Home of CDPA and the Martin Buber Institute For Dialogical Ecology
Prescott College And The Martin Buber Institute (MBIDE): M.A. In The Humanities With A Concentration In Dialogical Ecology.





Offer a Concentration in Dialogical Ecology towards an M.A. in the Humanities
For more information, please visit www.MBIDE.org, write to hune@martinbuberinstitute.org, or call 914-439-7731

Important News!!!
The Concentration in Dialogical Ecology at Prescott College

Through a collaborative agreement between Prescott College's Master of Arts Program and the MBIDE, students can attend courses offered by MBIDE and then transfer up to 15 graduate credits into Prescott College's Master of Arts Program for a degree with a concentration in Dialogical Ecology. Courses may be taken either on line, as independent research or in residency.

For more information on enrollment, college transfer credits, list of courses and syllabuses, please contact Dr. Hune Margulies, Director of the Concentration in Dialogical Ecology at Prescott College and Director of the MBIDE, at hune@martinbuberinstitute.org, visit the site http://mbide.blogspot.com or call 914-833-7787. Please also visit Prescott College web site at http://www.prescott.edu.

You may also read more on Dialogical Ecology at the following sites: http://creativejudaism.blogspot.com and http://buber-zen-the-between.blogspot.com and


College credit and non-credit courses that can be taken in residency, on line or as independent research at the MBIDE.

1. Introduction To Dialogical Ecology: A Study of Buberian Dialogical Philosophy, Zen Buddhism, Environmental Philosophy And Religious Existentialism

2. Dialogical Ecology, Eco-Theology And Indigenous Environmental Philosophy: A Comparative Study. (Focus on Indigenous peoples of Latin America)

3. From Zen To Buber: A History of Dialogical Ecology, The Ecology Of Satory-Enlightenment, Spinoza's God-or-Nature, Indigenous Spirituality And Mysticism

4. Zen Koans, Hasidic Tales and Mystical Poetry: A Side By Side Reading. Us Speaking To God And Nature, Us Speaking Of God And Nature, Us Speaking With God And Nature, Us And No God Or Nature. God And Nature Speaking To Us, God And Nature Speaking Of Us, God And Nature Speaking With Us, God And Nature And No Us..

5. Notes and Thoughts On Major Names And Themes In Dialogical Ecology: Zen, Environmental Philosophy, Religious Existentialism, Judaic Thought, The Continuum God-Nature-Human Beings. Buddha, Buber, Spinoza, M. Friedman, Marcel, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Heschel, Dewey, Thoreau, Emerson, A.D. Gordon, Niebuhr, Tillich, Theilard, Watts, D. Suzuki, S. Suzuki, Daido, Nhat-Hahn.

6. The Social Philosophy Of Dialogical Ecology: Communitarian Anarchism, Religious Communes, Peace, Environmental Ethics And Religious Socialism.

7. An introduction To Dialogical Psychotherapy.

8. Artistic Creation And Dialogical Ecology.

9. Between Dialogue, Meditation And Rituals. Dialogical Religiosity and Conventional Religion: A Study In Contrasts.

10. Relationships To Nature: Jewish Mystics, Christian Monks, Sufi Dervishes, Buddhist Bodhisattvas, Poets And Other Artists.

11. Jewish Philosophy Roots In Dialogical Ecology.

12. Field Studies: Intensive One Week, Or Summer Long, Study-Tour To Indigenous Latin America: In Search For Dialogical Relationships With The Ecological World, Immersion into Indigenous Communities And Magnificent Ecological Sites.

As core text assignments, I will provide a bibliography, a reader with a compendium of readings, and a study written by me. For registration, tuition and college transfer credit information, please write to hune@martinbuberinstitute.org, or call 914-833-7787.


The philosopher Martin Buber has been widely studied from the perspective of theology, philosophical existentialism, psychotherapy, Judaic thought and communitarian thinking, but less so from the perspective of the I-Thou relationship or dialogical relationship between the human community and their ecological environment. (I am presently writing a book on a comparative study between Buber's dialogical principles and some aspects of Zen Buddhism and Indigenous spirituality. (Buber-Zen-The Between))

The MBIDE focuses its academic activities on the research and application of dialogical principles to issues in ecological ethics. At the same time we also envision policy implications to our ecological findings. The academic focus of the Buber Institute is on the meeting points between ecological thought, philosophical inquiry and religious studies.

The Director and Principal Investigator of the Institute is Dr. Hune Margulies, (see CV). At the core of the MBIDE mission is the research of Dialogical theory and principles as it applies primarily to issues in relational environmentalism and ecological scholarship. We employ the term "ecology" in a broad sense, as a concept that points at the confluence of three main academic disciplines: Environmental Studies, Philosophy and Religion.

The Buber Institute situates itself at the forefront of a very important international ecological discourse. The Martin Buber Institute for Dialogical Ecology will become an integral part of the very vibrant and active international discourse on ecology, peace and community.

The MBIDE engages in the following academic activities:

The Buber Institute focuses its scholarship on the application of Dialogical theory on Philosophical Ecology topics. The MBIDE will insert ourselves in the midst of a very important and significant international ecological discourse. At the same time dialogical ecology responds to some of the shortcomings found on some of the prevailing environmental theories.

