Sunday, September 25, 2011

Simon Small: On the Inner Path and Contemplative Life

"I stand at the bottom of the pond as the fulcrum of limitless space, within and without, a gateway to both, an icon that joins the two. But who am I, so small and insignificant yet at the heart of existence? As I ponder this question, infinite space reveals itself once more. For as hard as I look, I cannot find myself. I can only find thoughts, memories, fears, beliefs and concepts that constantly arise and cease. But whoever I am does not arise or cease. I am who I have always been. Different thoughts and a new body, but I am who I am. And as my mind stills consciousness expands without limit. There is a deep sense that, indeed, it has no limit. It too is infinite, a vibrantly alive space. As I stand at the bottom of the pond, I am the still center of awesome space, but so is every other human being. And, in its own way, so is every animal, plant, virus, bacteria and living cell. And in some far distant galaxy, on another insignificant lump of rock, at the bottom of another pond, stands another still center of space staring uswards and inwards, filled and humbled by the mystery of existence."
-- Simon Small --
 ("At the Bottom of a Pond")
In a recent interview (attached below) Iain McNay, co-host of ConsciousTV, sat down with Rev. Simon Small, an ordained Church of England clergyman and author, to explore the latter's journey from run-of-the-mill modern materialist businessman to a Christian contemplative. Small's inner journey of self-inquiry led him from spiritualism, through A Course in Miracles, to Theravada Buddhism and back to his Church of England roots, revealing to him the spaciousness and interconnectedness that is at the heart of all the world's great wisdom traditions.

Small describes the fruits of the inner path in the following terms: "One begins to experience a taste that one is not separate to everything else, that this hard sense of being separate and cut off from all of this, and just relating to it, is actually just a perception, and that whatever I am is flowing out of the source of everything, just as this table is, and this room, and everything outside."

"Contemplation," he notes, "is an ancient Christian word for a universal experience. (It) describes what happens when we have those moments . . when suddenly our very small world that we are living out in our head almost seems to dissolve and suddenly there is this vast mystery there in the moment. We all have experiences like this. Many of us have them out in nature. We will be walking along and there will be a moment when the sunlight coming through the branches and hitting the leaves just stops us in our tracks. There is a sense of time almost stopping as well, and there is almost a sense of resonance in the moment so that we are no longer separate to the sunlight and those leaves. There is something vibrating there that is vibrating in us as well. We all have these moments."

A life of contemplation may not, however, be for everyone. The fruits of the inner path and contemplation are very rich, Small notes, but they come at a price, a price that many people are, perhaps, loathe to pay.

"At first, (contemplation) is a wonderful experience," he points out, "because you have never quite tasted anything quite like it. It is like the finest wine you have ever tasted, and you become aware. . . . Suddenly life has gone to colour from black and white.  But then very quickly," he warns, "one begins to realize that if you are going to pursue this you are not going to be able to live the same way anymore in the world. Things that you used to value, you won't value anymore. And you will begin to value things that you have never dreamed of before."

Small's advice to those who wish to explore the contemplative way is: "Enter stillness. Try and taste the wonder of being. Go out into nature, (into) whatever it is that brings this sense of wonder into your life. And then as you are experiencing that quality of consciousness, hold the question: Where do I go from here?" The answer will come, he notes.

1 comment:

  1. ...outstanding interview....very helpful..thank you for posting!