Contemplation And Entanglement
Henry J. Sienkiewicz
Henry J. Sienkiewicz has served in multiple positions within the United States Federal Senior Executive Service since 2008. His previous commercial experience was as the founder and chief executive officer for Open Travel Software, an award-winning software developer focused on the global travel community, and in the chief information officer role at three technology companies. He or his companies have been the recipient of multiple awards for innovations or achievement in the technology industry. He retired as a United States Army Reserve lieutenant colonel in July 2008.
Henry holds a bachelor of arts from the University of Notre Dame and a master of science from Johns Hopkins University. He is also a graduate of the United States Army Command and General Staff College.
In 2006, he completed and published his first book, Centerlined, which dealt with interpersonal and organizational dynamics.
Henry resides in Alexandria, Virginia.
Release Date: April 2013
In a social media-centric, Twitter-driven world we live, the complexity created by the entanglements has caused an overload Called a Walden for the Internet Age, Untangled draws from the rich traditions of both Eastern and Western philosophy to tease apart the hyper-connected web of the modern world and challenges the reader to recognize and embrace contemplation as a way cope.
Through a highly approachable framework and the imagery of a journey through the heartland of Taiwan, Untangled provides the reader with the background of entanglement and contemplation, and identifies and discusses the three pillars of contemplation – silence, stillness and solitude. The book closes with a series of actions that allow anyone to untangled through active contemplation in daily life.
Man is a knot, a web into which relationships are tied. Only these relationships matter.
—Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
In order to make camp, we had to go into our backpacks. We pulled out the entangled coils of rope. It took us a while to sort through the mess and figure out which rope was which. We had to identify each strand and slowly unwind each.
Our lives have similar strands, which we need to slowly unwind. To try to understand what entangles us, I use the model set forth by Shakti Gawain in Creating True Prosperity. Gawain used four categories which, for these purposes, I’m calling the ropes of entanglement: relationships, spiritual, physical, and career. As I outlined in Centerlined, we need to explore each of these in depth.
Relational ropes are the entanglements that we have with those around us—our families, our friends, our healthy relationships, our unhealthy relationships, our physical relationships, our virtual relationships.
Spiritual ropes are the entanglements that we form as we discover and explore our ontological nature. What do we believe in? Is there a God? What do we profess?
Physical ropes are the entanglements that we create as we strive for mental and physical well-being and fitness. They could be the illnesses we have; they could be the pains we carry. They can be our exercise regime.
Finally, career ropes are the entanglements that we find as we embrace our professions. Do our professions give us a sense of real achievement? Do our professions provide long-term value?
These ropes continually envelop us. They are not bad. They are not good. They simply are. They are simply a part of us, and we need to understand how we react to and embrace them.
A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.
—Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
As we walked along, we encountered clearings that let us see a greater perspective. We found the places that sheltered us from the rain.
As the week progressed, we learned how to adjust our pace in order to allow us to see more of the clearings, to find the places that allowed us to see differently. We were able to see not just the limbs but also trees. More importantly, we were able to find the distance to see the habitat. Critically, we were able to see them as part of a continuum.
Our measured pace allowed us to become aware of ourselves and to become aware of our surroundings. As we unplugged from our daily sensory overload, we regained our sense of self. We were able to use the silence, stillness, and solitude of the hike to recognize and cultivate the transition from seeing simply the branches to seeing the great whole.
We found that our transformation was not a passive and quiet process. Inertia did not bring us along. Our transformation required active cultivation and deep engagement; it required contemplation. We were not sitting around with vacant stares. We were actively engaged in our journey.
Contemplation gives us the ability to find shelter from the rain. Contemplation is a journey toward deep self-discovery.
We find that contemplation had to be done within the context of an active life. Following Saint Augustine’s third way, we find that contemplation could not only be done in daily, it needed to be done in daily life. To be fully realized, contemplation had to be done in daily life.
Through Saint Teresa, Saint John, and others, Western thinkers saw that we could experience contemplation daily. We are still beginning to rediscover this lost stream of our spiritual heritage. Eastern thinkers in the Buddhist, Hindu, Taoist, and Confucian streams marvel that we did not see this as self-evident from the onset.
I don’t presume to offer a set series of steps to a life of mystical fulfillment. This discussion is simply a recognition and acknowledgment that fosters and enables a life that fully integrates and respects contemplation as an essential element.
I don’t ever presume to contend that everyone is a mystic. Contemplative nature is universal. Mysticism is not.
The attributes of contemplative nature are universal. Further, these attributes can be cultivated.
I also do not presume to offer a concrete series of steps. Our journeys all differ.
I do contend that there is an absurdity in trying to live without contemplation.