"Dialogue is really aimed at going into the whole thought process and changing the way thought process and changing the way the thought process occurs collectively. We haven't really paid much attention to thought as a process. We have engaged in thoughts, but we have only paid attention to the content, not to the process. Why does thought require attention? Everything requires attention, really. If we ran machines without paying attention to them, they would break down. Our thought, too, is a process, and it requires attention, otherwise it's going to go wrong."
David Bohm, On Dialogue
We would like to urge each potential participant to deeply think not only about the topics of her or his discussion but also about the way in which she/he is prepared to share her/his time, views and believes with others.
It is really of mandatory importance for success of our debates that the participants try to reach beyond their personal "rights and wrongs". Our meeting won’t make any sense if we know the results and ansvers of the debates before they will actually begin. We must come prepared to rethink or even to change our standpoints.
Ljubljana dialogues intend to implement David Bohm ideas about communication described in hes book On Dialogue. The organising commitee will do everything to develop an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect among participants. We are seeking for feeling of "intellectual compassion", as stated by our colegue Heiner Benking (see his text below or check more links at the end of this page).
Steps towards ‘Civilised Dialogue’ or ‘Intellectual
Compassion’ and fruitful Conversations
keeping David Bohm in Mind and building on his recommendations and insights in ON DIALOGUE and ON CREATIVITY
towards a climate of intellectual and compassionate empowering, sharing, and co-creation
When looking at Dialogue and David Bohm’s work that discusses going beyond assumptions, isolation and interest, and towards an open sharing of ideas, we learn that people increasingly get together only to present their own ideas and to defend their views or projects. Bohm was very aware of the need -- even in open and free (no format) meetings -- to find procedures or principles that will literally give people the "space" to talk and especially to overcome ingrained habits and convictions which tend to bias and hamper speakers (for more see: On Dialogue p 30). He was very aware of how ‘talkers’ use words, protecting themselves by building walls of words therefore mis-intentionally hindering the free flow of ideas that could otherwise reinforce and encourage a participatory mode and mood.
His observations are even more true today, since we are well versed in literal and competitive systems which makes us 'defend and attack' rather than seek common ground and compassion. But attitudes towards groups and the position or ’rank‘ of individual rights and responsibilities versus groups or society is rapidly changing.
Bohm clearly outlined that a certain receptiveness and
interest in dialogue and in the sharing of other ideas is needed. He
explicitly stated that "ego" might be the reason for conflict, and, people might
not be ready or interested as the time arises, to share and so move from literal
to participatory thought or culture. He was aware that 'schools of thought' tend
to clash, putting more effort into staying apart and intentionally avoiding
constructive exchange. His experience was that scientists in particular, brought
up in a mode of "challenge/defend" -- the constant testing of rules,
axioms and hypotheses -- have difficulty listening, reflecting on, or even
questioning their cherished hard won assumptions, in order to mature their overall perceptions, and transcend any conceptual barriers.
We consider that readers here are familiar with Bohms work "On Dialogue" or other material listed later, or, are open to following this cursory overview "ON DIALOG and CONVERSATION" and then review his writings later for concepts and context. In this paper our focus is on Overview and the Next Step - how to find ways to overcome certain dilemmas encountered when coming together in Dialogue Groups.
As mentioned, we will make references to Dialogue Schools or Studies, as in the context of the "The SCHOOL OF IGNORANCE" dialogue group. Using Bohm's framing concepts we want to explore how certain procedures and principles might help us achieve the state required to opening oneself to a group and allow other ideas to be viewed without fences, without filters and without screens.
First, we propose that you look at a list of arguments, as collected by Anthony Judge, why a person should attend or avoid meeting other persons in a dialogue format: http://www.uia.org/uiadocs/ignorant.htm The International School of Ignorance? -- an ongoing experiment in dialogue meeting design - Why attend? - Why avoid attending? [Further material by Anthony Judge can be found footnote.]
We would next like to make it clear that David Bohm’s ideas
have had some great and lasting results. Bohm Dialogue groups meet regularly,
and in addition to the independent work of Anthony Judge, many groups have
assembled and dissolved on their way to successful Dialogue. The original work
of Bohm, as
started in the early 70's was definitely a milestone towards participatory, inter-subjective, inter-objective ways of finding answers in an enfolding implicit order. As far as we are aware, the last Bohm Dialogues took place last year with Basil Hiley and others as organised by the Medical and Scientific Network. See: http://www.cis.plym.ac.uk/SciMedNet/17133.htm
Independently developed, the International Systems Institute's (ISI) Conversation Newsletter and Group with special focus on Social Systems Design as lead by Bela Banathy, is another prominent effort. They continue to meet, as they have for many years, in Fuschl/Austria (during April) and Asilomar/California (during November). Additional up-to-date information is availabe at: email@example.com . This last year at Asilomar, a combination of the structured round-tables and the open forum ‘magic’ round-tables was presented. see: http://www.ceptualinstitute.com/genre/benking/asilomar97.htm
These diverse efforts vary widely in their outcomes. Some people have left the original path as outlined by David Bohm. It takes continued conscientious efforts to build communities of compassion. They are slow to form and solidify, building unerring trust in fellow members and allowing individuals to find roads with a forming, holding and helping community.
