The Religious Exploration Salon is a group that meets 3rd Sundays to discuss various topics. In the past the Salon has mainly discussed particular books but for the February meeting of the Religious Exploration Salon we are going to try a new format called Bohm Dialogue and we will consider the one word topic “Justice“. From Wikipedia:
Bohm Dialogue (also known as Bohmian Dialogue or “Dialogue in the Spirit of David Bohm”) is a freely-flowing group conversation in which participants attempt to reach a common understanding, experiencing everyone’s point of view fully, equally and nonjudgementally. This can lead to new and deeper understanding. The purpose is to solve the communication crises that face society, and indeed the whole of human nature and consciousness. It utilizes a theoretical understanding of the way thoughts relate to universal reality. It is named after physicist David Bohm who originally proposed this form of dialogue.
Principles of Dialogue
- The group agrees that no group-level decisions will be made in the conversation. “…In the dialogue group we are not going to decide what to do about anything. This is crucial. Otherwise we are not free. We must have an empty space where we are not obliged to anything, nor to come to any conclusions, nor to say anything or not say anything. It’s open and free” (Bohm, “On Dialogue”, p. 18-19.)”
- Each individual agrees to suspend judgement in the conversation. (Specifically, if the individual hears an idea he doesn’t like, he does not attack that idea.) “…people in any group will bring to it assumptions, and as the group continues meeting, those assumptions will come up. What is called for is to suspend those assumptions, so that you neither carry them out nor suppress them. You don’t believe them, nor do you disbelieve them; you don’t judge them as good or bad…(Bohm, “On Dialogue”, p. 22.)”
- As these individuals “suspend judgement” they also simultaneously are as honest and transparent as possible. (Specifically, if the individual has a “good idea” that he might otherwise hold back from the group because it is too controversial, he will share that idea in this conversation.)
- Individuals in the conversation try to build on other individuals’ ideas in the conversation. (The group often comes up with ideas that are far beyond what any of the individuals thought possible before the conversation began.)
In practice this means that we will sit in a circle with a “talking stick” in the middle. Whoever feels moved to picks up the stick and says whatever they think or feel about the topic while everyone else listens attentively and with an open mind. When they finish they put the stick back in the middle and everyone quietly thinks about what was said for a while. After a while someone else picks up the stick and so on. It is OK to speak more than once or not at all. Unlike Chalice circles it is OK to reference what someone else has said, respectfully express contrasting thoughts/feelings, ask for clarification, etc. In fact it is great if participants can build on what was said before. At around 8:30pm we will end the Dialogue and we will group-evaluate the session on how well we stayed on topic, and adhered to the Bohm Dialogue principles.
Everyone is welcome. You are welcome to think about the topic (“Justice”) beforehand but no preparation is required or expected — come as you are with whatever thoughts/feelings/intuitions you have, ready to listen, learn and contribute. Our next meeting will be on February 16th at 7pm in the Brackett Room.