Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Principles of Dialogical Ecology

Please click here to be directed to the new site for the Martin Buber Institute for Dialogical Ecology. You will find all essays and articles at http://dialogicalecology.blogspot.com. Thank you HE RELIGION OF DIALOGUE IN COMMUNITY (© Hune Margulies, Ph.D. 2006) (Please visit the Prescott College - Martin Buber Institute For Dialogical Ecology cooperative agreement at HTTP://MBIDE.BLOGSPOT.COM) (Please visit our religious community's blog at HTTP://WESTCHESTERHAVURAH.BLOGSPOT.COM) Some Notes and Thoughts.. pointers… (find us on Facebook: The Martin Buber Institute For Dialogical Ecology) God is not in heaven nor on earth. God is not above nor bellow. Nor within or without. Not in the soul or in the flesh. God is in the Between of an I and a Thou. 1. Martin Buber's Judaic Dialogical Philosophy, Zen Buddhism, and the other myriad spiritualities yet to be discovered. 2. Dialogical Ecology is the religion of the moments of inception. 3. It means also to walk the journey together WITH you, without ever becoming ONE OF you. The contemplative Spectator 4. It means religious socialism in the context of communal anarchic societies. "The world is not comprehensible, but it is embraceable: through the embracing of one of its beings." —Martin Buber Its not through reason neither through intuition that we know the world. It is not through mystical union nor through dualistic separation. It is through the encounter of an I with a Thou. Dialogue is not two nor it is one, neither unity nor multiplicity, not monism or dualism, it is Dialogue. Knowing (the biblical lada'at) is being there, right with one's whole being. IT, is relating to the whole of being as a means to a material end. THOU is relating to the whole of being as an end in itself. May the shabbat bring you peace. may you bring peace to the shabbat. great faith, great doubt, great determination.. the path of the spiritual life "Nothing and nobody down here frightens me; not even an angel, not even the angel of fear. But the moaning of a beggar makes me shudder." Rabbi Hune of Kolochitz. (1777) This is the path of the Community Of Dialogue. The I-Thou practiced or implemented as religious socialism in the framework of communal anarchism. No one attains liberation if there remains one being who is yet to be liberated. I and Thou are the relationships of ordinary life and mind, but it finds its truly liberating and enlightenment core if understood as a practice of community life. I and Thou relationship with fellow humans, with nature and with the mind. With the whole of being. The Martin Buber Institute For Dialogical Ecology’s Introduction to Dialogical Ecology Martin Buber-Zen Introduction to Dialogical Ecology: Martin Buber's Judaic Philosophy of Dialogue, Zen, Religious Socialism and the Anarchist Community of Dialogue: On Buber, Zen and the Principles of Dialogical Ecology... Host: The Martin Buber Institute For Dialogical Ecology Time:7:00PM Saturday, July 18th. Location: Larchmont, NY Buber - Zen- Religious Anarchism THE PRINCIPLES OF DIALOGICAL ECOLOGY Dialogical Ecology is a concept that describes the confluence point between the philosophies of Martin Buber, Zen Buddhism, some aspects of Indigenous spiritual traditions, and several strands of religious Existentialism. When it comes to issues in environmental philosophy and ethics, Buber's I-Thou philosophy and some aspects of Zen relate with each other in a variety of intrinsic and interconnected ways. The importance of this goes beyond the academic. The encounter between Buber and Zen can enhance both and resolve issues and conflicts within both. The new synthesis philosophy, Dialogical Ecology, is of great relevance to issues in environmental ethics, religion, and community. Dialogical relationships are a form of engaged meditation. Dialogue and meditation are practices that include both social and individual dimensions. Dialogue is an I-Thou relationship to humans and nature done in full mindfulness. It is similar to the non-Itness, or non-attachment as found in Zen. We can say that I-thou is Buber's description of Zen's relationships of non-attachment. What emerges from this is an ecological approach rooted in a dialogical relationship with the whole of being. A dialogue between these philosophical and religious traditions yields a new and profound approach to our understanding, ethical approach, and global relationship with nature and with the whole of being. Buber and Zen teach that every life-practice (the every day anytime life of the quotidian) is- in and of itself, the life of enlightenment. True, it already is so, just as is, but it must also become so. Just like the sparks of divinity that need to be uncovered from beneath the shells. To release enlightenment, life requires that we engage it in a dialogical manner. When we do that, enlightenment will be freed from within us. This is a personal as well as a social task, it is the ecological dialogue. Nhat-Hahn calls this "Engaged Buddhism", or in Judaic terms "tikkun Olam." Since God/enlightenment is in everything (or is everything as with Spinoza) then, there is no place or time where God/enlightenment is less or more present in it. All that is required is for an I to encounter another being with his whole being. S. Suzuki, wrote "To cook, or to fix some food is practice, because sitting is not our only way. Whatever you do can be practice." This is very important because it confirms the notion of enlightenment as a way of life, not just as a specific or particular isolated activity or ritual. Liberation is what ensues from the dialogue with the every day and the every thing. Dewey called this "the common faith". Continuing with culinary Zenography, one of the most wonderful ways to put this is when A. Watts explained that Zen practice “does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling the potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes." If God/enlightenment will not be found in the potato, where then?. There is no enlightenment unless we go through I-thou dialogue with the potatoes. As we can see, meditation, as sazen practice and as potato peeling practice, is predicated precisely on doing just that, that is: meditation is the learning of how to engage in dialogue with the whole of being, and it is also the actual practice of engaging the whole of existence in a dialogical manner. Meditation is everything we do in mindfulness and non-attachment or non-It, or in other words, everything we do in dialogue. When we say Thou we are meditating for meditation is the practice of saying Thou. Meditation thus understood is engaging in the practice of saying Thou. A Dialogical Meditation... A Meditative Dialogue.. A more in depth description of this view will be found in my upcoming book, but in essence the main position is that Buber and Zen meet at the point where meditation is done through dialogue. The dialogical relationship is the meditation, for it is done in full mindfulness and with an approach to the other as non-itness, or non-attachment. In very concrete terms, the teaching of living, or the practice that emerges from a between encounter of Buber and Zen (and Spinoza to a very deep extent, especially with the issue of the self free from the ego through the right understanding) is the meditation or mindfulness through dialogue. Its not a dialogue with the meditative state, nor a meditation on the dialogue, but a concrete life-practice. What we are discovering here is how to meditate in and through dialogue and how to dialogue with and through our meditation. This could be called meditative dialogue or the dialogical meditation. We engage in dialogue with the three realms: humans, nature and the spiritual realm, that is, the world of sentient and insentient beings, when the dialogue is THE meditative practice. Anything performed with mindfulness is an act of meditation. The dialogue if I-Thou can become one of the meditative practices. Take the example of the idea that Buber brought to Judaism a Protestant ethics of personal and individualistic relationship with God. Buber's views were that there is no possible direct relationship with God other than the one that passes through a dialogical relationship with the three realms. God emerges as the third presence in the dialogical encounter. In the relationship between I and God, the emphasis is not in either of the two, but in their relationship, in the between the two. Meditation, as introspection, is often misunderstood as a practice that requires compassion but not dialogue. From a Buberian perspective, meditation is entering into a relationship of dialogue with the three realms of life and be present in a state of mindfulness and non-attachment, or in other words, saying thou and make that relationship the act of meditation. We dialogue with the realm of the insentient through offerings: we offer ourselves to the world to receive us and we allow the world to offer itself for us to receive it. Offerings is not ritualism, it is dialogue and it is also service, engagement with the ecological whole. In Zen the key is not to do something in order to, or in the name of, or for the sake of. The key for Zen is just to do what we do. It is in this very real sense that we argue that Zen is akin to Buberian dialogue with the sentient and insentient beings. Doing something for whatever sake, is saying It to the world. In contrast, saying Thou to the world, is allowing the world to speak to us, it is just being present with our whole being. This is the gate to enlightenment and to freedom and to peace. (Through a collaborative agreement between Prescott College's Master of Arts Program and the MBIDE, students can attend courses offered by MBIDE and then transfer up to 15 graduate credits into Prescott College's Master of Arts Program for a degree with a concentration in Dialogical Ecology. Please contact Dr. Hune Margulies, Director of the Concentration at hune@martinbuberinstitute.org, http://MBIDE.blogspot.com, 914-833-7787. http://www.prescott.edu) I have argued that the relationship of non-attachment as described in Zen is similarly defined as the relationship of I-Thou in Buber. Perhaps the difference is that in Buber the dialogue is the path, there is no objective "end" but the undefined moment of encounter itself, while in Zen, one can reach enlightenment, a form of "end", without engaging the whole of existence with one's whole being. Since in Zen samsara is nirvana and nirvana is samsara, it is not accurate to argue that in Zen there are means and ends. It is also possible to argue that in Zen there is no duality of whole and partial and all mindfulness is whole being as what we understand the term to mean. Non-attachment helps ground the I-Thou as a concrete praxis, something Buber has often failed to fully address. Buber helps to ground Zen in the understanding of the concept of Sangha. If we use Buber, then Sangha is the real path to enlightenment. The purposelessness and non-reified relational approach to the whole of existence is the expression of Buber's I-Thou relationship. Buber's dialogical relationship is Zen's non-attachment, non-purpose and full mindfulness way of life. (Picture to the right, a photograph by John Daido Loori, Roshi, Abbot of the Zen Mountain Monastery of the Zen Mountains and Rivers Order. (www.mro.org). From his book "Making Love with Light". Picture to the left: Buber portrait by Andy Warhol) The Seven (tentative) Principles of Dialogical Ecology and Dialogical Philosophy 1. I engage in Dialogue (encounter,relation,meeting,) with my whole being and with the the whole of existence, …therefore I am/my self/my ground of awareness exists. Ego dis-places and true self emerges. 