Zen and the art of conversation.


(From the book: “The art of conversation”, translated from Hebrew).
Motto: If we want to talk — usually there’s no one to talk to, and when we have someone to talk to -we don’t have anything to talk about…
We talk almost all the time. Talking and talking. Talk a lot and say a little. Speech is not necessarily a conversation, as hearing is far from listening. Also, the difference exists between looking and observing. Much of the enjoyment and satisfaction of life is the ability to move from hearing to listening, and from just looking to observation, and from just speech – to conversation. All of this transitions require some kind of conscious effort. Most of us are convinced that we are already conversing.
Speech is an external media act, pretending to create an image of an encounter between two people by the medium of exchanging words. Speech is a casual and estranged exchange, where prattle, chatter are the level, exchanging information is a bit higher. Conversation is even higher (and dialogue is the highest).
In the conversation the situation is different; here the words are used for the understanding of the other side, and there is a flow and internal synchronization between two separate mental positions. Speech, tends to monologues. In the conversation there is reciprocity and synergy. And just as there is a difference between speech and conversation, so there is a difference of another level between conversation and dialogue; if speech represents the physical level and the conversation – the mental level, then the dialogue represents the being level. The dialogue is the flare-up of the conversational material – it is a state of over-consciousness. Here the two talkers understand each other, but also go through a more extensive and profound experience of awareness about the things they are talking about. So dialogue is the centerpiece of human discourse.
I chatter and prattle there are power struggle and status dominance, but they are well hidden, sent by coded messages. In conversation, however, there could be also some power struggles and bragging can still occur, but mostly in the form of open argument, the danger of it is taking it personally. But in dialogue it doesn’t exist. In conversation there is still some ego, in the dialogue the slogan is: WIN WIN, your victory is my victory. David Bohm, a well-known quantum physicist who for most of his life was very interested in spirituality and dialogue and even had many conversations with Krishnamurti, says that the very word dialogue – already tells us that it is about going through something, Dia, and the thing that goes through it here is meaning. Louge comes from the word Lugos; meaning. Therefore, dialogue is the way to the meaning, the Tao of the logos. In the dialogue there is a journey from chaos to the logos. From the meaningless and alienation of two people who do not know each other – to the inner union achieved through the common meaning. In dialogue the raw materials of the conversation are a long way away from the processed result of the dialogue.
In dialogue; It is possible to take the ordinary talk materials (alienation, casualness, suspicion, loneliness, longing, affection, hostility, etc.) – and by maturity, intelligence, alertness, attention, sensitivity and empathy – to convert them into dialogue art. However, the difference between art and dialogue is that in art usually the artist is the sole master, or at least gives the main tone, while in the dialogue the two are active, both equal, both work in synergy.
Martin Buber’s Dialogue was a great thinker who devoted a great deal of thought and writing to the subject of dialogue.
Buber talked about psychological therapy in the early 20th century and spoke out against detachment for observation.
This approach to the ultimate importance of a true encounter between one person and another is especially important against the background of the estranged approach presented by both: by science in general and by the father of psychoanalysis in particular – that through cold and objective learning one can understand the suffering client. Buber talks about an entire revolution here, he says that only through getting lost in another, we can discover and understand him, and that any attempt to understand him coldly and informedly will miss the real part of him: its core; His self, his being, because this can only be understood by a direct meeting, by creating an affinity between both. By the experience of two human beings who unite in the dialogue encounter. Buber saw the ability to have a dialogue as something that differentiates and indicates man from all other creatures. Something that emphasizes its humanity. Buber sees the meeting between two people as a presence of reciprocity that until it is realized, the person himself does not come to fruition.
A human asked the Zen teacher Ikkyū (an eccentric, iconoclastic Japanese Zen Buddhist monk and poet):
‘‘Master, can you write me some rules of supreme wisdom? Ikkyu immediately took the brush and wrote: listen; Is that it? Ask the man, can’t you add anything? Ikkyu added twice: listen, listen. The man was troubled. What? I can’t find any special depth in what you wrote. Ikkyu wrote immediately, listen; the man was angry. What is the meaning of the word listen? And Ikkyu replied gently, listen means listen’’.
Dialogue can only occur in an empty space (silence, listening). And only in it the dialogue can happen. Everything in nature grows towards an empty space (the sky, in the case of plants). We humans don’t like emptiness and empty spaces very much. If the spaces are in the building – we fill them with furniture and pictures, if it is in nature – we fill it with buildings, houses, roads, etc. And in the conversation we immediately fill the spaces an avalanche of words. Space and silence scare us. We think they’re there to swallow us. We see space and nothingness as something that comes to devour us, make us disappear. Space and the void are approached by us as something that is against us; either it swallows us, or we hurry up; Fill it and block it. Who’s first? We don’t know how to work with space, but mostly against it. For example in painting; we don’t take the space of the canvas and open it, go with it, see where it leads. For the creative artist – space is a guide, it is a door to the unknown. The artist must not start a work with what he already knows, but he must surrender to what he does not know – Let what he doesn’t know take him to a world of the beyond.
And to return back to the conversation; the art of conversation is not afraid of the void, not looking to fill it with a stream of words. A conversation that kisses the being of what is said — seeks the silence, tries to befriend with it, and then through it seeks what is not said; What’s behind the silence, that’s where the truth is. Beyond the empty space of silence is the unknown, the unconscious.
If we stop chatting and thronging unto the air words without meaning or depth, we fall upon frightening silence, but when we cross it we find the gold of the dialogue.
And so only few conversations cross this Lake of silence.
And every word anchors the conversation with the familiar territory of the one-dimensional level – which doesn’t lead anywhere except to the where we’ve already been to or we’ve already chewed it into tiredness. In order to talk in a dialogue way, one must remain silent. Devote yourself to silence – to reach the promised land of dialogue. Know and believe that beyond the unknown (silence, open questions, etc.) lies the true known, if only we let ourselves and others the space to get lost in it. And for that we must let go of control, not to try so hard to talk and talk, but to know how to give up. Let ourselves dive into what we don’t know between us and allow the great bird of inner truth to take us somewhere else, a place where we will both feel with each other as having come home.

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