Lenten Writing: Remembering Unity

Yet this writing – which is thinking out loud – implies a division between praxis and study, which negates – or occludes, maybe – their unity, which is actually how they are given.

It is not sufficient to say that study is praxical and praxis studious. That reflects a distinction subsequent to their appearance which is always undivided.

For example, we typically don’t look at a river and its banks as a unity. We see river or banks. Yet absent one, the other cannot exist. The shape of one is the shape of the other. Given attention, their mutuality eventually blurs. Unity emerges. But it is the unity that was always there.

What other praxis is there but to give attention to all our living in order that the many instances of mutuality might blur and oneness appear? Or reappear maybe, slowly but resolutely, like the horses some mornings when they come up from the far end of the pasture hidden in mist. Their heavy footfall first, then faint outlines as if the mist were assuming equine form, and then the horses themselves, the mist falling away into the background.

We do not discover the world. We do not detect it. The world arises with us: we bring it forth, including the body whose senses bring it forth, whose senses coagulate around certain forms of lexical identity (I, we, you, Sean . . . ). All of this is given; all of this just appears. However we describe it – or explain it, if we can – our description and explanation are momentary, always eclipsed by the ongoing giving.

Husserl indicated the possibility of an “absolute radicalism” which for him implied one’s submission to a decision “which will make of one’s life an absolutely devoted life.”

This is a decision through which the subject becomes self-determining, and even rigourously so – to the very depths of his personality – committed to what is best in itself in the universal realm of intellectual values and committed, for his entire life-time, to the idea of the supreme Good . . . the subject chooses [supreme knowledge] as his veritable ‘vocation’, for which he decides and is decided once for all, to which he is absolutely devoted as a practical ego.

We give attention, perceiving the distinctions of thought and language arising, and we bracket them in order to attend the ongoing givenness of the world. It becomes our practice, our praxis, and our experience enlarges and intensifies, as if to indicate not a finite self removed from the cosmos in order to observe some sliver, but the cosmos itself in grand continuous and luminous self-regard.

This is a new way of being, this attentiveness which has no primary subject or object, but is bent only on encountering itself over and over in the ecstatic spilling of living as love. It negates nothing – not the errors that kept it from awareness once upon a time and not the stories that would slip the brackets and throw reins on a wild throat. It is light itself, love itself, the ordinary transforming itself into All.

I say (for it is not precisely what Husserl says, nor what the many Husserlian interpreters whose insight and clarity exceed my own by many factors say) give attention to the unity that is never not giving itself to you in the very form of the living that your living assumes.

Anyway, that is a way of thinking about it, for one who is tired after a long day of teaching and reading, and who wants to think about it, on this, the third day of Lent, 2019.

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