The MBIDE engages in the following activities.

1. Internal and sponsored research.
2. Call for submissions and publications of a refereed journal (The Journal of Dialogical Ecology), conference proceedings and selected monographs.
3. An annual international conference at the University.
4. University-wide lectures, teaching, seminars and workshops, guest speakers. Cooperation and joint academic activities with other university and academic institutes.
5. An international Board of Scholars and Fellows to serve as academic advisors to the Institute. A prominent scholarly board is already in place. Martin Buber's principal English language biographer, author of the multi-volume "Life of Martin Buber", Dr. Maurice Friedman serves as the MBIDE Honorary Chair.
6. International linkages and cooperative agreements with academic institutes in the US and around the world.
7. Research into the confluence between some aspects of Buberian Dialogical Philosophy, Zen Buddhism, and Indigenous spirituality. (my book work in progress: Buber, Zen, The Between.)
8. Archival and documentation work. Repository of manuscripts, pictures, letters, works of art and other bibliographic material related to Martin Buber and the Dialogical tradition in Philosophy.
9. Selected field activities in two major areas: A. The application of Dialogical Ecology with indigenous communities in Latin America. B. Given Martin Buber's prominent historic place in peace activities in Israel-Palestine, we will also work on facilitating a dialogical approach between Israelis and Arabs.

Applied Work:

One of the unique concepts behind the establishment of MBIDE is the applied aspects of its work. Building on Dr. Margulies pioneering work as founder of CDPA (see bellow), The MBIDE will establish externally funded direct links with Institutes, NGOs and smaller governments (many of whom we have already worked with in the past) both in the US and in indigenous and poor communities in Latin America. This linkages will be established in order to cooperate in implementation of progressive, cooperative, community sustainable projects. In this area of community work with indigenous and poor populations, we bring several years of in-the-field experience. The Buber Institute will also aim its efforts at conflict resolution programs in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Hune with Martin Buber's Principal Biographer and MBIDE Chairman Emeritus, Dr. Maurice Friedman

Our Board of Scholars:

The MBIDE enjoys the scholarly advice of an international and broad Board Of Scholars. Our Board of Scholars is comprised of faculty and a selected list of members from other universities, religious institutions and academic institutes from around the world. (at the time of this writing the MBIDE has scholars from America, Israel, Argentina, Cuba, Germany, Japan, Turkey and Palestine). Some members of the MBIDE's board of scholars are recognized independent authors and others are spiritual leaders of various religious communities. The MBIDE has also entered into joint-cooperation agreements with academic institutions in other countries, in particular, Latin American Universities. The Board of Scholars will serve as informal academic advisors to the Institute and its members.

Andy Warhol's "Martin Buber"

WORKSHOP On The Concept And Practices Of Dialogical Liturgy. An Exploration Of Alternatives To Religious Worship. The MBIDE. Juy 18, 2008. 10:30 AM - 3:00 PM

Register to the Martin Buber Institute For Dialogical Ecology Workshop On The Concept And Practices Of Dialogical Liturgy. An Exploration Of Alternatives To Religious Worship.

July 18, 2008. 10:30 AM - 3:00 PM.
New York City.

Ritualized worship represents the main group-practice of organized religions. Drawing from Martin Buber's Dialogical Philosophy and some aspects of Zen liturgical practices, we will explore non-theological models of liturgy. We will review and explore the concept and practice of liturgy as differentiated from the concept and practice of ritualized-worship and other cultic religious rites. The workshop includes lectures and practicums in various forms of non-theological liturgical practices. The workshop starts at 10:30 AM (NY time) and ends at 3:00 PM. Tuition is $120.00. Materials and luncheon are included. For more information please contact us at hune@MartinBuberInstitute.org, 914-439-7731. http://MBIDE.blogspot.com. Registration information is included below..

(Note: Location of the Workshop to be posted shortly.)



1. Cut and Paste this Registration information and email to hune@MartinBuberInstitute.org
2. Print the Registration Form, enclose your check for $120.00 made out to The Martin Buber Institute and mail to: MBIDE 203 Rockingstone Ave. Larchmont, NY 10538. 914-439-7731.

Personal Information:

e-mail address:
Home Address:

Home Phone Number:
Cell Phone Number:
Work Phone Number:
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___ I have enclosed my tuition fee in the amount of $120.00.
Make checks payable to The Martin Buber Institute. 203 Rockingstone Ave. Larchmont, NY 10538.

