What the Contemplative Life is and How To Live It

Carly Rinehart HB

According to Aristotle, there are three clear kinds of life: the life of enjoyment, the life of the statesman, and the contemplative life [1]. Aristotle argues that of these three, the contemplative life yields the most happiness. The contemplative life is the life that consists in always asking more questions and seeking to enhance your knowledge and wisdom. Aristotle considers contemplation to have no other end but itself, making it the mission in obtaining the ultimate good of happiness [2].

According to a survey by Robert Toth at the Merton Institute, 95% of people responded positively to a survey asking if they had a desire to live more contemplatively [3]. So then, how can we live the contemplative life? In achieving this lifestyle, we can look at two separate segments of: the personal aspect and the social aspect. The personal branch employs acts such as reflection, prayer, and meditation. With these practices, we have time to think about ourselves and the world in a calming and quiet atmosphere, allowing us to become self-aware and ponder what we know and what we don’t know, ultimately leading us to ask more questions. Through these practices, we can try to think to a higher degree and truly question the world around us, fully engaging in the aspects of the contemplative life. It is important that we make sure to push ourselves mentally, as we should “put off our mortality and make every effort to live in the exercise of the highest of our faculties” [4]. Another way to personally engage in the contemplative life is to further your knowledge on your own through reading. This allows us to expand our minds in peace and quiet and allows us to add ever-growing amounts of knowledge into our limitless minds. The personal aspect of the contemplative life altogether requires a lot of alone time and quiet, but one should not only spend their time alone when seeking this life.

The social aspect of the contemplative life allows one to enhance their knowledge and wisdom through others. One of the biggest aspects of this lifestyle is its focus on relationships [5]. We should seek to surround ourselves with people who also seek the contemplative life and prefer to engage in meaningful conversation which helps both parties grow. We can learn a lot from other people, and as social animals, we have an inner desire to connect with other people. Next time you are with your friends or family, seek to engage in an open-ended conversation that allows everyone to fully participate and share their own knowledge and wisdom, so that each member of the conversation can grow in contemplation. In your pursuit of the contemplative life, it would also help to seek out clubs and activities that you are interested in, even if only to learn more about them. There is nothing wrong with being a jack of all trades, when you are focusing on contemplation and learning more everyday.

Through a focus on the contemplative life, you will find the power of education, wisdom, and knowledge. These things allow us to exercise reason, which is “the best and pleasantest for man – and therefore the happiest,” meaning that reason is an entity of the contemplative life which leads us to true happiness [6].

Works Cited

  1. Aristotle. “The Nicomachean Ethics.” How to Find Happiness Without a Free Lunch, 2017, Ed. Bernardo Aparicio (Ursuline Academy, 2017), Book 1: Ch. 5.
  2. Aristotle. “The Nicomachean Ethics.” How to Find Happiness Without a Free Lunch, 2017, Ed. Bernardo Aparicio (Ursuline Academy, 2017), Book 1: Ch. 8.
  3. “Contemplative Living.” Abbey of the Hearts. July 29, 2007. Accessed June 24, 2017. http://abbeyofthearts.com/blog/2007/07/29/contemplative-living/.
  4. “Contemplative Living.” Abbey of the Hearts. July 29, 2007. Accessed June 24, 2017. http://abbeyofthearts.com/blog/2007/07/29/contemplative-living/.
  5. “Contemplative Living.” Abbey of the Hearts. July 29, 2007. Accessed June 24, 2017. http://abbeyofthearts.com/blog/2007/07/29/contemplative-living/.
  6. Aristotle. “The Nicomachean Ethics.” How to Find Happiness Without a Free Lunch, 2017, Ed. Bernardo Aparicio (Ursuline Academy, 2017), Book 1: Ch. 8.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s