2. Dialogue is relationship outside the context and full spectrum of utilitarianism. Dialogue is expressed in the context of community. It requires body and mind and it encompasses the entire realm of what exists, sentients and insentients. Buber wrote: "The world is not comprehensible, but it is embraceable: through the embracing of one of its beings. Each thing and being has a twofold nature: passive, absorbable, usable, dissectible, comparable, combinable, rationalizable, and the other, the active, non-absorbable, unusable, undissectible, incomparable, non combinable, non rationalizable. This is the confronting, the shaping, the bestowing of things. He who truly experiences a thing so that it springs up to meet him and embraces him of itself has in that thing known the world..." I-It is the utilitarian, I-Thou is the non-attachment way. In the I-Thou every being becomes a path. 3. We don't know anything at all about God. Therefore God is not above or bellow, nor on heaven or earth, nor here nor nowhere, nor in any time-space continuum. God is between You and I. God emerges during the dialogue between I and You and is "located" in that space (the Hebrew concept of god as HaMakom) called the between. The between is not an obliteration of the I in the sense of the mystics, it is rather a new space where the I and the Thou meet. God is not IN but IS the between. God is no object nor spirit, God is a thou. God emerges only in the process of dialogue and from within the dialogue and becomes the dialogue. God ceases to be “there” when the between ceases to be “there”. 4. One goal is to articulate a new form and content of worship for the God of dialogue or for God which is anohter name for Dialogue. Dialogue is the worship. 5. Buber offers a new meaning of Sangha to Zen, and Zen offers non-attachment as a clarification or practical implication to the practice of I-Thou dialogue. Enlightenment is to be found in dialogue. Dialogue can only be found in the practice of non-attachment. 6. Dialogue is a way of approach and not a way of response. Response is a way of approach. 7. In the practice of the Shabbat, as expressed in the context of Buberian dialogue and Zen, we find a viable and wonderful path to enlightenment. According to Buber, there are two main relational attitudes towards the three realms of life: I-Thou and I-It. The three spheres or realms of life, what together I refer to as the whole of ecology are, person-to-person, person-to-nature and person-to-the world of the mental. We can approach each part of the whole of ecology by saying to it, Thou or It. We can approach God in the same exact way. The I in the I-It relationship is not the same as the I in the I-Thou relationship. I-Thou refers to the open, mutual and reciprocal encounter of the other, a relationship where there is no instrumentality, utilitarianism, commoditization and manipulation (even good types of manipulations). I-It, in contrast, refers to any relationship in which the other is understood, perceived and used for a utilitarian, instrumental, commoditized and manipulative manner. I-It requires the use of reason in the approach to others, I-Thou requires instead the use if right understanding. The I in the I-It relationship is radically different than the I in the I-Thou encounter. The I of the I-It is similar to the Ego as understood in Zen. It is in essence, a composite of external components, and in that sense, it is not the real I that lies within us. The I in the I-It is made out entirely of outside occurrences, and therefore it is not free to realize its true self. The I in the I-Thou relationship emerges from within that empty space that is the repository of the true self. It is the genuine I that perceives the world but is not perceived by it, that cannot be identified with any object of the body or content of the mind, but is able always to exercise the freedom inherent in it. This is called Satory in Zen. The I of the I Thou is always the whole of being. The I-Thou world of dialogue can only emerge and be practiced in the context of an enlightened community. The principles of Dialogue: I-Thou and I-It. The three realms of relationship: person-person, person to nature, person to the spiritual beings. In each of these spheres when we speak Thou we are lead to GOD. There is no direct path to God that "skips" the world (the three spheres). There is a personal god but god is not a person. There is no I and there is no We. I exists only within the relationship and is defined by the pair in which it finds itself.. There is the I of the pair I-Thou and that I is different from the I that emerges in the context of the I-It relationship. Same with Zen's denial of the self. Parting from that point is the path to liberation. The importance of this denial is crucial in Zen and in Buber. On Fri, Jul 13, 2012 at 10:11 AM, Hune Margulies, Ph.D wrote: HE RELIGION OF DIALOGUE IN COMMUNITY (© Hune Margulies, Ph.D. 2006) (Please visit the Prescott College - Martin Buber Institute For Dialogical Ecology cooperative agreement at HTTP://MBIDE.BLOGSPOT.COM) (Please visit our religious community's blog at HTTP://WESTCHESTERHAVURAH.BLOGSPOT.COM) Some Notes and Thoughts.. pointers… (find us on Facebook: The Martin Buber Institute For Dialogical Ecology) God is not in heaven nor on earth. God is not above nor bellow. Nor within or without. Not in the soul or in the flesh. God is in the Between of an I and a Thou. 1. Martin Buber's Judaic Dialogical Philosophy, Zen Buddhism, and the other myriad spiritualities yet to be discovered. 2. Dialogical Ecology is the religion of the moments of inception. 3. It means also to walk the journey together WITH you, without ever becoming ONE OF you. The contemplative Spectator 4. It means religious socialism in the context of communal anarchic societies. "The world is not comprehensible, but it is embraceable: through the embracing of one of its beings." —Martin Buber Its not through reason neither through intuition that we know the world. It is not through mystical union nor through dualistic separation. It is through the encounter of an I with a Thou. Dialogue is not two nor it is one, neither unity nor multiplicity, not monism or dualism, it is Dialogue. Knowing (the biblical lada'at) is being there, right with one's whole being. IT, is relating to the whole of being as a means to a material end. THOU is relating to the whole of being as an end in itself. May the shabbat bring you peace. may you bring peace to the shabbat. great faith, great doubt, great determination.. the path of the spiritual life "Nothing and nobody down here frightens me; not even an angel, not even the angel of fear. But the moaning of a beggar makes me shudder." Rabbi Hune of Kolochitz. (1777) This is the path of the Community Of Dialogue. The I-Thou practiced or implemented as religious socialism in the framework of communal anarchism. No one attains liberation if there remains one being who is yet to be liberated. I and Thou are the relationships of ordinary life and mind, but it finds its truly liberating and enlightenment core if understood as a practice of community life. I and Thou relationship with fellow humans, with nature and with the mind. With the whole of being. The Martin Buber Institute For Dialogical Ecology’s Introduction to Dialogical Ecology Martin Buber-Zen Introduction to Dialogical Ecology: Martin Buber's Judaic Philosophy of Dialogue, Zen, Religious Socialism and the Anarchist Community of Dialogue: On Buber, Zen and the Principles of Dialogical Ecology... Host: The Martin Buber Institute For Dialogical Ecology Time:7:00PM Saturday, July 18th. Location: Larchmont, NY Buber - Zen- Religious Anarchism THE PRINCIPLES OF DIALOGICAL ECOLOGY Dialogical Ecology is a concept that describes the confluence point between the philosophies of Martin Buber, Zen Buddhism, some aspects of Indigenous spiritual traditions, and several strands of religious Existentialism. When it comes to issues in environmental philosophy and ethics, Buber's I-Thou philosophy and some aspects of Zen relate with each other in a variety of intrinsic and interconnected ways. The importance of this goes beyond the academic. The encounter between Buber and Zen can enhance both and resolve issues and conflicts within both. The new synthesis philosophy, Dialogical Ecology, is of great relevance to issues in environmental ethics, religion, and community. Dialogical relationships are a form of engaged meditation. Dialogue and meditation are practices that include both social and individual dimensions. Dialogue is an I-Thou relationship to humans and nature done in full mindfulness. It is similar to the non-Itness, or non-attachment as found in Zen. We can say that I-thou is Buber's description of Zen's relationships of non-attachment. What emerges from this is an ecological approach rooted in a dialogical relationship with the whole of being. A dialogue between these philosophical and religious traditions yields a new and profound approach to our understanding, ethical approach, and global relationship with nature and with the whole of being. Buber and Zen teach that every life-practice (the every day anytime life of the quotidian) is- in and of itself, the life of enlightenment. True, it already is so, just as is, but it must also become so. Just like the sparks of divinity that need to be uncovered from beneath the shells. To release enlightenment, life requires that we engage it in a dialogical manner. When we do that, enlightenment will be freed from within us. This is a personal as well as a social task, it is the ecological dialogue. Nhat-Hahn calls this "Engaged Buddhism", or in Judaic terms "tikkun Olam." Since God/enlightenment is in everything (or is everything as with Spinoza) then, there is no place or time where God/enlightenment is less or more present in it. All that is required is for an I to encounter another being with his whole being. S. Suzuki, wrote "To cook, or to fix some food is practice, because sitting is not our only way. Whatever you do can be practice." This is very important because it confirms the notion of enlightenment as a way of life, not just as a specific or particular isolated activity or ritual. Liberation is what ensues from the dialogue with the every day and the every thing. Dewey called this "the common faith". Continuing with culinary Zenography, one of the most wonderful ways to put this is when A. Watts explained that Zen practice “does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling the potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes." If God/enlightenment will not be found in the potato, where then?. There is no enlightenment unless we go through I-thou dialogue with the potatoes. As we can see, meditation, as sazen practice and as potato peeling practice, is predicated precisely on doing just that, that is: meditation is the learning of how to engage in dialogue with the whole of being, and it is also the actual practice of engaging the whole of existence in a dialogical manner. Meditation is everything we do in mindfulness and non-attachment or non-It, or in other words, everything we do in dialogue. When we say Thou we are meditating for meditation is the practice of saying Thou. Meditation thus understood is engaging in the practice of saying Thou. A Dialogical Meditation... A Meditative Dialogue.. A more in depth description of this view will be found in my upcoming book, but in essence the main position is that Buber and Zen meet at the point where meditation is done through dialogue. The dialogical relationship is the meditation, for it is done in full mindfulness and with an approach to the other as non-itness, or non-attachment. In very concrete terms, the teaching of living, or the practice that emerges from a between encounter of Buber and Zen (and Spinoza to a very deep extent, especially with the issue of the self free from the ego through the right understanding) is the meditation or mindfulness through dialogue. Its not a dialogue with the meditative state, nor a meditation on the dialogue, but a concrete life-practice. What we are discovering here is how to meditate in and through dialogue and how to dialogue with and through our meditation. This could be called meditative dialogue or the dialogical meditation. We engage in dialogue with the three realms: humans, nature and the spiritual realm, that is, the world of sentient and insentient beings, when the dialogue is THE meditative practice. Anything performed with mindfulness is an act of meditation. The dialogue if I-Thou can become one of the meditative practices. Take the example of the idea that Buber brought to Judaism a Protestant ethics of personal and individualistic relationship with God. Buber's views were that there is no possible direct relationship with God other than the one that passes through a dialogical relationship with the three realms. God emerges as the third presence in the dialogical encounter. In the relationship between I and God, the emphasis is not in either of the two, but in their relationship, in the between the two. Meditation, as introspection, is often