Bob Schwartz

Meditation is not about meditation


Meditation is not about meditation.

Many meditate. Many think about meditation. Many talk about mediation. Many write about meditation.

The Zen expression “just sitting” is helpful. So many ways, with or without meditation, and so many ways of meditation. “Just” says it is enough in its unadorned, undecorated, uncomplicated way. Whether it is Zen or some other practice, “just” does not stop people from decorating, as they would a bare-walled house.

Without adding to this, without hanging one more picture on the wall, the thought arose: meditation is not about meditation. Not an original thought, but an essential one, maybe the essential one. Rather than explain it, I just repeat it. If you are meditating in any way, or thinking about meditating, or talking about meditating, or writing about meditating:

Meditation is not about meditation.





In dreams
those who can’t walk walk
those who walk fly
the long lost is found
the precious disappears
hearts are broken and mended
without reason.
Is the night different from day
sleep from wake?
All and nothing
are possible.




For K

The birds don’t keep a calendar
or mark occasions.
Every day is an event
for celebration and music.
But today from the first slice of sun
that is their cue
I heard the wordless symphony
include you in the manifest of wonders.

The Incomparable Incredible Inimitable Mulla Nasrudin


A Sufi story:

Guess What?

A wag met Nasrudin. In his pocket he had an egg. “Tell me, Mulla; are you any good at guessing games?”

“Not bad,” said Nasrudin.

“Very well, then: Tell me what I have in my pocket.”

“Give me a clue, then.”

“It is shaped like an egg, it is yellow and white inside, and it looks like an egg.”

“Some sort of a cake,” said Nasrudin.

Idries Shah, The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasrudin

About Mulla Nasrudin:

The Mulla is variously referred to as very stupid, improbably clever, the possessor of mystical secrets. The dervishes use him as a figure to illustrate, in their teachings, the antics characteristic of the human mind….

The Sufis, who believe that deep intuition is the only real guide to knowledge, use these stories almost like exercises. They ask people to choose a few which especially appeal to them, and to turn them over in the mind, making them their own. Teaching masters of the dervishes say that in this way a breakthrough into a higher wisdom can be effected.

But the Sufis concur with those who are not following a mystic way, that everyone can do with the Nasrudin tales what people have done through the centuries – enjoy them.

Idries Shah, The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin

It is impossible to hear these stories without thinking about Marx Brothers movies, and particularly about Duck Soup (1933). That movie is about the nation of Freedonia, which hires the world’s biggest idiot, Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx), to be its leader. He brings along a crew of other idiots, Chicolini (Chico Marx) and Pinky (Harpo Marx), to help him ruin the country.

Chicolini: Now I aska you one. What has a trunk, but no key, weighs 2,000 pounds and lives in a circus?
Prosecutor: That’s irrelevant.
Chicolini: Irrelephant? Hey, that’sa that answer. There’s a whole lot of irrelephants in the circus.

* * *

Rufus T. Firefly: Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot. But don’t let that fool you. He really is an idiot.

Trump’s Scorched-America Strategy

scorched-earth: relating to or being a military strategy involving deliberate and usually widespread destruction of property and resources (such as housing and factories) so that an invading enemy cannot use them.

Trump knows nothing about history or about military strategy. He is, as his closest advisers have said, an idiot. But instinctively, he recognizes that anything or anyone that cannot help him or that might harm him must be destroyed.

A scorched-earth strategy has been used throughout history. In America, this has happened a number of times, including most famously during the Civil War. General Sherman’s March to the Sea, including the burning of Atlanta, caused $100 million (1863 dollars) in damage to Georgia.

Trump’s March includes the attempted destruction of government institutions, public servants, the free press, the rule of law, truthfulness, core American and moral principles, and more. In this, he has been aided and abetted by numerous Republican enablers, who either don’t realize that this is a scorched-America strategy, or who do recognize it and want to be part of the victorious army.

In war, it must be devastating beyond description to watch the land you love, live in, and have developed be totally destroyed. In America, we are learning how that feels.

Front Yard Birds, Back Yard Birds

Front Yard Birds, Back Yard Birds

Sitting between
open window and open window
I hear the birds articulate and awake
sounding sweet, sometimes shrill,
and wise by nature.
They do not compete or argue
and I in the middle
listen and learn not to talk back.


Republicans are either stupid (in a stupor) or think people are stupid. Either way, the fix is in for Kavanaugh.


Even before the limited FBI investigation is completed, at least one Republican Senator has incongruously announced that there is “no corroboration” from an investigation that isn’t done yet.

This is the latest illogical move in a process never designed to approach the truth.

There is never going to be corroboration under these circumstances. Only three eyewitnesses: Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh, both of whom testified, and Mark Judge, who no doubt repeated to the FBI that due to his blackout drinking he has no memory of the event. Blackout or not, neither Kavanaugh nor Judge are about to own up to activity that is a crime.

Instead, the Republicans are appropriately being asked to determine, in the absence of corroboration, which one is telling the truth. The current position being taken by Republicans is that they really don’t want to call Ford or Kavanaugh a liar. Which position is untenable when two people tell totally inconsistent and opposite stories.

What Republicans really want to ignore is growing corroboration that, aside from the question of the sexual assault, Kavanaugh lied about himself repeatedly throughout his hearing.

Maybe Republicans really are simple-minded and haven’t noticed any of this. Or maybe they are smart enough to know that they are being illogical and deceptive, but expect that American people are stupid enough to believe and support their position.

Would you rather have Senators who are stupid, or Senators who think you are? That may be the question of our time.

