Normally we meet on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month. But April has 5 Saturdays so an extra meeting is being offerred this month. All are invited to attend this “Open House”.
The doors of the zoom space will be open 3 PM UTC. That’s one hour earlier than we usually meet. The dialogue will last 2 hours.
I was thinking of using this extra, 5th Saturday dialogue as a meet and greet to talk about how we think the dialogue is going, make suggestions, get to know one another, and bring up any issues on our minds; a dialogue about dialogue in a sense.
I’ve attached the “What is Dialogue?” sheet from the Silver Spring dialogue (a dialogue group that has been meeting monthly for about 30 years). It includes a statement coming out the group, K on dialogue, Bohm on dialogue, and dialogue participants on dialogue. Please share your thoughts about this on Saturday, and feel free to post your thoughts about what dialogue means to you on this thread.
See you Saturday,
Date: Saturday April 29, 2023
Time: 3 PM UTC
Duration: 2 hours
Join: Launch Meeting - Zoom
Meeting ID: 899 4119 3018
WHAT IS DIALOGUE?
(mostly from the Meditative Inquiry Group, Silver Spring, MD)
Dialogue is an attempt to explore together profound questions of existence as they relate to our daily lives. The focus of the dialogue group is not solely on the questions, but also on the moment in which each question arises, and on the whole thought/emotion/relational process with which the individual and the group engage the question. In contrast to debate and discussion, dialogue is not a comparison of opinions or an attempt to convince another of a held conviction. Dialogue is an inquiry.
Ideally, dialogue begins with “I don’t know” and continues to move into the unknown where the subject gradually reveals itself. The movement is in the back and forth of questioning, not in an attempt to grasp an answer, but to reveal and sweep away that which is not true. A slow pace, a deep and respectful listening to one’s own thoughts and reactions as well as to the person speaking, may put our questions and opinions in a new light. In this new light we may perceive more clearly.
Agreement is unnecessary when there is understanding.
The insights and deeper understandings that often emerge in the dialogue process are not separate from, nor more important than, the relationship of the participants. A dialogue rooted in affection is vastly different from a dialogue of the intellect. This affection is an outcome of listening, and requires a suspension of judgment.
It is the responsibility of all present to facilitate the dialogue process, giving room for the quiet ones to participate, discouraging the talkers from dominating, and listening closely to all participants, including oneself, without judgment. Be alert to the extent to which that which is coming in is a mirror of that which you are putting out or withholding.
DIALOGUE - A PROPOSAL
1991, Bohm, Factor, Garrett
Dialogue…is a way of exploring the roots of the many crises that face humanity today. It enables inquiry into, and understanding of, the sorts of processes that fragment and interfere with real communication between individuals, nations and even different parts of the same organization.
Because the nature of Dialogue is exploratory its meaning and its methods continue to unfold. No firm rules can be laid down for conducting a Dialogue because its essence is learning - not as a result of consuming a body of information or doctrine imparted by an authority,…but as part of an unfolding process of creative participation between peers.
Usually people gather to accomplish a task or to be entertained, both of which can be described as predetermined purpose. But by its very nature Dialogue is not consistent with any such purposes beyond the interest of its participants in the unfoldment and revelation of the deeper collective meanings that may be revealed.
Suspension of thoughts, impulses, judgments lies at the heart of Dialogue… Suspension involves attention, listening and looking and is essential to exploration. Speaking is necessary of course… but the actual process of exploration takes place during listening - not only to others but to oneself.
If you are able to give attention to the strong feelings that might accompany the expression of a particular thought - either your own or another’s - and to sustain that attention, the activity of the thought process will tend to slow down. This may permit you to begin to see the deeper meanings underlying your thought process and to sense the often incoherent structure of any action that you might otherwise carry out automatically.
J. KRISHNAMURTI ON DIALOGUE
“It is not a schoolboy or college debate in which you put forward one set of ideas, and I another, and we wrangle about to see who comes out victorious. If that is all you are interested in, then you are victorious already; you have already won. But if we want to understand the problem of life, then we must not be in a debating mood, we must not discuss in an argumentative or contentious spirit. Life is a problem to most of us, and words will not solve it, explanations will not heal our wounds. We have to understand it; and to understand requires a great deal of love, gentleness, hesitancy, humility, not argumentation as to who is right and who is wrong.”
February 7, 1960 - Banaras
“I feel it will be worthwhile if we can, in exchanging words, see clearly the pattern of our own thinking; that is, if we can expose ourselves, not only to another, but to ourselves, and see what we actually are and what is inwardly taking place. To be worthwhile, a discussion should serve as a mirror in which we see ourselves clearly, in detail, without distortion, taking in the whole picture and not merely looking at one particular fragment.”