misunderstood as a practice that requires compassion but not dialogue. From a Buberian perspective, meditation is entering into a relationship of dialogue with the three realms of life and be present in a state of mindfulness and non-attachment, or in other words, saying thou and make that relationship the act of meditation. We dialogue with the realm of the insentient through offerings: we offer ourselves to the world to receive us and we allow the world to offer itself for us to receive it. Offerings is not ritualism, it is dialogue and it is also service, engagement with the ecological whole. In Zen the key is not to do something in order to, or in the name of, or for the sake of. The key for Zen is just to do what we do. It is in this very real sense that we argue that Zen is akin to Buberian dialogue with the sentient and insentient beings. Doing something for whatever sake, is saying It to the world. In contrast, saying Thou to the world, is allowing the world to speak to us, it is just being present with our whole being. This is the gate to enlightenment and to freedom and to peace. (Through a collaborative agreement between Prescott College's Master of Arts Program and the MBIDE, students can attend courses offered by MBIDE and then transfer up to 15 graduate credits into Prescott College's Master of Arts Program for a degree with a concentration in Dialogical Ecology. Please contact Dr. Hune Margulies, Director of the Concentration at hune@martinbuberinstitute.org, http://MBIDE.blogspot.com, 914-833-7787. http://www.prescott.edu) I have argued that the relationship of non-attachment as described in Zen is similarly defined as the relationship of I-Thou in Buber. Perhaps the difference is that in Buber the dialogue is the path, there is no objective "end" but the undefined moment of encounter itself, while in Zen, one can reach enlightenment, a form of "end", without engaging the whole of existence with one's whole being. Since in Zen samsara is nirvana and nirvana is samsara, it is not accurate to argue that in Zen there are means and ends. It is also possible to argue that in Zen there is no duality of whole and partial and all mindfulness is whole being as what we understand the term to mean. Non-attachment helps ground the I-Thou as a concrete praxis, something Buber has often failed to fully address. Buber helps to ground Zen in the understanding of the concept of Sangha. If we use Buber, then Sangha is the real path to enlightenment. The purposelessness and non-reified relational approach to the whole of existence is the expression of Buber's I-Thou relationship. Buber's dialogical relationship is Zen's non-attachment, non-purpose and full mindfulness way of life. (Picture to the right, a photograph by John Daido Loori, Roshi, Abbot of the Zen Mountain Monastery of the Zen Mountains and Rivers Order. (www.mro.org). From his book "Making Love with Light". Picture to the left: Buber portrait by Andy Warhol) On Fri, Jul 13, 2012 at 10:09 AM, Hune Margulies, Ph.D wrote: All essays and articles for The Martin Buber Institute For dialogical Ecology can be found in our new Blogsite: http://dialogicalecology.blogspot.com. click here The Principles of Dialogical Ecology: Some Notes and Thoughts.. pointers… (Find us on Facebook: The Martin Buber Institute For Dialogical Ecology: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Larchmont-NY/The-Martin-Buber-Institute-For-Dialogical-Ecology/102320363254?v=wall&viewas=100000002247980) Dialogical Ecology belongs in the tradition of religious socialism. In every historic religion there was always a strand that centered religious life in the practice of dialogue. At times this tradition was central to the religion and at times it became marginal. We're making an effort at a renaissance. The emphasis of religious practices in creating, accessing or facilitating enhanced psychological states of mind is very important. however, true religious life must include a component of relationships at the ecological level that includes, but also transcends the realm of the emotional. everything includes an emotional component, but the realm of dialogue should not be tied nor measured by it, rather, it should remain apart and independent of the emotional. to believe that the attainment of a heightened sense of emotional well-being is the main goal of religion is not something I can agree with. Religion is not the privileging of the inner. It is the I and the Thou creating a between, which is not outside nor inside, and where god "resides". It is not privileging the inner or the outer, but the between. I disagree with the common belief that holds in fact that it does not ultimately matter what "livelihood" or what relational life with the Other one engages in as long as one finds the time to incorporate a measure of "spiritual practices" within one's daily life. This is the belief that religion is there to fill the emotional vacuum of your life, and thank god for it. There are of course wonderful and inspiring practices one can include in one's and one's community's life and they will bring great joy and peace. But the goal of spiritual life cannot stop there. Sometimes the encounters with the Other are not joy or peace, they are prosaic and ordinary. Return to nature and a society based on non-It relationships is not necessarily tied to a "feel good" state of mind. If one seeks peace and joy one should engage in the unconditional, immediate and open encountering of the world as a thou. This is the the practice. It is not correct to assume that one must first be joyful and peaceful before one can be joyful and peaceful with the rest of the world. The path to joy and peace within is to be in joy and peace with the world. At least at the same time as much as possible. By giving first we receive first. The return to nature and to a dialogical community is the practice of religious life. This is a teaching deeply engrained, I believe, in all religions that insist on la life of compassion, of sharing, of contemplation and of dialogue with the whole of being. By engaging in dialogue, without expectations or demands, one is open to joy and peace and joy and peace my yet be attained. And if not, enlightenment cannot be measured only in these terms, its not like tasting an ice cream or drinking a good wine. when you engage the other in dialogue you become that which you had wanted to become. dialogue and liberation are one and the same thing. even if you feel you have still a ways to go before really becoming that, the way to get there is by doing this, canto a canto, verso a verso. To ask to be enlightened before encountering the other as a Thou is to believe that one needs to be healthy before taking medicine or that there is a distinction between the state of enlightenment and the state of dialogue. The important difference between "mutuality" as a kind of generic term to denote any kind of relationship, and dialogue, as a Buberian term to denote a particular kind of encounters between beings. True that the basic idea that logos is found in relationships, or in the "other" (Levinas) is a recurring shared philosophical base for Buber, Frankl and also Levinas. in both cases, (constructivism and immediacy) the requirement--for both Frankl and Buber--is for an intentionality of relationship that goes beyond the "case at hand". That is, the particular moment gets enveloped in an ecological meaning or logos. In a sense the relationship must be part of a global (or ecological) relationship, otherwise it runs the danger of becoming a "dialogical-narcissism". God is not in heaven nor on earth. God is not above nor bellow. Nor within or without. Not in the soul or in the flesh. God is in the Between of an I and a Thou. The path to liberation or enlightenment is through the encounter with the other as a Thou. Nay, liberation-sive-enlightenment is the dialogical relationship itself. The Dialogical relationship is itself the practice of liberation or enlightenment. It does not originate from outside of itself nor will it lead to any other spiritual goal external to itself. To save others and yourself and bring sanity to life, just go and help the other. If you can hold to the idea that the way to help yourself is to help the other, then you are sane enough and need no prior preparation other than going out and help the other.. GOT is Yiddish for God. Or an acronym for Get Out of the Temple! My basic concern with the state of affairs of Zen Buddhism in the west, (as with major religions as a whole) and this being my personal observation, is that instead of Zen being a way to live one's life and a practice for the whole of one's being, Zen has become a religion. What that means in practical terms for the practitioner of Zen, is that instead of applying to their lives, and living by the core precepts of Zen, all that's needed is to come in and participate in worship services. Religion is a system of codified worship, while the spiritual life is the dialogical encounter with the whole of being. Worship has always been that handy-dandy method packaged within the system known as religion to guarantee the faithful an easy path to the attainment of the highest goals of the spirit. We can reach god or nirvana or paradise without needing to pursue a life of commitment to the spirit, except for the performance of the rituals of the temple defined for us as representing the spiritual life itself. True spiritual life is not just that which is feasible only in the context of a fully committed monastic life. Spiritual life is and must be pursued in the outside and the inside of every day life. As Thoreau said, “As for conforming outwardly, and living your own life inwardly, I do not think much of that.” The error, as I see it, is that religions have taught us permissible to accommodate the spiritual life to the needs of the life of everyday, while it should truly proceed in the reverse sense: the life of everyday should be accommodated to the demands of the spiritual life. (GOT). In Zen, meditation has become a form of worship in the temple, with all the sacraments, objects of worship and precisions of space and time. It does not matter whether practitioners apply the principles of non-attachment and mindfulness and compassion to all beings in every moment of their lives, so long as they come to temple regularly and join the worship. Worship in this case includes also the verbal uttering of the right terms and main principles of non-attachment, letting go, simplicity and mindfulness. Come to the temple at the appointed time to meditate about non-attachment and letting go, and run off thereafter to the world of material pursuits, litigations, ostentation and wealth. I believe that the Buddhist teaching about Right Livelihood is core to comprehending how Buddhism is a way of life not just a way of worship. We spend most of our life-hours engaged in work. Like most other major spiritual systems, instead of living the spiritual life, we have codified it into a system of rituals. Codification and the study of its intricacies has managed to replace and become the practice of the spiritual life. The priesthood holds the keys to the rituals and to their ineffable efficacy and thus claims for itself the right to ostent their overly-titled uberstatus within their religious communities. Codification is the key for priestly control as the rest of us, not trained in the intricacies of this complex systems, need to rely and trust on this expert class. From teachers (rabbis) they become priests. At the same time religious codes tell us that the eternal life depends on doing these things right! Spiritual life has become religion and in that it has failed in its primordial tasks. Religion has been teaching seekers and journeyers that there is no need to do or change anything in particular in the practice of their lives, as they can pursue wealth, power, the military, materialisms of all kinds, and for that they appear as indistinguishable from the rest of the population, except perhaps for cool garbs and other external items of clothing or grooming, as blades of grass are from each other. Often these practitioners seems to feel they need to look differently in the sense of biblical admonitions to remember or as subconscious recognition that something needs to be different if they count themselves among the spiritual practitioners. The fact that other than by the particular form of worship they chose, or some other outward signs of general appearance, the practitioners of spiritual life are indistinguishable in their way of life from the rest of the non-practicing population, highlights the deficiency in what the spiritual life is understood to mean. Religion has told us that we can be brought over to the other shore if we’d just learn the proper technology of worship and temple form and proper procedure. But the spiritual life is none of it, or at least not just it. If we regard temple life as good and useful, it should find its place within the practices of a spiritual life. But even if the belief is that the ritual itself is imbued with sacred efficacy, the spiritual life should then include rituals and temples, but it should not start nor end nor be confined to it alone. The spiritual life is to pray with our feet and our hands and our commitment to finding the face of god in the Other and enlightenment and liberation in the life of dialogue. The translation of spiritual life into a system of relationships which then becomes a social and ecological system is the ultimate path for a spiritual seeker. Hune 1. Martin Buber's Judaic Dialogical Philosophy, Zen Buddhism, and the other myriad spiritualities yet to be discovered. 