In a sense, praxis has to do with the exercise – with the application – of ethics and morals. Through study we develop an intuitive sense of what is good and just, what is most likely to defuse conflict and elevate the collective, the all-of-us, rather than only the individual. Through praxis we seek means by which to bring these ideals to real fruition.
“Real fruition” is a problematic phrase, though. What is unreal? For that matter, what is real?
Let’s say that I reach a conclusion that A is better of when B is better off. In general, this does strike me as practically unassailable wisdom. A world in which all people made this their singular ideal when choosing how to act would be happy, peaceful and creative. I would like to live in that world; I believe it is worth my effort and attention to try and bring that world forth.
If I simply go about my living meditating on the satisfaction of a scholarship that arrived soundly at “A is better off when B is better off” and I don’t make a deliberate effort to bring it into application, and to help others bring it into application, is that enough?
If I only say “A is better off when B is better off” but then vote for local policies which ensure B will not be better off, or treat my students differently than I would like to be treated, or treat my wife or children in ways that I would not consent to be treated . . .
I think that is incoherent.
So we could say that “what is real” is what allows for a sense of coherence in our experience. The theory, as such, has an embodied correlative. Whatever the world is, it is that in and through which theory is enacted.
A sage ACIM student – a generation older than me, who had broken bread with Tara Singh and Ken Wapnick and who studied as well with Krishnamurti – years ago ended a sustained dialogue with me because I would not renounce Tara Singh’s use of the word “application.”
That is, Tara Singh often emphasized the importance of bringing our study of ACIM into application. He developed the Joseph Plan of A Course in Miracles for the Lean Years; he literally fed the poor as a staple of his ACIM practice. This meant a lot to me; it resonated deeply and in a sustained way with my longstanding interests in the Catholic Worker and other radical approaches to hospitality, peace-making, dialogue and learning.
My friend believed – and his point was not without merit, not at all – that Singh had been confused and never found a way out of his confusion. Service unto others sounds good but it was actually a distraction from the radical nondualism A Course in Miracles envisioned. One doesn’t apply anything because the world is not real and neither is the self.
But I suggest – carefully, hopefully respectfully – that real and unreal are an unhelpful binary and that the world is merely what appears, and that within that world response also appears, and these appearances and responses are structured and lawful, and so in that experiential matrix, it can be practical and helpful to think in terms of “application.”
I suggest that praxis – integrated with devout study, arising from and informing that study in turn – is not only possible but necessary. That it cannot be separated from the appearing and responding but is part and parcel – warp and woof – of the welter.
My old friend said, “Sean, you have a lot to learn.” Nothing since suggests that he was wrong.
But of course all of this is simply prattling about praxis, rather than being praxical, and so does not answer the fundamental question: how shall I bring forth love today?
This was written on the second day of Lent, 2019.