The Circular Dialogue: An Educational Tool for Expanded Collective Perception

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Theory 

The Circular Dialogue technique is an experiential-emotional learning tool where individuals transform their perception of reality from egoistic self-focus to altruistic collective-focus, to later attain a pan-civilization consciousness and emotional field constructed from the desires of participants to connect that is necessary for survival and thriving within the tightly interconnected global reality of the 21st Century.

Principles  

The goal of the Circular Dialogue technique is to create a unique emotional field of connection among participants resulting in an expanded, collective perception of reality and higher plane of consciousness. The integral consciousness achieved through Circular Dialogue is several orders of magnitude greater than the individual sensory level. Participants create an interactive resonance with a latent expansive force in nature undetectable through the innate, egoistic perception of reality.

Method  

Circular Dialogue employs principles of crowd-sourcing, collective intelligence, and a method of integral connection rooted in kabbalistic theory and Buber’s Dialogue principles and related structure of the minyan. Circular Dialogue is a round-table style experience guided by a trained facilitator in which approximately ten participants sit in circular formation as equals to share perspectives on any topic or question while employing specific rules that allow participants to access a synergistic, integral force occurring in states of unification. Participants aim for a collective view through a lens of mutual inclusion.

Outcomes 

Participants in Circular Dialogue experience:  1) sensations of intense commonality simultaneous with clarity of differentiation; 2) closeness with the surrounding environment in which myriad components are perceived as aligned and harmonious; 3) free-flowing stream of communication, a vast depth of knowing and appreciation; 4) collective insight and intelligence of a higher magnitude than is available on the individual sensory level; 5) fundamental understanding of interrelationships and interconnections between the elements of heightened reality;  6) sensations of belonging to one structure or organism with its own life force.

An educational Avant Garde is currently being trained and applying Circular Dialogue in diverse settings.

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Recollections of a Circular Dialogue Experience 

Rivka Levi

Five educators of various ages and very different backgrounds, plus the mother of one who reluctantly came along to please her daughter and for a small break from the mundane routine, gather in a noisy coffee shop to understand an educational tool called the Dialogue Circle. After introductions and 30 minutes of dry question and answer attempts at the near-impossible task of conveying within the linear bounds of language the multi-dimensional emotional essence of the kind of I-Thou relational connection described by Martin Buber and reliably reproduced upon demand in a Circular Dialogue experience, and out of desperation to understand, Dr. Hadas Gruber pled, “I want to feel the Circular Dialogue experience right here. Can we do one right now?”  

That’s how a very unlikely group, in a chaotic setting, without one moment of preparation “grabbed hands” and leaped into a Circular Dialogue experience under the expert guidance of Dr. Benzion Giertz. He threw out the first question for each one around the table to answer in turn: 

“Why was it so important to you to come here?” 

We began tentatively, each one probably feeling something like me—slightly anxious and uncertain whether I would find a way to connect with these people. In the last instant before it was my turn to speak, I struggled to find a way to be authentic while still keeping a cover over the depth of the passion that really brought me to be sitting there in a city I didn’t even know the name of with people whose language I basically neither understand nor speak trying to answer this question that felt so deeply personal. 

I hardly remember what was said, but the feeling inside the circle is still as fresh to me now as it was at the end of the first round. Really, even though the words were ordinary, the feeling for each of us was like we just bared our soul. Even though it was scary to feel so vulnerable and exposed, we were bonded after the first round and there was no turning back. 

“Why speaking is so important to man?”

It’s quite amazing to look back at the experience because each answer of each one at the table was individual, unique, but somehow beneath the words was a shared simultaneous and sustained existential cry as if it came from inside of every person who has ever lived. “Because I need to not feel so alone!”

“What do you want to achieve by your speaking in this circle?”

It was as if individuals no longer spoke in words as we went around the circle one by one again. Our collective voice spoke from inside the circle the unspeakable beneath the words, above the words, between the words. It was like like our common voice took a red marker to the black and white lines of our responses like outlines in a coloring book and bled our lifeblood all over them. “I want to be best friends forever and never ever part.” It felt like being kids again becoming “blood brothers.”

“How has your or other’s speaking influenced the circle?”

There was a kind of voiceless speaking, indescribably eloquent. “I saw your eyes, everything behind them. And I saw that you saw me.”

In one way, the questions were relentless. “What did you gain from this circle?”

“An addiction, and it’s damn scary because in a few minutes we will all stand up and walk away from one another again and…”

“What sensations have you acquired in this circle that you will convey to others?”

