1st Dialogue Workshop in Turkey

Expected day of this year is coming...As a partner of DIA-FCC project, we will perform our first DIALOGUE on the 17th of December, 2011. My DUO partner is PETER SEIER and the workshop language is English. It will be supervised and evaluated by DR. HEIDEMARIE WÜNSCHE PİETZKA.

The workshop consists two parts : Introduction of the dialogue and the DIALOGUE itself. At the introduction part we will make participants aware of the distinction of "dialogue" and "discussion", then inform them about David Bohm, the necessity of dialogue and the Bohm Dialogue. At the second part of the workshop we will have a dialogue session which is estimated to be about an hour and a quarter.

The photo you see above is the turquoise balls which will be in our session. They were bought by Peter, my DUO, from the Grand Bazaar, one for me and the other for him. It symbolises a strong friendship and flow of meaning between us. We hope that the shared meaning will spread to whole group and emerge a new understanding.

Anyone interested to take part in this activity, I will be pleased to give further explanation on the venue and time where the workshop takes place.



I would very much like to thank to Psychiatrist Professor Kemal Sayar for this eloquent article. For Turkish users here is the link for his web page: http://www.kemalsayar.com/

The wise biologist Humberto Maturana from Chile says : 'If a person tells what reality is to the ‘other’, actually demands obedience. In other words he claims that he has a privileged idea about reality’. From these we are able to see the illnesses of our ‘hearing impaired’ country. One sided thought which ignores whole views expect itself and never hears them, gives no value to other thoughts, claims that it is the only representative of reality, only and only it asks for obedience. Just to spite the ones who say ‘Shut up and listen to me, reality spring to life in my existence’, revitalizing conversation and dialogue is very important these days.

The need for Dialogue

David Bohm is a famous quantum physicist and a philosopher. He cudgels his brain on how people can understand each other and the universe they live in with his book ‘On Dialogue’ that has been recently translated in our language. For dialogue first a system for sharing has to be formed for people to know each other. People who would experience dialogue don’t need to have an aim, and it is not expected from the group to get a result to be put in practice in advance. For this Bohm gives an example:Some time ago there was an anthropologist who lived for a long while with a North American tribe. It was a small group of about fifty people … Now, from time to time that tribe met like this in a circle. They just talked and talked and talked, apparently to no purpose. They made no decisions. There was no leader. And everybody could participate. There may have been wise men or wise women who were listened to a bit more – the older ones – but everybody could talk. The meeting went on, until it finally seemed to stop for no reason at all and the group dispersed. Yet after that, everybody seemed to know what to do, because they understood each other so well. Then they could get together in smaller groups and do something or decide things.
Concepts such as discussion or debate cannot take the place of dialogue. People first need to suspend their presuppositions for a healthy dialogue. In the circle of dialogue; I’m not expressing my thoughts heatedly to the ‘other’ whom I don’t like his thoughts and find him threatening for my existence and furthermore I stop swearing to him. I imagine that I’m at the same boat with him. If there is a fight for existence and non-existence, we will together live or die. We are mirrors for each other, nobody demands each other to change his mind. We only are in need of expressing ourselves and understand the ‘other’ better.

Conviction Rooms

Sometimes the values which are counted unconditional constitute obstacles for dialogue. How can you get in dialogue with the one who says ‘I am the one to define the priorities and constants of this country’? We need to keep up talking. But it’s the effort of understanding and listening that create the feeling of necessities are not so unconditioned. If we listen each other with patience we can grow away from destructive and accurate beliefs and we can notice that our aim is not to suppress the ‘other’ but to survive with the ‘other’.
Dialogue is not about creating ‘conviction rooms’. By approaching others for a deeper understanding, we understand their thoughts and make their thoughts ours.
In the country we live communication circles must be revitalized. We need to start a long term communication with the guiding spirit of remorse and leave prejudices at the checkroom. But unfortunately we are at cross purposes in our country. Bureaucracy ignores altering demands of community and behaves as it is the only shade of ‘unique reality’. Period of obedience is over. It is the period of dialogue. You have to present the ‘other’s voice as precious as yours. Dear peremptory’s voice, maybe you are wrong…What about to have a talk?

Radical empathy

I understand your pain as if I experienced your situation. This is the key sentence of empathy. Martin Buber, the wise Jewish intellectual of the last era, said ‘The inner improvement of human ego, as many presumed, does not emerge with the inner relation we built. It happens by approval of our existence and knowing that we are approved’. We are validated by the acceptance of the ‘other’s. The other side of the relation must be totally enjoyed for the validation of the ‘other’ in order that I imagine what he feels, knows and thinks. I don’t wipe out the distance between me and the ‘other’ by welcoming. I accept that he is unique, different from me and sui generis. I take the risk to encounter his life in his uniqueness and totality. Dialogue is something like this, I open my heart to the difference of the person that I encounter. If the ‘other’ exists by a piece of mine, the relation between people would be a game and dialogue would be an empty fiction. If we need to form a real relation we have to keep a distance and we have to see each other as independent individuals. The soul and the meaning of ego is mutual relationship. You are the one inviting me to presence and I am the one inviting you. When you accept me as the unique person who I am and you encounter me in your uniqueness, we both validate each other. No, we are not role model for each other, we are unique people. We build bridges at the distance between us and get into relation and we strengthen ‘us’.

