On Introspection

September 21, 2011

David Bohm, in his essay “On Dialogue“, speaks of thoughts as creating effects, but our minds then deny that thoughts are responsible for these effects. He doesn’t give any illustrations, but I think Marshall Rosenberg gives a clue to what he may mean when he talks about our thoughts being responsible for our feelings – not the action that gives rise to these thoughts. For example, if someone says to me, “You write gibberish in your blog,” I might think, this person is right. Then I would feel depressed. Or I might think that the person who said this is rude. Then I would feel angry. It is not the person’s words that produced my emotion but my thoughts about those words.

Bohm feels that dialogue will bring a person to a place where we recognize the effects of our thoughts. I think we can see that in this instance my emotions might make Bohm dialogue impossible. What is needed, in addition to dialogue. is some type of introspection or meditation. Of course, if I persist in attempting dialogue, introspection may occur spontaneously. Bohm speaks of “proprioception” – meaning “self-perception” – as a product of dialogue. But might not this state pf proprioception come about more easily if there is both dialogue and introspection?

Parker Palmer, in his book A Hidden Wholeness, speaks of “circles of trust,” a process whereby individuals meet in small groups and use open-ended questions to facilitate each other’s introspection. This may be a necessary addition to Bohm dialogue – and Palmer expands on the possibility of using this process in the political sphere in his new book, Healing the Heart of Democracy. He will be presenting a webcast on this on October 11. At Easton Mountain, where I live, we’ll gather to view this webcast.

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