens even without our knowing it. We make the change by holding the high consciousness.

We offer these two poems as another way to capture some of what we described.

From Wendell Berry’s poem:
“What We Need Is Here“

… what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.

From Rumi
When compassion fills my heart,
Free from all desire,
I sit quietly like the earth.
My silent cry echoes like thunder
Throughout the universe.

© 2012 Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue

Various reflections focused upon issues of  social concern in light of Communal Contemplative Power are available here.  Just click on the picture or text to read further.




As I began to prepare this reflection I read various articles on the immigration issue in the United States – the unjust laws in Arizona and Alabama and other states now making their way through the judicial system, even to the Supreme Court. Realizing that immigration is a global issue I extended my information-seeking beyond our borders. Read more


Climate Change

One morning I arrived at my office early. Pat, the woman who cleans for us was busily at work. She commented on the mild New England winter we were experiencing. I responded in a dubious non-committal way sharing my own personal love for “winter in winter.” She looked somewhat shocked. “God knows what he is doing,” she retorted. Pensively I responded—more to myself than to her–even as the words came out of my mouth, “It is not God I am worried about.” Read more


Human Face of Globalization

In approaching the topic of globalization, I had to think about Teilhard de Chardin and his articulation of the concept of the “noosphere”. His prayer and thought brought him to understand that all of creation is evolving/developing and that we humans have come to know that we know. We know that we are evolving together and we appreciate that we are connected in that knowing.  Read more



In 1946 Herman Hesse won the Nobel Peace Prize for literature for The Glass Bead Game (sometimes called Magister Ludi). The book is a fascinating tale of the complexity of modern day life. Projected into the 25th century it deals with recurring philosophical conflicts and tries to arrive at a synthesis and harmony between the opposites.  Read more


Political Climate

When I exercise at the gym in the morning I’ve taken to watching the MSNBC program Morning Joe. Joe Scarborough, former Republican US Congressperson, and Mika Brzezinski, television journalist and author, are the co-hosts. Their commentary is more centrist than my own views; however, their guests and their regular commentators represent the broad spectrum of political positions.  Read more


Human Trafficking

“I am a human being…
and I have been sold.

I make the cell phones we use…
I clean the neighbor’s house…
I pick the tomatoes we eat…

I’m on the Internet…in the local motel…on the street corner…
But no one really sees me.   Read more