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I-It and I-Thou

--by David Brooks (Mar 13, 2017)



(Reflections on "I-Thou" by Martin Buber)

I-It relationships come in two varieties.

Some are strictly utilitarian. You’re exchanging information in order to do some practical thing, like getting your taxes done.

But other I-It relationships are truncated versions of what should be deep relationships. You’re with a friend, colleague, spouse or neighbor, but you’re not really bringing your whole self to that encounter. You’re fearful, closed or withdrawn — objectifying her, talking at her, offering only a shallow piece of yourself and seeing only the shallow piece of her.

I-Thou relationships, on the other hand, are personal, direct, dialogical — nothing is held back. A Thou relationship exists when two or more people are totally immersed in their situation, when deep calls to deep, when they are offering up themselves and embracing the other in some total, unselfconscious way, when they are involved in “mutual animated describing.”

A doctor has an I-It relationship with a patient when he treats him as a machine in need of repair. But Peter DeMarco described an I-Thou relationship in a letter to the doctors and nurses who cared for his dying wife, which was published in The Times:

“How many times did you hug me and console me when I fell to pieces, or ask about Laura’s life and the person she was, taking the time to look at her photos or read the things I’d written about her? How many times did you deliver bad news with compassionate words, and sadness in your eyes?”

In our culture we use phrases like finding oneself, finding your passion, loving yourself so you can love others. But Buber argued that it’s nonsensical to think of the self in isolation. The I only exists in relation to some other.

“The development of the soul in the child is inextricably bound up with that of the longing for the Thou,” he wrote. All through life, the self is emerging out of some dialogue, either a cold stifling one or a rich complete one: “All real living is meeting.”

You can’t intentionally command I-Thou moments into being. You can only be open to them and provide fertile soil...

Buber described genuine dialogue as a sort of social flow. Teachers and students are learning with each other. An audience and an artist are lost in a performance.

These moments don’t last. It is the “exalted melancholy of our fate” that Thou moments always fade back into It moments. But a world has been built during such intense moments. A binding cord has been strengthened. The person who has experienced the Thou has been thickened and comes closer to wholeness.
 

Excerpted from the NY Times article: http://nyti.ms/2e8y2x1

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Previous Reflections:

 
On Mar 11, 2017 david doane wrote:

I-it moments are utilitarian, goal- and future-directed.  I-thou moments are purposeless or goal-less and present.  Both kinds of moments are part of life.  In I-thou moments there are two individuals meeting, being open and honest in the moment.  In I-thou moments the individuals are personally present and vulnerable, simply being together.  In I-it moments there is an agenda, some thing or some function is being sought, and I relate to the other as being there to serve a purpose.  I-it moments can be fine when the agenda is out in the open, and are a problem when there is a hidden agenda.  I've had some I-thou moments in which I and another are being soul to soul in a spiritual agape love, and such moments are precious and few, as Sonny Geraci sang.  I-it and I-thou moments are easy to tell apart.  When I'm out to get something from the other I'm in an I-it moment.  When I'm simply meeting and being met, being open in the present and without purpose or agenda, I'm in an I-thou moment.



On Mar 12, 2017 Jagdish P Dave wrote:

Life is a web of relationships. Some are  I-It  relationships. They are utilitarian,pragmatic and self-serving. Such relationships are shallow leaving no  nourishing deep roots of memory in our mind. I have had such relationships leaving no worth- remembering deep traces behind.

I cherish I-Thou relationships. It is a relationship between two genuine  and deeply caring beings. It has openness, trust,  and compassion. I have been blessed to have such deep relationships with my parents, family members, a few friends and my soul mate. Such relationships have made me a whole and wholesome person. Such relationships have been blessings to me and I am deeply grateful for such blessings.

May we  keep our mind and heart  open to cultivate such I-Thou relationships!

Namaste.

Jagdish P Dave




On Mar 14, 2017 Barbara Gordon wrote:

What came to mind whilst reading this piece were the hours immediately following my daughter's birth. I felt such intensity of connectedness with her. In fact saying I 'felt' it isn't the word. I 'was' it! It lasted for several hours at a high level of awareness and extreme intensity and joy which expanded to include everyone and everything that had ever existed.
I have experienced this feeling at other times but for much shorter periods.
Thank you for this insight as now (41 years later) our relationship is struggling and we are considering attending relationship counselling to help heal a rift that has sat between us for over 4 years. Not easy as she lives in Australia and I live in UK. I shall take the I-Thou insight with me.
With Love and Gratitude.
Barbara x



On Mar 14, 2017 Soni wrote:

 This rings so true.... and it adds to my learning of last week when reading What makes you NOT a Buddhist - by Dzongasar Jamyang Khyentse. 