Recovering by talking

When we encounter the ‘other’, we will not lose our centre and soul. When we see from the ‘other’s perception we don’t lose the possibility to live the relation from our side. We can’t guess the level of anger of the ‘other’ because it can be totally different from our anger. If we take a look at Levinas he says ‘The alteration of the ‘other’ cannot be totally solved’. But we can do this : Now and here we can suffer with the ‘other’. We can share the pain sacrament  as if it is our pain. His face invites me to talk the truth. His face touches my heart. I am the first to receive this message. I have to account for my existence. ‘It is me as far as I’m only answer for’. I get cured when I try to cure you. I take your pain on as if I wipe out my ego, I put your soul on me and I want to understand you.
Turkey can only cure its wounds through relationship. With a responsible morality. Repeating that the reality is relationships and dialogue. With the difficult morality of facing pain together. With the morality of creating a deep sustainable psychological contact. The souls and hearts which have been wounded by the authority don’t want to feel the breeze of another. Only a wounded can heal the ‘other’ in real terms.
There is always hope. No need to shout or be angry. When the deep currents of community start to communicate and realise that the whole story of human being is just related to encounter, something will change in spite of the authority asking for monologue.  We can find the power we need at the noble creation of human being.


Empty Space

“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 do anything, nor to come to any conclusions, nor to say anything or not say anything. It’s open and free. It’s an empty space. The word “leisure” has that meaning of a kind of empty space. “Occupied” is the opposite of leisure; it’s full. So we have here a kind of empty space where anything may come in – and after we finish, we just empty it. We are not trying to accumulate anything. That’s one of the points about a dialogue. As Krishnamurti used to say, “The cup has to be empty to hold something.” David Bohm - On Dialogue
The 2nd Steering Commitee Meeting of Dialogue – Facilitating Creative Communication was held between 14-17 of May, 2011 in Talinn, Estonia. The Project completed its half time life span, and it was just the exact time to take an overview to the issues regarding to the Project;  decisions to be taken and deadlines for  the decisions were discussed. I’m using the word “discussion” which is contrast to dialogue only to attract you.

The desks and chairs were U – positioned facing to a projection screen, a desk of manager and flipchart. Matters were spoken through the day and at the end trainees gave feedbacks. At the feedback we imitiated to sit in a dialogue session where we had obstacles such as desks and the talking symbol could only passed from one hand to other contrary what we do in dialogue sessions- the talking symbol is always left in the middle when the speaker finishes his word. According to the disipline we acquired from Dialogue nobody cut other’s word but only this one was not enough to turn the session to a Dialogue because our conversation became one like “I agree or disagree”. This was a successful experiment to see that a dialogue is not for decision making.
Dialogue is about creating a collectively shared meaning in a microculture. Therefore in a group dialogue we do not decide on issues because decisions occupies one’s mind. Deciding means taking responsibilities. We need to create an empty space in our brains for collectively shared meaning which may be formed within Dialogue sessions.


Core features of Dialogue Process

"A basic notion for a dialogue would be for people to sit in a circle. Such a geometric arrangement doesn't favor anybody; it allows for direct communication. In principle, the dialogue should work without any leader and without any agenda. Of course we are used to leaders and agendas, so if we were to start a meeting without leader - start talking with no agenda, no purpose - I think we would find a great deal of anxiety in not knowing what to do. Thus, one of the things would be to work through that anxiety, to face it. In fact, we know by experience that if people do this for an hour or two they do get through it and start to talk more freely." David Bohm - On dialogue

-          Create a “container”It is a space where it is safe to reveal our deep truths and inquire with the curiosity of a learner into the truths of others. I think this is the room,  the athmosphere and the group created to make a dialogue session.

-          Adopt the stance of a  learnerThis attitude enables us to be genuinely curious and to put aside our cultural conditioning to be “knowers”. The Zen master Shunryu Suzuki had the following formulation : “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.” We have to get over our prejudices and have the excitement of getting to know somebody new.

-          Radical respectI acknowledge the other person in her/his essential being as worthy of respect. Respect is more active than tolerance : to the degree I am able to see the world from the perspective of others. Every human being is special and there could be many things we might learn from each other.

-          Openness I bring an openness for new ideas and other perspectives. I am open to questioning long held habits, assumptions and beliefs.

-          Speak from the heart I speak which truly engages me, that which is truly important to me. I do not speak in order to shine brilliantly, to theorize or to make a speech. I am economical with words. This helps the group to be whole-hearted.

-          Listen deeply I listen  the other person without reservation with empathic openness that invites the other person to reveal in trust her/his unique world. This is all we need to solve the problems, in daily life we do not spend enough time and interest to listen others.

-          Slow down – In dialogue we have the oppurtunity to become aware of where our automatic, knee-jerk mental and emotional reactions come from. Without slowing down our communication process, such transforming awareness is scarcely possible.

