I sit to write this after my morning meditation. The thought, earlier occured that humans have engaged in contemplation as a formal practice for many centuries.
We have contemplated the world around us and ourselves probably as long as there have been humans. I wonder if it is a strictly human activity. As a human, I can only postulate about such things.
The Greeks were known to contemplate. They called it theoria, the word we have distilled to our word, theory. Later, the Roman philosophers engaged in contemplatio. Theoria and contemplatio meant simply to look at things with the eyes or with the mind.
In much of the world, the Abrahamic Triad of Judaism, Christianity and Islam think of contemplation as a form of prayer or looking at things through the filter of belief in their deity or as an aspect of their theology.
Earlier, in the Indian subcontinent, there began the concept of darshan. Spiritual seekers in that part of the world are somewhat of a stereotype in the minds of modern people. When we read or hear the word “contemplation”, we might think of a Hindu holy man or a Jain monk or the Lord Buddha in an enlightened state of mind.
Certainly, contemplation has been a part of humanity ever since the first homo sapiens sapiens first opened their eyes. It is thought that cro-magnon or even Neanderthals practiced contemplation and experienced altered states of consciousness.
This morning, I looked out over the sleeping town of Norfolk. I noticed the moon and stars. For a few minutes, I imagined what someone would experience at that time of day, long ago.
What was it like to simply be here long before the Europeans invaded? How would it feel to sit in front of the fire and hear the sounds of the early morning?
There were no personal electronics devices at all. Mechanized forms of travel had not been invented yet. There were no buildings or houses of any sort. Maybe the very first tipi hadn’t even been erected. You were about to embark upon your gathering or hunting for breakfast. There was no food pyramid nor structured dietary rules at this time. You ate whatever was edible and at hand.
Unless your campsite was near some hot springs, you bathed in a cold stream or river. There wasn’t a bottle of body wash nor even a bar of soap. There was no fluffy, cotton towel to use afterwards. If you wore a garment, it was some sort of robe or blanket during the cold months. In the spring and summer, you wore nothing at all and went barefoot as well. You were not aware of being deprived of anything. This sort of environment and condition were simply the way things were.
The early morning, before the hunt, was dark, like modern times. The sky was filled with stars and maybe the moon at times. Other times it was overcast in cloudiness. Perhaps rain or a storm was present. There may have been snow.
What went through the minds of these humans and proto humans? What was it like before the invention of religions and gods? Surely there was happiness and joy. Certainly wonderment and curiosity were a part of living. What was it like to see things without the filters that we take for granted, today?
Is it even possible to grasp the concept of such purity? The times were filled with hardships, predatory animals, human adversaries and other struggles. There were the quiet times, too. I’m wondering how the mind worked during the quiet times a million years ago.
The Blue Jay of Happiness recommends shutting off your personal electronics for awhile so you can re-experience life.