In this book, the Tibetian practitioner-monk-teacher-writer describes the four noble truths in his own words to interpret for the modern world :
First one is written as "All compounded / fabricated things are impermanent. "Compounded//fabricated" meaning anything that arises when two things, persons, thoughts, actions, meet. So also in relationships. 

And before that : everything is emptiness.

I-Thou moments would correspond to the present moments there is nothing coming between and there is 100% empathy and understanding between souls.

The day-to-day experiences of people : quick jumping to analysis, categorizing and boxing of judgments is indeed an I-IT phenomenon.

It was an OMG moment for me when I read this... because in such moments essentially we destroy human-ness of "others" into item-ness most of the time without awareness.

Thank you for this --- to watch out for.



On Mar 14, 2017 Soni wrote:

 This rings so true.... and it adds to my learning of last week when reading What makes you NOT a Buddhist - by Dzongasar Jamyang Khyentse. 

In this book, the Tibetian practitioner-monk-teacher-writer describes the four noble truths in his own words to interpret for the modern world :
First one is written as "All compounded / fabricated things are impermanent. "Compounded//fabricated" meaning anything that arises when two things, persons, thoughts, actions, meet. So also in relationships. 

And before that : everything is emptiness.

I-Thou moments would correspond to the present moments there is nothing coming between and there is 100% empathy and understanding between souls.

The day-to-day experiences of people : quick jumping to analysis, categorizing and boxing of judgments is indeed an I-IT phenomenon.

It was an OMG moment for me when I read this... because in such moments essentially we destroy human-ness of "others" into item-ness most of the time without awareness.

Thank you for this --- to watch out for.



On Mar 16, 2017 Albert wrote:

 I-Thou moments are most precious with others (for me) when we sense, feel, think and imagine, collectively. These same moments occur for me more frequently however in the natural environment, when I am alone with nature. I can only imagine how our world would be today if we didn't consider the non-human, natural world as an 'It.'



On Apr 27, 2017 Mary Brittain wrote:

 So well expressed. Describes how I feel in in nature. Definitely a I-Thou experience for me.



On May 8, 2017 Kennedy Esther wrote:

 



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On May 9, 2017 PATRICIA wrote:

 Hello every one, Am here to share my testimony which might be of help to you also. i really appreciate what Dr. IGODO has done in my life, i have issue with my Husband 8 months ago which lead to our breakup i plead and plead to him but he never listen so confuse and restless, he took his bags and left the house this have cause me pains and sorrow, after some weeks i met my old time friend and she was asking about my Husband i was sad, she look at my face and said what it’s matter that i look worried and i have reduce in nature, i told her everything that happened, she was shock to hear that, after telling her the situation on ground she now told me not to worry about anything at all, she ask me how long now and i said up to 8 months now, she said alright that there is a solution for the issue so i said OK, after 2 days she gave me a website and told me to contact the great man called Dr. IGODO i went ahead and contacted him, i told him everything that is going on so after telling him, he told me not to think anymore that my Husband is going to come back within 24 hours that he is giving me his word, i said OK let me give a try so he told me what is to be done and i did everything accordingly, exactly 24 hours it was very early in the morning which i had a call on my cell phone and looking at the number it was Micheal number i was happy to see the great work Dr. IGODO just did for me, so i pick the call and he was crying, begging me to forgive him that he will never do anything to hurt me again i had no option but to accept him back because i miss him so much, so right now we are together in happiness, i will advice anyone in need of all kinds of help to contact Dr.IGODO Email:[igodoospelltemple@yahoo.com]

WhatsApp No: +2347038606922
 


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On Oct 9, 2018 Susan Jesse wrote:

 My name is Susan Jesse, and I base in Canada...My life is back!!! After 2 years of Broken marriage, my husband left me with two kids I felt like my life was about to end i almost committed suicide, i was emotionally down for a very long time. Thanks to a spell caster called DR Isikolo, which i met online. On one faithful day, as I was browsing through the internet,I came across allot of testimonies about this particular spell caster. Some people testified that he brought their Ex lover back, some testified that he restores womb,cure cancer,and other sickness, some testified that he can cast a spell to stop divorce and so on. i also come across one particular testimony,it was about a woman called Sonia,she testified about how he brought back her Ex lover in less than 2 days, and at the end of her testimony she dropped DR Isikolo's e-mail address. After reading all these,I decided to give it a try. I contacted him via email and explained my problem to him. In just 24hours, my husband came back to me. We solved our issues, and we are even happier than before DR Isikolo, is really a gifted man and i will not stop publishing him because he is a wonderful man... If you have a problem and you are looking for a real and genuine spell caster to solve all your problems for you. Try High okokospellcaster@gmail.com anytime, he might be the answer to your problems. Here's his contact: isikolosolutionhome@gmail.com. call or Whatsapp him on +2348133261196



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