“To be” is to be related”.
“A dialogue is a dance with the unknown.”
Part one: talk, conversation and dialog.
All human being talk, but are they conversing?
Talk is not a conversation, as much as hearing is far away from listening. And in the same way that in looking or gazing one does not comprehend what he can when he observes.
A considerable part of the enjoyment and satisfaction from life, is in the ability to pass from hearing, looking and talking – to the higher level, for which there is a need for a kind of conscious effort.
The problem is rooted in that that we are convinced that we are indeed conversing, despite the fact that with most people with whom we talk we have nothing to talk about, and on what we really want to talk we don’t have with whom to do it…
Talking is an external communication act, which comes to create an image of a meeting between two people through the medium of word exchange.
In most cases it is a vague and alienated exchange, where chatter is its lower level, and information exchange is its higher level.
In conversation the situation is different; the words are used for an understanding of the other side, a dynamic movement and inner synchronization between two different soul positions.
A conversation is very different from one sided monologues, in a real conversation there is mutuality and synchronization.
And as there is the difference between talk and conversation, there is the difference between conversation and a dialogue; if talk could be representing the physical level and conversation the soul level, then dialogue represents the spiritual level.
A dialogue is the catching fire of the raw material of the conversation -into a stage of a higher consciousness. A dialogue is the highlight of the human conversation.
Power struggles and boasting can still happen in a conversation and can also house contradictory and hidden messages. But in a dialogue it does not exist. In conversation the ego still exists, in dialogue the slogan is: win win (‘your victory is my victory’).
David boehm who was a known quantum physicist, towards the end of his life got interested in the dialogue, he said that the dialogue comes from ancient Greek and is made out of two words: Dia and louge, Dia means the passage through something, and the word louge means Logos: reason or meaning, therefore Dialogue is the way towards meaning.
David Bohm takes talking to its ultimate. In the true dialogue he outlines, people learn to listen to one another, to hear each other’s ideas without judgment – and learn a new way of being together Why would a world-famous theoretical physicist pause to promote “dialogue”? Because, he tells us, dialogue can lead to a transformation of consciousness, both individually and collectively, and he explores ways to do this individually and collectively.
Here is a relevant quote of him, from his book: “On dialog”:
“If each one of us can give full attention to what is actually ‘blocking’ communication while he is also attending properly to the content of what is communicated, then we may be able to create something new between us, something of very great significance for bringing to an end the at present insoluble problems of the individual and of society.”
― David Bohm
In dialogue there is a journey from chaos to logos. From lack of meaning and possible alienation of two people – who are, in one way or another, strangers to each other – towards a union that comes by the common meaning.
Dialogue is an artistic process. What is common to both is that also in art and in dialogue – the raw materials are far away from the processed result, a result that went through a process. In art you take unprocessed materials such as stone and metal – in sculpturing, the human body – in dance, a brush and a canvas – in painting, drums and strings – in music; and make out of them wonderful artistic results. So it is in dialogue: it is possible to take the unprocessed materials of the conversation: alienation, suspicion, loneliness, strangeness, longing, kindness and hostility, and by: maturity, intelligence, awareness, listening, sensitivity, and empathy – to sublimate them into an artistic dialogue. With it, the difference between art and dialogue is in that in art the artist is usually the only one who is in control, whereas in dialogue both participants are equally responsible, equally active, both are working in synergy. Definition of synergy: the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents, to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.
Part two: Dialogue on the way to the spirit.
A philosopher who dedicated much of his writings to the subject of the dialogue was Martin Buber, especially in his book: “Me and though”.
Here is a typical quote of him on this subject:
“When two people relate to each other authentically and humanly, God is the electricity that surges between them.”
― Martin Buber
Me and Thou was a concept introduced by him in his book ‘Ich und Du’ .
The conversation: me it, is an alienated strange conversation, in which the conversing person treats his partner as an object, whereas a conversation of: me you, is personal, intimate, treats the other with warmth, gives him the fullest attention, leaning towards a dialogue.
He sanctified the dialogue not only in regular conversation but also in therapy, for example, in psychotherapy; he claimed that it is not possible for the psychologist to get to know the person who is getting the therapy, without him bringing the whole of himself, consciously, into the subjectivity of the client. He writes about entering consciously to the ‘me you’ affinity, and which is done by grace and not by effort.
He was against being disconnected in order to observe. His approach about the ultimate importance of the real meeting between two people is especially important in the face of the alienated approach of science and of the father of psychoanalysis, that through cold and objective study, it is possible to understand a human.
Buber is talking about a revolution, he said that only if we get lost in the other, we can discover and understand him, and any attempt to understand him in a cold and rational way will miss his essence, his core, his selfhood, this could only be understood by unmediated meeting, by the experience of the two united in the dialogue meeting.