http://MBIDE.blogspot.com/ hune@martinbuberinstitute.org



Hune (RainMaker) Margulies, Ph.D, is the founder and director of The Martin Buber Institute For Dialogical Ecology. Hune is also president and founder of Community Development Partners For The Americas. Dr. Margulies teaches Religious Studies at Iona College. Dr. Margulies is the director of the Concentration on Dialogical Ecology at Prescott College. Hune practices community and economic development in various indigenous and poor communities across Latin America. Hune also organizes and leads groups to travel to indigenous and rural areas of Latin America for study, cultural, solidarity and ecological tours. A native of Argentina, Hune moved to Israel in 1974, and has lived in the US since 1980. Hune received a Ph.D. from Columbia University, an M.A. in Philosophy from Fordham University, an M.A. in Urban Affairs from Hunter College, CUNY, and a B.A. in Business and Communications from Adelphi University. Hune is also a rabbinic candidate at the Academy For Jewish Religion in Riverdale, New York. Hune is presently writing a book on the philosophy of Martin Buber, Zen Buddhism and Quaker religiosity. Dr. Margulies served as deputy commissioner of housing in the state of New York and was executive director of several NGOs dealing with low-income housing and community development. Hune speaks at UN forums on religion and peace and lectures frequently on religion and philosophy.
Write to Dr. Hune Margulies

Martin Buber

Why Martin Buber: Martin Buber (1858-1965) was one of the most important and original thinkers of his generation. Martin Buber developed a philosophic system called Dialogical Philosophy. The Dialogical school of thought is associated primarily, though not exclusively, with the works of Martin Buber. Born in Germany, Buber taught in various German Universities until he was forced into exile after the Nazi takeover. Buber settled in pre 1948 Palestine were he became Professor of Social Philosophy at the Hebrew University and was a founder and principal leader of the Jewish-Arab peace movements. Buber was recognized as one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th Century, widely studied in Jewish and Christian theology, Existentialist Philosophy, Psychotherapy and Communitarian social thought. BuberÕs thought encompasses and integrates three principal disciplines: philosophy, theology, and ecology. Buber was a pacifist and communitarianist thinker in the tradition of religious socialism and communitarian anarchism espousing a secular religiosity rooted on an innovative reconstruction of Jewish spiritual practices. Buber was also a leader and spiritual guide to the peace and rapprochement movements in the Jewish-Arab conflict in Israel/Palestine. On a personal note: BuberÕs philosophy constitutes the principal basis for my own personal approach to philosophy, religion and social-ecological thinking. My personal academic background and professional work experience is situated at that encounter point where ecology, philosophy and religion meet and interact.



The Martin Buber Institute Edit Link

contact Hune Edit Link

Note: Chapters of Hune's book on Buber and Zen are regularly posted and updated at www.martinbuberinstitute.org (link above) and on Facebook. 
The Principles of Dialogical Ecology:
Some Notes and Thoughts.. pointers… 

(Find us on Facebook: The Martin Buber Institute For Dialogical Ecology: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Larchmont-NY/The-Martin-Buber-Institute-For-Dialogical-Ecology/102320363254?v=wall&viewas=100000002247980)

Dialogical Ecology belongs in the tradition of religious socialism. In every historic religion there was always a strand that centered religious life in the practice of dialogue. At times this tradition was central to the religion and at times it became marginal. We're making an effort at a renaissance.

The emphasis of religious practices in creating, accessing or facilitating enhanced psychological states of mind is very important. however, true religious life must include a component of relationships at the ecological level that includes, but also transcends the realm of the emotional. everything includes an emotional component, but the realm of dialogue should not be tied nor measured by it, rather, it should remain apart and independent of the emotional. to believe that the attainment of a heightened sense of emotional well-being is the main goal of religion is not something I can agree with. Religion is not the privileging of the inner. It is the I and the Thou creating a between, which is not outside nor inside, and where god "resides". It is not privileging the inner or the outer, but the between. I disagree with the common belief that holds in fact that it does not ultimately matter what "livelihood" or what relational life with the Other one engages in as long as one finds the time to incorporate a measure of "spiritual practices" within one's daily life. This is the belief that religion is there to fill the emotional vacuum of your life, and thank god for it. There are of course wonderful and inspiring practices one can include in one's and one's community's life and they will bring great joy and peace. But the goal of spiritual life cannot stop there. Sometimes the encounters with the Other are not joy or peace, they are prosaic and ordinary. Return to nature and a society based on non-It relationships is not necessarily tied to a "feel good" state of mind. If one seeks peace and joy one should engage in the unconditional, immediate and open encountering of the world as a thou. This is the the practice. It is not correct to assume that one must first be joyful and peaceful before one can be joyful and peaceful with the rest of the world. The path to joy and peace within is to be in joy and peace with the world. At least at the same time as much as possible. By giving first we receive first. The return to nature and to a dialogical community is the practice of religious life. This is a teaching deeply engrained, I believe, in all religions that insist on la life of compassion, of sharing, of contemplation and of dialogue with the whole of being. By engaging in dialogue, without expectations or demands, one is open to joy and peace and joy and peace my yet be attained. And if not, enlightenment cannot be measured only in these terms, its not like tasting an ice cream or drinking a good wine. when you engage the other in dialogue you become that which you had wanted to become. dialogue and liberation are one and the same thing. even if you feel you have still a ways to go before really becoming that, the way to get there is by doing this, canto a canto, verso a verso. To ask to be enlightened before encountering the other as a Thou is to believe that one needs to be healthy before taking medicine or that there is a distinction between the state of enlightenment and the state of dialogue.
The important difference between "mutuality" as a kind of generic term to denote any kind of relationship, and dialogue, as a Buberian term to denote a particular kind of encounters between beings. True that the basic idea that logos is found in relationships, or in the "other" (Levinas) is a recurring shared philosophical base for Buber, Frankl and also Levinas. in both cases, (constructivism and immediacy) the requirement--for both Frankl and Buber--is for an intentionality of relationship that goes beyond the "case at hand". That is, the particular moment gets enveloped in an ecological meaning or logos. In a sense the relationship must be part of a global (or ecological) relationship, otherwise it runs the danger of becoming a "dialogical-narcissism".

