Practicing Insight Dialogue

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Insight Dialogue is an interpersonal practice and its emphasis differs from a primarily solitary practice. Insight dialogue emphasizes mutuality; it involves speaking and interacting with others. The time-tested foundations of Buddhism and other spiritual traditions, morality, tranquility, and wisdom, are essential to that mutuality and to the interpersonal path.

Morality is the foundation for spiritual progress. Tranquility and wisdom will elude us without the human kindness, respect, and clear conscience that underlie morality. Two of the moral components of Buddhism’s eightfold path are right speech and right action, both of which are integral to Insight Dialogue. Right speech means abstaining from lying, abusive speech, divisive speech and idle chatter. Speech should be true, useful, timely, and based on loving-kindness. Right action means treating others as you would like to be treated.

A tranquil mind and heart allow us to examine our experiences long enough to understand their nature. This tranquility, another key element of the eightfold path, is crucial to abandoning self-centered fabrications and to awakening compassion towards ourselves and others. Tranquility while listening and speaking fosters the mutual understanding that forms relationship.

Wisdom, seeing things as they are, is the third element of any path to enlightenment. Our understanding of the nature of mind and the world expands as tranquility allows us to be calmer and more alert. Interpersonal practice supports this clear seeing by cultivating inquiry, mindfulness and calm concentration.

Wisdom unfolds through the mutual practice of dialogue. The practice of working directly and mindfully with language and relationship, with wisdom and with human decency, can bring about profound transformation in practitioners.