Buber saw in the ability to have a dialog something that differentiate the human from other creatures, something that emphasizes the human aspect in him. He sees the meeting between two people a presence of mutuality, that until it is being actualized – the person himself does not come to actualization.
Another thinker that dealt in conversation was: martin Heidegger, he makes a difference between the connecting talk that exposes the essence of things, which here we would call it: a dialogue – and between the common talk, that which is called chatter which is non authentic and sterile, that hides and does not reveal the core of thing.
Heidegger sees in conversation, and especially in a dialogue, a way to arrive to the being, to the essence of things. And this contrary to the chatter which intensify the sleep about the reality of things.
He sees a direct cause between the ability to convers and to create a dialogue – and the ability to reveal the being which is hidden behind the exterior, the mask.
In various ways of inner work, the participants believe in disconnecting from communication and to meditate alone. He thinks different; only through conversation and dialogue – things become real and present.
Many would say that the real nature of things is hidden and may be even in another dimension, and cannot be expressed in words. In this Heidegger says the opposite; the real essence or being, is communicable and this is what characterize her.
A language is a collection of words that are with meaning only when they express the essence and the inner content of that which we perceive in our ordinary consciousness.
Heidegger does not say that idle chatter is completely negative in conversation and should be completely eradicated, but that it should be the basis for the authentic talk. The idle chatter has its place in ordinary, day to day goings on, but if wishing to expose the world as it is, or to reach its higher levels, not only that it is not enough, but it can block and mislead. Because the casual talk gives a feeling that it is the real world.
Heidegger finds two vital ingredients in a dialogue: listening and being silent. This two bring to understanding. Listening is vital to allow a space for the other to find himself in and give it expression. Silence is vital for that which wants to happen in the dialogue.
One of the typical ways of the chatter is the complete absence of silences. Through silence the dialogue breathes, getting oxygen, trying to get to the next level.
The British theater and drama are known to be fine, the dialogues are not only witty but also deep, and despite the fact that they ‘invented’ the ‘small talk’ – they know to be silent, it is interesting to seat in a bus or the underground and be silent with everyone, it is not an empty silence, everyone is with himself, there is a presence in this silence, it is not oppressive.
So, there is silence and there is a silence, one is of emptiness the other is full of presence. The salience of which Heidegger is speaking about is the refusal to talk in order to let the other to speak his mind.
In that there is a strange phenomenon: if someone has something authentic to say – he can be silent about it…
What is important in a dialogue is not what is being said, but what has got a difficulty to get out to the world, that which is hidden is what is motivating the dialogue, it is the space in conversation which allows an electrical charge in. And space in a conversation is silence.
Part three: Zen and the art of silence in a dialogue
Dialogue can only happen in an empty space; listening, silence.
Everything in nature is growing towards an empty space, organic growth love an open space. We, human beings, don’t like empty spaces, if they are in a house, we fill it with furnitures, pictures and more, if the spaces are in nature, we fill it with buildings and roads, and conversation we fill the spaces of silence with words and more words.
The empty space and the silence are difficult for us to live with, we would like to fill them up quickly with words, and it does not matter what it is that is the subject. And every word anchors the conversation in the known, in the superficial, in the one dimensional – in that that it does not lead to anywhere except the place where we have been already.
Space and emptiness are perceived by us as a kind of a threat, an open hollow which is about to swallow us… we don’t know how to work with space, only against it.
For the creative artist space is a door to the unknown. The artist should not begin his creative work with what he knows, but to work through what he does not know, to the uncertainty, to let them lead him to the world which is beyond the void.
And so it is in a conversation; the art of conversation is in not being afraid from the void, from emptiness, it does not look to fill it up with some words.
A conversation which is searching for the higher and deeper levels – is actually is looking for silence, trying to be friends with it, and then, through it to look for what is not said; what is behind the silence, because there is truth. Falsehood exists before the silence, covers and hides it, but beyond the void-silence there is the unknown self, that in order to reach it, one needs to go through the the void.
And this void is always present between the conversing two, they should avoid the temptation to fill it with words, and if they resists this temptation, they can discover a huge potential for a transcending dialogue.
“Dialogue is to love, what blood is to the body. When the flow of blood stops, the body dies. When dialogue stops, love dies and resentment and hate are born. But dialogue can restore a dead relationship. Indeed, this is the miracle of dialogue: it can bring relationship into being, and it can bring into being once again a relationship that has died. There is only one qualification to these claims for dialogue: it must be mutual and proceed from both sides, and the parties to it must persist relentlessly.”
Reuel L. Howe, The Miracle of Dialogue, 1963.