The Scott Shaw Blog Be Positive

The Scott Shaw Blog

Scott Shaw Blog
Welcome to the Scott Shaw Blog

Here you will find some new thoughts and writings plus some of the Greatest Hits from previous blogs.
Zen adn the Psychology of the Spiritual Something
To catch up on previous blogs check out: Scott Shaw Blog Books.

New York Doll

One of the things that I find interesting about Amazon Prime, the movie streaming branch of the platform, is that they pull up all of these documentaries out of the realms of nowhere and broadcast them. Docs, that if you didn’t know they existed, you would never know that they existed. Over the years, I’ve watched a number of interesting documentaries on that streaming service. Interesting documentary that I did not even know had been created.
 
And hey, yes, Amazon Prime even broadcast a number of my Zen Films. Versions, that are available nowhere else.
 
Now, I’m not necessarily singing their praises. I mean, of those of you who love bad/crap movies, that you probably never even heard of, they have tons and tons of those, as well. Lots of bad/forgotten horror and stuff. I’m just not into horror and/or generalized stuff like that. But, they’ve been filmed and they are out there. So, if you like to watch that kind of stuff, they’ve got ‘em.   
 
The other thing Amazon Prime Video does is that they often mis-date their films. Like there is this Stallone movie currently up there, that they are featuring. It claims it was done in like 2022 but, if you look at his face, and check the records, it was from like 1988. We, my lady and I, have made a few jokes about how good Sly still looks.  
 
But, I’m getting off target here…
 
For those of you who were not alive in the early 1970s, you may not know this, but the New York Dolls truly shook up the world of Rock n’ Roll that had become so-so boring. I mean, when they came out, like many others, I was completely blown away by them. …Completely enthralled. I immediately went out and purchased their album and played it over and over and over again.
 
But, like so many other great bands from that era, they quickly
disintegrated. Though, I saw a few of the members, performing in their solo projects, in the ensuing years, half of the band was dead from drugs and stuff by the early 1990s.
 
David Johansen, the lead singer of the group, went on to be in films and reinvent himself, having a strong career, as Buster Poindexter, in the 1980s. But, that’s the thing about lead singers, in many cases they are not only the voice but the face of a band and they can easily move on where the other players are less likely to have that opportunity. Except, of course, people like, Dave Grohl. But, I’m not talking about him in this piece.   
 
Who I am talking about, and who the doc was based around, was the bass player of the New York Dolls, Arthur Killer Kane.
 
The doc takes a deep look into his life and his life frustrations as a musician and a human being, plus his life trials and tribulations, culminating with the New York Dolls, one-show, reunion in 2004. It’s an interesting take on the man, and the cards life dealt him after having great success in his youth but quickly falling into the abyss.
 
I mean, I’ve personal known, interacted with, and worked with a number of people who were one-time rock stars and/or movie stars and once they fell from grace they were locked into a world that they could not escape. Yet, due to their one-time fame and fortune, they could never really let go of that programming. They were and are always re-seeking that what once was. That’s a hard life, I think. In fact, in many ways, people like that have probably one of the hardest lives to live. This documentary does a very good job of illustrating that.
 
Killer Kane eventually joined the Church of Jesus Christ the Ladder-day Saints, where me made his living in their library, at their big temple, here in L.A., over on Santa Monica Blvd. At least religion, particularly one like the Church of Jesus Christ of the Ladder-day Saints, promises that hope and that salvation that can put a band aid on a life considered lost.
 
Probably the most interesting thing about this doc, and the depiction about Killer Kane, was how the man passed away.
 
He had returned to L.A. from the reunion gig in London. Twenty-two after his return, he thought he had caught the flu in London, so he went to the emergency room where he was diagnosed with leukemia.  He died two hours later.
 
That’s really crazy and some-how some-kind of a blessing. I know by Zen Filmmaking brother, Donald G. Jackson had leukemia and he suffered for years, trying to stay alive from the disease. The last couple years of his life were really bad. But, Killer Kane got to check out quick. Like I often say, there is no good way to die, but something like that seems somehow more forgiving.
 
This doc is a really good depiction of life, success, failure, redemption, hope, the promise of god, and all of that kind of stuff. It truly illustrates how some people/many people get the feeling of, “Becoming,” early in their life, but it does not last. Then what?
 
How about you? Did you become early in your life? Do you look to those feeling and memories from a time gone past? Is that what you think about and tell other people about when you are asked about the story of your life? Or, are simply here in the NOW?
 
Life is fleeting. Success, or the lack thereof, is all based on the reaction(s) of the masses—those other than youself. Anything you have can be taken away from you. Hopefully it won’t be. But, nonetheless, it can be.
 
Life doesn’t go on forever. We’re all going to die. So, what do you do with what you had and what you have no more? What do you do with all that you desired but did not become?
 
All we can ALL do is find our peace in our moment and love what we
do have as best as we can. For all we have are these moments of this life that we live. If we do not love it, if we do not feel okay in it, if we can’t find our own happiness, if we are allowing ourselves to be defined by all of that stuff outside of ourselves, then we will forever be defined by the what was and the what we don’t have. But, if you live your own peace in your own moment, though your life may not be perfect, though it may not be all that you want it to be, it is all that you have. If you accept this, if you love it, then where and what you are is allowed to be fulfilling in its own perfection. Love your life, love what you are living as best as you can, because it is the only life that you have.

