Article: What Is Dialogue?
Dialogue is a group event where participants sit together in a circle to discuss and explore the important questions of life. This form of dialogue does not claim to resolve particular social, economic or religious questions, or deliberate academic theory: we are not gathered in the name of any particular spiritual thinking, nor in any way presume to teach or lead people towards a better way of living. Our intention is to consider together the deeper questions of human existence as a living reality that is greatly affecting our lives and the world around us. As well as explicitly challenging and exposing our everyday condition, it is also out of an implicit quality of attention, communication and relationship that a new kind of learning can perhaps take place.
Inspired, but not led, by the revolutionary teaching of J.Krishnamurti, this form of dialogue is open and welcoming to all those interested in learning about themselves, their ways of thinking and the impact this is having on the world in general. Lack of awareness about our fears, desires, attachments and loneliness etc - conscious or otherwise - is limiting our very perception and outlook on life. We will be investigating ordinary patterns of conditioned thinking - not as an intellectual activity but as an animate process affecting us directly - and seriously examining whether it is possible to actually and fundamentally change.
Dialogue proposes no group leaders or authority figures - participants are invited to think for themselves in a spirit of collaboration not competition or hierarchy. We are conditioned as human beings to follow teachers, bosses, leaders and experts; we feel secure copying and following their ideas, rephrasing their insights and generally leaving it up to somebody else to know what to do... Thinking for ourselves is not an easy task and necessarily requires considerable unbiased observation of ones own responses, as well as an honesty to see the truth about ourselves. When we begin to see through mind sets that have been actively running our lives, a lively natural interest is often generated in response to this kind of inquiry. Learning itself is experienced as a spontaneous discovery of something new, and seen for oneself, rather than a more traditional learning that absorbs what has already been commonly accepted as true, without questioning.
Fast held opinions and jugements can keep us from actually finding out about our own and others’ thinking. Words and repetitive discussion can give us a limiting sense of being in control or apparently possessing the solution. Quite differently, in dialogue, our intention is not to come to any final solutions or conclusions, but to listen and probe beyond our treasured fixed ideas and learn as we go along: learn from what we don’t already know.
In this field of dialogue, mere ‘interested conversation’ and casual inquiry does not have the energy to break through the habits and traditions of who we are. If we are willing to leave the well trodden paths of established thinking - venture into an atmosphere of observation, exploration, care and integrity - a new quality of connection and feeling between people and towards the world, may come about. Strangely enough this ephemeral quality cannot be measured, evaluated or even specifically verbalised - it may even operate in us unconsciously. Perhaps it is this quality and energy that could be fertile for real learning and creative thinking.
In these modern times where change and intelligence seem so desperately needed, is there an inner revolution that could potentially participate in creating a new way of living and a very different world? Let’s find out.
Jackie Mc Inley - April 2019
Article from ‘WHAT IS DIALOGUE?’ published in Friedrich’s Newsletter 2019