Introduction to the Treatise

Introduction to the SCLU Treatise

Why a treatise:

First, what is a treatise? To start let us take a quick look into the word, treatise. Some definitions include: “a formal and systematic exposition in writing of the principles of a subject, generally longer and more detailed than an essay.” Again, “a formal piece of writing that considers and examines a particular subject.” So, what we are doing with our treatise is not only defining what SCLU is but attempting to say what we propose to do with our SCLU, this being an always evolutionary movement in time as lived within each of our members and participants. The etymology of the word treatise will also be a guide for this introduction.

This is from the Online Etymology Dictionary–Treatise: to “negotiate, bargain, deal with,” from Old French traitier “deal with, act toward; set forth (in speech or writing)” (12c.), from Latin tractare “manage, handle, deal with, conduct oneself toward,” originally “drag about, tug, haul, pull violently,” frequentative of trahere (past participle tractus) “to pull, draw.”

The dictionary then says the word is a derivative of the word treat: Meaning “to entertain with food and drink without expense to the recipient by way of compliment or kindness (or bribery)” is recorded from c. 1500. Then the use of the word is “deal with, handle, or develop in speech or writing” (early 14c.) led to its use in medicine “to attempt to heal or cure, to manage in the application of remedies” (1781). Related: Treated; treating. So, to treat in this last instance is to attempt to heal, cure, or manage remedies. It then leads us to examine the word treat.

Now treat is related to the word tract. Now with this word tract we find an  “area,” mid-15c., “period or lapse of time,” from Latin tractus “track, course, space, duration,” lit, “a drawing out or pulling,” from stem of trahere “to pull, draw,” from Proto Indo European the root *tragh- “to draw, drag, move”  The meaning “stretch of land or water” is first recorded 1550s. Specific U.S. sense of “plot of land for development” is recorded from 1912; tract housing attested from 1953.

From the above, you can see the evolution of the word treatise implies more than a simple definition. For our purposes, many of these word origins will figure in our use of treatise, particularly the notions of “drawing out, pulling, curing, healing, manage with regard to health, and remedy.”

With this background in mind, we shall proceed, in this treatise, to offer a view of a process rather than a simple set of definitions or word origins. However, we may find help in the several usages and origins of the word in revealing our primary intentions in the formation of the Spiritual Civil Liberties Union. Each of the words in our title will be examined in order to reveal, at this point, some of our intentions and what we may expect from our participation in this union. This will attempt to answer the question of why a Spiritual Civil Liberties Union (SCLU) and how we may enter into its process in the radical reality of experiencing or simply living.

 

*Still editing this, not the final intro.  

LOGOS or VAC

It seems to me one of the functions of the SCLU can be educational. Practicing to stay in alignment via breath (spirit). The power of creation through and as the well formed spoken word.

Home Away from Home and the Need for Civil Liberties

When asked “Where do you live?” many of us will provide a geographical answer, e.g., Chicago, or on Main Street, or some such place. However, when looked a bit more closely, one may justifiably say, “I live in experience.” Experience [as experiencing] may now be viewed as a home away home. Home is a habit of mind.

 

 

Therefore, whatever appears [as appearing/disappearing] to us at any given moment-situation is our ultimate home. Based on this, we would have to say that ecology is better viewed as taking care that experience is skillfully constituted. The skillful constitution of experience is brought about by various practices that aim toward peace of mind. Peace is an important component of experience. It renders us attentive to the mind’s essential sentience, one of two aspects of our binary nature. The evanescent arising and dissolving of phenomena, now seen to be accompanied by awareness, grants phenomena their sentience.

                                                   Our Binary Life Movement

This binary distinction is an important perspective. Awareness–not some sort of existing “thing” or “entity,” such as some have done with consciousness in making it a sort of foundation or ultimate reality–is not a separate thing from phenomena but the aspect of experience that we can distinguish from phenomena with a calm focus.  However, most of us pay little attention to awareness itself as it is all to often tied, or better yet “bound,” to the phenomena which are being lit by awareness turning them into the contents of experience. Peace of mind offers us the possibility of realizing that there is a distinction between awareness and the contents that are being illuminated by it, in it, through it–however one wishes to point to this aspect. Again, our mirror metaphor may serve to illustrate this. Awareness functions much like the mirror’s surface. How often do we look at the surface of a clean mirror? We are, much more often than not, focused on the image within the mirror and not the mirror. No problem there. Taking our metaphor to experience, awareness functions in a similar, unnoticed, and unappreciated fashion. This is due to our not realizing that there may even be a distinction between what appears as experience (dharmas, phenomena, etc.), i.e., its contents and not that which goes on being taken for granted, awareness. The two are distinct but not two separated “entities.” In point of fact, we are here discussing experience, in which all phenomena are movement, evanescent, and process; identity (things) are not our focus–although identities may appear in the stream. Awareness and the contents of experience are here considered to be alive as a moving and sentient current. However, in quietude, one realizes upon reflection that awareness defies characterization. One can only point in the hope that the pointing is not taken for the pointed to. Things do not play a role in this specific context. Awareness and the contents of experience may yield things but things are a conceptual reification of contents which may be considered a process of identification–often necessary but at times dangerous. I cannot stress this enough. In this context, things are our experience of things and not things in themselves in the context of our present discussion. Thinking may identify, i.e., grant identity to, but identification may shift the focus from process to identity. That discussion is for another time.

