On Dialogue

Socrates. 13th Century Seljuk illustration. Topkapi Palace Library, Istanbul

Dialogue has been a feature of our retreats for some years. It is still somewhat controversial and presents difficulties for many participants. Here I will outline my thinking on the topic. I am following David Bohm’s definition of the word, which comes from the Greek word ‘dialogos’. Although ‘logos’ has a range of meanings, depending on context, here we simply means ‘the word’ and ‘dia’ means ‘through’. It suggests a flow of meaning between people out of which may emerge some new understanding. It is a co-operative use of intelligence in the spirit of friendship and openness.

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On Retreats

From ancient times to the present, seekers of truth have felt the call to dwell in mountain silences, to live in the hush and shadows of the forests or even to go to the deserts where nature is shorn of all excess, to get away from the throng and maddening crowd, and discover an invincible peace. A retreat has been seen as an ideal situation for the spiritual aspirant to work intensively on himself or herself.

In my own case I have spent some years in various types of Buddhist retreats from the Theravada Vipassana, the retreats of the Tibetan Vajrayana tradition, to solitary retreats where one is immersed in total darkness for a period.

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