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Over the past few years as I have been reading and researching in the world of contemplative prayer and meditation I have started to write down some of my favorite quotations – from ancient masters to modern scientists.  I thought some of you might also enjoy these (and I’ve included citation information where available).  As I continue to add to this list, I will update this post along the way. I make no claims that this list is exhaustive – it simply represents my own idiosyncratic musings of what has caught my attention.  Perhaps you might find some inspiration?
Happy contemplating!
The World Will Be Saved By Beauty
  • This was one of Dorothy Day’s favorite lines, which is adapted from Fyodor Dostoyevski’s The Idiot.
“Resting quietly in the presence of God”
  • St. Gregory the Great (6th century), Morals on the Book of Job, Preface.
Mindfulness is an “awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment.”
  • Jon Kabat-Zinn, “Mindfulness-based interventions in context: Past, present, and future,” Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 10(2), 144–156, at 145.
“Paying attention to what’s naturally arising in the present moment with kindness and curiosity.”
“Meditation is a practical means for calming yourself, for letting go of your biases and seeing what is, openly and clearly. It is a way of training the mind so that you are not distracted and caught up in its endless churning. Meditation teaches you to systematically explore your inner dimensions. It is a system of commitment, not commandment.”

Contemplation is “a third way of knowing that complements both the rational and the sensory…designed to quiet and shift the habitual chatter of the mind to cultivate a capacity for deepened awareness, concentration, and insight.”

“Keeping one’s consciousness alive to the present reality.”
  • Thich Naht Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness (Boston: Beacon Press, 1987), 11.
“how we pay attention to the present moment in ‘and open, kind and discerning way'”
Contemplation captured in the acronym “COAL” – Curiosity, openness, acceptance, and love.
  • Daniel J. Siegel, Mind: A Journey to the Heart of Being Human (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2016), 225.
“Consciousness is that which is most intimate to our experience—that which lies beneath thought and feeling. It is awareness itself, the experiencer. “
  • Hari M. Sharma and Christopher Clark. Ayurvedic Healing : Contemporary Maharishi Ayurveda Medicine And Science, 2nd Ed. (London: Singing Dragon, 2012)


“For contemplation is nothing else than a secret and peaceful and loving inflow of God, which, if not hampered, fires the soul in the spirit of love”
  • John of the Cross (16th century), The Dark Night of the Soul, I. 10. 6.


“Contemplation is a wordless, imageless prayer into which God invites the Christian who has devoted himself or herself for a prolonged time to discursive prayer. Contemplation, as John says, is precisely a general, loving knowledge of God”
  • Mark O’Keefe, Love Awakened by Love: The Liberating Ascent of St. John of the Cross (Washington, D.C.: ICS Publications, 2014), 78-79.


“the transcendent experience of reality and truth in the act of a supreme and liberated spiritual love…contemplation is [the human person’s] highest and most essential spiritual activity”
  • Thomas Merton, The Inner Experience: Notes on Contemplation (San Francisco: Harper, 2003), 34.
“Mysticism” is a modern word for what the Christian tradition previously called “mystical theology” (a life-style, not an academic discourse), or “contemplation.” I prefer to speak of the “mystical element,” which is a part of a concrete religion, such as Christianity or Judaism. I have described this elsewhere as follows: “…that part, or element, of Christian belief and practice that concerns the preparation for, the consciousness of, and the effect of what the mystics themselves describe as a direct and transformative presence of God”
  • Bernard McGinn, Essential Writings of Christian Mysticism (New York: Modern Library Classics, 2006), xiv.
Recollection, an interior state in which “the soul collects its faculties together and enters within itself to be with its God”
  • St. Teresa of Avila (16th century), The Way of Perfection, 28.4.
“Mysticism is the art of union with Reality.  The mystic is a person who has attained that union in greater or less degree; or who aims at and believes in such attainment.”
  • Evelyn Underhill, Practical Mysticism, 3.
c. 1200, “religious musing,” from Old French contemplation or directly from Latin contemplationem (nominative contemplatio) “act of looking at,” from contemplat-, past participle stem of contemplari “to gaze attentively, observe,” originally “to mark out a space for observation” (as an augur does). From com-, intensive prefix (see com-), + templum “area for the taking of auguries” (see temple (n.1)). – http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=contemplation
noun: augur; plural noun: augurs
  1. 1.
    (in ancient Rome) a religious official who observed natural signs, especially the behavior of birds, interpreting these as an indication of divine approval or disapproval of a proposed action
“In the mystic way, reality is neither seized nor deciphered.  Nor can it be committed to ideational formation.  Instead, it is engaged – delicately, knowingly, and passionately.  It is engaged by being loved”
  • Walter Holden Capps & Wendy M. Wright, Editors, Silent Fire: An Invitation to Western Mysticism (San Francisco: Harper, 1978), 1.


To Be Continued, as I Discover More Wisdom to Share…

deepened awareness, concentration, and insight.”

  • Tobin Hart, “Opening the Contemplative Mind in the Classroom,” Journal of Transformative Education 2.1 (2004).  http://journals.sagep

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