Dr Tom Kerns
North Seattle Community College


Personal Reflection Questions for

Martin Buber's The Way of Man

(These responses are personal and private, so that you can feel comfortable about being candid with yourself. Later, perhaps, you can disclose to others only as much as you wish, or nothing at all.)

Part I. "Heart Searching"

  1. Do you know some of the ways that you hide from God? List two or three of your most effective ways of hiding.

  2. Think of some times that the hand of God has stirred your heart, and that you have heard His sounds in your soul. Perhaps some of those times occurred while reading, while hearing a poem or music, during a time of solitude, hearing words from a respected person, visions in a dream, during times at the sea or in the forest, etc. etc.
    Briefly describe one of those times, what it was and how you felt.

  3. Did that time move you to change anything in your life?

  4. How did it feel to "have your heart open?"

  5. How does it feel when your heart is closed?

Part II. "Your Particular Way"

  1. Did you grow up believing that there was one right , or best, way to serve God? What was that?

  2. List two or three of your heart's strongest desires.

  3. What do they tell you about what your "central wish," i.e., your "essential inclination" might be? (Please feel free to make wild guesses.)

  4. Can you discern the general outlines of your "particular way?" What would you say characterizes your particular way?

Part III. "Resolution vs Patchwork"

  1. What do you see as the difference between "patchwork" and "resolution?"

  2. What do you consider "oneness of soul" to consist of?

  3. How might it be achieved?

Part IV. "To Begin With Oneself"

  1. Select a recent or current "conflict" in your life. Very briefly describe it, just the essentials, i.e., what the conflict is really about.

  2. Do you feel some resistance to acknowledging that one source of this conflict is within you? (Hint: The answer is: "Damn right I do!")
    Why, do you suppose you feel such resistance?

  3. Can you discern any sense in which there is an inner conflict in you , which corresponds to the outer conflict between you and others?
    Try to describe some conflict within you which might be similar to a conflict between you and others.

  4. What might it mean, in that situation, to "straighten yourself out?"

Part V. "Not To Be Preoccupied With Oneself"

  1. Are there any ways, in recent months, that you have been "preoccupied with yourself?" Briefly note those ways.

  2. Can you imagine ways to drop that preoccupation?

  3. Is there someone you would have to forgive in order to drop that preoccupation? Who?

  4. Is there someone you would have to stop envying in order to drop that preoccupation? Or someone you would have to stop "hating?" Who?

  5. What might you then become really occupied with?

Part VI. "Here Where One Stands"

  1. Describe very briefly, in just a few phrases, what your present life situation is. I.e., where in life would you say you are standing right now?

  2. How might there be a "treasure" buried in your present life situation? What might the "treasure" be that can be found only in your particular place? (Just make some wild guesses. E.g., what might someone envy about your present situation? What might they want that you have? What do you have enough of time? money? ideas? hope? love? energy? belief? trust? that you can give?

  3. What might you do with those "treasures?" How could they be of value in your particular path?

  4. If it is true that "God dwells wherever man lets Him in," how can you let God in a little better than you do now?