Personal & Emotional in Dialogue

In dialogue, why can’t we take a look at some real personal issues within ourselves?

Often when we start to go in the direction of something personal or emotional, there are often voices that chant the wearying refrains, “I’m not here to do psychotherapy” and “I’m not interested in your personal issues", or “you’re being too emotional”.

K may have had a point about analysis but I personally feel he did a disservice by bashing therapists as a whole. I’m not promoting anything in particular about any school of therapy. Just saying therapy as a whole has evolved quite a bit and there are a lot of therapists among us in many dialogue groups who have put an extraordinary level of energy into looking at how what K said is relevant to the work they do; to humanity at large, and to looking at their own personal issues. I have even heard it said that whether dialoguers want to admit it or not, dialogue IS a form of therapy; I offer that for your consideration. I think this may be true in certain senses. One sense is that even if we aren’t engaged in therapy per se, dialogue has therapeutic value. In another sense, dialogue like therapy creates human beings with a changed, less self-centered, more inclusive perspective. For myself, both previous therapy and current dialogue have improved my understanding of relationships, the effect of myself on others, setting proper boundaries, how right actions come from something other than a decision making process, and to trust those actions. I’ve learned not to shut off people who I may disagree with, but instead listen carefully to precisely what they mean, so at least I’m not disagreeing with a misinterpretation!

If I am the world as K said, the personal IS the general and the universal, and my personal issues are the world’s issues. Looking at myself, aren’t I looking at something common to all humans?
What is the big fear of talking about personal issues within the context of topics that K proposed such as human conditioning, and fear, loneliness, self-deception, effort, awareness, love, relationship, and so on. What don’t we want to look at or feel? Why is there such a snap reaction to someone talking about something personal? Is it about them or about something within me?

I’m not suggesting we tolerate one person taking over the dialogue with their own personal problem to the exclusion of everyone else. But there’s no reason something personal can’t be brought in just like something philosophical, which by the way, we sit patiently listening to for hours on end.

The dialogue world seems to be entrenched with a widespread repression of things personal. With some, it seems to have become a dogma and I feel it’s had a devastating effect on the dialogue network, and I wish it would end.

I’ve been in dialogues in which someone who in looking at conditioning within, came into contact with something real, way back in their early conditioning, that they realized had affected their behavior in a damaging way for the majority of their life, and broke down crying in the moment of that insight. It’s definitely personal, but in another sense it’s not personal because at that moment something about how all of humanity is conditioned is vividly seen. Please don’t tell me that’s not of value in what we’re doing! not just for the person going through the experience, but for all of us who are present in the moment to witness this realization taking place.

I know of dialoguers whose openness and passion about K saved their lives in terms of self-destructive behavior, or being able to cope with unbearable life situations, and facing difficult relationships; and who don’t feel safe and welcome to share something about such an experience within the context of a dialogue topic, for fear of being shot down. To me that’s insane.

If you want to have philosophical discussions about free will and choice and whether or not the self exists and how everything that’s ever happened has resulted in this very moment, that’s fine. But to go on about it, to the exclusion and even condescension of looking at something genuine that’s happening within someone’s life right now, just isn’t right.

[I would like to make a correction here. The previous paragraph might be taken to mean anyone interested in philosophical conversations engages in repressions of the personal. That isn’t true. And I think all of us share an interest in the philosophical. The main point is that those preferring one aspect of dialogue sometimes tend to diminish co-participants wanting to engage in other aspects. This includes myself.]

To me in dialogue personal relationship issues are as equally as important as the topics we’re discussing. In fact, we ARE the topic.

I’m not suggesting that anyone who isn’t comfortable sharing something personal must do so. That would be just as insane. The intolerance is what I’m objecting to.

As facilitator of this dialogue, I’m requesting an end to the shutting down of participants for bringing in something personal or emotional and working to keep the space safe and open for everyone.

I’m also asking us to put an end to our teaching and preaching that goes on. These are dialogues, not monologues; conversations, not speeches; inquiries rather than bully pulpits of knowledge. We may be students, but this isn’t a classroom and no-one has assigned you to be the teacher.

Thank you for taking time to consider this,



I don’t know how many of us are here to be clear about what K was saying, what he was trying to get across, and how many of us are here for other reasons, so why not designate a free-for-all place for those who want to preach, teach, talk about themselves, parrot K, etc., and a place for those who take K’s words seriously enough to drop all the above?

I love discussing what this human experience is all about in broad universal terms. But people bringing up the specific thoughts and emotions that are really affecting them right now is a gift.
A gift because its an opportunity to see if we are able to embrace (wholeheartedly, without resistance) something other than my own selfish interests.

This is the main gift if we take dialogue to be an opportunity for choiceless awareness. If we are experimenting with dialogue as meditation.

And of course its a gift because real life thoughts and emotions are a mirror of who we are.


Great points that I feel a hunger and thirst for in Krishnamurti dialogue groups.

Also, I feel each who come to dialogue - whether for the first time, but especially regular dialoguers - have a responsibility to create (‘choicelessly’ because one has understood the significance) and maintain an atmosphere of spaciousness and affection where one can express and expose oneself freely, should one feel inclined to.

Thanks for sharing your insights!

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Dhillipan asked me to post this:

Hello John,
Thank you for writing! I am sorry for this experience.

I want to add that sharing personal experiences helped me constructively by enabling me to look directly at the problem. This is only possible in dialogue rather than in therapy or in organized religious propaganda.

