A Prologue to Entering the ((Seven Stages of Deep Dialogue))
A Prologue to the ((Seven Stages of Deep Dialogue))
Ashok K. Gangadean
Founder/Director of GDI
In preparing now to encounter the Seven Stages of Deep-Dialogue there are a number of intimately related themes and suggestions to keep in mind for maximal effect.
A Meditative Encounter of the Dialogic Narrative: Experiencing the powerful transformation of the Seven Stages
It should be remembered that this narrative of the Seven Stages is not meant to be a mere description (from the outside) of this transformative process of entering into Deep-Dialogue, but a meditation that requires the participant to engage and encounter this process in the First Person and in a direct personal immersion in this progression. This calls for a performative (transformative and prescriptive) engagement of the meditative–dialogic narrative. In this spirit the reader/listener should reflectively experience each moment in this awakening of dialogical consciousness and the Dialogical Self.
What is “global dialogue”? Maturing from /Monologue/ to ((Dialogue))
In addition, it would be helpful to remember that this transformation into the space of ((Deep-Dialogue)) itself evolved and developed in and through the mutual encounter of diverse worldviews in a global context. So ((Global Dialogue)) is specifically focused on dynamics and transformations across and between widely diverse worldviews, religions, ideologies, cultures, perspectives and forms of life. How are transformations possible between widely diverse worldview or “mental ecologies” which are “worlds apart”? What makes sense in one worldview often does not make sense in another world. In a certain sense diverse world are “incommensurable” appearing to have no ((common ground)).
The “grammar” of one world does not square with the grammar of mental ecology of a different world. If one is centered in the “Christian” worldview (already quite complex and diverse) is it possible to truly enter the world of “Buddha”? the world of Yoga? The world of the classical Chinese space of “Tao”? the worlds of science and physics? and so forth. Is true ((dialogue)) possible across and between such widely diverse worlds? Is true “translation” possible between widely variant worlds? Thus ((global dialogue)) is specifically concerned with the rational and human skills of authentic transformations between worlds. This is obviously urgently relevant to issues of peace and conflict resolution in the breakdown of relations between worlds. The ((Seven Stages)) takes us experientially into this challenging global space across and between worlds.
Entering the Experience of ((Deep Dialogue))
Deep Dialogue is the deepest form of dialogue that is called for in the authentic encounter of profoundly different worlds. It is at once the pathway or process of genuine encounter but also the awakening of the Self in its most mature rational, moral and spiritual form. Deep Dialogue is therefore both the process that brings us into the common ground of inter-world encounter and the realization of our highest awakening as human beings: it is at once the means and the end of the creative process of individual and corporate awakening and human flourishing.
Our pathway into Deep Dialogue came through decades of practical experience in a wide range of encounters across and between worldviews – philosophical, religious, cultural, ideological, disciplinary…- across the spectrum of traditions in a global scale. When we step back from the particularity of our own more localized tradition and enter the global space of dialogue between worlds, and actually enter and experience other worlds from within we naturally go through a profound self transformation – there is a dilation of our mind and being into a global perspective that is able to hold very diverse worlds together in one expanded consciousness. And when we enter this integral and globalized space of thought and experience we begin to see startling patterns across worldviews that have been emerging and recurring over millennia.
One startling disclosure in this global perspective, through global dialogue, is that we humans have been in an evolutionary transformation from a rather immature egocentric or monocentric form of life and self-making to a more developed dialogic way of being in which the Dialogical Self matures. This global perspective enables the participant to get a deeper encounter with reality through holding diverse alternative perspectives together. This global or inter-world awareness allows a more holistic or integral encounter with Reality, which apparently is always deeper than any one more localized perspective. The fable about the five blind men and the elephant comes to mind here. Each “blind” person (the person lodged in his/her own localized worldview) touches the elephant (the deeper common ground across and between worldviews) and declares reality to be what he “sees”. The analogue here is that the global perspective enables the awakened mind – the dialogical self – to see the whole, integral reality – to see the elephant as a whole. This is what the deep dialogue awakening facilitates.
So Deep Dialogue is also a technology of thinking or processing reality that reaches a more integral consciousness in the encounter with Reality. One further remarkable disclosure of the global mind through inter-world encounter is the realization that we humans live in and through our worldviews. We process our selves and all our experience thought our conceptual structures or worldviews- we are as we “interpret”, we are as we mind. And when we “mind” in the egocentric patterns the great spiritual and philosophical traditions have seen over and over that all sorts of fragmentation and dualities and polarites are generated. Indeed, these traditions through the ages have concurred that egocentric minding is at the heart of all sorts of human pathologies and dysfunctions, and the origin of all forms of violence to self and other. Whereas, it is found that the more awakened dialogical self is able to recognize itself in significant others, other worldviews, in other perspectives, and this is found to be the heart of moral, rational and spiritual consciousness.
