Bob Schwartz

Category: Everything


Soul Nebula

Thusness, suchness, tathata in Sanskrit, the ultimate and unconditioned nature of things.
Things as they are. Things as it is.

It is thought of as a Buddhist concept, or an Eastern concept. But it is basic to every faith and wisdom tradition, once you peel away many layers of sometimes self-righteous or overly fussy codification and interpretation. The Christian gospels, unconditioned by unnecessary accretions, are just one example. It would appear that Jesus could speak for himself, plainly articulating thusness as well as any other realized teacher.

Talking about thusness is challenging for some of the wisest people ever. Which puts me at a humble and stupid disadvantage. But fools, like me, rush in.

Is thusness seemingly separate from you?


Are you within it?


Is it within you?


What does it contain?

Among other things, it contains all the attributes we usually consider good and admirable: love, compassion, justice, healing, and on and on.

Does thusness define those attributes?

No. People define those attributes, sometimes in long and complex detail. These definitions seem to help people act on these attributes. This act is loving, this act is not. This act is just, this act is not. It is a practical matter.

Is there a problem with defining the attributes?

No, except that people, often people of good will, confuse the definitions with the attributes themselves. That is, by doing this defined thing, they believe they are acting lovingly or justly. They may be wrong.

Is this a problem?

No, unless people forget to look back to the source of those attributes in thusness. If they identify their particular definition with the essence of the attribute, saying that compassion or justice means exactly what I say it means, they are grounded in themselves.

Is there a solution?

Every faith and wisdom tradition offers the same solution, though the terms may be different. The solution is eliminating the seeming separation from thusness, which leads to realizing that thusness is in you and you are in it. That way, when you hear or consider the attributes of love, justice, and so on, you don’t stop at someone else’s definition or at your own. You look deeper, to an ultimate source, that at once makes the attribute less certain and more complicated, and yet more real and simpler.

Interstellar: Not thinking is the best way to travel

Soul Nebula

The new movie Interstellar takes on big questions and concepts. About the nature of everything. It is more like an invitation than a text, more like an appetizer than a feast. How much of that can you pack into a movie anyway?

Whether or not you’ve seen it, or liked it, or tried to understand it, here is something to consider.

What available paths are there to addressing these issues?

Being one of the travelers who journeys to the far reaches of time, space, and the other numberless dimensions.

Being a scientist who theorizes about that.

Being a director who makes a movie about that.

Being a viewer who watches a movie about that.

Being someone who thinks about that.

Being someone who stops thinking about that and journeys to those far reaches.

The list isn’t comprehensive, none of these is exclusive of the others, none of these may be best. But if you did see Interstellar, or have seen the dozens of movies that address this, or read any of the thousands of texts that address this, or are just curious, do investigate that last possibility. You may discover that the place beyond thinking looks like all the wonders of Interstellar. With fewer movie stars and special effects. But much more real.

The 300th Post: Another Step on a Really Random Walk

Phenom 300
This is the 300th post on this blog. More enduring and regular than some blogs, less than so many others.

This blog has been a random walk through a whole lot of thoughts and words. It’s true that more focus on any one of the dozens of topics might attract more readers, but it would be much less fun and satisfying and liberating. My past and future blogs have had and will have more discrete subjects. For now, though, and for this 300th post, a fine mess will have to do.

Thank you for reading and listening, however long you’ve been here. I hope that on any given day one of you gets a little something out of it. If you like it, as some say you do, please tell others to visit.

For the occasion, here is a brief list of Essentials, People Edition. It is a short selection of those whose life or work has spoken to me in some lasting way. Like the blog, it is a random walk. Like the blog, it is light years from comprehensive. Like the blog, faithful readers will find a pretty good sketch of me in the list.

If there are names you don’t know but find intriguing, check them out. All have something enriching, exciting or entertaining to offer, and some offer all three. If ever my mind is compromised, maybe to the point that loved ones are sadly strangers to me, I hope they might bring me to the list and say: these are some of the people who helped make you and your world. And in the names I would revel again for the first time and find a little of myself there.

Abraham Joshua Heschel
Ahmet Ertegun
Albert Hofmann
Armistad Maupin
Barbara Jordan
Buckminster Fuller
Dogen Zenji
Douglas Sirk
Erik Satie
Hermann Hesse
Ian Ballantine
Isaac Bashevis Singer
Joan Didion
Joe Shuster & Jerry Siegel
John Coltrane
Joni Mitchell
Kodo Sawaki Roshi
Kurt Vonnegut
Lenny Bruce
Marshall McLuhan
Phil Spector
Phyllis Tickle
Preston Sturges
Rabindranath Tagore
Ram Dass
Ramana Maharshi
Robert Funk
Robert Kennedy
Robert Lewis Shayon
Shunryu Suzuki Roshi
Stewart Brand
The Beatles
Thomas Merton
Tom Stoppard
William Copley
Willie Mays