God is not in heaven nor on earth. God is not above nor bellow. Nor within or without. Not in the soul or in the flesh. God is in the Between of an I and a Thou.

The path to liberation or enlightenment is through the encounter with the other as a Thou. Nay, liberation-sive-enlightenment is the dialogical relationship itself. The Dialogical relationship is itself the practice of liberation or enlightenment. It does not originate from outside of itself nor will it lead to any other spiritual goal external to itself. To save others and yourself and bring sanity to life, just go and help the other. If you can hold to the idea that the way to help yourself is to help the other, then you are sane enough and need no prior preparation other than going out and help the other..

GOT is Yiddish for God. Or an acronym for Get Out of the Temple!

My basic concern with the state of affairs of Zen Buddhism in the west, (as with major religions as a whole) and this being my personal observation, is that instead of Zen being a way to live one's life and a practice for the whole of one's being, Zen has become a religion. What that means in practical terms for the practitioner of Zen, is that instead of applying to their lives, and living by the core precepts of Zen, all that's needed is to come in and participate in worship services. Religion is a system of codified worship, while the spiritual life is the dialogical encounter with the whole of being. Worship has always been that handy-dandy method packaged within the system known as religion to guarantee the faithful an easy path to the attainment of the highest goals of the spirit. We can reach god or nirvana or paradise without needing to pursue a life of commitment to the spirit, except for the performance of the rituals of the temple defined for us as representing the spiritual life itself.

True spiritual life is not just that which is feasible only in the context of a fully committed monastic life. Spiritual life is and must be pursued in the outside and the inside of every day life. As Thoreau said, “As for conforming outwardly, and living your own life inwardly, I do not think much of that.” The error, as I see it, is that religions have taught us permissible to accommodate the spiritual life to the needs of the life of everyday, while it should truly proceed in the reverse sense: the life of everyday should be accommodated to the demands of the spiritual life. (GOT). In Zen, meditation has become a form of worship in the temple, with all the sacraments, objects of worship and precisions of space and time. It does not matter whether practitioners apply the principles of non-attachment and mindfulness and compassion to all beings in every moment of their lives, so long as they come to temple regularly and join the worship. Worship in this case includes also the verbal uttering of the right terms and main principles of non-attachment, letting go, simplicity and mindfulness. Come to the temple at the appointed time to meditate about non-attachment and letting go, and run off thereafter to the world of material pursuits, litigations, ostentation and wealth. I believe that the Buddhist teaching about Right Livelihood is core to comprehending how Buddhism is a way of life not just a way of worship. We spend most of our life-hours engaged in work. Like most other major spiritual systems, instead of living the spiritual life, we have codified it into a system of rituals. Codification and the study of its intricacies has managed to replace and become the practice of the spiritual life. The priesthood holds the keys to the rituals and to their ineffable efficacy and thus claims for itself the right to ostent their overly-titled uberstatus within their religious communities. Codification is the key for priestly control as the rest of us, not trained in the intricacies of this complex systems, need to rely and trust on this expert class. From teachers (rabbis) they become priests. At the same time religious codes tell us that the eternal life depends on doing these things right!

Spiritual life has become religion and in that it has failed in its primordial tasks. Religion has been teaching seekers and journeyers that there is no need to do or change anything in particular in the practice of their lives, as they can pursue wealth, power, the military, materialisms of all kinds, and for that they appear as indistinguishable from the rest of the population, except perhaps for cool garbs and other external items of clothing or grooming, as blades of grass are from each other. Often these practitioners seems to feel they need to look differently in the sense of biblical admonitions to remember or as subconscious recognition that something needs to be different if they count themselves among the spiritual practitioners. The fact that other than by the particular form of worship they chose, or some other outward signs of general appearance, the practitioners of spiritual life are indistinguishable in their way of life from the rest of the non-practicing population, highlights the deficiency in what the spiritual life is understood to mean.

Religion has told us that we can be brought over to the other shore if we’d just learn the proper technology of worship and temple form and proper procedure. But the spiritual life is none of it, or at least not just it. If we regard temple life as good and useful, it should find its place within the practices of a spiritual life. But even if the belief is that the ritual itself is imbued with sacred efficacy, the spiritual life should then include rituals and temples, but it should not start nor end nor be confined to it alone. The spiritual life is to pray with our feet and our hands and our commitment to finding the face of god in the Other and enlightenment and liberation in the life of dialogue. The translation of spiritual life into a system of relationships which then becomes a social and ecological system is the ultimate path for a spiritual seeker.


