Martin Buber [1878-1965] was a Jewish philosopher with a particular fascination with the Kabbalistic, emotional beliefs of the Hasidic movement.
His notion of existence as encounter formed a strong basis for his metaphysical discourse. All human activity involved how we encounter the world around us. To Buber there were essentially one two ways–‘I – IT’ or ‘I – Thou’.
The ‘I- IT’ encounter describes the objectification of the world. All things are simply objects to be experienced. There is no ‘other’ to encounter, no real dialog, merely monologue . There can be little emotional content, no love or compassion involved whatsoever.
He saw ‘I – Thou’ as an essentially deep connection with another person, object or being. There is no actually transmission of words or information during these encounters. Although difficult to measure or exactly describe, we know it when we ‘see’ it.
Examples are: two lovers together, a person with a pet dog or cat, an individual touching a plant or tree, two strangers viewing each other.
And to Buber, the ultimate ‘I – Thou’ was man’s encounter with God.
It is a fascinating concept to ponder
I believe that it requires to think about how we relate to the world around us. It seems to me that such metaphysical outlook can do nothing but to expand our horizon line. It has the potential to drag us out of our tribalistic mentality. It forces us to confront our own bigotries and hatreds.
The ‘I -Thou’ position connects us with all that exists–human, non-human, living, non-living. It immediately envelops one in a peaceful and healing state of consciousness. It is incompatible with bigotry and hatred. It leads us into compassion and love for all that exists. We should meditate on it.