Bob Schwartz

The Political Opera Isn’t Over Until the Fat Cats Sing

Fat Cat Singing

If you were wondering whether the Trump soap opera/nightmare would end sometime before the actual vote, it is now official.

Cut Ties to Donald Trump, Big Donors Urge R.N.C. reports the New York Times:

Several of the Republican Party’s most generous donors called on the Republican National Committee on Thursday to disavow Donald J. Trump, saying that allegations by multiple women that Mr. Trump had groped or made inappropriate sexual advances toward them threatened to inflict lasting damage on the party’s image.

To an elite group of Republican contributors who have donated millions of dollars to the party’s candidates and committees in recent years, the cascade of revelations related to Mr. Trump’s sexual conduct is grounds for the committee to cut ties with the party’s beleaguered standard-bearer, finally and fully….

Bruce Kovner, a New York investor and philanthropist who with his wife has given $2.7 million to Republicans over the same period [since the 2012 election], was just as blunt. “He is a dangerous demagogue completely unsuited to the responsibilities of a United States president,” Mr. Kovner wrote in an email, referring to Mr. Trump.

It is indeed unfortunate that money speaks so much louder and more forcefully than the voice of ordinary people in current, post-Citizens United America. But if at this moment, this helps us to move on, even just a little, from this bizarre political hell we seem to be stuck in, I’ll take it. When the fat cats sing, the parties listen. And this particular song should be music to our ears.

No Preferences

Xinxin Ming

The Great Way is not difficult
for those who have no preferences.
When love and hate are both absent
everything becomes clear and undisguised.
Make the smallest distinction, however,
and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.

Thus begins one of the most famous Zen texts, Verses on the Faith-Mind  (Xinxin Ming), attributed to Jianzhi Sengcan (d. 606), the Third Ancestor of Zen.

This is one of the most common themes for way seekers. And as difficult as it is ubiquitous.

Smart or less smart, knowledgeable or less knowledgeable, all of us have preferences and opinions about this and that. We make distinctions. Good and bad. Better and best. All of us. All the time. Some people more than others.

There can be practical reasons. We want to know what to embrace or avoid.  And if we think we know that, we want to tell others. On the less practical side, we may want to demonstrate just how discerning we are. How smart we are. That happens.

The point is to be watchful of our tendencies to fill our lives and time with those preferences and distinctions. They will, without our noticing, take us over.

Zen goes one step further. The reason to give up preferences is not primarily to improve something about ourselves and our relationships with others, though that may be an effect. More than that, those preferences and distinctions don’t exist. At all. We just impose them on whatever is. This idea seems not just unlikely from our experience, but impossible.

Don’t believe Zen? Believe Jesus, who made the same point. “Do not judge and you will not be judged” is not just about being fair and self aware and not being hypocritical. It is about the hollowness of judgments themselves. Of course we will make judgments, but clinging to them and making them the centerpiece of our time and life is not the way.

Infinitely large and infinitely small;
no difference, for definitions have vanished
and no boundaries are seen.
So too with Being and non-Being.
Waste no time in doubts and arguments
that have nothing to do with this.

One thing, all things;
move among and intermingle,
without distinction.
To live in this realization
is to be without anxiety about nonperfection.
To live in this faith is the road to nonduality,
because the nondual is one with the trusting mind.

The Way is beyond language,
for in it there is
no yesterday
no tomorrow
no today.

From Hsin-Hsin Ming: Verses on the Faith-Mind, translated by Richard B. Clarke