1. Martin Buber's Judaic Dialogical Philosophy, Zen Buddhism, and the other myriad spiritualities yet to be discovered. 2. Dialogical Ecology is the religion of the moments of inception. 3. It means also to walk the journey together WITH you, without ever becoming ONE OF you. The contemplative Spectator 4. It means religious socialism in the context of communal anarchic societies.

"The world is not comprehensible, but it is embraceable: through the embracing of one of its beings." —Martin Buber

Its not through reason neither through intuition that we know the world. It is not through mystical union nor through dualistic separation. It is through the encounter of an I with a Thou. Dialogue is not two nor it is one, neither unity nor multiplicity, not monism or dualism, it is Dialogue. Knowing (the biblical lada'at) is being there, right with one's whole being. IT, is relating to the whole of being as a means to a material end. THOU is relating to the whole of being as an end in itself.

May the shabbat bring you peace. may you bring peace to the shabbat.

great faith, great doubt, great determination.. the path of the spiritual life

"Nothing and nobody down here frightens me; not even an angel, not even the angel of fear. But the moaning of a beggar makes me shudder." Rabbi Hune of Kolochitz. (1777)

This is the path of the Community Of Dialogue. The I-Thou practiced or implemented as religious socialism in the framework of communal anarchism. No one attains liberation if there remains one being who is yet to be liberated. I and Thou are the relationships of ordinary life and mind, but it finds its truly liberating and enlightenment core if understood as a practice of community life. I and Thou relationship with fellow humans, with nature and with the mind. With the whole of being.

The Martin Buber Institute For Dialogical Ecology’s Introduction to Dialogical Ecology

Martin Buber-Zen

Introduction to Dialogical Ecology: Martin Buber's Judaic Philosophy of Dialogue, Zen, Religious Socialism and the Anarchist Community of Dialogue: On Buber, Zen and the Principles of Dialogical Ecology...

Host: The Martin Buber Institute For Dialogical Ecology

Time:7:00PM Saturday, July 18th. Location: Larchmont, NY

Buber - Zen- Religious Anarchism

A Brief Description Of My Book:

• Essays on the principles of Dialogical Ecology. Between Buber and Zen.

An Introduction to the Principles of Dialogical Ecology: Zen and Western Dialogical Philosophy. A Study of Martin Buber and Some aspects of Zen Buddhism

Zen and Buber are important to large segments of religious practitioners and academic-scholars. It is my view that my work on the confluence of Zen and Buber, will offer a new and much needed alternative restatement of profound religious and philosophical impact.

In my view, Martin Buber was the most important Jewish philosopher of the 20th century. His philosophy of Dialogue was seminal in the development of humanistic Christian thought and in the development of existentialist religious philosophy. The advent of Zen and other contemplative Buddhist traditions in the West, makes it very important to compare and reconcile the Dialogical Philosophy of Buber with the principles and practices of enlightenment embodied in Zen. The confluence of both teachings, will provide scholars and practitioners with a clear understanding as to the possibilities for the creation of community and the rise of enlightenment. The interest in Buber in the West is vast, and as my research shows, when presented in the light of my work, so it is for Japanese and east-Asian circles. This book is aimed at seekers of spirituality, practitioners, scholars of Judaica and of Zen and Buddhism.

I'm working on the intersection between the Dialogical philosophy of Martin Buber and some aspects of Zen and Dzogchen Buddhism. I have coined a new term for this new synthesis philosophy: Dialogical Ecology.

Buber's greatest innovation lies in the affirmation that there is no "direct" relationship to God, separate from the rest of ordinary life. The dialogue with God passes through a dialogue with the whole of being. There whole of being is Man, Nature and Mind, and God is not a separate category. At least not insofar as human relationship with God is concerned. In addition, the dialogue between man and his own mind-spirit is only one form of spirituality. Dialogue with man and with nature are also spiritualities and are also the gates to liberation. Within or inside are only words and depict no reality outside of them.

Normally, when we talk about spiritual life, we think of communion through ritual practices. From a dialogical perspective, the spiritual life is the encounter of the whole of being with the whole of being. This is the core distinction and contrast between mysticism and dialogue. The varieties of mystical approaches situate the spiritual life within the inner core of a person’s spirit-mind. But the dialogue between man and his own mind-spirit is only one form of spirituality. Dialogue with man and with nature are also spiritualities and are also the gates to liberation. Within or inside are only words and depict no reality outside of them. Genuine dialogue cannot be ritualized into cultic practices, it can only be lived and actualized in the ordinary activities of daily life. There is a moment of inception and that moment cannot be planned, it cannot be attained through a practiced intentionality. The summum bonum of spiritual life is not the ecstatic communion with God, but the dialogue with the divinity that actualizes itself in the way we live our daily life activities. The important thing is to constantly remember that dialogue is not the goal as goals are normally understood in spiritual life. Dialogue is the spiritual life. In essence, dialogue is the starting point for a spiritual life, and it is also the goal of our spiritual life. The point of spiritual life is not unity or identification with god in the mystical sense, and it is not to elevate (a geographic term) to a state of exultation through the perfecting of our ritual practices. The goal is to establish a dialogue with god and the means is to engage in that dialogue. Dialogue, as is the Zen's satory, is actualized or expressed through our regular ordinary life, in the every day and in the here and now.