Additionally, it was only possible for me to end loneliness through the dialogues, although I read a great deal. If the person is comfortable, they can share their personal experience to look at it without any choice.

I enjoyed dialoguing about various topics, from loneliness to fear, in Howard’s group. I have been trying to attend your group dialogue, but something always comes up on Saturdays.

I will join the next dialogue. I believe it is on August 19th.

I’m looking forward to it.


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There seems to be a tendency to not look within during the actual listening and verbalising in me during the dialogue. What you say resonates John. I do wonder if there’s a fear in me of opening Pandora’s box.


I don’t think that there is any demand in a friendly conversation to look inward or outward . Paying attention to the words and their root meanings is enough.

Thank you Dani for this thoughtful and honest comment…

What does it mean to look inward? To look what is happening inside our minds, what does it mean? What is the role of the outer in looking inward? What is outer? Outer are thoughts. Thoughts of the books you read, sharing of thoughts in dialogue, media, even listening to Krishnamurti. What is the role of Krishnamurti’s teachings in looking at ourselves? Krishnamurti can’t make you look inward, he can perhaps only point to it. Thought is always outward, it will escape into something or get absorbed into it. It feels it is aware but it is limited. Outer thought like K or dialogue can only be a pointer to that, a pointer that thought is unaware, unable to listen, learn. That is the role of K or dialogue, all the other outer thoughts are mere absorptions. We need dialogue only as a pointer to our inability or unwillingness to look at ourselves directly. To look at yourself is easy. It does not need anything, no knowledge, no method, nothing outside, but thought is caught in itself.
Thought is caught in unawareness and division, so what does it mean to look at oneself without division.
If you want, close your eyes and look. Is thought necessary to look, listen? Thought is not necessary to look. Looking is another quality which is undivided and not of thought. When you close your eyes and look, thought, feeling might arise but in that looking there is no division. Thinker is thought in undivided awareness which is itself not thinker or thought.
Next question is whether to function in this world is thought necessary or awareness. In awareness thought might arise but there is no division of thinker separate from thought, just like the awareness when you closed your eyes and looked inward. Can this undivided awareness continue in daily life. Can we listen, perceive, learn? Then dialogue has also that value, but the awareness itself no one can give in words, in thought.

Pravin asked me to post this for him:


Couldn’t agree more. I was getting very impatient on Saturday as one or two people didn’t even bother to switch their mics off. They obviously wanted to dominate. I mentioned Quaker meetings once. What I said is quite impractical for our meetings, but considerations should be given to what the Quakers say. I repeat:

Speak only once during a meeting (not practical for our meetings)

When one has spoken, wait for a short time to reflect on what was said (highly recommended)

When speaking, try to keep your talk short, and use simple language (highly recommended)

Give everyone a chance to speak, don’t dominate the meeting (highly recommended)

An additional action would be for the host to mute everyone. Anyone wanting to speak raises their electronic hand, the host unmutes them, mutes after they finish. If anyone talks too long, there is an option for the host to ask them politely to keep it short, failing that to mute them.

I may be guilty of some of these points, I have no objections if anyone politely points this out to me.



For the conditioned brain, thought doesn’t “arise” as if from silence - it reacts conditionally from its constant comforting/disturbing noise to what it rejects/accepts, likes/dislikes, believes/disbelieves, etc.

There is no looking or listening for the conditioned brain because it isn’t free to look and listen. It is bound and determined to react because it has chosen to trade silence, emptiness, and freedom for the illusion of personal freedom.


John, I think that both rejecting the personal and wanting to live only in the personal seem opposite, but they are part of the social gear that we are all part of. The important thing is to see that we are part of that, that we are that; Not as a philosophy of course. That is my passion.

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After all, personal, experiences come and go. But when strong emotions are deeply rooted in a past or present experience, there maybe is good to have therapy, right? Listening to another is listening to oneself, although sometimes it seems like a repetition or maybe it is, and then, we are reluctant to listen anymore.

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My sense is that everyone participating in the forum and in dialogue is quite serious about being clear on what K said, or else they wouldn’t keep returning to participate; all of us in our own ways.

The only thing this post is questioning is why the book of ourselves as K put it, as it actually is with all of its thoughts, feelings, reactions, emotions, and personal stories, if taken for the images they are, is felt to be outside the boundary of acceptability for inclusion in the discussion.

I share your passion, Blanca. I think all of us do.

The inner is part of dialogue but no one outside can know your inner, so it is up to each of us to look at our reactions directly without interpretation. Outside can only interpret, judge, they cannot show you directly what is your inner

What comes to mind is another of K’s common sayings about the mirror of relationship.

No no one can know my inner unless i share it with them. Then maybe there’s a possibility of seeing something together. I feel that what’s actually going on between us is deserving of attention, not just talking about the phenomenon of it, but sharing the observed reactions and what they’re saying about our imaginary worlds.

But we can share only words. Is the inner words or silence? Words, conditioning, thought has to do with outer, not inner. All thought has to do with outer, it is a movement of outer. Media which is words is outer, books that are words are outer, political ideology, politician’s speech is outer, religious books, philosophical books all are outer. What is then inner? Listening to K is outer but he negates.
What is the inner that one wants to share? Thoughts? If we share on level of thoughts, we are not aware of inner silence. We are only aware of word, not direct. For example we can talk endlessly about freedom without knowing it directly. Can we discover the inner directly?