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An Open Conversation

Does the title beg the question…”why have a closed conversation?”

So, ask what you will as all is Dharma. Over the course of our life we have had millions of conversations. Some short, some long, some helpful, some not, some meaningful, some not. Here is your opportunity to explore.

I believe conversations make us human. I believe asking , giving, receiving  and sharing fosters the human condition

Some years ago, I spoke to a group of eight graders at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Falmouth. The teacher had been teaching the major religions and I was asked to speak about Buddhism and “Zen.” Zen, because a couple of students wanted to know the difference between it and Buddhism. Here is a model the class and I created to have a conversation about Soto Zen and Buddhism... including misspelling impermanence:

I wrote about meaningful conversations in 2013. I hope this might spark some questions:



1. Can we have a meaningful conversation?

2. Yes.

3. How do we do that?

4. We continue what you just started.

5. Okay, should I define what I mean by meaningful?

6. Can you?

7. I don't know. I guess that is fundamental though- knowing I mean.

8. Words sometimes don't help?

9. No. That is my point if I know how can I ever demonstrate that knowing?

10. Buttoning your shirt.

11. But that is a minimal thing - I mean knowing, I'm talking about big things like life and death.

12. What do you do when you button your shirt?

13. Okay, okay, I see you are now going mystical on me. This's part of my concern about meaning. You can't just change the subject or line of thought and think, that is supposed, to make sense- it doesn't to me.

14. Do you have other rules?

15. Why are we arguing?

16. We are demonstrating parts of ourselves to see if something makes sense to the other - this is exploring possible connecting.

17. That makes me feel less angry.

18. I know what you mean. Do you think I do?

19. I started to say yes, then, I think that is too easy to just accept what you say on face value. But, at the same time I feel that you might.

20. You kind of covered all bases with that comment.

21. Better safe than sorry!

22. Looks like you have a touch of the mystic about you too.

23. #21 is basically true, do you not agree?

24. One halts, the other faults.

25. When is being careful a fault?

26. It is a halt…

27. Okay, a halt - what is a halt?

28. Look back at #11.You stopped/halted the flow and direction of the conversation.

29. So what is a “fault?”

30. Wrong.

31.You mean this was not the right question?

32. Wrong.

33. Then, is wrong a fault, or the fault?

34. RwIrGoHnTg…it is, and we stop and/or blame… right and wrong are interwoven and we label by parsing.

35. Wait, wait, now you’ve lost me I'm still on #29.

36. #30+#31+ #32+#33+#34

37. Are you talking about numbers or words?

38. Neither.

39. Come on, it must be one or the other.

40. When you say a number it is a word when you write a number it is a word or another symbol.

41. Come on six or 6 people are still six, IIIIII, or 6 people.

42. They are __________.

43. What do you mean "they are________?"

44. They/ and you and I are being…together, spending our life in conversation.

45. Existence? You’re saying meaning means full awareness of existence?


47. Wait, you didn't say anything in #46.

48.  :)..................................................

49. Why are we smiling?

50.  :)..................................................

Finally, I thought you might like to take a test. Don’t worry I will not grade it. But nonetheless, I find this particular exam interesting in its intent, implementation, reactions, and meaning:

So be sure to take the test before attending our service this Tuesday, February 6, 2024, 7:00 PM/ET at the First Congregational Church in Falmouth, or on Zoom at 

Sangaku 🙏

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