Another vital disclosure in the global perspective is the recognition that there is and must be a primal Infinite Force of Field that is the common origin of all possible worlds and perspectives. And the greatest minds through the ages have sought to excavate, clarify, disclose, name and tap this ultimate source of all life and experience. We find it helpful to use the word “Logos” in its global (inter-world) form for this primal source of all possible worlds. And we find that the awakened dialogical mind (the more spiritually or rationally enlightened Self) enters and centers her life in and from this Unifying integral field of Reality. So what emerges from this primal encounter with the Unified Field of Reality that the Cosmos is dialogical through and through – from the most miniscule micro structure to the greatest galactic macro structure. The global perspective and global mind sees that Reality is a profound dialogical process of dynamic inter-relationality – we exist in a Dialogic Cosmology. And Deep Dialogue is the process of engaging this interactive, holistic process of mutual ever-changing relations.
These disclosures of the global perspective are of course vital for entering the Seven Stages of Deep Dialogue. For it is important here to remember at all times that we humans are always lodged and situated in all sorts of complex dialogical modes which is the fabric of reality itself. So “Dialogue” is much more than mere “talk” or “conversation” – it is the life blood of our existence itself, and in this sense pre-verbal and existential. And this is why an experiential encounter with the Seven Stages can be therapeutic and life enhancing for all participants. Even before we enter consciously and intentionally into the process of Deep Dialogue it is important to realize that we are already in some form of “dialogic existence”. If I am living in more egocentric patterns then I am likely to be situated in certain pathological or dysfunctional patterns of dialogical relations. For example, in situations of breakdown in human relations, in communication, in situation of violence between people, such as in ethnic clashes, this is a dysfunctional or pathological form of existential dialogue. My living relations with self and others produce quite negative consequences that are harmful to my life and my flourishing.
This dysfunctional mode of existential dialogue often happens within my inner life where I already find myself living in complex multiple worldviews or perspectives. For example, in my religious life I am a Christian and believe in God and in the Biblical narrative of Creation. But at the same time I am a physicist, I subscribe to the Darwinian view of evolution, to a materialistic universe, to the Big Bang scenario of the origin of the cosmos, etc. I am also practicing Yoga and see the power of meditating on AUM and experiencing the Unifying power of Breath…etc, etc. If I am not able to cultivate a deep dialogue within, through internal deep dialogue, my multiple worldviews, multiple identities, remain at odds and my life feels fragmented, disjointed and not integral. So inner deep dialogue is vital for becoming a healthy integral whole person who can find unity while celebrating my multiple perspectives and identities. Deep Dialogue awakening helps us to bridge our diverse inner and outer worlds without reducing them to any one privileged “worldview” and through the power of multiplicity and diversity to achieve deeper individuality (non-duality) – to encounter the “whole elephant”
In this respect the process of Deep Dialogue, in recognizing the Dialogical Cosmos of inter-relationalities, sees that Logos or the Infinite Force is the ground and source of genuine dialogue. Logos is the moving force of dialogical life and herein lies the magic and mystery of finding deeper Unity while celebrating boundless Diversity and Multiplicity. For Logos, as the Infinite Source, is infinitely unifying. But this means, because it is infinitely so, infinitely diversifying as well. So boundless diversity is the very signature of Logos, of the infinite ground of the common ground and of the Deep Dialogue process. This why the journey into Deep Dialogue involves powerful transformations from the egocentric self to the Dialogical Person. It is through the process of Deep Dialogue that the egocentric self matures into the dialogic person – into a more developed rational, moral and integral being. And we shall see that the Dialogic Self is profoundly open to its Other which is also at the core of the scientific spirit and the enterprise of critical thinking and knowing.
This becomes clear when we realize that worldviews can be profoundly different – that what makes sense in one world often does not make sense in another. It takes special skills and care to truly transform from one’s own privileged worldview (patterns of processing reality) into the conceptual and experiential patterns of other worlds. For example, someone raised and living in some version of the “Christian” worldview would need to self transform in mentality to gain access to the very different conceptual space of the Hindu worlds or the Buddhist worlds or to certain Indigenous worlds, or the worldviews of the sciences, etc. Once we see this clearly, that worldviews are worlds apart and that it takes special care to be able to stand back from one’s own patterns of interpretation to truly engage other worlds in their terms, this is a vital opening to the process of Deep Dialogue and the pathways of the Seven Stages.
The key point here in preparing to enter the Seven Stages is to realize that there are boundless ways of being in “dialogue” and that not all “worldviews” are equally healthful or conducive to human flourishing. One of the greatest lessons from the enduring spiritual and philosophical traditions is that when we are entrapped within egocentric (anti-dialogical) patterns of life we break violently from the unifying and integral patterns of dialogical living which are more consonant and synchronized with the law-like Logos patterns of Nature and existence itself. So the Deep Dialogical Cosmology recognizes that worldviews are inseparable from our pattern of processing. It makes all the difference whether we are in our “worldview” in an egocentric/monocentric way or in a genuinely Dialogic way. An egocentric worldview tends to reduce other worlds to its own terms of reference and meaning. Whereas a Dialogic consciousness is open to its own perspectivity while truly engaging other worlds and perspectives in their terms of meaning.
