Bob Schwartz

Month: May, 2022

No new evils, old and difficult ways to treat them

Racism. Antisemitism. All the other intolerant beliefs that can lead to dangerous deeds. With us forever, like an endemic virus that will spread and surge, inflict death and suffering, and despite mitigations, never go away.

Good news about that. The recommended treatments have been around as long as the evils. They are described in the principles of most of the traditions—religious, spiritual or philosophical. You don’t even have to seek out brilliant teachers or complex texts. Just ask the children you’ve been raising. Maybe you’ve been teaching them these principles from the start. Of course, maybe not, or maybe if you’ve been teaching the principles—love, compassion, kindness, respect, truthfulness, humanity, etc.—you haven’t been modeling them.

And that’s the bad news. The evils aren’t new. The treatments aren’t new but they are very, very hard to do, in thought and in practice. Again, those traditions we claim to embrace make that difficulty quite clear.

If you believe that the solution to these evils comes from carefully reshaping society, you are partly but far from completely right. As we all know, we developed some effective tools to oppose our most recent evil health pandemic. Massive numbers of Americans refused, so hundreds of thousands needlessly died, and the virus will now go on forever.

Without people transforming, something as simple as the golden rule, a formula for compassion that even a five-year-old can understand, will have no effect. The evils will go on and on.

Where’s a five-year-old when you really need one?

© 2022 Bob Schwartz

Bad Moon Rising

Bad Moon Rising (1969)

I see the bad moon a-risin’
I see trouble on the way
I see earthquakes and lightnin’
I see bad times today

Don’t go around tonight
Well it’s bound to take your life
There’s a bad moon on the rise

I hear hurricanes a-blowin’
I know the end is comin’ soon
I fear rivers over flowin’
I hear the voice of rage and ruin

Don’t go around tonight
Well it’s bound to take your life
There’s a bad moon on the rise, alright

Hope you got your things together
Hope you are quite prepared to die
Looks like we’re in for nasty weather
One eye is taken for an eye

Well don’t go around tonight
Well it’s bound to take your life
There’s a bad moon on the rise

Written by John C. Fogerty
Performed by Creedence Clearwater Revival


Q: Why has this song never gone out style? Why have artists been covering it and fans been listening to it for more than fifty years?

A: You know.


Saguaro shelter

This saguaro is more than a hundred years old. It lived through the dropping of the first atomic bomb. It lived through the 1950s and 1960s when concerns about nuclear war prompted Americans to build fallout shelters to survive that war.

It was during that time that this saguaro began building a fallout shelter. But then it changed its mind. It wasn’t sure how well a saguaro could fit in a shelter. It wasn’t sure that others who were fearful and hadn’t built their own shelters wouldn’t invade and displace the saguaro. It wasn’t sure that even if it built a shelter that a saguaro could fit in and even if it stayed there for years, there would be a world worth returning to. Most of all it wanted to believe in world peace and an end to war. So the saguaro stopped building.

The uncompleted shelter still stands as a monument to the fears and ultimately the hopes of this saguaro.

© 2022 Bob Schwartz

“Today is the eighth day and tomorrow is the thirteenth!”

“Today is the eighth day and tomorrow is the thirteenth!”


Simply go beyond rational thinking and you will reach a point where you will not know what to do. Inquire there. Who is it [who inquires]? You will know him intimately when you have broken your walking stick and crushed ice in a fire. Now, how do you achieve this intimacy? Today is the eighth day and tomorrow is the thirteenth!*

*This sentence seems probably to be Bassui’s way of indicating transcendence of logical thinking.

Mud and Water: The Teachings of Zen Master Bassui (1327–1387) by Arthur Braverman


Bassui Tokushō
抜隊得勝

Died on the twentieth day of the second month, 1387, at the age of sixty-one

Look straight ahead. What’s there?
If you see it as it is
You will never err.

When Bassui was about thirty-one years of age, he heard the running of water in a brook and was enlightened. Thereafter, he spent most of his days in a hut in the mountains. When people heard of the solitary monk and gathered to hear “the word, he would flee. In spite of his longing for solitude, Bassui did not turn his back on the simple people, but taught them Zen in words they could understand. He often warned his followers against the dangers of drinking, and forbade them to taste “even a single drop.” On the margin of his portrait he wrote, I teach with the voice of silence.”

Just before his death Bassui turned to the crowd that had gathered around and said the words above. Repeating them in a loud voice, he died.

Japanese Death Poems: Written by Zen Monks and Haiku Poets on the Verge of Death by Yoel Hoffman


Today is the eighth day and tomorrow is the thirteenth!

Sources: An anthology of contemporary materials useful for preserving personal sanity while braving the great technological wilderness by Theodore Roszak (50th anniversary)

Scholar and novelist Theodore Roszak is most famous for the book The Making of a Counterculture (1969), his appreciation, analysis and hope for a nascent alternative society. In 1972, he compiled a cornucopia of the most creative visions of that culture in Sources: An anthology of contemporary materials useful for preserving personal sanity while braving the great technological wilderness (out of print, no digital version available).