-          Suspend assumptions and certainty The differences in our beliefs, assumptions and interpretations provide the fuel for endless misunderstandings and conflicts. In dialogue we practice becoming aware of our assumptions and judgments and holding them lightly in “suspension” so that we can observe and acknowledge them.

-          Practice a spirit of inquiry I put aside my role as “knower” and develop a genuine interest in that with which I am not familiar. I develop an attitude of curiosity, awareness and humility: “I don’t know and I am interested in learning.”

-          Embrace the paradox of differences I become increasingly able to  live in the creative tension that allows that both “this” and “that” can be true. I refrain from doing violence to a situation or a person by forcing it or her/him to conform to my picture of the world. Can you ever imagine a world without color shades?

-          Observe the observer I become a witnessing observer to my own listening and speaking, and in the process my fixed positions soften and transform. “Observed thought changes”-David Bohm


Who is David Bohm?

"I give a meaning to the word 'dialogue' that is somewhat different from what is commonly used. The derivations of words often help to suggest a deeper meaning. 'Dialogue' comes from the Greek word dialogos. Logos means 'the word' or in our case we would think of the 'meaning of the word'. And dia means 'through' - it doesn't mean 'two'. A dialogue can be among any number of people, not just two. Even one person can have a sense of dialogue within himself, if the spirit of the dialogue is present. The picture or image that this derivation suggests is of a stream of meaning flowing among and through us and between us." David Bohm-On dialogue

David Joseph Bohm (1917–1992) was an quantum physicist who studied in the fields of theoretical physics, philosopy and neuropsycology and contributed to the Manhattan Project. He was born in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, Romania and left for USA at the age of 16. He grew in Pennsylvania and studied physics at Berkeley, there he joined J. Robert Oppenheimer's lab and started to work on his doctoral thesis. David Bohm became famous for his work on Plasma Theory-The fourth state of matter and he got an appointment at Princeton University. There he met Albert Einstein and he regarded Bohm as his intellectual successor. His days in Princeton were numbered because of the results of political situations he faced. He moved to Sao Paulo as a Professor of Theoretical Physics. Brazil became the home of former Nazis so he hated being there and decided gladly to go to Israel when Haifa Technion offered him their chair in physics. There he met his wife; Saral and moved to Bristol.

David Bohm was impressed by Jiddu Krishnamurti's philosophical and sociological ideas.  A fruitful exchange between Bohm and Krishnamurti has occured and they wrote the book "The ending of time". Krishnamurti tought that the root of our problems lies in man's quest for security. He asked : "What will make a human mind change? What new factor is necessary for this? Bohm answered:"It is the ability to observe deeply whatever it is that is holding the person and preventing him from changing."

Bohm was disturbed that the two greatest scientist of 20th century; Albert Einstein and Neils Bohr were good friends once but later they became noncommunicable. Einstein was working on relativity and Bohr was working on quantum theory. He thought that if they were in a dialogue they might have listened properly to each other's opinion and moved out beyond relativity and quantum theory. He also saw that this failure was widespread in society either.

In his later years, Bohm wrote a proposal for a solution that has become known as "Bohm Dialogue", in which "equal status" and "free space" form the most important outline specifications of communication and the appreciation of differing personal beliefs. He suggested that if these Dialogue groups were experienced on a sufficiently wide scale, they could help overcome the isolation because he thought that a group about 20 to 40 people is almost a microcosm of the whole society.


A dialogue session-First impressions

"During the past few decades, modern technology, with radio, television, air travel, and satellites, has woven a network of communications which puts each part of the world into almost instant contact with all the other parts. Yet, in spite of this world wide system of linkages, there is, at this very moment, a general feeling that communication is breaking down everywhere, on an unparalleled scale." David Bohm-On Dialogue

Involving in a dialogue session...When we were taken to a dialogue room, I had no idea how it would be. I asked Astrid whether we take any notebooks or pens, she answered no, nothing is needed. The only needed thing was ourselves, totally and only ourselves. We were approximately 20 people in the room where chairs were situated in a circle. At the centre of the circle there was a small round carpet and on the carpet there were a bell, a stone-afterwards it was called talking symbol- and big burning candle. We sat and there was a silence. People generally don't like silence, neither do I. I felt discomforted.

Heidemarie and Michael, called Dialogue Facilitators, sat next to each other and explained what will go on.  A dialogue facilitator is a person who gives short explanation of the subject that the group will talk. Anyone who would like to talk should step to centre and take the talking symbol, anyone who needed silence should ring the bell. When somebody holds the talking symbol the others can't talk. The most important core feature of a dialogue is to listen deeply.

I have met my friends only a few hours ago and we were in a room where everybody could see each others' eyes, faces, sloughs, body language...Just in ten minutes I felt relaxed because everybody was talking from inside. I believe close friends should sit next to each other not opposite, and sitting in a circle made me think that this group will get very close to each other. Think of it : you don't have distractor such as a pen, a notebook, cellular phone, there is no obstacle such as a table, you directly look who's talking. This is the miracle of sitting in a circle. You only concentrate on who's talking and this is the only thing we need for communication.