Zen does not ask whether God exists or not. Zen asks whether God is relevant at all in the path to, and at the shores of liberation. Whatever answer we provide, we are making God into an It. Buber taught that nothing about God can be said, but we can address and encounter him/her in the whole of being. Zen says basically the same, only the word God is substituted for liberation or enlightenment.

This book will introduce the concept and philosophy of Dialogical Ecology. Dialogical Ecology is a concept that describes the confluence between the philosophies of Martin Buber, Zen Buddhism, and several strands of religious Existentialism. Buber's I-Thou philosophy and some aspects of Zen relate with each other in a variety of intrinsic and interconnected ways. The importance of this goes beyond the academic. The encounter between Buber and Zen can enhance both and resolve issues and conflicts within both. Dialogical relationships are a form of engaged meditation. Dialogue and meditation are practices that include both social and individual dimensions. Dialogue is an I-Thou relationship to nature conducted in full mindfulness. It is similar to the non-Itness, or non-attachment as found in Zen. We can say that I-thou is Buber's description of Zen's relationships of mindfulness, no-self and non-attachment.

Buber argued that a truly realized religious experience finds its moment of inception and actualizes itself through the process of I-Thou dialogue with the three realms of existence: person with person, man-nature, man-mind. In every true dialogue, the I and the Thou create a space of "between" and in that space God emerges and becomes present as the Eternal Thou. I-Thou dialogue, in contrast to I-It relationships, requires the person to abandon any claims at commodifying the "other". This refers to the "other" in any one of the three realms. A non-commodified world, by its very nature, abandons the prevailing social institutions rooted in materialism and its socioeconomic manifestations. 'Wrong livelihoods" (borrowing from Buddhist terminology), are those activities that foster and sustain a life of attachments and cravings to the samsaric world. In this context, Buber referred to himself as a Religious Socialist.

In the Buddhist traditions, Buddhadasa Bikkhu developed the concept of Dhammic Socialism in Thailand. In the West, we find important strands of Engaged, socially conscious and environmentally active Zen, such as the teachings of Thich Nhat Hahn and other fascinating teachers in America. In the general Hindu traditions, Ghandian socialism found a strong voice and some measure of theoretical endurance.

I explore how a Buberian dialogical perspective can help shed new light and revive the connections between the practices of a religious life in the here and now, and the societal structures within which religious life becomes actualized. I work with the concept of non-dual relationships and equate that with Buber's concept of the "between". The idea can be subsumed by establishing that the purpose of life, or the Logos in Viktor Frankl's terms, is to say Thou to the three realms, and to be very careful not to expect nor demand a reciprocal turn. This is the difference between encounter and dialogue.

I am interested in articulating ways to express or actualize a deep sense of enlightenment (in Zen's terms), or of dialogue with God (in Buber's terms) in the lived concrete. Since God is not an "it" but the "eternal Thou", Buber wrote that we can't say anything about God but we can address him. Similarly in Zen we can't speak about enlightenment but we can live it. The point of connection here is the practice of dialogue. Saying Thou with the whole of being and to the whole of being, is the practice of the mind's awakening into a state of enlightenment. To be able to actualize or practice enlightenment one must say Thou with the whole of being to the whole of being. The practice of Dialogue is enlightenment and is the result of enlightenment.

Provisional Chapters:

1. Introduction: The principles of Dialogical Ecology. The Religion of the Moment of Inception.
2. Buber and Buddha: The Between.
3. The Moment of Inception: God in The Between. Enlightenment in The Between.
4. Religious Practice: Dialogical Relationship and the Emergence of God.
5. Religious Practice: Orthodoxies and Heterodoxies: Religious Alternatives and Alternatives to Religion. Great Faith, Great Doubt and Great Determination.
6. Religious Practice: The Worship of No-Worship and the Prayer of No-Prayer. A non-Institutional, Relational-based Practice for a Religious Life.
7. Religious Practice: The Canons versus the Moments of Inception.
8. Ordinary Mind. Ordinary Dialogue.
9. Time as Liberation: the Concept and the Practice of the Sabbath
10. Dialogical Community for its own sake: Enlightenment, The Sangha and Religious Socialism. Experiments and Experiences
11. Conclusions: God, Liberation and the Dialogue of the Whole of Being with the Whole of Being.

Sample chapter.

This is a brief introduction to the concept of Dialogical Ecology. It seeks to use no language associated with any particular religious practice, but as you read this text, it becomes obvious that it failed to do so. It does not delve into the book’s topics of Zen and Buber, that is left for the subsequent chapters, but it is fully imbued by the teachings.

The following are some notes and thoughts to help us guide our thinking:


A Havurah (community of friends) or a Sangha (Buddhist community of friends) is not a temple nor a worship group or a prayer circle. Sometimes, however, they become just that. A Dialogical community is not lead by priests nor by any other type of formal or informal clergy. If you meet your leader on the road, just walk around and pass him/her by. No one can lead anyone anywhere in the realm of the spirit.

A community may meet in people's homes or chose other outdoors or indoor places. A community uses the Sabbath-days and other communal occasions (holy-days) to gather together to explore and celebrate communal moments of inception.