So what can be done to make a Difference? Can we develop community frameworks that matter? What can we do, if the tendencies towards individualism, ego-cultivation and fragmentation make it hard, even harder, when compared to Bohm’s times? The overt trend of social development seems to be in the opposite direction, becoming more and more difficult to share and contribute among conceptually fragmented and self-centred individuals?
Even so, we can specify some productive steps that build on the experiences and resources mentioned above, implemented to embody community spirit, and thus help in building community trust and empowerment.
1. We can encourage dialogue through the use of "time
credits" -- allocated speaking rights -- making people aware of "attentiveness",
interest flow, and how time is used as a means and control technique. See also
Again, we will not report here about the specific efforts of implementing ‘time-credits’ in various environments, but invite you to visit: http://newciv.org/cob/members/benking/voicetxt.html and reflect on the responses of children, politicians, researchers and searchers...
2. We can monitor and reflect fully on what is going on in "dialogue" -- evaluate it in "3rd person" even while participating in "1st". Who has the floor and when; how well the opportunity us used; is a person controlling or monopolizing the presentation time; is he/she engaged in signaling common lines and encouraging comprehension; or is the person still in "fighting mode" over mental territories or schools-of-thought, in the same way as we have been trained through the ages to protect and conquer physical territories (civilised dialogue - Gespraechskultur)?
3. We can construct frames-of-reference as a schemata to visually reference and share diverse but interconnected positions, focuses, ranges and horizons, in order to develop not only common grounds but a tolerance for alternate ways of seeing our different levels and scopes.
By comprehending the matrices binding our positions and
horizons, we can outline themes or topics, and in this way exercise mental and
participatory mobility and sharing. For more details on this we recommend to
By agreeing on embodiesd frames of mind, we have commeon grids, common frames of reference, not to hold them as the one and only map or model, but to be able to see the differences and move between the models, maps, paradigms and schools. In this way we can show how exploring and grasping intellectual or conceptual ‘positions’ can help achieve tolerance. For more see: Exploring Integral & Mutual Understanding, How to Share Individual & Companion Mentalities
http://www.ceptualinstitute.com/genre/benking/goethe.htm and metaphor merging and morphing: http://www.uia.org/uiadocs/spatialm.htm
David Bohm has outlined an incredible and important path for going from literal to participatory modes of thought and action. We recommend all the steps suggested above to assist us in building community and easing tensions. More than developing personal and mutual awarenesses for others, it is important to foster
the ability to reflect, to step back and think many times, to reconsider and feel the group, rather than singlemindedly fight for one’s solitary path or view.
We all know that a body or group is a subject sorely needing more study and exercise, especially when conversation is becoming more and more de-materialised and dis-embodied in the global neuralsystem called cyberspace. We feel that the literal embodiment of time and attention and conceptual positions can be of great assistance. If people are open to working at dialogue, being less intransient and more willing to see things with new and shared eyes... the outcome could be mutual and shared theories. An achievment of perception and contemplation ...
This paper is prepared as Summary of the 4th introduction paper for the www homepage of the author. It is meant to not only show how the author's work on education, wholeness, futures or conversation is connected, but how the main theme of the homepage, sharing TIME/VOICES, SPACES and FUTURES builds the fundamental and stable "three legs" as a literal and thematic basis for SHARED VALUES/TOLERANCE and CULTURES.
http://www.uia.org/uiadocs/aadocdia.htm - Selected Reports, Papers and Studies on Sustainable Dialogue, Community and Conferencing
http://www.uia.org/uiadocs/contract.htm#reminder TOWARDS A NEW ORDER OF MEETING PARTICIPATION - PARTICIPANT ROLE REMINDER, a more resent paper opens the view onto new views on community building and governance in "The Challenge of Cyber-Parliaments and Statutory Virtual Assemblies", see: http://www.uia.org/uiadocs/cyberass.htm and "Web frameworks for Synthesis in Dialogue" with focus on the flow of conference interventions, see http://www.uia.org/uiadocs/levelweb.htm.
The work of Judge on mapping dialogues and checks and balances is of utmost importance and should be supported. To be sure, the focus of this paper is on embodying dialogue and supporting exchange and empowerment in groups. Beside this, the work in non-local groups, using polls and voting systems, is also of interest, but we restrict ourself to the basics of at this point: listening and encourgement, building small dialogue groups and watching how a group body or spirit can be created or killed.