Study, Contemplation, and Meditation
Without having enough information through study, there is nothing to contemplate, and then there is nothing to meditate on.
Studying without assimilating what is being studied is useless – so the second step of contemplation is needed.
Forms of study:
Skills in study:
(1) Being selective in reading, listening, viewing
(2) Sifting out authentic material from what can lead astray
(4) Persevering to get at the actual meaning and reach understanding
Contemplation (Contemplating the Meaning)
(1) Exploring whether what has been studied is true
(2) Applying the knowledge gained through study
(3) Absorbing more deeply what has been studied into the heart
(4) Investigating further what has been studied
(5) Coming to know as much as one can about the topic
(6) Understanding the topic as deeply as one can
Only now is one ready to start meditating on a topic – the third of the three steps to understanding and spiritual development.
Without a fairly profound grasp of the subject, there is little to meditate on, apart from closing one’s eyes and peacefully staying still.
To get to the level of comprehension where meditating on a topic becomes fruitful, one needs to have already contemplated it, and profitable contemplation requires prior study. (There is no way to skip a step!)
Source: Tsering, Geshe Tashi. Relative Truth, Ultimate Truth (The Foundation of Buddhist Thought, Volume 2). Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications, 2008.