Introduction to Dialogue

In common language, dialogue simply refers to a conversation between two or more persons. However, the origin of the word suggests a deeper meaning. Dialogue comes from the Greek dialogos: dia doesn’t mean “two”–it means “through;” and logos means “the word.” The root of the word therefore implies the stream of meaning that flows through a group engaged in the process of dialogue.

This particular dialogue space is a virtual circle, which is a different experience than an in-person dialogue. But the written word is well suited for dialogue, because it gives the opportunity to think carefully before saying (writing) something. This is greatly encouraged.

Careful thought is required because a dialogue is different than a casual discussion. The word “discussion” is related to “percussion” and “concussion,” and implies the bouncing off of ideas between people in rapid fire fashion, which tends to promote superficial exchanges. Dialogue is different. It is not a debate or contest of wits. All ideas are welcome and contribute to the conversation. Since everyone feels heard and appreciated, this has the potential to bring the conversation to a very deep level.

The most important thing in dialogue is listening. Please listen (read) for the purpose of understanding, not to ready an immediate reply. To listen deeply and try to understand where the other person is coming from, we have to set aside our particular prejudices and assumptions, our station in life, our philosophy, job, experience, even our cultural norms – all of which Bohm called our “tacit infrastructure” and Carlos Castaneda referred to as “controlled folly.” When we do this, we will be able to discuss the concepts in an unfettered and original way. Our personal credentials are not that important for this purpose, and can actually get in the way of meaning flowing through.

As you enter this virtual circle, please imagine you are entering an actual circle. This is why we ask you to type your text in a circle rather than a rectangular box, and also because we want you to “think outside the box.”

Have an open mind and heart as you enter the dialogue. And at all times, be as respectful of everyone in the circle as if they were seated right in front of you. If you don’t see your post pop up right away, do not repost. Initial entries have a delay in posting in order that we may monitor for quality control. Please always use language with respect.

The dialogue space will be convened by posing a question that kick-starts the discussion. The question may be a bit of a koan with multiple layers of meaning, but please do your best to answer it. At certain points, other questions will be added to thicken the soup of dialogue. The dialogue will then take on a life of its own.

Dialogue has no agenda and no expectation of a result. Where it goes, nobody knows. Please enjoy and thank you for listening.

Glenn Aparicio Parry

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