This is a premise of the Seven Stages of Deep Dialogue: the inter-world encounters envisioned in this process are presumed to me more healthful ones. In other words, the Deep Dialogue teaching presumes that there are standards of discriminating amongst worldviews as to ones which are conducive to a more healthy dialogical and integral way of being, and those that through egocentric practices are conducive to fragmentation and pathological violence to self and other.
A key point here is that there are multiple alternative authentic worldviews or perspectives in the space of global dialogue which mutually augment and enhance one another in the disclosure of reality. Thus, for example, the dialogical way of processing Christian spirituality may be found to be complemented and reinforced by the dialogical way of processing the teachings of Buddha, or the teachings of the Bhagavadgita, of the teaching of Tao, or even the deepest disclosures of the scientific spirit. Whereas any one of these teachings may be deformed and rendered dysfunctional through the egocentric (mis)-appropriation and reduction of genuine disclosures of Logos.
And this point, which of course is a very touchy and sensitive one, especially in our postmodern times, presumes that Reality is always deeper than any one narrative or perspective or worldview. This is why the global perspective- the capacity to bring together in Deep Dialogical consciousness- a plurality of alternative worldviews empowers us with a greater capacity to process reality through multiple perspectives – inter-perspectivity. Thus, deep in the teaching of Jesus is one version of the Dialogical Imperative- Love one another; Love thy Other as thy Self. The unspoken insight here in this disclosure of the fundamental Moral Law is that the Self and the Other are deeply bound in the Logos, and I come to moral maturity when I find and preserve my Self in my Other. But this is precisely what is at the core of the Buddhist Dharma or Moral law- have Compassion and Care for Other, for all creatures and for Nature – another version of the Dialogical Imperative. Here too the depth insight is the vision of the Dialogical Cosmos- that all reality forms a Unified Field (Indra’s Net) of dynamic interactivity in which all beings are in profound co-arising and mutuality. This is what yields the “Butterfly Effect” is certain narratives of deep causation in Physics.
So one of the key points to keep in mind in preparing to enter the Seven Stages is that the encounter of the Other world is here presumed to be a significant Other that enhances the awakening of this Dialogic Imperative that is the key to becoming an integral and whole Dialogical Person. For this reason the “Seven Stages of Deep Dialogue” is one prototypical pathway into maturing as awakened dialogical beings. But of course there are boundless paths to Awakening the Dialogical Self, as our great spiritual traditions have made clear. The spirit of these “Seven Stages” is to capture certain enduring global insights into stages of this awakening process. In this respect, the “Seven Stages” is for all humans in their quest for Self realization and Personal fulfillment and integral development. There are of course multiple pathways to enter the “seventh stage” of dialogical awakening. But what is suggested here is that whichever path is taken, however one “jump starts” into this awakened moral and rational maturation, the bottom line is arriving at a dialogical pattern of life that is in sync with the law-like unifying and holistic patterns that is the fabric of Reality itself.
Nor is the process of the “Seven Stages” a linear process in time. Instead, these “stages” spontaneously arise in all sorts of complex ways in higher order dialogical and global temporality. The egocentric ways of understanding time and processes are not appropriate in processing the dialogical dynamics of the Seven Stages.
But there is another important hurdle that we face in experimenting with the Deep Dialogue Process specified in the Seven Stages. As mentioned earlier we humans find ourselves lodged and thrown into all sorts of complex modalities of existential dialogue. We may find that we have been oppressed by an Other, a regime or cult or colonial power that has victimized us and dehumanized our sense of self. There are situations where, for example, in chronic ethnic conflicts over generations, the participants are deeply hurt and have lost loved ones. It is easy to feel that in most cases in daily life our “dialogic” situation is too aggrieved, too hurt, too bitter to engage the “idealized” process envisioned in this deep dialogue process. This “complaint” comes up repeatedly in our experiments around the globe in introducing participants to these Seven Stages.
This issue helps to bring out what we have been stressing all along in this prologue to Deep Dialogue. The encounter of the Other at the heart of the Seven Stage process is presumed to be a healthful encounter with a significant Other that genuinely opens the pathways into the Common Ground of Logos. And we have been insisting that all humans, whatever their existential dialogic condition – whether oppressor or oppressed, whether victimizer or victim…- all the more need the healing therapy of a genuine Deep Dialogue encounter to make the humanizing transformation from egocentric life to the life supporting energies of deep dialogic existence. So it is precisely the ones most aggrieved, most feeling victimized that need the healing power of deep dialogue encounter with an Other that opens the pathways to dialogical awakening and Self realization. And of course all humans need this passage from egocentric life to becoming an integral Dialogic Person. Indeed, it is precisely this awakening transformation that the enduring spiritual traditions have found to be the opening to personal empowerment, liberation, freedom and flourishing.
These ((reflections)) are intended to help the participant enter the meditative journey into the ((Seven States)).