Yesterday I joined an online dialogue between Thomas Hübl and Otto Scharmer. I had been looking forward to this, because I always feel inspired by what both of these men think and say. Especially I was very curious, how the process and the outcomes would be, when they would really enter into a dialogue.
Otto started. Very interesting, to hear again his presentation of the U models, of presencing and absencing. But after about 15 minutes of monologue, I started to wonder, when the real conversation between the two would start. I was waiting for hints, that Otto would finish his contribution and would make space for Thomas to enter the conversation. After twenty minutes he did so. But it felt like an artificial not authentic attempt to turn his monologue into a dialogue, by taking some of his definitions and trying to relate them to something Thomas had said in a previous talk. Then Thomas started off. Same monologue. Another twenty minutes. Shortly I was interested again, because Thomas says brilliant thing, but I got increasingly disinterested and uneasy with this performance, which they were calling dialogue.
This wasn’t a dialogue at all. These were two man, hanging in their own, be it brilliant, world views. Presenting themselves, using the moment, the public and each other’s fame to demonstrate their own perspectives. Trying to find keywords in something the other has said, to justify and repeat their own thinking. This was repeating already existing story’s (downloading, Otto would call this), and giving each other the stage for it.
Understand me well, I just express my disappointment here, when it comes to the promise of dialogue. I respect Otto and Thomas very much for what they do and bring into this world. I just want to point out, that the word dialogue is misunderstood here and used in an incorrect way, as this word is so often being misused, misinterpreted and even abused.
What is missing, is a consciously entering the space in between. It is the space between us and between the words, the heard and unheard silence, that opens the gate for real thinking and finding new meaning together. In that space in between, which is the main gate into real dialogue, we listen deeply to what the other one says and feel how it resonates in us. In that space we are especially bodily present, with all our senses, and listen to and beyond the words of the other one. In that space we suspend our own opinions and judgements, to open up for some truth we find in the other one’s perspectives. From there we wait until we resonate together into something new, something that has not been there before, a possibility, a new perspective or realization. Something that is not in any way a repetition of the same.
Entering that space in between means, we sense into the field of our togetherness. We slow down, open up for all perspectives, feel not only the other person, but also feel the context, the atmosphere, the background music of this all, and then wait for something to unfold. We wait for something that responds in us, and takes us into a new movement, a new word, a new thought, that is always fresh and has a non - precedented quality. We could call this a meditative space in our conversation.
We lose it when we only want to make our points, demonstrate our insights, defend our points of view or theory’s.
We enter it when we let go into deep listening. We share from that point, where we are touched by something the other one is saying, wondering about, maybe also questioning it curiously, and then letting ourselves being moved by it.
It is a magical space, that space in between. Between our opinions, which are always already old as soon we have thought them, there is is this new field, waiting for new flowers to grow.
Now shouldn’t Thomas and Otto then not have these presentations in public? Of course, they should. Their worldviews are incredible enriching. It is totally inspiring when they speak in public, a gift for all of us. But they and also we would be better off, when they stay in their own spaces, presenting from there, not trying to combine their perspectives. Then the listener can enter that space in between for him of herself. Both perspectives are so strong, that they deserve to stand alone.
Trying to combine them induces a field of competition of words, and we lose that space in between. Trying to force their presentations in a dialogic format, is the essence of my protest. I protest against reducing dialogue to a hidden form of discussion and I protest for the revival of the space in between, where we really find new meaning together.
Eelco de Geus, 1.04.2020, Vienna