Bob Schwartz

Month: May, 2023

“The growth of knowledge far outstrips the growth of being.”

“We are like children restlessly sitting at the controls of a locomotive.”
Jacob Needleman

The explosion of AI is only the latest phenomenon demonstrating how far behind we as people and as a people are. It is not about having too much or knowing too much. It is not being advanced enough to handle what we increasingly have and know (or think we know).

Philosopher Jacob Needleman (1934-2022) wrote:

Both in our civilization and in our personal lives, the growth of knowledge far outstrips the growth of being, endlessly complicating our existence and taking away from us far more than it gives us. In relation to the advances and applications of scientific knowledge, we are like children restlessly sitting at the controls of a locomotive. Without a corresponding growth of inner, moral power, our intellectual power seems now to be carrying us toward disaster—in the form of the catastrophic destruction of the natural world, in the decay of ethical values, in the secrets of biological life falling under the sway of blind commerce or blind superstition, and above all, in the impending worldwide nuclear terror. May we not therefore say, as Plato said 2,500 years ago, that such “knowledge” as we have does not really deserve the label knowledge? Can we listen to him as he tells us that knowledge without virtue can neither bring us good nor show us truth? This is to say that such knowing as we have is not transformational; it does not elevate our level of being and it does not nourish the development of moral power.

It is only the fully developed human being, which means only the fully developed human mind in which the intuition of objective value is an essential component, that can see the world as it really is, and that, through its action upon our instincts and impulses, can lead us toward the capability to act in the service of the Good.

Jacob Needleman
Foreword to The Gospel of Thomas: The Gnostic Wisdom of Jesus (2005) by Jean-Yves Leloup

116th Dream

No drug or drink educed
The dreams that hung
Night to early morning

Adventures and then
Knowing she had something to say
She said it in bed
not plainly but clearly

Grandma sitting on a sofa
Would not believe
That we loved her more than any other
Simple I said
Two of them
Three of us

In the audience of a talk show
He interrupted with wild claims
In the audience I laughed at the absurdity
They escorted him away
Interviewed then on the radio
Making better sense
He kept on and I listened
His name appeared
Just letters and numbers
Like a license plate

© 2023 by Bob Schwartz

The big reveal

Every night the blinds are closed. Every morning the blinds are opened.

Will the mountains still be there? Dogen says, “Mountains are mountains and mountains are walking. If you can walk, mountains can walk. Those without eyes to see mountains cannot notice, understand, see, or hear this reality.”

So far, every morning, the mountains are still there. The mountains are still walking.

© 2023 by Bob Schwartz

Mother’s Day Dove Nest

In this part of the desert, the most common bird, next to the house sparrow, is the Inca Dove, a type of Mourning Dove. They are well known for their cooing call. They are also known for building spring nests around houses, in places that provide relief from the sun. There are ways to discourage this, but we haven’t tried any so far.

A few weeks ago, a nest appeared in an eave, but later fell apart. While it seemed there was not going to be another try, a week ago, seemingly overnight, a nest reappeared with mother and egg.

So for all who grew up in various places with various nests and various mothers, eggs and chicks, Happy Mother’s Day.

© 2023 by Bob Schwartz

AI: Authentic/Actual Intelligence of the mountains

Whatever prompts I send
the looming mountains
respond the same
real and reliable
without hallucinations

© 2023 by Bob Schwartz

One thing I know

I knew ten thousand things
Then coyote sang
Now only one

© 2023 by Bob Schwartz

Another gun tragedy: “Some are guilty, but all are responsible.”

An honest estimation of the moral state of our society will disclose: Some are guilty, but all are responsible.
Abraham Joshua Heschel

There are so many ways for people to distance themselves from being implicated in human-caused tragedy. For just one example, our American gun genocide.

Some will say they hold the more enlightened views, that they have spoken out, that they have acted out, that they have contributed to the cause, that they have voted for the proper candidates, that they have done all that they could.

Some others will say that there is a greater good, a greater ideology, not to mention the Second Amendment, so any responsibility is neutralized by their superior constitutional position (and their “thoughts and prayers”).

Heschel’s celebrated quote came out of the civil rights era and the still ongoing attempts to ameliorate racism. The point is that we can claim higher ground, criticizing those who obviously take no responsibility, and bemoan that we can do little more, given legal and political realities. But even with the limitations, and even with others shrugging off their glaringly obvious responsibility, they and we share the burden. Whatever the issue, whatever the tragedy.

The prophets’ great contribution to humanity was the discovery of the evil of indifference. One may be decent and sinister, pious and sinful.

The prophet is a person who suffers the harm done to others. Wherever a crime is committed, it is as if the prophet were the victim and the prey. The prophet’s angry words cry…

There are of course many among us whose record in dealing with African Americans and other minority groups is unspotted. However, an honest estimation of the moral state of our society will disclose: Some are guilty, but all are responsible. If we admit that the individual is in some measure conditioned or affected by the public climate of opinion, an individual’s crime discloses society’s corruption.

From The Insecurity of Freedom: Essays on Human Existence by Abraham Joshua Heschel



When the animals and plants
first read Darwin they asked:
Are we perfect or not
doomed for extinction
marked for perpetuity?
We may not last forever
whatever forever is.
Yes of course

© 2023 by Bob Schwartz