Br. David Steindl-Rast, Australia, June 2009: Part 2

Uploaded by Gratefulness on 27.01.2010

How can
you practice
in everyday living,
all the commonplace things that you do day by day,
and moment by moment.
How can you,
in those situations
come more alive. That is what spiritual practice means. That
Is our task today.
And that means
contemplative living.
So actually
what uh
spiritual practice
everyday living
means is;
a contemplative life. And
there we have to look very carefully
at that term
it's often misunderstood.
It's often thought of as
Well there's the active life in which all of us are engaged most of the time,
and there are the contemplatives. Those are the ones that go, ah, to the depths of their cave
and nobody sees them or something like that.
Well the very term contemplative
alert us that we are really about something else
uh, Because
it comes from the Latin word “contemplatio”
and uh
it has 3 parts.
and, The first part
is, ah
this con or cum in Latin.
Anyone who has ever had Latin classes knows
that’s one of the first words you learn. Cum means
with. So we are talking about
that is “with” or “together” something that belongs together.
And then the last part of the word
latio means
an activity that
is repeated,
a repeated activity.
Contemplation is something
that puts something together,
over and over again.
And what is it that
is being put together?
That is suggested to us
by the little
central part of this word
The t.e.m.p., the temp or temple,
and immediately we think of a temple.
And rightly so.
But originally, uh
this little temp
is a very old word
and it goes all the way back to Sanskrit.
And at the very beginning
making a notch,
like when you make a notch on a piece of wood.
What happens when you make a notch?
You can start counting.
Say you make a notch
every time the sun rises, you begin to count how many days you have been on this island,
uh, if you’re stranded on an island.
you make 2 notches.
Then you can measure
and you can count and measure.
uh, The two notches give you a little measuring rod
and you can measure
how many,
how long the fish was that you caught
in contrast to the one that got away.
And when you make notches in the side of your Boat, you can count how many fishes you caught
and so forth.
So you count and measure
and this
this little word temp. It becomes so important in the
Contemplation. It means
We have it in
our English words,
tempo which is the measure for speed.
And we have it in
temperature which is the measure
of heat
and cold.
And we have it in the word temple,
Or template, which is the measure in which the bricklayer
lays the bricks and the tiles.
temple is the word most closely connected with contemplation,
and a temple
was originally not a building with columns. uh That's the first thing that comes
to our mind when we hear temple.
But a temple wasn’t even anything on the earth,
a templum was something in the skies.
It was
a measured out area in the skies
to which you looked up
and you saw there this
perfect order.
the skies move
in perfect order.
And before there was smog, and before there were so many buildings
uh and so many
electric lights that
lit up the night,
people had much more opportunity to look up to the stars,
and they saw
how wonderfully
perfect order, they always
repeated this
the ways and the planets
followed the perfect order and the stars stayed in perfect order.
They were
moved by this
order and they looked up
to it and they
wanted to
up to it.
So there is the vision,
the temple starts with the vision
to which we want to measure up
and then
they put,
in order to
facilitate that process
of measuring up,
they projected
order of the skies
on to the earth.
And so
the most ancient temples that we know
are these stone circles,
and they
just set up stones
refer to the stars.
We’ve all seen pictures of Stonehenge for instance,
these enormous
blocks that they moved there for
great distances with very
simple means to set them up.
To arrange something really firm
that cannot be moved that will not be moved.
And the way these stone blocks are related to one another
makes them in to a big
star dial.
On the first day of spring for instance or equinox or so,
a star will rise just exactly
in this crack 0:06:59.000,0:07:00.889 between 2 of these rocks
as they are set up.
So a big sundial where the shadow falls.
They are always
related to
the skies. The original temples. So then later on
they will build a house and the building in the midst there
and that’s what we then call the temple.
And it will be a sacred space and all that,
that comes much later.
The original idea
of contemplation
Is to put together
the order above to
which we look up,
with what we do below.
To bring the order that we see up there, to bring the vision 0:07:49.360,0:07:50.729 down to earth.
And so,
contained in the word contemplation
Is the very idea
of putting together, that's the cum,
over and over again
the vision
and the action.
and, Therefore
it's not really correct to say contemplation and action.
Contemplation contains action.
action contemplation
is just looking up
to the stars. Keeping your eyes up
looking at the vision
and doing nothing about it,
it’s no better
than action without vision where you are running around like a chicken without its head.
The contemplation
is the putting together
of the vision and the action
Over and over again
And a contemplative life
Does that
And does it
In everyday living
uh and so
We want to look
at the various ways
In which, in our
everyday living
we can put together
the vision and the action
And which we can
again and again
find the vision
remind ourselves of the vision whatever
the vision will be for us. The vision that gives
meaning to
the action