I never said half of what I felt and no one else did either because it’s hard to feel what’s really inside and harder to admit the depth of the black hole there. But when I “feel” back on it, I have a lump in my throat and want to cry. But I’m sure though that our faces were shining.  People could see for themselves and I want them to.

I tried to avoid writing about this actually because I am still in that circle, against the logic of time and place. Crazy reality!!!  And just in case someone suspects that I’m exaggerating the intensity of the Circular Dialogue experience, take this as a subtle verification:  A middle -aged couple watched our body language and the expressions on our faces from another table in the coffee shop as we interacted. Although they almost certainly couldn’t hear our words, they made a point to say to us after our circle ended, “We want to join your table!”

 Line-up Questions from “Recollections of a Circular Dialogue Experience”

  1. Why it was so important to you to come here?
  2. Why speaking is so important to man?
  3. What do you want to achieve by your speaking in this circle? 
  4. How did your or other’s speaking influence the circle?
  5. What did you gain from this circle?
  6. What sensations have you acquired this circle that you will convey others?

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Sample Complete Dialogue Circle Lineup

Dr. Benzion Giertz

The lineup below is a complete template adjustable according to the types of audiences and circumstances.

Warm-Up

The goal of the warm-up is to create warmth and break the ice. The facilitator may use the games or any other activities that bring people closer without evoking any competition.

Possible Warm-Up Games.

Introducing the Guidelines of the Circle

Explain that in order to maintain and even increase the warmth we are feeling after the games, the discussion will follow certain guidelines. Here they are:

  1. Equality: In the circle, no one is more important or less important; everyone is equal, and very important! Begin the discussion with a person sitting next to you and proceed around the circle in order.
  2. Staying on Topic. Everyone strives to stay focused on the topic at hand.
  3. Listening. We speak our turn without interrupting other participants. We listen attentively to the person whose turn it is to speak, and we try to feel and understand the view of that person as if we were that person. We do that toward everyone!
  4.  No arguments, criticism, or judgmental statements, even if we disagree. At our turn, we will add our own view. Think of the discussion as a warming fire on a cold night in the woods. All the participants are working to keep the flames burning, and each adds his or her piece of wood to the fire. The pieces may be very different, but they all add to the common purpose of sustaining the warming flame.
  5. Time limit. Ideally, a speaker should take no more than one minute before passing on the “torch” to the next speaker.

Asking the Questions

At this point you make a statement that everyone is likely to be able to relate to, and ask a few questions about it. It usually works best to begin with a more general question and progress to more specific questions related to the individual.

Concluding the Circle

This is the part when people share their emotions. Notice how it connects to the last question in the circle. If all flows naturally, simply let this sharing happen as a natural extension of the final question. You can also “play” this part by suggesting that we play the wishing game, where you ask each participant to answer one or two questions, such as “What do I wish for myself and for all of us for (add something relevant e.g. ‘the new year’)” or “What do I take with me from this circle today, what thoughts, impressions, or emotions?”

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About Inclusion

Beyond Buber: Dialogue, Education, and  Politics

Author(s): PETER ROBERTS

Source: The  Journal of Educational Thought (JET)  / Revue de la Pensée Éducative, Vol. 33, No. 2 (August, 1999),  pp. 183-189

Published by:  Werklund School  of Education, University of Calgary

Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23767366

Accessed: 17-03-2018 09:43  UTC

For Buber, dialogical relations are not confined to conversational communication: dialogue  can occur without speech and even in the absence of sound and gesture. At its most basic level, dialogue is the experience of, and  more particularly the acknowledgment of, an other: a being through which the self is defined. Genuine dialogue is captured in the notion  of inclusion. 1nclusion  comprises three elements: first,  a relation of some kind between   two (or more) people; second, “an event experienced  by them in common, in which at least one of them actively participates” (Buber, 1961, p. 124);  and third, “the fact that this one person, without forfeiting anything of the felt reality  of his activity, at the same time lives through the common event from the standpoint of the other” (pp. 124-125). This is not to be confused with empathy. Buber notes that empathy implies a movement from one point to another: a transposing of oneself into something  else. In an empathic relationship one “glides” with one’s feelings into another formation, structure, or being,  consciously striving to “trace” the object of contemplation from within. This excludes one’s own concreteness: the actuality  of objective life is displaced by “pure aestheticism.” Inclusion, by contrast, extends the concreteness of being, and affirms the  complete presence of the reality in which one participates (p. 124). Conversation, Buber argues, becomes genuine through consciousness of inclusion, and can be “real” and “effective” only when it derives from an experience of inclusion “of the other side” (p. 125).  

Buber, M. (1961). Between man and man (R.G. Smith, Trans.). London: Fontana.

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