Excerpt from Martin Buber’s Primordial Religiosity by Hune Margulies


This essay appears in our Summer 2022 issue. Click here to read the rest of Dr. Margulies’ essay and the entire issue for free. Our gift to you.

My reading of Martin Buber takes me to this principal insight: God is not in heaven nor on earth. God is not above nor below. Not within and not without. Not in the soul or in the flesh. God is not an entity anywhere: God is the between of an I and a Thou.

This essay is an in-depth conversation between philosophies of dialogue, particularly as espoused by Martin Buber, and those found in wisdom traditions of the East, principally in Buddhism and its Zen school, with a more specific focus in the Zen Pure Land teachings. Writings from Sufism, Hasidism, Hinduism and other wisdom traditions are discussed as well, as they all draw their essential teachings from what I refer to as primordial moments of deep poetic insight.  Primordial events occur when we enter into I-Thou relationships with one another and with nature.  Dialogical philosophy elaborates on the principle of relationship, which in its various contexts and different modalities is discussed throughout the chapters of this book. This book elucidates how the principles of dialogical relationships apply within different aspects of the spiritual life. The principle of relationship establishes that God is not the wholly-other, nor is God the wholly-same:  God is the wholly-between. The realm of the between is the existential alternative to the realm of the transcendence and the realm of the immanence. In regard to the question of God, this book offers an alternative to the prevailing doctrines of theisms and atheism: We affirm the insight that God is the between of I and Thou.

Hune MarguliesHUNE MARGULIES is the author of “Martin Buber and Eastern Wisdom Teachings: The Recovery of the Spiritual Imagination” (Cambridge Scholars Publishers, UK, 2022) and “Will and Grace: Meditations on the Dialogical Philosophy of Martin Buber” (Brill, The Netherlands, 2017). Margulies is a scholar and poet who works on the interconnections between Martin Buber’s Dialogical Philosophy and some aspects of Zen Buddhism. Margulies is the founder of the Martin Buber Institute for Dialogical Ecology.

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