2. Dialogical Ecology is the religion of the moments of inception. 3. It means also to walk the journey together WITH you, without ever becoming ONE OF you. The contemplative Spectator 4. It means religious socialism in the context of communal anarchic societies. "The world is not comprehensible, but it is embraceable: through the embracing of one of its beings." —Martin Buber Its not through reason neither through intuition that we know the world. It is not through mystical union nor through dualistic separation. It is through the encounter of an I with a Thou. Dialogue is not two nor it is one, neither unity nor multiplicity, not monism or dualism, it is Dialogue. Knowing (the biblical lada'at) is being there, right with one's whole being. IT, is relating to the whole of being as a means to a material end. THOU is relating to the whole of being as an end in itself. May the shabbat bring you peace. may you bring peace to the shabbat. great faith, great doubt, great determination.. the path of the spiritual life "Nothing and nobody down here frightens me; not even an angel, not even the angel of fear. But the moaning of a beggar makes me shudder." Rabbi Hune of Kolochitz. (1777) This is the path of the Community Of Dialogue. The I-Thou practiced or implemented as religious socialism in the framework of communal anarchism. No one attains liberation if there remains one being who is yet to be liberated. I and Thou are the relationships of ordinary life and mind, but it finds its truly liberating and enlightenment core if understood as a practice of community life. I and Thou relationship with fellow humans, with nature and with the mind. With the whole of being. The Martin Buber Institute For Dialogical Ecology’s Introduction to Dialogical Ecology Martin Buber-Zen Introduction to Dialogical Ecology: Martin Buber's Judaic Philosophy of Dialogue, Zen, Religious Socialism and the Anarchist Community of Dialogue: On Buber, Zen and the Principles of Dialogical Ecology... Host: The Martin Buber Institute For Dialogical Ecology Time:7:00PM Saturday, July 18th. Location: Larchmont, NY Buber - Zen- Religious Anarchism A Brief Description Of My Book: • Essays on the principles of Dialogical Ecology. Between Buber and Zen. An Introduction to the Principles of Dialogical Ecology: Zen and Western Dialogical Philosophy. A Study of Martin Buber and Some aspects of Zen Buddhism Zen and Buber are important to large segments of religious practitioners and academic-scholars. It is my view that my work on the confluence of Zen and Buber, will offer a new and much needed alternative restatement of profound religious and philosophical impact. In my view, Martin Buber was the most important Jewish philosopher of the 20th century. His philosophy of Dialogue was seminal in the development of humanistic Christian thought and in the development of existentialist religious philosophy. The advent of Zen and other contemplative Buddhist traditions in the West, makes it very important to compare and reconcile the Dialogical Philosophy of Buber with the principles and practices of enlightenment embodied in Zen. The confluence of both teachings, will provide scholars and practitioners with a clear understanding as to the possibilities for the creation of community and the rise of enlightenment. The interest in Buber in the West is vast, and as my research shows, when presented in the light of my work, so it is for Japanese and east-Asian circles. This book is aimed at seekers of spirituality, practitioners, scholars of Judaica and of Zen and Buddhism. I'm working on the intersection between the Dialogical philosophy of Martin Buber and some aspects of Zen and Dzogchen Buddhism. I have coined a new term for this new synthesis philosophy: Dialogical Ecology. Buber's greatest innovation lies in the affirmation that there is no "direct" relationship to God, separate from the rest of ordinary life. The dialogue with God passes through a dialogue with the whole of being. There whole of being is Man, Nature and Mind, and God is not a separate category. At least not insofar as human relationship with God is concerned. In addition, the dialogue between man and his own mind-spirit is only one form of spirituality. Dialogue with man and with nature are also spiritualities and are also the gates to liberation. Within or inside are only words and depict no reality outside of them. Normally, when we talk about spiritual life, we think of communion through ritual practices. From a dialogical perspective, the spiritual life is the encounter of the whole of being with the whole of being. This is the core distinction and contrast between mysticism and dialogue. The varieties of mystical approaches situate the spiritual life within the inner core of a person’s spirit-mind. But the dialogue between man and his own mind-spirit is only one form of spirituality. Dialogue with man and with nature are also spiritualities and are also the gates to liberation. Within or inside are only words and depict no reality outside of them. Genuine dialogue cannot be ritualized into cultic practices, it can only be lived and actualized in the ordinary activities of daily life. There is a moment of inception and that moment cannot be planned, it cannot be attained through a practiced intentionality. The summum bonum of spiritual life is not the ecstatic communion with God, but the dialogue with the divinity that actualizes itself in the way we live our daily life activities. The important thing is to constantly remember that dialogue is not the goal as goals are normally understood in spiritual life. Dialogue is the spiritual life. In essence, dialogue is the starting point for a spiritual life, and it is also the goal of our spiritual life. The point of spiritual life is not unity or identification with god in the mystical sense, and it is not to elevate (a geographic term) to a state of exultation through the perfecting of our ritual practices. The goal is to establish a dialogue with god and the means is to engage in that dialogue. Dialogue, as is the Zen's satory, is actualized or expressed through our regular ordinary life, in the every day and in the here and now. Zen does not ask whether God exists or not. Zen asks whether God is relevant at all in the path to, and at the shores of liberation. Whatever answer we provide, we are making God into an It. Buber taught that nothing about God can be said, but we can address and encounter him/her in the whole of being. Zen says basically the same, only the word God is substituted for liberation or enlightenment. This book will introduce the concept and philosophy of Dialogical Ecology. Dialogical Ecology is a concept that describes the confluence between the philosophies of Martin Buber, Zen Buddhism, and several strands of religious Existentialism. Buber's I-Thou philosophy and some aspects of Zen relate with each other in a variety of intrinsic and interconnected ways. The importance of this goes beyond the academic. The encounter between Buber and Zen can enhance both and resolve issues and conflicts within both. Dialogical relationships are a form of engaged meditation. Dialogue and meditation are practices that include both social and individual dimensions. Dialogue is an I-Thou relationship to nature conducted in full mindfulness. It is similar to the non-Itness, or non-attachment as found in Zen. We can say that I-thou is Buber's description of Zen's relationships of mindfulness, no-self and non-attachment. Buber argued that a truly realized religious experience finds its moment of inception and actualizes itself through the process of I-Thou dialogue with the three realms of existence: person with person, man-nature, man-mind. In every true dialogue, the I and the Thou create a space of "between" and in that space God emerges and becomes present as the Eternal Thou. I-Thou dialogue, in contrast to I-It relationships, requires the person to abandon any claims at commodifying the "other". This refers to the "other" in any one of the three realms. A non-commodified world, by its very nature, abandons the prevailing social institutions rooted in materialism and its socioeconomic manifestations. 'Wrong livelihoods" (borrowing from Buddhist terminology), are those activities that foster and sustain a life of attachments and cravings to the samsaric world. In this context, Buber referred to himself as a Religious Socialist. In the Buddhist traditions, Buddhadasa Bikkhu developed the concept of Dhammic Socialism in Thailand. In the West, we find important strands of Engaged, socially conscious and environmentally active Zen, such as the teachings of Thich Nhat Hahn and other fascinating teachers in America. In the general Hindu traditions, Ghandian socialism found a strong voice and some measure of theoretical endurance. I explore how a Buberian dialogical perspective can help shed new light and revive the connections between the practices of a religious life in the here and now, and the societal structures within which religious life becomes actualized. I work with the concept of non-dual relationships and equate that with Buber's concept of the "between". The idea can be subsumed by establishing that the purpose of life, or the Logos in Viktor Frankl's terms, is to say Thou to the three realms, and to be very careful not to expect nor demand a reciprocal turn. This is the difference between encounter and dialogue. I am interested in articulating ways to express or actualize a deep sense of enlightenment (in Zen's terms), or of dialogue with God (in Buber's terms) in the lived concrete. Since God is not an "it" but the "eternal Thou", Buber wrote that we can't say anything about God but we can address him. Similarly in Zen we can't speak about enlightenment but we can live it. The point of connection here is the practice of dialogue. Saying Thou with the whole of being and to the whole of being, is the practice of the mind's awakening into a state of enlightenment. To be able to actualize or practice enlightenment one must say Thou with the whole of being to the whole of being. The practice of Dialogue is enlightenment and is the result of enlightenment. Provisional Chapters: 1. Introduction: The principles of Dialogical Ecology. The Religion of the Moment of Inception. 2. Buber and Buddha: The Between. 3. The Moment of Inception: God in The Between. Enlightenment in The Between. 4. Religious Practice: Dialogical Relationship and the Emergence of God. 5. Religious Practice: Orthodoxies and Heterodoxies: Religious Alternatives and Alternatives to Religion. Great Faith, Great Doubt and Great Determination. 6. Religious Practice: The Worship of No-Worship and the Prayer of No-Prayer. A non-Institutional, Relational-based Practice for a Religious Life. 7. Religious Practice: The Canons versus the Moments of Inception. 8. Ordinary Mind. Ordinary Dialogue. 