This was taken from "Mysticism : a Study in the Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness" by Evelyn Underhill. It was originally published in 1911.
She says that contemplation "is a mental attitude under which all things give up to us the secret of their life."
Here is her process
- All that is asked is that we shall look for a little time, in a special and undivided manner, at some simple, concrete, and external thing. This object of our contemplation may be almost anything we please: a picture, a statue, a tree, a distant hillside, a growing plant, running water, little living things.
- Look then at the thing which you have chosen.
- Wilfully yet tranquilly refuse the messages which countless other aspects of the world are sending; and so concentrate your whole attention on this one act of loving sight that all other objects are excluded from the conscious field. Do not think, but as it were pour out your personality towards it : let your soul be in your eyes.
- Almost at once this new method of perception will reveal unexpected qualities in the external world.
- First you'll perceive about you a strange and deepening quietness; a slowing down of of our feverish mental time.
- Next you will become aware of a heightened significance, an intensified existence in the thing at which you look.
- As you, with all your consciousness, lean out towards it, an answering current will meet yours. It is as though the barrier between its life and your own, between subject and object, had melted away.
- You are merged with it, in an act of true communion : and you know the secret of its being deeply and unforgettably, yet in a way you can never hope to express.
Seen thus, a thistle has celestial qualities : a speckled hen a touch of the sublime.
Life has spoken to life, but not to the surface-intelligence. That surface-intelligence knows only that the meaning was true and beautiful : no more.
Don't be too surprised if this opens up psychic phenomena.