June 10, 1962 - London
“I do not know if you have ever examined how to listen, it doesn’t matter to what, whether to a bird, to the wind in the leaves, to the rushing waters, or how you listen to a dialogue with yourself, to your conversation in various relationships with your intimate friends, your wife or husband. If we try to listen we find it extraordinarily difficult, because we are always projecting our opinions and ideas, our prejudices, our background, our inclinations, our impulses; when they dominate we hardly listen to what is being said. In that state there is no value at all. One listens and therefore learns, only in a state of attention, a state of silence in which this whole background is in abeyance, is quiet; then, it seems to me, it is possible to communicate.”
June 9, l967 - Saanen
“See what happens: If I pose a question and you reply to it, and then I reply to your question, and we keep this dialogue going until only the question remains and you and I disappear - you follow all this? There is only the question, which has tremendous vitality. You understand what I am saying? That we have posed a question. That is, can the rhythm of thought which has been going on from the beginning of one’s life until we die, can that rhythm of thought come to an end? You reply and this dialogue goes on. And then you said, look, in that process only the question remains - right? You don’t answer, I don’t answer. Now when the question remains your brain is quiet, because you are not acting, I am not acting. There is only the question.”
June 12, 1984 - Brockwood Park
PARTICIPANTS ON DIALOGUE
It’s my intention in dialogue to explore together, with care, the complex patterns we live in and often don’t see. The process is revealing, often uncomfortable and also quite lovely. I come here to look, for myself and at myself. So the first agreement I make is to examine my own landscape of action and reaction, motive and intent. I may choose to do that in silence or to share my observations with the group. I mustn’t step over the essential observation of myself (including my judgments, reactions, discomfort) in order to “do dialogue”. For the very root of dialogue is the curious observation of what is closest to me.
Dialogue feels like an interplay between questioning and noticing and exploring. Observations of the descriptive sort are a part of dialogue, unlike assertions which come from beliefs or convictions and tend to be prescriptive and to shut down the exploration. There’s also clearly a difference between a rhetorical question meant to deliver a point and an open-ended question that is merely wondering out loud. It’s hard to describe these differences, but it feels to me that they are at the heart of what makes dialogue dialogue, vs. a debate or conversation. Maybe it has to do with my motive: is what I’m about to say motivated by my wanting to make a point – to convince someone of something I think I know, or am I being moved to speak out of that spacious presence we call wonder or curiosity?
I experience dialogue as interactive meditation—a way of meditating out loud, in community. I’ve seen that it’s possible to access deep stillness and bring it into speech. My observation is that dialogue seems to go deeper when I am curious, tentative, and questioning. It seems to me that the greatest enemy of dialogue is assertion—when I have drifted from curiosity into certainty and assertions.
Dialogue can be the space between the thoughts; between the words. Shared silence speaks to places where words cannot go and thoughts cannot venture. The observations of others received in silence may expand to take up the space of idle chatter and speculation. The silence inherent in listening may open doors to new perceptions or expose how deeply run the channels of habit. In dialogue we see ourselves in others and others in ourselves as we walk together on a path circumscribed by questions and wonder. The exploration may take us where we did not chose to go, but if we walk along that path with open hearts and minds, lovingly, without goal or hope of arrival, allowing it to lead us where it will, we may never reach a horizon but may discover a universe.
Can dialogue be a discussion of questions? and observations without evaluation, judgement, opinion, criticism, comparison, agreement, or disagreement? That would even include observing evaluations without evaluation; that is, following whatever the mind is doing. Can it be a conversation without goal or effort that allows for the possibility of a group of us to come upon a state of awareness from which insight can take place? Can one generate a state of awareness from which this form of communication can occur? Or is it already here, now? Insight may be articulated through limited thoughts and words but in awareness can its origin from something which isn’t thought be felt? There is no recipe for the state of observation and questioning. It’s just there if one is acutely paying attention to what is coming up in the mind as it questions, as it responds to what others say, as the reactions within oneself arise. Is observing the self with attention and care, and realizing something that until now wasn’t realized before, the mutation of thought that K referred to? a mutation that is all encompassing in this moment.
Dialogue in the form we’re considering is a fragile relationship and takes great sensitivity. This sensitivity includes seeing our own tendencies to annihilate a line of inquiry out of subtle motivations to avoid the unraveling of our images of self and others and reach for something other than what is going on now. It must be done with great care for all, which sometimes we fall short of, but see, also with great care.