9. Time as Liberation: the Concept and the Practice of the Sabbath 10. Dialogical Community for its own sake: Enlightenment, The Sangha and Religious Socialism. Experiments and Experiences 11. Conclusions: God, Liberation and the Dialogue of the Whole of Being with the Whole of Being. Sample chapter. This is a brief introduction to the concept of Dialogical Ecology. It seeks to use no language associated with any particular religious practice, but as you read this text, it becomes obvious that it failed to do so. It does not delve into the book’s topics of Zen and Buber, that is left for the subsequent chapters, but it is fully imbued by the teachings. The following are some notes and thoughts to help us guide our thinking: Community: A Havurah (community of friends) or a Sangha (Buddhist community of friends) is not a temple nor a worship group or a prayer circle. Sometimes, however, they become just that. A Dialogical community is not lead by priests nor by any other type of formal or informal clergy. If you meet your leader on the road, just walk around and pass him/her by. No one can lead anyone anywhere in the realm of the spirit. A community may meet in people's homes or chose other outdoors or indoor places. A community uses the Sabbath-days and other communal occasions (holy-days) to gather together to explore and celebrate communal moments of inception. We believe in a religious practice outside and beside canonical codes, a faith practice that is not centered on texts, rituals, clergy or temples. Orthodoxy and Heterodoxies: Dialogical Ecology explores practices of religious life and celebration, outside and beside conventional rituals and canonized scriptures. Together, the community, chooses and designs their our own practices, their own prayers and their own celebrations. The aim is to by-pass conventional religion in order to point directly at the core of our religious experience and faith-identity. Every religious reformation in history was based on modifying texts and rituals. While that may be a good thing, a dialogical practice does not want to be based on texts and rituals, whether old fashion or newly adapted to fit present-day conditions. The point is to avoid that which we view as the principal error of the various reformation movements: we do not wish to replace one kind of canonical theology for another kind of canonical theology. The issue is our rejection of "canonisms" per-se, that is, our move away from any kind of codification of religious experiences. It is beside the spiritual point to replace one canon for another "better" or more acceptable-to-the-times version. The idea is to replace all canons with the practice of the moment of dialogical inceptions. Changes to an orthodoxy become, over time, new orthodoxies. An orthodoxy is an orthodoxy, and a prayer-book is a prayer-book, and it makes no true spiritual difference replacing some of the "not-as-nice" wording found in old prayer books, or adding or removing age-old embedded terminology and symbols in order to manufacture more acceptable sounding sacramental discourses. A canon is the system of "what's-always-been-there", and that is the case, whether it was there since times immemorial or was just recently added. When it comes to a true religious perspective, we make no distinction between content and method. The issue for us is the method called orthodoxy and that method applies in all branches of every institutional religion. Every branch is an orthodoxy. On Religious Practices: Therefore, the difference is in the method or practice of religious life in the here and now, in every moment and every place. Our practice is different in that we define the concept of practice in a different way. Practice should grow from a community that explores the moments of inception, and community should grow from that dialogical practice. Worship is what one does outside the temple. Temples are always too small or to big to house God. It makes no difference. We should change society in order to practice and we should make the change of society the key to our practice. The religious community of friends is non-hierarchical and non-bureaucratic. We value the differences that emerge within equalitarian practice. This is not a "spiritual" community, for we know not what a "spirit" is, nor even if the term "is" applies when speaking of spirits. We recognize within us the infinity that is contained within the boundaries of the unity we call body-mind. God does not belong to the domain of religion. We concede spiritual matters to religion, but life we keep for the realm of life. God belongs to the Between, it is not in heaven or earth, it is between You and I. We'd like to suggest some new ways of thinking or approaching the core concepts of our religious faith. We reject any institution or person's authority to name, define and own the faith contents of a religious faith. No arbiters of genuine faith need apply. The embodiment or actualization of religious practices need not always be translated into rituals and liturgies. The daily life, the “ordinary mind” life is the actual liturgy that embodies or actualized a profound and vital religious life. The life of dialogue is likewise the life of ordinary presence in the world. On God: God is a question we ask. God is a question we don't answer. God is not a thing, in other words, God is no-thing. God is what it is and we won't give it a name (the Hebrew acronym YHWY...) An apt way to put it is thus: Miguel de Unamuno once wrote that some people suffer from headaches, while others suffer from stomach-aches or heart-aches… we, in turn, suffer from god-aches. We must always ask ourselves: Do we love God or what we love is the idea we have of God? Do we love God because we have made Him/Her/It into a useful super-tool to satisfy our own needs? The concept of "le-shma" (non-commodifying) is a powerful Judaic idea. On the Sabbath: We consecrate (mekadshim: set-aside) the day of the Sabbath. Sabbath is the most genial creation amongst the Jewish intuitions of holiness. We recognize the Sabbath as the core of our faith practice, only we do not understand the Sabbath day, its holiness and its celebrations, in the conventional religious way. We do Sabbath differently. Sabbath is the day of “pure land”. We are commanded not to say “it” to anything or anyone during that entire day. We celebrate the Sabbath with a holy intent (kavannah), and it is this holy intent that points our way to a holy practice. The Sabbath is not holy time because the holy-book anointed it so. While we deny the divine authorship of the holy-books, we recognize our own ability to consecrate the day (in Hebrew: LeKadesh, setting-aside as a holy time) and imbue upon it a divine character. We are the ones who makes the Sabbath holy. For us holiness is the way we live the time of Sabbath rather than the way we worship during that time. We uphold the holiness of the day by performing holy actions, by doing and thinking and feeling holiness. A community gets together to perform the old fashion commandments of community service, making weekly commitments to deeds of public good and reviewing our deeds together the next Sabbath. Communing with nature, arts, music and creativity, and communing with each other. We celebrate the Sabbath also by culminating the gatherings with a kiddush, a communal meal. Like the poet wrote, how wonderful it is to have brothers and sisters sit together and enjoy a seudah (a feast!) Isn't it a holy deed to sometimes enjoy our communal Sabbath kiddush inviting to our table the poor of our community, sharing the gladness together with the weaker amongst us?. Can you count the blessings of Sabbath holiness that is spent together with the needy of our people? all are welcome because our people are all who enter with us into the holiness of the Sabbath. On Faith: We distinguish between beliefs and faith, and we choose faith. We distinguish between religion and religiosity, and we choose religiosity. We distinguish between rituals and practice, and we choose practice. We distinguish between conventional-petitional-prayer and the dialogical encounter of the I with the eternal Thou. We chose dialogue. Religiosity is a relationship between a person and the god that emerges in dialogue. Religion is a relationship between a person and an institution. Belief requires evidence, faith requires uncertainty. Only by suspending belief can we deepen our faith. In a general sense, we distinguish between the process that lead to creating religions, and the creative process of religiosity. We choose to engage in the creative process of religiosity, in the dialogical moment of inception. We believe that creativity is an individual and communal process. The creative process of religiosity includes all aspects of faith practices. On Holy Books: The belief in the divine authorship of the canonical texts, or of any other creedal book, is a belief we cannot share. We love our historic texts, but we do not worship them. Our relationship to the text is genuine, but we make sure not to turn the text into an idol. One can be idolatrous in one's approach to every object in the world, including God. For that to happen however, we'd first need to make God into an object. But God is not an object, so we can't do that. We dialogue with the text and we keep our stand in the world as the text does the same. We don't tell the text what it is it should be telling us, we believe in freedom of expression for the text! And we also don't allow the text to tell us what it is we should hear it say, we believe in freedom of hearing (shema!) for the community of faith. On Prayers: When it comes to praying, we explore our own personal and communal approaches to verbal and non-verbal-prayer. Prayer is the way we live and the actions we undertake. What words and actions we choose as prayers, who we direct our prayers to, what it means to practice that which we pray? We believe that one is what one prays and that one prays what one is. “Is” is a tricky term, but that’s what's so wonderful about conceiving prayer as an existential, rather than a ritual act. Prayer is an action, is the way one lives in this moment and in this place. We don't celebrate events, we create events by celebrating. In a deep sense, we pray to ourselves for we are the hearers and we are the responders to our prayers. On Worship: Conventional worship/practice is centered on the text and on the temple and on the priesthood. It is however mostly a textual religious practice. Therefore most reformations throughout history have focused on changes in the text. Ritual changes are basically changes to the language and content of text. Without holding to a faith belief in the text and the rituals emanating from the text, we learn that there need not be institutional ritual-worship in order to have a genuine spiritual practice. What is it that we do? which practices do we engage in when we say that we practice our faith outside and besides rituals and religions? The case is that everything in the world and every moment of our lives are a spiritual practice. Why not, for instance, focus our practice on community service? (tikkun olam). Social engagement --without ascribing hierarchies to different practices-- is particularly important because it helps create the societal context for the emergence of dialogue. Social engagement places us right in the midst of the opportunity for dialogue with our fellow brothers and sisters. Service is offering: we offer ourselves to the world to receive us and we allow the world to offer itself for us to receive it. We seek the worship that emerges in the moment of dialogical inception. Is there Wisdom? There is wisdom in every religion and in every spiritual system. There is also an appalling degree of non-wisdom in every religion and spiritual system. Same applies to non-religious and non-spiritual systems. Unless it is your belief that God wrote that one book, then read them all, or read none, learn from all or reject them all, or what's more important, write it yourself, or even better yet, lets write it together. It is important to reallize than from a Dialogical perspective, the encounter with God is only the first step. It is not the goal or beatifical summum bonum of life. Mystical awareness may be "satisfactory" for the seeker, but the question in Dialogical Ecology is: you found God! now what?! © Hune Margulies, 2008 Religious Communications From a Buberian Dialogical Perspective.
A Proposal For The Implementation Of A Cross-Religious Broadcasting Project For Peace, Conflict Resolution And World-Wide Reconciliatoin.  A paper presented in Ankara, Turkey, at a conference sponsored by Turkey's Ministry of Religious Affairs, 2004. By Hune Margulies, Ph.D., Director, The Martin Buber Center for Dialogical Ecology

