The issues discussed are generally of a political, social, cultural or philosophical nature. Each participant in the dialogue has their individual background of experiences, education and knowledge. However, during the dialogue the group tries to develop a new perspective on the topic, which eventually allows for each participant to yield a deeper understanding of the issue.
It is also about gaining an understanding of the other person’s position. At the end there might be a feeling of “that’s how it is”, or there may be a new conclusion or a refined conception. This conception can bring with it a certain sense of elevation and can become a new foundation for everyday action. That is, provided that the participants in the dialogue are willing to meet in an atmosphere of openness.
Now the question arises, is there really something new going on in the described process? It could be that the outcome of the dialogue only appears to be new, as in a new compilation of old things. That is, each participant has brought into the dialogue a certain part of their ideas, and the group composes a patchwork of them, which appears new in the overall view, but actually consists only of old things.
The question becomes even more concrete when we consider what the dialogue brings about in the individual human being. Does it cause us to rearrange ourselves within our old order and patterns? Do we use the same old instruments to rearrange our old inner world? Or does the dialogue open up the possibility for us to completely give up the old tools and therefore there is the opportunity for something totally different to take place that is not the result of the old?
This consideration places before us the suggestion that in a dialogue something can happen that lies beyond the order of the old, something that is completely new and therefore unknown to each participant in the dialogue in its uniqueness of the moment. Is this really possible?
In order for the space that is created in a dialogue between people to be filled with something new, the old must be emptied completely from this space. That is the whole structure of old opinions, ideas, conceptions, and beliefs that nurtures our psychological world, but not the practical, technical everyday knowledge. So, what does it mean that the old ends?
For the old to end in the psychological space of a dialogue between people, it must end in the space – or to use a better term, consciousness – of the individual person. Now one can ask, what is my relationship to the old consciousness?
People tend to cling to their projected beliefs, concepts and ideas, because of insecurity and fear. Usually in the mind there is a constant process of refinement and adjustment of these concepts as a mechanism to protect the known that gives as sense of security. But even if we have an insight into the limitations and beliefs that are involved in avoiding the truth of what is by pretending and projecting, still the question remains, what does it mean that the old consciousness comes to an end?
Is there an instance in the mind that decides, “This is old and this is new? This can go, this remains?” which the mind therefore controls? Or is the controller also a part of the old and only believes itself to be free of it? The controller is certainly a part of the old, because we evaluate whatever appears in front of us according to old measures in relation to the idea of what is new or better. But the old cannot bring about the new. The new is there when the old is not.
So what does it mean that the old ends? What happens is that one comes to an inner point where one does not know how to go on. Either speculation sets in – which is again a form of projecting – or every attempt to respond from the limited memory of one’s knowledge ends. Then a state sets in where the only answer that remains is: “I don’t know”. For most people, the matter ends there, and thinking continues its work in a different direction. But why is this happening? Why are we moving away from the fact of “I don’t know”?
For the inattentive mind this point seems to be a dead end point, while in fact it is the crossing point from the confused mind to the awakening mind. What is the state of our feeling and being when we recognize deep within, “I don’t know”? Have we ever been in contact with this state without judgment and in great simplicity?
This deep insight into the fact of not-knowing holds a latent feeling of fear, which arises from disorientation and insecurity. Instead of staying with the truthfulness of the fact, the mind usually flees in all kinds of activity such as escape into a distraction, a method or a mantram, to deal with the fear. However, this fundamental fear can only be deeply understood and embraced in the silent truthfulness of unjudgmental awareness. Everything else remains an avoidance of what is; of what we are. Unless this fear is uprooted at deeper and deeper levels, there is always in the unconscious an attraction to explanations and ideas that pretend to provide security. This fear is the root of the inner pretension “I know”.
With the ending of the old fundamental thought “I know”, there begins the deep acknowledgment of not-knowing. Not-knowing, however, is first of all a word. Not-knowing needs to be inquired into. What does not-knowing mean?
Isn’t it amazing to observe that the question “What is not knowing?” leads to not-knowing? This happens when the answer to the question does not emerge from the memory of explanations, but the question itself unfolds in quiet exploration. Doesn’t such a state of not-knowing make the mind completely susceptible?
It is no longer the “I know” that tells the Now what it is. Rather, in not-knowing, the Now can communicate itself unhindered to the attentive mind. It requires us to meet every ascending aspect in consciousness in unconditional awareness. It is this unconditionality that is of love.
When we have the love to encounter every aspect of being in pure awareness, a process of transformation and renewal arises in the truthfulness of what is. Our beliefs about the world, the ideas about ourselves, accumulated securities, ideas and opinions, lose their foundation. The new foundation is the truthfulness of not-knowing.
The mind becomes simple and quiet. The inner hearing and seeing becomes sharper. And unexpectedly a wordless “dialogue” opens up with the creative now. Not-knowing becomes an ever new door for creation that flourishes anew, again and again.
In this way, through a dialogue between a group of people, the possibility opens up for something completely new to express itself in their midst. Not-knowing and dialogue are one.