The Power of Dialogue: Vital Conversation for the week of 10/15

Occupy Cafe is grounded in the idea that "conversations that matter" are one of the highest forms of action.  The Occupy movement has demonstrated this by changing the global conversation.  What conversations do you see inspiring us to live into humanity's New Story?

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David Isaacs, co-creator of the World Cafe process, asks "what if conversation is to people as water is to fish?"  Peter Block and others have suggested that all transformation is essentially linguistic, rooted in the stories we tell ourselves individually and collectively.

The core team of Occupy Cafe is currently attending the biannual conference of the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD), a gathering of people who are inspired by the possibilities that emerge when conversations are designed and hosted with care, skill and trust in the wisdom of the group.  On our Monday call, we will share with you some of the insights and inspiration we have gleaned from the conference, as a launching point for  for dialogue about the conversations you believe have the power to create transformation.

We invite you to start this discussion now here on the forum:

  • Describe a time when you participated in a powerful conversation that rippled out into the world and catalyzed change.
  • What questions, if answered, could make a difference in the degree to which powerful conversations emerge and flourish in our society?

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"What if conversation is to people as water is to fish?"

There are billions of fish and one water. You (Ben, Oct. 04, commenting my link) are asking for synthesis and that is what I have been looking for. I am sorry I could not find it @ OC; I had to move up towards the  leading edge of integral, world spirituality and evolutionary enlightenment. I have registered to and followed The Enlightenment Conference in August and thoroughly studied the idea of Andrew Cohen, leader of the most dynamic group of integral thinkers.

Unfortunately it (synthesis) is not there either (Enlightenment Conference has promised the synthesis in final session, they did not keep the promise).

I think we have no ground for synthesis, and no ground for creative conversations. References:

Allan Combs reviewing Andrew Cohen in Spanda Journal: Evolutionary Enlightenment, the practice of assuming no relationships to the content  of consciousness not only aligns one with the inherent freedom of the empty ground of being, but more important, makes space for the limitless creative potential of the evolutionary impulse to reveal itself.

Ken Wilber inviting to “What next conference” (December) offers his own view of the “we space” shared by the integral community, which he sees as "being more fragmented than it needs to be"– so that they risk diminishing their potential impact upon a world that’s increasingly in need of integral perspectives, insights, and solutions. He has asked the disciples to consider how the amount of inconsiderate behavior inside Integral We-space can be reduced.

So I dare to ask two more questions to start the discussion:

  • Can the space of conversations (“We space”) be defined?
  • What content is allowed?

In other words: What is fish (content), what is water (medium) in David Isaacs’s metaphor? What is mere change and what is evolution? Are we fish missing the water or is "there" a water without fish?


Lovely to have your provocative voice back in our midst!  

I'm at a conference of dialogue and deliberation practitioners--some of the best in the world. This community understands both the importance and the challenge of synthesis. One of the main forms of synthesis taking place here is graphic recording--i.e. creating this kind of image (this one is from a different gathering):

Here at the NCDD conference, it's a group effort.  And so the eight people involved need to be having their own dialogue about the story they want to tell in this "harvest."  I think they know it won't be the "whole," or the "only," or perhaps even the "true" story of what takes place here.  But it can be a powerful story--one that can perhaps start new conversations over time, or add depth to them if it is referred back to in some future moment when we think to ourselves "hmmm... I remember having some sense of inspiration about X while at that gathering in Seattle."

I'm pretty sure the conversation(s) here will be rippling out into the world and catalyzing change.  Certainly the developments in this field of "D&D" have done that over the past 30 years already, yet the sense is that much more is needed, and wanted in the world.  Our theme here is "building civic infrastructure," i.e. our collective capacity to make wise decisions that meet our needs, especially by creating better processes for people to engage effectively with government if they choose to step out of the role of consumer and into that of citizen (and getting government to understand that this is something to be desired, not feared!).

Well, "slow down, live joyfully every day" is nice synthesis, I share it and try to apply daily. I do not share your hope such kind of synthesis, or even the simple sum of many, can catalyze global systemic change towards better future.

I have got your message: much more is needed. I also hope much more is possible, necessary tools are at our disposal. On the other hand hope is not enough, multilevel path for global synthesis and synergy within wider perspective should be our goal. At least I thought so....

I think it's also fair to say that synthesis has been a challenge, especially in conversations like this.  what if we could make it like a game to create syntheses that resonated with a conversation's participants?

You mentioned that necessary tools are at our disposal.  Forgive me if you've described them before--can you please provide some examples?

Life is a game, to win is a kind of synthesis, and winners can live joyfully every day.

Consciousness helps to win; on the other hand it brings to light true rules of the game of universe, in which life is only a stage, a potential for next phase.

Synthesis within the game has led to development of science and technology, synthesis leading to the shift of the game to higher level is inaccessible from the position of game participant/individual player, even interfering and resonating with few other players.

The word example used in your question suggests skills and experience. I don’t think one can have either. From evolutionary point of view consciousness is as different from life as life from mathematical logic of material universe. We have no experience how to use it collectively.

The basic rule of cosmic evolution is complexity growth through communication and feedback. Our essential “tools” are content (perceptual/scientific and spiritual shared experience) and channels (the web). The new story can be only one or none and "WE" can only write it learning how to live it and learn how to live it writing it. To start the process is real challenge for our generation.

