Active “Contemplation” is essential for “human self-sufficiency and care of our environment”. Because of the relationship of the smallest everyday things with the biggest universal themes – such as our place in world, the environment, God, Energy, Allah or whatever you want to call it. The process of Sustainable Living is all about this enquiry, hands-on, in person. It is an active apprenticship.
For example, a lot of people think about Rumi and they think about love, meditation, beautiful sunsets, contemplative poetry writing, and they do not realize that all his poetry was sung or spoken by him while he was actively and energetically dancing and spinning. There was no sitting and meditating, it was about get up and dance. True eastern masters do not speak about meditation as relaxing but about it being a very active process. Socrates did not sit down and give a talk, he walked about engaged in provocative dialogues with his students and strangers. It was a “dynamic casting” as Nader Khalili would say.
We need to completely change our view of the word “contemplation” to become an energetic hands-on activity. Whether your enquiry about the relationship of the little issues and the bigger issues in life is with thought, words, or hands-on activity there must be an exchange of energy between your heart and brain.
In the field of Earth Architecture, a hands-on apprenticeship learning by building a dome is a training in this kind of “Contemplation”. “Unity within Multiplicity” is manifested in the structure of a dome. The center generates the shell and the shell focusses back into the center. This hands-on contemplation brings a joy in setting every brick or bag of earth, or whatever the unit of construction making this shell. Even being in such a dome is a living contemplation of the unity within multiplicity. And that just turns one’s daily practice towards such contemplation in all areas of life, of sustainable living.
The mason’s contemplation, which happens to have been my experience of the last 20 years while apprenticing to architect Nader Khalili, is just one example of the many kinds of contemplation, of the many roads of enquiry into exciting research in every area of sustainable living. Where is the focus? The focus is the Unity of course – Allah, God, Atman, whatever the name is One. Is there any practical use to this? Of course! When your quest is to do something for others, to be of service, to be a devotee and adore, work that is true and in harmony with the universe will result. All the greatest inventions, innovations, scientific discoveries, poetries and manifestations of human activity come through this process. Conservatively one can call these divinely inspired.
Our sustainable future as a planet depends on “Contemplation”. Personally I am striving to untie myself from my old habits and situate my life in (w)holiness (excuse the pun, dome builders), by apprenticing to this process of con-templation.
The planet needs help urgently. There is great human need today for wholesome food, safe housing, clean drinking water. And the environment needs protecting from pollution, deforestation, and the fruits of selfish, destructive human activity. The forces of climate change and war are a constant challenge, and this word ‘contemplation’ is the greatest direct problem-solving process to engage with.
References: Sohbet 2/25/2012 – Murshid Shaykh Taner Ansari, “Sidewalks on the Moon” Chapter 13 – Nader Khalili, “Grand Masters of Sufism” Chapter 1 – translated by Shaykh Taner Ansari.