We believe in a religious practice outside and beside canonical codes, a faith practice that is not centered on texts, rituals, clergy or temples.

Orthodoxy and Heterodoxies:

Dialogical Ecology explores practices of religious life and celebration, outside and beside conventional rituals and canonized scriptures. Together, the community, chooses and designs their our own practices, their own prayers and their own celebrations. The aim is to by-pass conventional religion in order to point directly at the core of our religious experience and faith-identity.

Every religious reformation in history was based on modifying texts and rituals. While that may be a good thing, a dialogical practice does not want to be based on texts and rituals, whether old fashion or newly adapted to fit present-day conditions. The point is to avoid that which we view as the principal error of the various reformation movements: we do not wish to replace one kind of canonical theology for another kind of canonical theology.

The issue is our rejection of "canonisms" per-se, that is, our move away from any kind of codification of religious experiences. It is beside the spiritual point to replace one canon for another "better" or more acceptable-to-the-times version. The idea is to replace all canons with the practice of the moment of dialogical inceptions.

Changes to an orthodoxy become, over time, new orthodoxies. An orthodoxy is an orthodoxy, and a prayer-book is a prayer-book, and it makes no true spiritual difference replacing some of the "not-as-nice" wording found in old prayer books, or adding or removing age-old embedded terminology and symbols in order to manufacture more acceptable sounding sacramental discourses. A canon is the system of "what's-always-been-there", and that is the case, whether it was there since times immemorial or was just recently added. When it comes to a true religious perspective, we make no distinction between content and method. The issue for us is the method called orthodoxy and that method applies in all branches of every institutional religion.

Every branch is an orthodoxy.

On Religious Practices:

Therefore, the difference is in the method or practice of religious life in the here and now, in every moment and every place. Our practice is different in that we define the concept of practice in a different way. Practice should grow from a community that explores the moments of inception, and community should grow from that dialogical practice. Worship is what one does outside the temple. Temples are always too small or to big to house God. It makes no difference.

We should change society in order to practice and we should make the change of society the key to our practice.

The religious community of friends is non-hierarchical and non-bureaucratic. We value the differences that emerge within equalitarian practice. This is not a "spiritual" community, for we know not what a "spirit" is, nor even if the term "is" applies when speaking of spirits. We recognize within us the infinity that is contained within the boundaries of the unity we call body-mind.

God does not belong to the domain of religion. We concede spiritual matters to religion, but life we keep for the realm of life. God belongs to the Between, it is not in heaven or earth, it is between You and I.

We'd like to suggest some new ways of thinking or approaching the core concepts of our religious faith. We reject any institution or person's authority to name, define and own the faith contents of a religious faith. No arbiters of genuine faith need apply.

The embodiment or actualization of religious practices need not always be translated into rituals and liturgies. The daily life, the “ordinary mind” life is the actual liturgy that embodies or actualized a profound and vital religious life. The life of dialogue is likewise the life of ordinary presence in the world.

On God:

God is a question we ask. God is a question we don't answer. God is not a thing, in other words, God is no-thing. God is what it is and we won't give it a name (the Hebrew acronym YHWY...) An apt way to put it is thus: Miguel de Unamuno once wrote that some people suffer from headaches, while others suffer from stomach-aches or heart-aches… we, in turn, suffer from god-aches. We must always ask ourselves: Do we love God or what we love is the idea we have of God? Do we love God because we have made Him/Her/It into a useful super-tool to satisfy our own needs? The concept of "le-shma" (non-commodifying) is a powerful Judaic idea.

On the Sabbath:

We consecrate (mekadshim: set-aside) the day of the Sabbath. Sabbath is the most genial creation amongst the Jewish intuitions of holiness. We recognize the Sabbath as the core of our faith practice, only we do not understand the Sabbath day, its holiness and its celebrations, in the conventional religious way. We do Sabbath differently. Sabbath is the day of “pure land”. We are commanded not to say “it” to anything or anyone during that entire day. We celebrate the Sabbath with a holy intent (kavannah), and it is this holy intent that points our way to a holy practice. The Sabbath is not holy time because the holy-book anointed it so. While we deny the divine authorship of the holy-books, we recognize our own ability to consecrate the day (in Hebrew: LeKadesh, setting-aside as a holy time) and imbue upon it a divine character. We are the ones who makes the Sabbath holy. For us holiness is the way we live the time of Sabbath rather than the way we worship during that time. We uphold the holiness of the day by performing holy actions, by doing and thinking and feeling holiness. A community gets together to perform the old fashion commandments of community service, making weekly commitments to deeds of public good and reviewing our deeds together the next Sabbath. Communing with nature, arts, music and creativity, and communing with each other. We celebrate the Sabbath also by culminating the gatherings with a kiddush, a communal meal. Like the poet wrote, how wonderful it is to have brothers and sisters sit together and enjoy a seudah (a feast!) Isn't it a holy deed to sometimes enjoy our communal Sabbath kiddush inviting to our table the poor of our community, sharing the gladness together with the weaker amongst us?. Can you count the blessings of Sabbath holiness that is spent together with the needy of our people? all are welcome because our people are all who enter with us into the holiness of the Sabbath.