                                                               * * * * * * * * * * *

Awareness functions as the eye of the storm, a truly dispassionate, non-conceptual spectator at peace and aloof despite the whirls** of the experienced.

Awareness, a function of which is to grant sentience to phenomena, may be realized to be distinct from phenomena and as such, it may become a door to liberation. Its distinct nature is untouched by the selfless arising of phenomena and as such it provides the possibility to allow for the synchronous arising and cessation of difficulty. This is not to be confused with effort as we normally regard it. As the surface of a mirror is indifferent to the passing phenomena it yields as reflections, awareness, a purified subjectivity, may be seen to have been a posture of indifference from a time without a perceivable beginning. Thus, in discovering the role that awareness has been playing all along, one may now regard awareness as our domicile the protection of which calls for civil liberties.

The civility required to protect and encourage the care of our liberation from difficulty may now function as the ground and justification of virtue. Civil liberties may now function to protect the peace of society, i.e., the sentient nature of all phenomena–inclusive of all the sentient others that arise in our experience–is our society.

*”Whirls,” interestingly employed by the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali as the conscious movements of experience, cittavrtti.

Awareness may come to be known as our only refuge from the torrential onslaught of affective narratives encouraged by attachments and aversions inspired by erroneous views regarding the movement of experience, i.e., the movement of living. 

Blog Post from 6/18: Observations on Free Will, Intention, and Meaning.

Familiar with an idealist notion that our thoughts create reality? Or, a realist notion that reality exists independent of minds & from its own side? I invite you to take a look at how our desires bring about experiential, living reality–an alternative to the other positions.
Examining experience takes a bit of practice, luck, & sometimes, help. Let’s begin with an examination of desire. Desires may be seen to arise quite selflessly. We don’t elicit them, do we? We don’t say “I would like to arouse a desire,” do we? Did we desire to arouse desire?
And if that was the case, what would have aroused that desire to examine desire? What would it be like to elicit a desire? What would be the necessary and sufficient causes and conditions in place that would give rise to a desire? Let’s examine our experience, shall we?
By carefully watching our experience, we can be witness to something quite surprising, the absence of a self that desires. Let your attention rest on of the birth of a desire. Sit quietly long enough and a desire will arise. (Perhaps a desire to move, or adjust your posture arises.) Just witness it. See if you actually, that is, consciously and explicitly act in such a way that you can actually and honestly say that “you” created a desire or made a desire arise in your experience. Now, did you actually give rise to that desire? Were you present at the birth of that desire? Were you there actually creating that desire? Did you design it? Did you structure it? Did you select the words that are its content? Can you honestly say that you explicitly took those actions to create a desire?
Yes, in anticipation of a question, without question, all experience arises selflessly, even those characterized as “evil” or “self-centered.” Blame is a mere convention and implies only a naive, conventional guilt. Blame requires a notion of a free agent who, with deliberation, decidedly performs an action out of her own free will. Now, given what we know of desire from the above remarks, do you think this is a possibility? Do actions not result from desire, an intention to act? Then, what gave rise to the desire? Again, did one consciously say, “Hey, I think I will desire to do such and such an act?” Is this the way it happens? Let’s say for the moment that it did happen that way. Now, what would be the next step that gives rise to the act for which we can lay blame? If we think clearly about this, without uncritically adhering to the presuppositions (the habitual) that immediately enter our minds to muddy the waters, we must say that some sort of a decision takes place. So, how does that happen? Do we then think, “Oh, okay, I think I will decide to perform this act?” Is this what happens? Or, is it something like, “Should I perform this act?” Say it is the latter. Okay, now what happens next? Do we then decide? Since we have decided to decide? Okay, do we then decide to decide to decide to do the act? You must see where this is going? An infinite regress occurs. No act will ever take place. Certainly, this cannot be the process of acting upon desires.
Consider this: “I forgot….” On first listen, this sentence may appear to reflect a process of forgetting. But what would this process entail? A self that has deliberately forgotten something. What is that self? What is that process? Think about it. How would such a process appear? Is there a self who willingly places a something someplace where they will forget it? How would that be possible? How would this forgetting process be enacted? Maybe with some sort of drug, or a really great hiding place that one may forget. But if it is such a great hiding spot then how might it be forgotten if you just remembered about it now so that you may place this object in it? Does this not seem rather oxymoronic? “I’ll put this somewhere so special that I can forget where I put it–so I cannot remember it? Sound right to you?
One of several presuppositions grounded as the false hope of the enlightenment is that we, as independently existing selves, arrive at a point where each of us will rationally know, will have gained that knowledge where we suffer no more, will not age, will be happy, will be healthy, and on and on. This assumption of independently existing substantial selves (IESS) grounds the belief that conceptual knowledge is what should and can guide us to some sort of rational knowledge that will bring all of IESS to fulfillment in a better future. Some of us even have a dream of AI that will enable us to accomplish this utopian future. This is not in keeping with what experience with a truly focused, quiet, and non-conceptual attention tells us is the case.

*This brief entry originally appeared on 6/18 my blog at https://genekelly.blogspot.com.

One of my favorites:

A monk was meditating by the pond with his master one day. While meditating there the monk saw a frog jump into the pond. He asked his master who was sitting beside him how this happened. The master replied: “If you can explain what happens when the pond jumps into the frog then you will have your answer”. The monk realized, in that instant, the meaning of his master’s statement and then began to meditate some more.

What is the meaning of the master’s statement?