Introduction:

Buberian insights into the encounter between religions and cultures could be manifold. I will try to set a Buberian tone by pointing at the distinction between a conversation and a dialogue. Institutions can converse, but only people can dialogue. Dialogue requires the immediacy of presence. I will use the term "god" even though, as Buber said, we know absolutely nothing about God. However, even though we cannot (or should not) say anything about him, we can still address him with the whole of our being. In a genuine dialogue, god is also addressing us, in some form that transcends both our reason and our intuitions. God is not a thing, God is no-thing, and in that sense, it is everything.

Buber was a religious anarchist, and I often refer to his philosophy by saying that dialogue is a teaching outside of scriptures and conventional religious practices, it is a practice pointing directly at the core of being. (of course, paraphrasing here Master Dogen's famous dictum about Zen). The self and god emerge only through dialogue, and dialogue is something we can do every day and every time. The practice of mindfulness as developed in many Zen traditions provides a life-guide into the practice of a life of dialogue.

Buber developed a secular spirituality, a religiosity outside of religion, a sacred space which will find itself limited and constrained within the walls of a temple. Dialogical religious language cannot be expressed through pre-set canonical liturgies.

Buber could be said to have argued for the existential concept of "being the dialogue", that is, dialogue is not something one does, it is something one "is". Dialogue is the encounter of one's whole being with the whole of being. At the moment of the dialogue, the I and the You create a space or a realm Buber called "the between". There, in that between, is where the dialogue takes place, not in the I and not in the You, but in the realm of the between. Whenever there is a genuine dialogue, the eternal You,(God?) emerges and is present in that between.

What characterizes an encounter that is done in Buberian terms? How do we define encounter or meeting in the sense that we are using the term here? Every time we refuse to approach the other as though it were an It, we are approaching it as a You. An It is something we use or manipulate in some form. A You is something we meet but we refuse to use or manipulate in some form. Is this applicable in day-to-day life or in order to live by this we will need to bring it into the confines of a canonized schedule for its practice? Zen and religious-socialism are Buber's answers.

With buber, we can say that If one loves God, one must love everything that God loves. Unless we attribute to God the emotion known as hatred, (a supernatural being who hates is what we call the devil), we must accept that God loves everyone and everything. That should lead us to accept that we must strive for a pact of radical sacred peace between all cultures and religions. Also, the same holy peace should apply to our relationship to the ecological environment. We are not renouncing the fight for just claims or erase our grievances, nor are we abandoning our struggles on behalf of the oppressed and the poor, only we must bring ourselves to accept that the struggle for peace will never be won unless peace is the means for that struggle.

One element that has contributed, albeit in a paradoxical way, to the seemingly endless eruptions of hatred and violence, is the lack of acceptance of each others religions as equally valid and equally legitimate in the eyes of God. For that reason, we have had many institutional conversations over the years, but hardly a genuine religious dialogue. That perhaps is the more the case with the classic Theistic religions. Believers will always believe in the exclusivity of their paths to heaven, and that is often translated as conversion activities leading often to religious strife. We should instead ask of each other to agree to let God, not our clergies, be the one who--through his infinite grace-- will decide if, how and when to open the heart of the unbelievers. Peace will be closer at hand if instead of seeing  other religions as leading their believers down a path of no salvation, we will instead rejoice in the knowledge that God loves everyone and everything and wishes the destruction of none. We need a new liturgy for every person of every religion. If we chose to pray for compassion and peace for every other being, even for those who are of a different religion, and even more for those who are our "enemies", we will find it very hard  to find a space within our hearts where hatred and violence will make a home. We should strive to have all religions and culture create a sacred space of between, a space that is holy and cannot be profaned with violence and hatred. In
that sacred space of the between, the new liturgy will "demand" of God that every being and the whole of being be given peace. Following some beautiful Buberian-Judaic insights, if we pray for the peace of the whole of being, but despite our prayers, we still see humans suffer, the proper assumption to make is not that God just doesn't care. Rather, we should take responsibility and accept the sad fact that the prayers we have personally lifted to God have found no favor in the eyes of God. God decided not to hear the prayers I have addressed to him. A broken hearth in a relationship with God, will only be mended through penance. It is called "Teshuva", a turning back to God, something akin to repentance. The only way to turn back to God is to love as he does, is to engage every human and every being in a dialogical embrace of peace and compassion.

My initial 7 minutes will work, more or less, around these themes..A Buberian pointing to a way of dialogue.

peace to all

All historic religions have always utilized broadcasting to spread out their messages. Obviously the term broadcasting is being used here in a very broad sense. Many of the major religions we know encourage their faithful to spread the word to all corners of the world. In its purest form, the spreading of the message is motivated by the sincere desire to disclose to humankind the one true path for redemption and salvation. While the relationship with God is one that each individual must undertake on his/her own, the sense of compassion overtakes individual bliss and motivates the believer to engage the world in a missionary project. For the faithful, it is God’s will to spread the good news, to send missions and evangelize all peoples. It is therefore the faithful’s duty to announce God’s love for all its creatures and insure that every soul finds the path to its ultimate salvation. In the case of most religions, God’s message was usually transmitted through a chosen individual endowed with particular grace, and through him, to a community of the chosen. Historic religions were broadcasted through the spoken and printed word. The personal contact between the anchor person (or people), the prophet, the holly teacher, and his community of listeners, was and remains the preferred method for spiritual encounter. The message of religion is of such nature that it best finds its way to the root of people’s hearts only when a personal dialogue ensues between messengers and listeners. There can be no substitute for the dialogue between an I and a Thou.

On the other hand, some of the critiques of institutionalized and organized religions argue that the motivating factor behind the broadcasting of the gospels is less about pure intent, as it is about colonialism. Under this view, missionizing stems from a cold interest by the ruling classes to preserve, tighten the grip and exert a solid colonial control over the minds, hearths and bodies of the unsuspecting masses. Financial scandals, the spread of messages of racial hate in the guise of religious teachings, well publicize sexual abuse cases, and other such misdeeds, have given a measure of popular credence to these critical views making the task of religious communications all the more difficult. And indeed, the good news and the bad news spread out quickly and widely, and it is less easy to hide misdeeds and moral failures.  The public reacts and the teachers are exposed in a manner as was never the case in the past .

