Like many streams flowing into one huge, polluted river, personal and national problems are now merging together as globalization intensifies. Yet the egocentric and nationalistic mentality, to one degree or another, continues to rule, as if there is no other choice or possibility.
Is there anything that ordinary folks can do to affect the consciousness of humanity, in however small a way, without being part of individualistic and tribal mentality/emotionality? Or does stepping out of the herd inevitably mean one will be trampled?
Wherever you are in the world, experiment with enquiry. Sit down with a friend or two, and ask questions pertaining to the whole of humanity. Don’t deny or diminish one’s individuality and personal life, but try to see them in the context of something larger.
All decent people yearn to be part of something larger. In point of fact we are part of something larger—call it human evolution or history—but we usually don’t see it. Meditative dialogue is a way to uncover and discover the larger context, and contribute to the present and future of humanity.
Simply and concisely, meditative dialogue means holding a space and only asking questions, while listening deeply for the sound of insight, which is always of the moment and can come from anyone. Insight has distinctive ring, and one can learn to hear it and attune to it. In doing so, the reactive, conditioned mind stops and gives insight its due, rather than pushes on with the mundane meaninglessness of solely personal lives manipulated by the guardians of the social disorder.
In questioning together, when someone feels they have an insight, they pose it as a question for further consideration. The circle questions the questions and questions the insights. It’s fun when it flows. In this way people are really thinking together, without investment in beliefs, opinions, experiences and points of view.
Insights arise from the questioning process, which unfolds in a natural and informal way. It isn’t Jeopardy, but it is a kind of play, done for its own sake. Meditative dialogue isn’t therapy, but it is therapeutic. Wholeness heals.
One goes from the whole to the particular, from love of humanity and the earth to love of one’s nation and family, not from love of one’s family and nation to love of humanity. That way has dead-ended, and continuing with it will finish humanity.
Finding questions that resonate with two or more people is the first step. The right question is like striking a tuning fork. It has an unmistakable resonance, though one has to listen carefully to hear it. When the questions of friends thinking together yield insight, it’s like hearing a few notes of a symphony playing great music. One’s entire being reverberates.
For example, an enquiry I had with a friend today began with a question about depression and depressiveness. Sarah (not her real name) was feeling a “deep flatness of feeling,” so we asked together: Beyond the personal content and background, what is the source of depressiveness?
We asked some questions that didn’t resonate, and then one of us asked: Is depressiveness related to unfelt, unexpressed and misdirected anger? Suddenly the territory opened up, and Sarah spoke of how, especially for girls and women, “anger is not an accepted emotion, accepted behavior.”
She went on to say, “After all, women don’t go to war, men go to war; women don’t play football, men play football.” That’s changing, as women are demanding the right to fight in wars, as if that’s an advance.
“Even so, girls and women are still conditioned that the very emotion of anger is bad,” Sarah said. “I read recently that women are like volcanoes that erupt, and then they are dormant, only to erupt again… is that because they aren’t allowed and don’t allow themselves to directly experience the human emotion of anger?”
That rang true. So, is turning anger on oneself, without feeling the anger at all, feed depression and depressiveness?
That struck a chord. Then we asked: What is the source of the anger?
“Feeling I am nobody,” Sarah said immediately. Is that feeling more of an existential gender trait…do girls and women feel that more than boys and men?
“Yes, I think so,” she replied, “girls often still feel they matter less than boys, even though women are often dominating now. What a contradiction!”
In meditative dialogue the questioning ball is kept rolling and gathers momentum. Each person in the group (whether two or 20—about the maximum number) listens deeply and refrains from giving their opinions or citing their experiences every much. “What is the question?” is the first and ongoing question. There is no answer, just questions, and the insights that arise, with listening and care, from them.
In other words, meditative dialogue implies checking our egos at the door, and creating a protected space to question together and listen for insight without preconception. One views the content of one’s experience and conditioning as source material, not as foundational, and asks questions in themselves, for their own sake, without putting the self at the center.
To the extent we see ourselves as dividuals, we contribute to the division and fragmentation that is destroying humanity and the earth. To the extent we question and ignite insight together as individuals, we contribute to the harmony of humanity and the healing of the earth.