The Contemplary is a not-for-profit organisation. It exists to be of benefit to the community by offering instruction in a range of meditation practices and other forms of contemplation that help people flourish. We also collaborate in research that contributes to the evidence base underpinning claims about the efficacy of these practices.
The Contemplary’s mission is to open up a space: a physical space in the community in which we can ‘practise’, and through this practice, open up a space inside ourselves. A space where we can cease being caught up in the swirling, churning compulsiveness of life, a space to allow the sediment to settle so things become a little clearer. It is a space in which we can engage with life in a saner, more balanced and ethically grounded way. This is a space to reconnect with something essential, something at the core, a wellspring from which we can draw wisdom and virtue.
In many ways, we are ill-equipped to meet the demands that life in the 21st century makes upon us. The Contemplary exists for those of us who are grappling with life, trying to be kind and to flourish in the face of our own imperfection and fragility. It exists for those trying to maintain mental health in a frenetic and often disturbing world. At the same time, we recognise that an individual’s flourishing cannot be divorced from the moral condition of society at large. For this reason, The Contemplary’s mission is also to reintroduce the voice of the contemplative into public discourse, a voice that speaks with wisdom and compassion, addressing the root causes of cruelty and injustice in our society.
So this is also a space for moral formation, for discovering how we should be in this world, how we should live with each other. It is a deeply spiritual space, but it also a secular space. We are peddling no dogma, no creed. But we do need to acknowledge that many of the contemplative and ethical practices that offer us a path to greater wellbeing have their origins in the world’s great religions.
Recent attempts to extract contemplative practices from their traditional religious context have been very successful in some ways, but not in others. So this is a space for ongoing dialogue between science, philosophy, the arts, and contemplative traditions. It is a space to engage with the psychological and philosophical insights that have historically informed the context in which the religious contemplative practised, insofar as these insights are tested and applicable to us, as regular people living in a secular age.