Dialogue has only one small possibility, and that is between the master and the disciple; one who knows and one who is ready to know. But in the Greek tradition there is no place for the master-disciple phenomenon. It has happened only in the East particularly in this land, it was originated that when somebody comes to know, it is his absolute duty to share his experience with those who do not know. Whether they listen or not should not be the concern.
If you talk to a hundred persons, perhaps one may listen. That is enough reward: you have opened one person’s eyes amongst thousands of blind people. Hence, although dialogue is associated with the name of Socrates, dialogue did not happen in Socrates’ life itself. He himself was not enlightened till the last moment of his life. He became enlightened when the poison was given to him, and there was no time left for any dialogue.
Still, he tried to say a few things because his basic contention was that “Unless I know, how can I tell you? You ask me what death is and I am still alive how can I say to you what death is? Let me die first.”
But people said, “Many have deceived us; they say, ‘Let us die first’ and then they die and they don’t even give a call. They simply disappear. What is the guarantee that when you die you will tell us the truth?”
He said, “I will try my best” and he tried his best. Not after death, but just in between, because his death happened by poison and poison takes a little time. So he was hanging between life and death for a few minutes. In those few minutes he said the most important thing. It is the only dialogue worth calling significant.
He said, as the poison was given, “My feet have become numb, I cannot feel my feet, but I am still whole. Inside I don’t feel that anything is missing. My hands have become numb, I don’t feel that I have hands. I can see them, but they are dead. But inside me I am as whole as I have always been. I don’t see that I am missing anything. My heart is sinking; perhaps I may not be able to say anything more. This may be my last statement, that death only separates the body and consciousness; it does not kill, because I am still absolutely whole. I have not lost anything. My consciousness is as pure, as alive, as it has ever been.”
That was the only authentic dialogue. But that too was happening between a man who was just coming closer to the truth of death, and people who had no idea what death is. And if you don’t have any idea of what death is, you cannot have any idea of what life is. They are all together. The man of meditation…
And Socrates was not a man of meditation. He was a great rationalist, a great philosopher and thinker, but not a mystic. He was a mystic only for those three or four minutes between the poisoning and his death. But he was perhaps the keenest intellect the world has ever known. His saying, “Know thyself,” is perfectly true, but it is not possible to know thyself by dialogue.
With whom are you going to have the dialogue? With your wife? With your husband? With whom? You look all around ask people “Please let us have a dialogue.” And they will say, “Get lost dialogue, my foot! What have I to do with dialogue? Dialogues happen only in movies, this is real life!”