This is my synthesis upon my own experience and observation of American spiritual and social networking 2007 – 2012. Sorry to be so serious, otherwise I live joyfully every day and wish you the same.

No need to apologize, Pawel!  Serious is fine.  We love serious here... up to a point anyhow! A joke or two every now and then is nice as well!

This intrigued me:

The basic rule of cosmic evolution is complexity growth through communication and feedback. Our essential “tools” are content (perceptual/scientific and spiritual shared experience) and channels (the web). The new story can be only one or none and "WE" can only write it learning how to live it and learn how to live it writing it. To start the process is real challenge for our generation.

And how do you propose the "start?"

Pawel - Ben - *bows*

If I might refer to this quotation from Pawel's original comment

"I think we have no ground for synthesis, and no ground for creative conversations"

And then to the quotation Ben quotes in the comment above, but with particular reference to this part of that quotation -

The new story can be only one or none and "WE" can only write it learning how to live it and learn how to live it writing it. To start the process is real challenge for our generation.

It seems to me that this process is already underway - and by that premise the challenge too has been accepted and, incidentally, both the process and the challenge are and have been by no means confined to just 'this' generation - for are we here not standing in the footsteps of those who launched this new story?

In no wise essentially different from the past this (and if I may offer a suitable two word synthesis) challenging process? is  being generated and illustrated in many ways by many voices and participants who are actively building the new story by thinking, experiencing and writing about what and how they do, such that others without and within can add to and build upon.

Despite or indeed perhaps because of divergences, these are surely and beyond contradiction emerging via the triangulated methodology of thesis antithesis and synthesis. That we may not as yet have reached a synthesis is of no account and even if and when we, or others, are able to judge that such a synthesis has come into being, it will in time honoured fashion become only the next thesis to be acted upon.

And this is the natural state of everything that we are and that we become involved in, for if there is one and only one synthesis it is represented by the fact that we humans will be eternally evolving and eternally seeking to expand ourselves beyond all and every barrier that might seek to block our progress.

Simply because like creation itself,we cannot exist but that we do so.


“This work only explores the advantages of describing the world as information. In other words, there are no ontological claims, only epistemological”.

I think it should get integrated with the most powerful ontological story - Integral Spirituality and Evolutionary Enlightenment (interconnected by Ken Wilber and Andrew Cohen being friends). Interpreting evolution they miss however the logic of the cosmic process and instead of putting traditional enlightenment in the evolutionary context they do the opposite.

In the logic of evolution the question of essence preceding existence or vice versa (Cohen’s being and becoming) loses its traditional meaning and vertical integration of individuals’ consciousness should be accompanied by horizontal integration between them (corresponding to the idea of “horizontality” popular within Occupy movement).

In other words "one(ness)" understood as "not two" (nonduality) should mean also "not many".

To answer your question: Today we live in information era and Carlos Gershenson’s theory/metaphor is a good starting point to introduce the communication and feedback, dynamic real time dialogue between “timeless, formless being” and “the world of forms” (Ken Wilber’s terms).

The crucial issue is the concept of identity. They forget that subject of biological evolution is not an individual (temporary feedback loop), but information coded as planetary genome. Therefore they respect positive feedback only, within the silo of Integral community (disciples, followers) and are absolutely resistant to any criticism (negative feedback).

On the other hand (IMHO) true integration of enlightenment (insight, inner experience) and world/cosmos evolution (recent synthesis within science) could be the symbolic integration of love and logic – much more than the end of conflict between religions and science.

Thanks, everyone, for a great Cafe Call just now!  We'll have the podcast up by this evening if all goes well!   Meanwhile, I hope you (and others browsing the Cafe who may have missed the call) post some thoughts here around our theme of the Power of Dialogue, and the questions asked above. I pulled a GroupWorks card at random for some closing wisdom, and it fits beautifully with our theme of bridging the divide and getting diverse voices to connect:

Here's one question that emerged for me during the harvest on our call, in response to our second question above:

"What powerful forms of dialogue can we explore that do not rely primarily on words?"

And here's a link to connect anyone who is interested to the young woman who did the Embodied Dialogue workshop at this NCDD conference that I mentioned--Heidi Madsen.  I also mentioned InterPlay (fixed the link and the spelling now), which Dyck Dewid is a leader of (and my mom also adores!).

Let me first clarify, Ben... since I've never met Ben's mom, it must be InterPlay that she adores.

Responding to your question, listening to Alex's story on the call made me think that there is a dialogue in simply a white guy to walk in to a predominately black group like a church service or the NAACP, etc.. and other 'proximity' type dialogues. How does it feel for the first black or Asian or Latino person to show up at our almost vanilla Occupy GA meeting.

I don't think it's about 'hearing' or 'seeing' what's common, cause it takes a lot more than just a visit to understand that.  I do think it's about beginnings... to walk in another's shoes, see things thru another's eyes and heart by just 'being with' and watching, even just showing up.

Hello Dyck,

Guess what: It is YOU I adore...Just one more internet match, I guess...Here I am "lurking" on the occupy website and I want to tell you that he who quotes Hafiz so delightfully is indeed the one I adore!

Thanks for "showing up" and thanks for posting this one:

When the violin can forgive the past

It starts singing.

When the violin can stop worrying about the future

You will become

Such a drunk laughing nuisance

That God

Will then lean down

And start combing you into His Hair.

When the violin can forgive

Every wound caused by Others

The heart starts Singing.              ~Hafiz of course


Yours truly,

Lonesome in Austin


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