The Kavanaugh Hearing and Investigation: A Tiny Preview of What Happens After the Mueller Indictments and Report

As expected, the small accommodation and reasonableness following the Kavanaugh hearing are almost certainly an illusion.

The White House has not just limited the scope of the FBI investigation; it is essentially managing it. Trump and Trump-servile Republicans are more committed than ever to getting Kavanaugh immediately on the Supreme Court—despite his clearly lying, not just about a sexual assault, but about his life. He also exhibited temperament unsuitable for any judge, let alone a Supreme Court Justice: angry, belligerent, evasive, weirdly emotional, and particularly defensive about his drinking. Besides rambling on about how much he liked beer, he rudely asked not one but two United States Senators what they drink. At times, it seemed less like a hearing and more like an intervention for a functioning alcoholic.

The Republicans don’t care. There are going to be plenty of legal questions and cases involving Trump and his associates coming before the Supreme Court. It is essential that Trump have someone fighting for him not just at the Court but on the Court. Nothing can stand in the way of that.

Kavanaugh is tainted, thanks to his own behavior, and will remain so if and as long as he sits on the Court. He is in his fifties, those who knew him, worked with him, and socialized with him are in their fifties or younger. For decades, revelations will keep coming out about the real Brett Kavanaugh. As angry as that may make him—and us—he will have the ultimate advantage if he is on the Court, as one of the nine most powerful people in America—with lifelong tenure.

The bigger point is that this has been a preview of what Trump, his executive staff—including the Justice Department and the FBI—and the Republicans will do as soon as the cascade of indictments and the report come from Mueller. If you thought last week was crazy, fasten your seatbelts—it’s going to be a wild and bumpy ride.

The Hopeful But Limited Relief of Having the New Kavanaugh Investigation

It is good news that there will be a new FBI investigation in the Brett Kavanaugh matter. Any movement towards a return to free, open and lawful democracy is welcome.

But before we pop champagne and release balloons, a reality check. Here are some ways the investigation could have little effect on the outcome—in fact, will be designed to have little effect, besides providing cover for vulnerable and/or spineless Republicans.

1. It is a limited investigation. We don’t know the scope, which is being directed by Trump. It could be as narrow as the single incident alleged by Christine Blasey Ford, the incident that was the subject of Thursday’s hearing. This could mean simply talking to her, to Brett Kavanaugh, and to the few people who were there—only one of whom, Mark Judge, is an eyewitness.

Judge has already said that as an effect of his chronic alcoholic blackouts, going back to high school, he has no memory, one way or the other, of the incident. There is no reason he won’t say the same thing to the FBI.

The investigation could be broader. It could include other allegations that have been made. It could include everything that Ford and Kavanaugh testified to during the hearing. It could thus involve Kavanaugh’s claims about his benign behavior, claims that have been refuted by a number of people who knew him in high school and college. It could include all this, but almost certainly will not.

2. Trump controls the report of the investigation. Trump ordered the investigation. His order presumably included a specific scope of investigation for the FBI to follow. Just as importantly, the report of the investigation will go directly to Trump, who can decide how much of the investigation report can be shared and who it can be shared with.

The worst case, which would not be surprising, is that no copies of the report will be distributed. Instead, senators will be allowed to review the report in the White House. They may be allowed to take notes.

All of this—any presidential redaction and any restricted distribution—are part of the desire by some for this investigation to be “confidential”…

3. The investigation is, in some unspecified way, supposed to be “confidential”. Judge has said he wants whatever he says to be confidential. Kavanaugh has indicated he expects it to be confidential. It is unclear what this means functionally. But it is easy to see the case that would be made:

The only reason we are doing this investigation is to further inform the senators responsible for deciding on confirmation. Others, whether other members of Congress or citizens in general, may be curious, but they have no compelling reason to see the detailed report, given that it contains sensitive information.

If that reasoning sounds extreme, that is, extremely suspect, it is. But if you need a basis for it, just look at the “investigation” that went into Kavanaugh in the first place, and look at the history of the Trump administration. No twisted attempt at hiding the truth is too absurd.

A Republican Supreme Court Nominee Lied in a Senate Confirmation Hearing

ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct
Rule 3.3 – Candor Toward The Tribunal
(a) A lawyer shall not knowingly: (1) make a false statement of fact or law to a tribunal or fail to correct a false statement of material fact or law previously made to the tribunal by the lawyer;…(3) offer evidence that the lawyer knows to be false.

Brett Kavanaugh, outraged and defiant, lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee about a number of matters in the hearing yesterday:

Washington Post:  Here’s where Kavanaugh’s sworn testimony was misleading or wrong

A Republican Supreme Court nominee lied in a Senate confirmation hearing.
A Republican Supreme Court nominee lied in a Senate confirmation hearing.
A Republican Supreme Court nominee lied in a Senate confirmation hearing.

Forget about the allegations of sexual misconduct. Forget about the chronic drinking. Forget about any other suspected behavior. Forget about all of that and focus only on that one sentence:

A Republican Supreme Court nominee lied in a Senate confirmation hearing.

The drama continues, with Jeff Flake’s equivocation leading to a request for an FBI investigation strictly limited to the incident with Christine Blasey Ford. If Mark Judge agrees to talk to the FBI, which he may not, it is expected that he will continue to maintain no memory of it. The limited scope insures he won’t be asked about any other matters concerning Kavanaugh.

The Republican fix is in, the leadership has been clear on that, and relenting on a limited investigation doesn’t change that.

Instead, just look back and forth between that sentence and every Republican in office who demonstrates spineless disregard for American values and norms. Every citizen, every lawyer, every decent American should look. Look at those Republicans, then look at this:

A Republican Supreme Court nominee lied in a Senate confirmation hearing.