From the Introduction:

What are these sources for? I suppose for the only revolution I can see within this technocratic order still strong with contrived consensus: an accelerating disaffiliation and internal restructuring which will in time become the new society shaped and tested within the shell of the old.


CONTENTS

I. PERSON

Thomas Merton. Rain and the Rhinoceros
John Haines. “Poem of the Forgotten”
Kilton Stewart. Dream Exploration Among the Senoi
Carlos Castenada. The Psychedelic Allies
Meher Baba. Undoing the Ego
MANAS. The Mists of Objectivity
Abraham H. Maslow. I-Thou Knowledge
Michael Glenn. Radical Therapy: A Manifesto
Denise Levertov. “During the Eichmann Trial: When we look up”

II. BODY

Norman O. Brown. The Resurrection of the Body
Kay Johnson. Proximity
Paul Goodman. Polarities and Wholeness: A Gestalt Critique of “Mind,” “Body,” “External World”
Michael McClure. Revolt
Charlotte Selver. Awaking the Body
Pablo Neruda. “To the Foot from Its Child”
Dennis Saleh. “The Psychology of the Body”

III. COMMUNITY

Martin Buber. The Organic Commonwealth
Stanley Diamond. The Search for the Primitive
George Woodcock. Not Any Power: Reflections on Decentralism
Murray Bookchin. A Technology for Life
E. F. Schumacher. Buddhist Economics
Bill Voyd. Drop City
Peter Marin. The Free People
Patsy Richardson. No More Freefolk
Wendell Berry. “To a Siberian Woodsman”
Gary Snyder. “Amitabha’s vow”

IV. WHOLE EARTH

Anonymous. “Smokey the Bear Sutra”
Edward Hyams. Tools of the Spirit
Joseph Epes Brown. The Spiritual Legacy of the American Indian
E. F. Schumacher. An Economics of Permanence
Gary Snyder and Friends. Four Changes
Ecology Action. The Unanimous Declaration of Interdependence
The Berkeley Tribe. Blueprint for a Communal Environment
Theodore Roszak. “Novum Organum”
Kenneth Rexroth. From “The Signatures of All Things”

V. TRANSCENDENCE

R. D. Laing. Transcendental Experience
Herbert Marcuse and Norman O. Brown. Mystery and Mystification: An Exchange
Herbert Marcuse. Love Mystified: A Critique of Norman O. Brown
Norman O. Brown. A Reply to Herbert Marcuse
Lancelot Law Whyte. Morphic Man
Dane Rudhyar. The Zodiac as a Dynamic Process
Ronald V. Sampson. The Vanity of Humanism
Harold C. Goddard. William Blake’s Fourfold Vision
Alan Watts. Tao
Kathleen Raine. “The World”
Theodore Roszak. “Loyalty”


You may not be familiar with most of the authors, though you will be richer for knowing them. Some are essential (such as Thomas Merton, poet Gary Snyder and others). Some may be a bit more of their time, but creative and provocative and worth knowing. You may (hopefully not) dismiss this as tired nonsense circulating in the old days that has been proven silly and wrong, now favored and promoted only by nostalgic older people. It wasn’t wrong and isn’t silly.

We are, if you haven’t noticed, stuck. If it was obvious fifty years ago or five years ago, it is undeniable now. We are stuck, and if we are stuck while time moves forward, we are moving backward. If you think we have all the ideas and strategies we need to actually move forward, think again.

I’ve quoted Bobby Kennedy quoting Tennyson’s Ulysses before, and will for all my days. You should know it too:

Come, my friends,
‘T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.

Please let me know your thoughts.

May 1: International Workers’ Day (aka May Day)

May 1 represents three different things, depending on who and where you are.

For ages it has been a celebration of spring, including dancing around the Maypole.

It is International Workers’ Day, a labor holiday celebrated around the world, where it is sometimes known simply as Labor Day.

It is Law Day in America.

The spring thing is obvious. International Workers’ Day and Law Day require a little history.

In 1886, a general labor strike was planned for May 1 in Chicago, to promote adoption of the 8-hour work day. It is estimated that 300,000 or more showed up in Chicago, and thousands more around America. A further demonstration was planned for Chicago’s Haymarket Square a few days later on May 4. Clashes there between police and anarchists led to death and destruction, in what is called the Haymarket Square Riot. Nine defendants were arrested for their alleged involvement, and six were ultimately hanged. Since then, May 1 has been International Workers’ Day.

In 1921, at the height of America’s first Red Scare, May 1 was designated Loyalty Day. Then in 1957, during another Red Scare, President Eisenhower declared May 1 Law Day, a celebration of the rule of law—something America needs now as much as ever.

Take your choice on May 1: Celebrate spring, celebrate workers, celebrate the rule of law. Why not all three?