Read Part 1 The factor that most clearly sets Bohm’s dialogue apart from other approaches (except perhaps Mendell) is the use of the body as the basis for the whole process. Bohm wrote and published extensively on this. It is largely ignored. It is difficult and challenging, and is impossible to become skilled at if you only dabble with it in a dialogue circle. It requires a significant inner commitment, both in and out of the dialogue. Any dialogue group, or program, that does not understand the centrality of the body in Bohm’s approach should not claim any link to Bohm. These are strong words – but they are the truth. Bohm’s dialogue is not about leadership. You will be hard pressed to find that word in any of his writings or recordings. When his dialogue is contextualized in this way, it is a misrepresentation. This is not to say that a link cannot be made – even a valid one – but dialogue is not designed to be harnessed to the horses of leadership. Finding a leadership “link” that has integrity? Difficult, but not impossible. If you find it, that is another step forward. Maybe.
This is Lee Nichol’s response to an e-mail from a colleague of David Peat, inquiring about some Bohmian dialogue issues that had come up in Joe Jaworski’s book, Source. «Bohm’s disappointment with the dialogue approach was not in regard to “facilitators” but with the evolution of the whole process of dialogue as he envisioned it. By this time in his life, he had completely dismissed the idea of facilitator training. His concern was that regular people who had given years to the process – as participants, not facilitators – seemed to be spinning in circles. His conclusion was that people went to dialogues full of ideas about it, but when they were not in the dialogue circle they ceased to do the inner work required to make the dialogue work.
When Bohm moved to Princeton from California, he took a room in the house next door to Einstein. The two men met and became very close. Einstein told Bohm’s fiancée, Hanna Lowey, that he looked on the younger man as his “spiritual son.” Bohm and Einstein had many discussions and exchanges of letters but on one matter they could never agree. Einstein felt that “the good Lord” was subtle but not malicious and therefore it would be possible to eventually uncover the ultimate level to reality – something hidden beneath the quantum and relativistic theories which would be the final theory for physics, the end of its goal. Bohm disagreed. He pointed out that for two hundred years quantum theory had laid hidden under Newtonian physics. Beneath quantum theory would be another, deeper theory, and below that yet another. For Bohm reality was inexhaustible.
Have you noticed that language can so often get us into trouble? We try to say one thing but it can then get interpreted in different ways. This is because language is so subtle. For example when Bohr and Heisenberg explored the nature of the quantum world they asked themselves “what is quantum reality”. Heisenberg’s answer was that it lay in the mathematics. But Bohr objected that every time physicists gather round the blackboard to discuss this mathematics they do so in ordinary language. And the language we speak, be in English, Danish or German, contains all sort of hidden assumptions about the nature of space, time and causality. In Bohr’s words “we are suspended in language so that we do not know what is up and what is down”. Do you agree with this? Is that the way you see the world. Bohm certainly agreed but wanted to go further. He noted that our subject, verb, object languages mirror the world view of classical physics. “The cat chases the mouse”. This has two well defined objects in space and time connected through a verb. This mirrors the Newtonian world view of well defined objects in space and time interacting via forces or fields.
Towards the end of his life Bohm often talked about wholeness and the threats to wholeness posed by fragmentation. He had come to believe that one path towards wholeness of the individual and society lay in a form of dialogue. In this approach around 30 or so people meet on a regular basis with no theme, no goal and no leader. At first their discussions are polite and avoid controversy, at the same time a level of trust builds. Then as the dialogue continues it becomes possible for more controversial topics to come up and for people to get more emotional, it is at this point, Bohm believed, that dialogue has begun to work. Bohm held that each of us have a number of fixed non-negotiable positions. If we meet someone with the opposite position then either we avoid that topic or we engage together to the point where the relationship ruptures.
Now we come to one of the key figures who was to influence one aspect of Bohm’s life, Jiddu Krishnamurti. As a young man Krishnamurti had been discovered by Annie Besant and hailed as the reincarnation of one of the great world teachers. He was placed at the head or the Order of the Star. However Krishnamurti dissolved the organization declaring that “truth is a pathless land”. However he continued to give teachings in Ojai, California, Brockwood Park, England, and in Switzerland. Bohm became interested in Krishnamurti and arranged for an initial meeting in London. During their conversation Krishanmurti greeted Bohm with great enthusiasm as the two men soon became very close. Bohm became closely involved in the Krishanmurti School and Brockwood Park and the two men had many discussions together which were tape recorded, transcript and subsequently published. He saw parallels between their ways of thinking. From quantum theory Bohm knew that during a measurement “the observer is the observed”, for his part Krishnamurti taught that “the thinker is the thought”.
We would all like to have our professional or personal interactions be smooth and productive. The fact is, if interactions really go to the depths, then likely at some point there comes an unwanted or unanticipated derailment. In truth, tension is an opening to a deeper level of learning, capacity consciousness, and relationship…if the invitation is accepted. Sometimes it takes a sizable energy charge to crack open we often call “the conspiracy of politeness,” that pull we all feel to keep the boat from rocking and to stay in our set ways. Bohm stressed the wisdom of holding the tension. He told the story of Bohr, Pauli and Heisenberg meeting and trying to resolve the differences each had proposed to the newly forming quantum theory. The results of their efforts became known as the Copenhagen Interpretation. Bohm believed they had compromised rather than resolved the creative differences that could have built an even farther reaching theory, all because they failed to hold the tension long enough for a creative resolution to emerge. As a result, science lost some of the intricate delicacy of Bohr’s position that could have pushed scientific theory even further.