On Faith:

We distinguish between beliefs and faith, and we choose faith. We distinguish between religion and religiosity, and we choose religiosity. We distinguish between rituals and practice, and we choose practice. We distinguish between conventional-petitional-prayer and the dialogical encounter of the I with the eternal Thou. We chose dialogue. Religiosity is a relationship between a person and the god that emerges in dialogue. Religion is a relationship between a person and an institution. Belief requires evidence, faith requires uncertainty. Only by suspending belief can we deepen our faith. In a general sense, we distinguish between the process that lead to creating religions, and the creative process of religiosity. We choose to engage in the creative process of religiosity, in the dialogical moment of inception. We believe that creativity is an individual and communal process. The creative process of religiosity includes all aspects of faith practices.

On Holy Books:

The belief in the divine authorship of the canonical texts, or of any other creedal book, is a belief we cannot share. We love our historic texts, but we do not worship them. Our relationship to the text is genuine, but we make sure not to turn the text into an idol. One can be idolatrous in one's approach to every object in the world, including God. For that to happen however, we'd first need to make God into an object. But God is not an object, so we can't do that. We dialogue with the text and we keep our stand in the world as the text does the same. We don't tell the text what it is it should be telling us, we believe in freedom of expression for the text! And we also don't allow the text to tell us what it is we should hear it say, we believe in freedom of hearing (shema!) for the community of faith.

On Prayers:

When it comes to praying, we explore our own personal and communal approaches to verbal and non-verbal-prayer. Prayer is the way we live and the actions we undertake. What words and actions we choose as prayers, who we direct our prayers to, what it means to practice that which we pray? We believe that one is what one prays and that one prays what one is. “Is” is a tricky term, but that’s what's so wonderful about conceiving prayer as an existential, rather than a ritual act. Prayer is an action, is the way one lives in this moment and in this place. We don't celebrate events, we create events by celebrating. In a deep sense, we pray to ourselves for we are the hearers and we are the responders to our prayers.

On Worship:

Conventional worship/practice is centered on the text and on the temple and on the priesthood. It is however mostly a textual religious practice. Therefore most reformations throughout history have focused on changes in the text. Ritual changes are basically changes to the language and content of text. Without holding to a faith belief in the text and the rituals emanating from the text, we learn that there need not be institutional ritual-worship in order to have a genuine spiritual practice. What is it that we do? which practices do we engage in when we say that we practice our faith outside and besides rituals and religions? The case is that everything in the world and every moment of our lives are a spiritual practice. Why not, for instance, focus our practice on community service? (tikkun olam). Social engagement --without ascribing hierarchies to different practices-- is particularly important because it helps create the societal context for the emergence of dialogue. Social engagement places us right in the midst of the opportunity for dialogue with our fellow brothers and sisters. Service is offering: we offer ourselves to the world to receive us and we allow the world to offer itself for us to receive it.

We seek the worship that emerges in the moment of dialogical inception.

Is there Wisdom?

There is wisdom in every religion and in every spiritual system. There is also an appalling degree of non-wisdom in every religion and spiritual system. Same applies to non-religious and non-spiritual systems. Unless it is your belief that God wrote that one book, then read them all, or read none, learn from all or reject them all, or what's more important, write it yourself, or even better yet, lets write it together.

It is important to reallize than from a Dialogical perspective, the encounter with God is only the first step. It is not the goal or beatifical summum bonum of life. Mystical awareness may be "satisfactory" for the seeker, but the question in Dialogical Ecology is: you found God! now what?!

© Hune Margulies, 2008
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Funding: We need your help! The Martin Buber Institute for Dialogical Ecology seeks to acquire funding in its character as an academic Institute. We expect to receive outside sources of funding and also, to the extent possible, receive some form of support from affiliated universities. The MBIDE seeks seven major sources of funding: 1. Private donors. Two main sources: A. A network of private people interested in the applications of innovative ecological programs, and B. A network of people interested in the contributions of Buberian, Dialogical and progressive Jewish philosophy to issues in ecology. 2. Foundations. Private Family foundations, Small and Medium Size foundations with varied interests in ecology, Jewish themes, and international cooperation. 3. Other academic Institutes around the world. Universities and research Institutes interested in ecology from a Theological perspective. German sources interested in the German-Jewish works of Martin Buber. Japanese Institutes interested in the connection between Zen and Dialogical Ecology and several world Jewish research Institutes. 4. Membership and subscriptions. Membership categories of fellows, sponsors, and friends. Subscriptions to the journal and other publications, conference fees. 5. Sponsored activities. Continuing with work already in progress for a number of years, we will seek to pursue applied cooperative extension programs primarily in indigenous communities throughout Latin America and on Israel-Palestine issues. 6. The cooperation of affiliated Universities in the pursuit of development and grants. We will ask that the Buber Institute be referred to the development office as one of the initiatives for internal and external funding. 7. Other in-kind resources. A specific funding plan for each of the above categories has already been worked out in some detail. We have already established basic contacts within each category of funding and are expecting to be able to begin executing our plans once the Institute is formally established and announced. CONTACT THE MBIDE