Lenten Writing: Love is our Praxis

In “Autopoiesis, life, mind and cognition: Bases for a proper naturalistic continuity” Villalobos suggests that “the autopoietic aphorism ‘to live is to know’ . . . means that cognition, in its most basic and embracing sense, corresponds to the praxis of living.”

I put the essay down – I am reading and writing and cooking at once, the house empty for a few more minutes – and think again how a sense of how to live naturally appears in our living. Nobody has to teach us how to breath digest food or fall asleep. We don’t have to learn how to think or communicate or have preferences.

Critically – and invoking Maturana – we do not have to learn how to love.

Love is our natural praxis, even if it is blocked or impeded or confused or what-have-you. We are homo sapiens amans.

If we have to learn anything, it is how to recognize what we already know how to love and be happy. Basically, we need to get out of our own way.

So to live praxically – to be praxical – is to love, but in a natural way, not an affected way.

What do I mean by “affected way?”

I mean that it is possible to invent “kinds” of love, and then based on that categorization, to segment who gets what love and how much and when they get it, and then – and this is where the conflict begins – assume the order we’re applying is God-given, correct in some absolute sense, reflects a Platonic ideal, et cetera.

Love as we practice it – praxical love – reflects equality, consent and freedom. It is aware – or, at a minimum, aspires to be aware of – all others, not merely the others with whom it happens to be in physical contact. Our spiritual partners, sexual partners, intellectual partners, poetic partners, noumenal partners . . .

Those relationships – which vary in form – do in fact reflect a pure or ideal love that (if we are tracking A Course in Miracles) is God-given, God-lit, grace-filled.

We could call the form a symbol of the love; symbols enhance communication when they are viewed pragmatically and taken seriously. They become problematic if we conflate them with Truth, if we take them literally.

May I edit this living – this life – so that its symbols align more harmoniously – coherently – with God-lit love?

Would that be “right” praxis?

Yet, for all my wordiness I do not know this love very well, neither source nor symbol, content nor form.

I am often confused and conflicted. Am often estranged from those I long to hold close, arguing with those who I long to praise, talking over those I wish only to hear. I am lonely a lot. I am prone to religious fantasies.

Is characterizing my living this way a move – however clumsy, however uncertain – towards a coherent praxis of love? That is, isn’t the one who is confused about love the one for whom a loving praxis is most required?

[Or am I playing again, setting up a straw man – a straw spiritual pathos – to elicit sympathy and otherwise distract from the clarity that is right here right now insisting there is no other?]

When I say that love is our natural praxis, I assert that there is nothing to do but trust one another, attend gently and efficiently what arises, and be prepared for sudden changes in the dance. New partners, new steps, new music . . .

As this Lenten Writing has slipped my intentions, been less a lantern lighting the dark months until Easter and more a moon between clouds: here, briefly – brightly and clearly – and then gone, long enough you wonder is it there still.

But Lent goes on, even when by the calendar it is not Lent, as writing goes on (writing is my praxis – how silly to ever imply otherwise!), even when it is not Lenten Writing, and the going on is the actual light, the actual luminosity (what Henry said, here paraphrased, how Christ is the light in which all things – including Christ – appear).

One writes and sees what they write and says: okay, so I am learning how to let love be love. That is good to know! On this, the fifteenth day of Lent, and the first day of Spring, may all things – green and wordy and otherwise – be like unto their Creator.

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