Since the advent of electronic medias, such as radio, TV and especially the internet, the method of broadcasting, though not its substance, has changed. The new technologies have created an enormous and portentous moment for religious dialogue. Many religious teachers use these new media with more skill than others, comprehending the relative ease with which one is able to reach out live to vast audiences spread out over the entire span of the world. Apart from geographic reach, it is of great consequence the incredible speed of diffusion. From a dialogical perspective, the possibility of a virtually mediated immediacy is a promise that must be explored to its fullest potential. If dialogue requires immediacy and spatial propinquity, virtual dialogue, not being the same, it is, when properly used, a legitimate form of approximation to the dialogical goal. Face to face teaching can, in a sense, be adapted to the virtuality of the medium and implemented without regard to space and time limitations. The potential is enormous and so is the challenge.

While communities located within delineated and circumscribed physical spaces (such as villages, towns, cities, etc.) are better able to materially help the leaders control the contents of the inter and outer flow of information and symbols, the internet is largely outside of the realm of control. In the smaller communities of the past, the attempt to create shining cities on the hills, cities where only the proper messages, symbols, images and sounds were permitted, where the minds and hearts of the young were protected from outside nefarious influences, was much more plausible. Today the issue of semiotic boundaries has all but almost collapsed. The reality of boundaries has completely broken down making any religious leader, preaching from anywhere in the world, a potential leader of masses in any foreign country. With that, also the entire concept of a national church has been eroded. The control to exposure has become very difficult in this globalized, virtualized world. At the same time, the conflict and competition between religious messages has become heightened and dangerously perilous.

Based on Martin Buber’s Dialogical philosophy, I want to explore how simultaneity and synchronicity (virtual face to face) in internet and other electronic broadcasting, if used in the proper way, can become a tool for the restoration and the advancement of enlightened, peace and conflict resolution dialogues between adversarial religious faiths. I want to describe some implications and applications of Martin Buber’s philosophy for issues related to religious broadcasting and communications. We believe that in a world of multiple conflicts, a Buberian methodology and content ought to be made part of the  discourse concerning the nature and role of religious communicative practices. In order to ground our discussion on a concrete application of Buber’s philosophy, this paper will introduce some of the theoretical and practical foundations for an internet and media broadcasting project to be housed at the Martin Buber Center for Dialogical Ecology.

Principles of Dialogical Communications:

We are seeking to implement a broadcasting project on the basis of the operating principles of Dialogical Communications. The general purpose of our broadcasting project is to become a tool for the advancement of world wide dialogue for peace and reconciliation (is dialogue a means or the end). Dialogical Communications is not only a matter of the content of the broadcast but also of the method of broadcasting. Dialogue requires that we view the method of broadcasting as part of the content of what's being broadcasted, and that the content of the broadcast be reflected in the institutional method of broadcasting. Therefore we identify the following four as the operating principles for a dialogical broadcasting project.

1. Dialogical communications are to be approached as a form of relationship. A dialogical relationship is always open, direct, mutual and reciprocal.
2. Dialogical communications ought to be democratic, egalitarian, horizontal and participatory.
3. Dialogical communications ought to be tolerant of otherness, diverse, pluralistic and ecumenical.
4. Dialogical Communications must be non-dogmatic, inquisitive and exploratory.




Discussion:

The term Dialogue, as Martin Buber coined it, represents that realm in which an I encounters a Thou in an immediate and reciprocal basis. This encounter creates for the I and the Thou the new realm of the between. The between, by definition, can only emerge from within a genuine mutual and reciprocal I and Thou relationship. It is in Buber’s between where we can locate the foundations for all ecological and religious ethics. In the between there is no isolated I, there is only the relationship, the dialogue. In contrast to the relational category of I and Thou, Buber also posited the opposite category of the I-It relationship. If I-Thou is characterized by genuine mutuality and reciprocity, I-It is the relationship of utilitarianism, manipulation and commoditization (one sided, monological, even enlightened monologue, as is of particulr relevance to the subject of electronic speech) For Buber there is no I per se, only the I that speaks Thou or the I that speaks It, and in each of these two cases, the I is radically different. The I exists only as part of the dyadic pair of the I-thou or the I-it. For Buber, It relationships are a requirement for individual and societal life, however, the imperative is to endeavor to minimize the realm of the It so as to enable an increase the reach and scope of dialogical relationships.

In Buber’s terms, there are two basic attitudinal categories with regards to the encounter with the other: I-Thou and I-It. There are, for Buber, three different realms of otherness with whom man enters into relationships: the realm of Nature, the realm of Man and the realm of the Spiritual (art). One can related to each of these three realms in either one of the two relational modes, as an I-Thou or an I-It. Relating I-Thou to any one of these three categories of otherness transforms that relationship into a conduit for the insertion of the presence of what Buber calls the Eternal Thou, or God. Eternal Thou does not refer to an ontological category of  infinite and everlasting divinity. Eternal Thou is that encounter in which the presence of the other never becomes an It, nor it ever speaks It to its Thou. It is a genuine and “holly” between. For Buber, every I-Thou relationship extends its lines of meeting reaching an encounter with the presence of the Eternal Thou. Encounter with God passes through every dialogical relationship with men, nature and the realm of the spirit. In other words, to approach God as a Thou, rather than an It, we must speak Thou to the world. Since God can never become an It, there can be no relationship with God outside of a dialogical relationship with the world as a whole. In Buber’ terms, an It is generally defined as an object serving a specified utilitarian role or a reified purpose of the user. An It, is an object for use, it is a commodity. In contrast, a Thou refers to a open, non-manipulative, and fully reciprocal relationship. Dialogue is the categorical opposite of relating to the world as a commodity. Speaking Thou is taking a stand against reification, manipulation or exploitation.

For Buber there is a distinction between being an individual and being a person. Personhood emerges only in the context of a genuine dialogical relationship. In the I-It, the I is that of an individual, in the I-Thou, the I is that of a person. According to Buber, both the isolated I and the massified We, are illusory categories of identity. There is only the I of either the I-Thou or the I-It pair. In Buber’s terms however, the I of the I-Thou continuum constitutes genuine personhood and the higher level of ethical relationship. By defining personal identity as emerging only within the context of a dialogical relationship, the nature and character of that relationship assumes a value that goes beyond the demands of the ethical.

The ethics of Buberian dialogue is the same as the ethics of Spinoza’s loving- knowledge of God-Nature. Spinoza’s “amore intellectualis Deus” is the expression or manifestation in the praxis of human existence of the path for a secularly sacred loving ecological relationship. In the same vein, the Psychiatrist Victor Frankl, has also argued that human realization can only be attained through the logos or purpose of self-transcendence. That is, to the extent that the self is oriented not inwards, but dialogically towards the other, it becomes possible for the I to attain true ontological identity. In Buddhism, the concept of compassion approximates this conception of dialogical self transcendence. For Buddhism, the human attitude should introspectively direct itself towards the core of selfhood that lies within, not inside and not outside, but within, and at the same time, from that point of selfhood, direct oneself toward the inter-personal compassionate attitude towards the other. In different terms also Levinas defined personhood in terms of the orientation towards the other. Some criticisms have been lodged against these general concepts of identity. Social Ecologists, like Murray Bookchin, have argued that self-realization, at least as argued by Arne Naess and his Deep Ecology, misses the point by emphasizing the self, a predicate which does not account for the fact that selves are constructions in the wider context of cultural practices. Critics also claim that this type of religious ethics seems to be working out of a Cartesian notion of autonomous selves. It is in this context that Buber's derivation of identity from within relational situations provides a fruitful ecological and religious model of identity. Buber does not work out of an isolated individual I, an I that is able to engage in “enlightened monologues” of self realization through ethical behavior. For Buber the self is a predicate of a relationship and that relationship must be of the I-Thou type. In general, we can say that the intellectual task for religious communications is to incorporate an ethics of self realization through dialogue. (Gabriel Marcel, Teilhard de Chardin, Jaspers, Heidegger, Gadamer, Habermas, Heidegger, M. Bakhtin, Paul Tilich, Reinold Neibhur, Karl Barth, etc.)

Buber attempted to discern the “political” conditions under which non-utilitarianist social relations will acquire a probability of becoming applicable. For that purpose, Buber argued in favor of a “religious socialist” society. Buber introduced social concepts drawn from Gustav Landauer’s libertarian communitarianism in order to exemplify a possible application of dialogical attitudes in the realm of society’s here and now. Not unlike the Mahatma Gandhi in India, Buber argued that the dialogical principle, when applied to the functioning of society as a whole, finds its application in the establishment of autonomous communal societies, themselves federated into larger autonomous cooperatives. For Buber, ecological ethics are grounded on the demand to establish a dialogical community, that is, on the claims that this type of dialogical community imposes on the relational behavior of its members towards each other. To structure a dialogical community it is first required to establish a context of ethical relationships towards the natural world. Ecology is a broader concept than environment, therefore, taking human society as a component of the ecological whole, the first principle of dialogical ecology is that the kind of personal and societal relationships we ought to adopt towards the environment, are, at prima facie, dictated or informed by the kind of inter human-relations that will need to be employed during the course of the operations of that given set of relationships towards the environment. Community precedes environment, but there is no community without environment. If community is the antecedent or a priory fact, then the subsequent fact of ecology follows as logical corollary. For dialogical ecology, our attitude towards nature is informed by the ensuing structure of social relations that it engenders. A Buberian dialogical ecological ethics therefore is predicated by its derivative social relationships. When asked how our relationship to nature ought to function, the answer is that it depends on the requirements or the claims imposed by that relationship on the structuring of relationships within the community. It follows that for the purpose of pursuing a dialogical society, we must first pursue a dialogical relationship to nature. The requirements or claims that the commodification of nature imposes on the relational structure of society, impedes the establishment of genuine dialogical relationships between the members of that society. Other ethical approaches to nature, such as Leopold’s land ethics, the intrinsic or embedded values ethics, Arne Naess’s deep ecology, the Buddhist-Zen sense of awe and respect towards the life of all sentient beings and the majesty of the inanimate natural world, all constitute legitimate approaches to environmental ethics. All are also part of dialogical ethics. However, instead of focusing its attention on the relationships between an individual person and his immediate environment, dialogical ecological ethics grounds its approach on the reciprocal existential dependency and relational interaction between society and nature.

