Conversation on a Country Path Exploring and Sharing Ideas

Word count: 424

A story of a walk with a scientist, teacher and writer.

Where did it come from?

This method came from the title of the Heidegger essay and from personal experimentation as well as the practice of walking as meditation in Buddhism.

What is the hypothesis?

That walking can be a meditation.

How can you apply this method?

Invite three people on a walk in the vein of Heidegger’s Conversations on a Country Path essay with the philosopher, the scientist and the teacher. Pick some topics, find a country path, walk, record, reflect etc…

Who did it come from?

In Taoist practice the suspending of one’s agenda is a somatic discipline that opens an experiential, physiological psychology of the awareness and feeling of moving into nearness.

The slowing down of the scientist and the scholar in us can be expressed somatically in the practice of “holding one’s tongue” at the roof of the mouth and softening one’s gaze. In yoga psychology such practices are called “mudras.”

Somatically, science is a knife-like consciousness that wishes to distinguish this from that–establishing our horizons of knowledge. This is reflected in the etymological root of the word science, “scio,” which means “knife” or “to cut” in Sanscrit.

As Lao Tsu says, the Tao that can be spoken is not the true Tao because it cuts through the silence. Somatically, the scholar in us expresses our vision, our historical, theoretical frameworks–our horizons of meaning. Our word “theory” derives from the Greek “theoreo,” to look at.

Slowing down the scientist and the scholar does not denigrate these modes of consciousness. But only when they are suspended is it possible, for example, for the scientist to distinguish between dialogue and discussion or debate, and for the scholar to see the openness beyond the horizon. Such practices can transform our relation to language.

We can follow these somatic practices in The Tao Te Ching (#52) which expresses the suspension of our agendas in these terms:

  • Block the openings
  • Shut the doors.
  • Blunt the sharpness
  • Untangle the knots
  • Soften the glare.

What is my point of view on this method?

I am a big advocate of walking- you see the world at human speed, you have time to think and read the landscape. On a side note, this structure can be seen in the film Stalker by Tarkovsky.

Did you try it?

Please leave a comment below detailing where, when, with whom, how, why and what you did (and include a link if you documented about using this method.


You can purchase the full essay here: Country Path Conversations (Studies in Continental Thought)