What is the difference between ‘thinking’ and ‘contemplating’?

To think is to try and find a rational answer; to contemplate is to let the answer come to us. When we think, we use our brain and thought process; when we contemplate, we simply gaze into the palms of our hands and drift. To think is to look for the answer; to contemplate is to actually find the answer. The difference between the two is simple: to contemplate is to not think. The same difference that there is between abstract and reality.

Let’s understand the difference between thinking and contemplating by putting ourselves in a few situations:

Our intentions are good, but anger makes us weak.

What makes us angry? A kind of stimuli—whether a thought, an incident, a circumstance, an individual—makes us angry. How real is that? It is not at all real because it is the way our mind perceives things. But if we understand the reality behind the stimuli, which could be something as abstract as somebody’s good intentions, then that becomes real.

We are so much in need of appreciation that we sacrifice everything for it.

Why is the ‘I’ factor so big that we need appreciation for everything we do? The stimulus in this case is our insecurity. We are willing to sacrifice anything to keep that insecurity at bay. Insecurity is nothing but a very fertile imagination; there is no substance to it, yet it seems very real to us. But if we allow our ego to be so big that we understand an abstract concept of the whole Universe belonging to us, that becomes our reality.

We search for love but do not see the loveliness.

What is love and what is loveliness? The way we perceive love—as a romantic notion—is abstract. On the other hand, the appreciation of everything around us is the reality, which is the loveliness of everything. So while looking for this big concept of love with all its connotations in our head of what it is supposed to be, we do not appreciate what is in front of us: the loveliness of it.

In the context of the above examples, if we ‘think’ about all the situations, we will get many logical answers. On the other hand, if we contemplate, there will be only one answer. There is no ‘maybe’ or ‘perhaps’; the answer simply is! And it comes to us not through thinking, but through contemplation.