When studying Buber, it is important to make an analytic distinction between different kinds of encounters. Some encounters are dialogical while others may not reach that level. Regardless of that distinction, according to Buber all real life is encounter. It is therefore the approximation to those kinds of encounters where dialogue is made possible that the relational orientation of man should be guided towards. Buber speaks of the narrow ridge through which man must find his way in daily existence. If we picture one shore of the ridge as the Thou and the other as the It, the goal and hope of man is, without fear, to walk through that hard and often disappointing path leading from the shore of the It to the opposite shore of the Thou. For Buber, the orientation towards the Thou is that which alone makes for a life with meaning. Most of the time man finds himself somewhere in between the two shores, this far from the It, and that close to the Thou. The purpose of humankind is to walk through the narrow ridge until reaching that point nearest the shore of the Thou. The increase in the space provided to the Thou means reducing the scope and reach of the realm of the It in all affairs of human life and society. Buber was convinced that a religious socialist society was the best embodiment of his dialogical community. Buber’s Religious Socialism found evidentiary examples in the formation throughout history of different kinds of intentional human associations. Intentional societies are not only face-to-face communities and communes, but also cooperatives of production and consumption as those advocated in the programmes of the so-called utopian socialism, and, more recently, in the model of the Kibbutz, a societal form that for Buber was close to the dialogical programme. A dialogical community is formed in the relation of each person with his fellow person and in the relationship of all persons together towards a living or vital center. Buber saw in the Hasidic community such as model of interconnectedness. I argue that a community’s dialogical ecological ethics, can also constitute that living center around which a dialogical community is able to emerge.

Buber’s dialogical ethics can also be found in Kant’s imperative to treat each individual always as an end, never as a means, or in Buber’s terms, as a Thou instead of on It. Buber spoke out from within the Jewish tradition and his work is steeped in the search for dialogue with other religious traditions.

The Broadcasting Project:

It is in the context of the dialogical imperative, that our broadcasting project was conceived. Our broadcasting project is primarily an internet based program. Our project provides for a threefold dialogical flow in which live simultaneous panels of religious teachers will dialogue amongst themselves, will dialogue with individual questioners, and the questioners will dialogue amongst themselves. The flow of information will be reciprocal and bipolar. The broadcast will operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, featuring an on-call live panel of diverse religious teachers from all major religions and from around the globe. The dialogue will always be focused on a particular subject or topic elicited by a given question posed to the panel. All questions will be simultaneously distributed to and answered by each religious teachers on the panel, affording the questioners a response stemming from all religious perspectives (version: questions posed to the pannel by a moderator and the debate than ensues with occassional questions from the audience). There will be no central  location where the teachers will be gathered, but instead we will create a virtual Gathering Hall to which each teacher will be connected through a dedicated server. The teachers on the panel will be connected to each other and to the world outside.
As questions are posed to the sever, a search technology will help categorize, classify, filter and moderate the questions. Questions will pass through the search process according to algorithms that include key words, subjects, names and titles, and delivered simultaneously to each teacher in the panel. Each teacher will then post the answer on the server. All the questions and all the answers will be archived in perpetuity, and each questioner and teacher will be prompted to search previous communications. The site’s archive will become the largest repository of comparative religious dialogue in the world. Questioners will be able to ask questions on all topics of personal, communal, political and theological import. Questions concerning health issues, psychological and physical concerns, emotional states of mind, advice on relationships, guidance on business, spiritual quests, parental counseling, political activism, peace and war, all questions will be accepted and dealt with as each member of the panel gets the messages delivered to their respective screens. As questions arrive, answers will be provided at more or less the same time, offering thus a perspective that is both comparative and global and giving also the teachers on the panel a chance to have a focused conversation with each other. In this process it is hoped that more commonalities and mutual understandings will be found, more agreements rather than discrepancies.

When disagreements are found, we believe that given the nature of this proposed medium, the dialogue amongst the teachers insures the availability of the means for clarification and hopeful resolution. How disagreements are resolved through dialogue is one of the most important goals of this project. Of course, we’re aware of the fact that some issues will not and cannot be resolved. Nonetheless, one of the premises of this project is precisely the need to openly share and deal with disagreements. This project intends to demonstrate that an organized dialogical procedure can and will bring mutual tolerance. It is our belief that the combined effects of this worldwide global panels of dialogue will harness the power needed to prevail in the respect of otherness and in the formation of an attitude of respectful disagreement and peaceful tolerance of diversity. This, after all, is a poly-everything globalized and diverse world and there is no other hope for human and ecological survival than a dialogue in the name of humankind’s higher purposes. The ultimate goal of this project is to make a dialogical contribution to conflict resolution at the level of religious teachers based anywhere around the world. It is our belief that the application of Buberian principles to the broadcasting of religious teachings can serve as an important tool in the struggle to increase peace and conflict resolution in our increasingly globalized and conflicted religious world.

Our project will begin as internet based and will expend into a radio program on the Public Broadcasting System with a simulcast on the internet. The internet session will be on for 24 hours a day with shifts of religious panels changing every few hours. We will also broadcast via local access and cable TV stations. Transcripts of the sessions will be published in journal format and distributed to public libraries and to subscribers around the world.

The implementation of this project will progress in stages. The first stage is for us to embark in the identification and recruitment of recognized, able and willing religious teachers from all faiths, all cultural traditions and from around the world. Teachers must commit themselves to the principles of dialogical communications. In order to do begin the process of recruitment, we first need to identify a worldwide board of directors committed to the realization of a broadcasting project for the advancement of religious peace dialogue. To identify the proper board members and subsequently the proper teachers, we will conduct a world-wide search and engage in intensive research. We will call for nominations and interview candidates. We will actively solicit worldwide nominating referrals. We will also expect that board members will nominate teachers. In addition, we intend to also approach international bodies, institutions and prominent people. We will approach governments, universities, intellectuals, artists, authors, philosophers and NGOs. We will also encourage each religious teacher to nominate a colleague, hopefully, from a different religion with whom they’ve already maintained a sustained dialogue in the past. Our task will be to identify a sufficient number of qualified teachers to operate the site on demand, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Recognizing that teachers may have different levels of prominence within their communities, as well as varied levels of seniority status, we will endeavor to provide an equal match within the panels. As we identify the teachers, training will be provided in the intricacies of the technologies and in the requirements of the communicative principles of the project. We will hire very qualified webmasters and expert communications trainers. Throughout the lunching of the site, we will encourage religious seminars and schools around the world to train their students as potential dialogue teachers and to use our site as a resource for peace and dialogue within their own local communities, in every country of the world. For schools and seminars, the approach we hope to encourage is that of a ministry of dialogue to the world through our internet program. While this recruitment process is under way, we will act to procure the most advanced adequate technology necessary to operate the site. The required technology must be able to provide two separate functions: a search engine to classify and filter incoming questions, and a chat mode that permits for ease of open and public dialogue between the teachers, between teachers and the questioners, and between the questioners amongst themselves. Archival storage and file search technologies will be made available. A very important aspect of this project is to make it free of any charge to the users, and advertisement free. For that purpose we will need to identify sources of basic funding and support. We will hope to obtain funding from philanthropists, foundations, governments and from private memberships around the world. The site will operate strictly as a not-for-profit project devoted to the encouragement and implementation of a cross-religious dialogue for peace, conflict resolution and world-wide reconciliation.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, it is our firm belief that a real time live and genuine dialogue, in contrast to the conventional model of time- lapsed debates, coupled with a focused simultaneous engagement with same subjects, one and the same at a time, in contrast with the more frozen conventional multi-thematic approach, holds the promise of creating real human encounters, the encounters that alone can lead to human realization and with it, to world wide peace and reconciliation.  By implementing a dialogical communicative project we will be avoiding the many pitfalls of conventional broadcasting. Dialogical communications will provide a creative alternative to the non-democratic, one sided, top-down models of conventional broadcasting.  The principles of democracy, mutuality, tolerance and pluralism will be tested in this project. The skills of the webmasters and the wisdom of the elders will make this site a beacon of light unto the nations.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
I've been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

Thumbs up, and keep it going!

Cheers
Christian, iwspo.net

hune margulies, ph.d. said...

thank you for your comment. we have switched to a different blog-site where we have consolidated various different postings: http://dialogicalecology.blogspot.com.

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