Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom
Excerpts about Inquiry (Dialectic)
A True Relationship Helps Us Discover Reality
We are exploring the practice of dialectic inquiry while learning the practice of inquiry in general. We have seen that we can communicate with another person in a way that opens both of us more deeply to ourselves and each other. Then the relationship itself can expand and deepen the discovery of each of us, our relationship, and reality as a whole. In other words, a true relationship is one that helps us to discover reality. It’s fine if a relationship doesn’t help us do that—most human relationships are this way—but that is not what we are learning here. We are exploring how to develop relationship in new and unimagined ways. To do this, we need to develop certain interactive skills, what we call relational skills. We have discussed and explored a number of these, including the role of being personal, being open, and making direct and immediate contact, as well as the importance of feeling connected and having sensitivity for ourselves and for each other. As we have seen, being sensitive means having a delicate awareness, a very attuned awareness. Relational sensitivity includes empathy, being able to sense where the other person is coming from, what is happening with him or with her. It also includes attunement, which is the capacity to respond and relate in a way that considers where another person is. We don’t just express ourselves, we express ourselves to that particular person at that particular time. If we are not attuned, our friend will not completely get the communication.
The Power of Divine Eros, pg. 136
Discriminating the Erotic from the Sexual in the Dialectic
Discriminating the erotic from the sexual allows us to integrate a new dimension of our spirituality. When you are meditating, for instance, you can have a meditation experience with your true nature that has a very erotic quality. You feel as though you were making love with reality, but it is not really sexual, although sometimes it has many of those same pleasurable and exciting qualities that you can even experience at the same level of intensity. The more the erotic energy is liberated, the more it is free to infuse any area of life with sensual, vibrant, pleasurable presence. The erotic quality can manifest sometimes between good friends and frequently occurs in the dialectic inquiry practice that we do. Eros can lead to further spiritual liberation if we use the energy to open the dialectic field and find new ways of expression beyond the physical.
The Power of Divine Eros, pg. 150
Mutuality in the Dialectic
In addition to sensitivity and empathy, to openness and interest, there needs to be a measure of mutuality. A relationship does not open up if it is not mutual, if one person is interested while the other isn’t. Mutuality means that two people have a similar degree of interest in one another. If someone has less interest, then a dissonance or disharmony will result that will limit the relationship’s potential. One person wants more than the other wants to give, and it becomes a push/pull situation. For the relational field to open up, mutual curiosity about the other is important—two people who can see one another as having an inner life that is distinct, unique, and interesting. Then two galaxies can come together and create one field that has an interactive synergy. The relational field develops by two fields of consciousness coming together through an interaction in which the two fields become part of one relational field. In fact, sometimes the two fields become simply the one field opening up. When we talk about the relational field, we are talking about a field of consciousness that is participatory on the part of two or more individuals. As we sit in this room together, we are in a field of consciousness; the group field is gaining more presence as we focus on this topic. The group presence is a support for our work. We each add something to it. And every group is different in quality due to the various mix of individuals that comprise it.
The Power of Divine Eros, pg. 120
Openness During Dialectic Inquiry
Whatever our situation, we are open as we talk: There is openness, there is genuineness, there is contact, there is truthfulness; and it is all in a field, a pool of consciousness, that can open up or close down. Whichever happens, it is fine—you just want to explore what’s there.
“It seems that we are all tense and don’t want to talk to each other. I wonder what happened?”
And the other person says, “I don’t really know. I feel the same way. I feel like I want to go away. I want to talk to this other person over there.”
“Why? What happened for you?”
Maybe both of you were really shy and, after ten minutes of exploration, you realize that you like each other but you don’t want to know that, much less let the other person know, because it means you will be vulnerable. “If I show that I really like you—who knows? Maybe you won’t like me.” So people get a little protective. All kinds of surprises can happen. We call this “dialectic inquiry”—there is a dialectic, an interaction of two forces merging together and becoming one vortex, one force. Two souls connect, becoming one. Inquiring into this combined consciousness develops the relationship, and the relationship can become a means of developing the individuals who are in it.
The Power of Divine Eros, pg. 104
Relationships Can Be Erotic without Being Sexual
So we are saying that a loving relationship can be erotic without being sexual. A friendship can be erotic in this way, for example, when love includes the interest and desire to be together, to enjoy each other, to delight in each other’s presence and expressions. There is an erotic energy, a living, pulsating energy, in the interaction that makes the relationship dynamic and fun, playful and powerful in its disclosing of reality. Two people are turned on together to reality and turned on to each other’s excitement about the discovery of reality. The dialectic inquiry will then have an erotic dimension that is full of pleasure and mirth, enjoyment and excitement, without it being physical or sexual. This is a type of relationship that society does not acknowledge clearly, even though many people experience erotic energy in some of their loving connections with others. We tend to think of eros as always being sexual because conventional understanding cannot differentiate the erotic (or the divine erotic) from the sexually erotic. The result is that people repress the living force of eros in most relationships in order for those relationships to fit the conventions of friendship or family. Or if they feel the eros in the relationship, they believe they must express it sexually, with all its potential complications, for they cannot imagine eros being other than sexual energy.
The Power of Divine Eros, pg. 141
The Relational Field in the Dialectic
The dialectic inquiry might begin with talking about how you are feeling with one another after hearing what the other person had to say. Start there and see what develops. As you are speaking, something in particular might begin to happen that you can feel in the space between you. Or perhaps you will just feel the presence in the field. You can start by acknowledging that rather than by engaging first thing in a dialogue. Whatever happens, you want to pay attention to what the relational field feels like as you are engaged with each other. Just explore it; be experimental. Let yourself take risks, but keep sensing. See if you can actually feel what is happening between you, rather than just having an intellectual understanding of where your partner is. Remember that dialectic inquiry is an interactive inquiry. You are not simply discussing your experience together, but rather you are also expressing yourself and responding to the expressions of the other. Expressions will need to be appropriate and responsive, and avoid attacks, judgments, criticisms, therapizing each other, or reading each other psychically. It is a mutual cooperative endeavor, a collaborative relational adventure in the discovery of reality.