***

If you've gotten it for free can you really claim that's it's yours?

1968 or 2024

I was walking into my local Starbucks this AM, to pick up my traditional morning latte, (non-fat, of course), and my everything bagel. I always order on the app before I leave home, so it’ll be ready by the time I get there.
 
I walk in, and there’s this little blonde girl, I would guess her to be maybe four years old. She is standing next to a table by the door, with her nanny, who was of Latin American descent.
 
The little girl looks at me, and loudly says to her nanny, (obviously so I could hear), “Is that a man with long hair or a woman?” That made me smile…
 
I mean there are a lot of ways one could tear that statement apart. First of all, I have a full beard, okay… So, obviously, I’m not a woman. It was just this kid trying to be an obnoxious little shit. I mean, it just goes to show that some people are born, or trained very young, to be an obnoxious little shit. And, that’s how they go through their entire life. Some people are just obnoxious little shits from the beginning.
 
Now, at three or four, or whatever that girl was, I would never have voiced something like what she said. If I had said something like that to my parents, as I never had a nanny or a babysitter or anything, I’m sure my face would have been smacked. But, more than that, that was and is never the kind of person I am.
 
On another level, where does a kid get such a judgmental ideal by such a young age? I mean, men have long hair all over the place at this point in history. Several men who work at that Starbucks have long hair. Who knows her inspiration??? But, there she was, spouting it out.
 
As I left the Starbucks, she again, loudly makes her statement, “Is that a man or a woman?” Fuck you, little kid. Happy
 
All this sent me back to 1968, as that was the first time when I heard a child make such a statement about me.
 
Me, I was ten years old, living in Inglewood, as my father was the manager of the nearby Forum. Now, The Los Angeles Forum. Back then, if you were a part of the counterculture, which I was aspiring to be, you wore what were commonly known as, “Love Beads.” Which were generally a neckless of small colorful beads. I had my set.
 
Back then, if your hair was even just a little bit over the top of your ears, you were thought to have, “Long hair.” Which I did. There/then, this young girl, again, maybe four or five years old, loudly inquires, “Is that a girl or a boy?” Her mother quickly held her in check. Then, unlike today, I didn’t find the statement to be funny.
 
It is so weird how the length of a man’s hair is still a subject in this day and age. So much so, that it is voiced via the mouth of a child.
 
I mean, back in the ‘60s, it was a big deal. Many times, when male protestors were arrested, the cops would cut their hair right on the spot. They even reference this in the film, Easy Rider. It was still going on into the ‘70s. One time, my mother wanted me to get a haircut when I was thirteen and I refused. That night, when I was asleep, she cut my hair. What a mess, she just chopped off whatever pieces she could find. I had no choice but to go to the barber the next day to get it cleaned up. That was devastating. That was the last time I had my hair cut until I had that bad motorcycle accident when I was twenty-one and they shaved my head to crack open my skull and stop the bleeding in my brain.
 
When I was at Hollywood High School, there were times when my friends and I would go into restaurants and they wouldn’t even serve us due to our hair and appearance. In that era, when someone like me, with long hair, would be walking down the street, it wasn’t uncommon to have people yell, “Get a haircut, hippie,” or “Cut your hair, faggot.”  
 
There was this one time, in the early seventies, when I had hitchhiked to attend this rock festival in the mid-west. This guy made a very funny/truthful statement that has remained in my mind. We had all congregated at this little coffee shop and we were eating. (They served us there). One of the partitions, an old-school sort of guy, said to this one guy, “Why don’t you cut your hair?” The guy jokingly responded, “I have. But, every time I cut it, it just grows back.”
 
I’ve had long hair most of my life. It’s never really been a fashion statement. It’s just who I am. I don’t even consider it. But, ponder this, think of all the money I’ve saved by not going to the barber every few weeks like most men do.  
 
Kind of a funny side note here… My lady was speaking with one of her company’s vice-presidents one day. He was talking about his teenage daughter. He said, “I hope she doesn’t end up with some guy with long-hair.” Inside, my lady told me that she was smiling, as the man hadn’t met me yet. When he did, she just stood there grinning. I wondered why? When she told me about the guy’s previous statement, after the fact, we both laughed.

Speaking of my lady… She came up with a great response when I told her today’s story. She said, “You should’a asked the little brat, was Jesus a man or a woman?”
 
I don’t know… Life is this strange thing. We do what we do. Most, let people live and let live. They let them be who they are. If you not hurting anyone, shouldn’t that be the way it is? Yet, there are some people who just want to toss their judgement onto others. Some start this practice very young. Why? Who knows? Maybe they are simply born an obnoxious little shit. And, that is simply who they will always be. Happy

***

Everybody has feelings in this world.

Everyone has feelings, hopes and dreams and a stories to tell.

Think about your own life. How many feelings have you felt?

Now, think about all of the life stories that have been lived since the dawn of time. Stories that no one ever heard about.

They were all felt and lived and experienced. But, no one knew anything
about them except the people that lived them.

What does that tell you about all that you are feeling?

***

If your life a competition or is your life a presentation?

Are you expecting or are you giving?

Turn it Around

Each of us, as we pass through life, will encounter times when we encounter sadness, depression, heartbreak, hurt, or even anger. In those times, the focus most often turns to Self. A focus on the Self seems to be the primary position. “I am feeling…” is the common thought or the collective expression.  From this, one is turned only inwards. They are only thinking about what they feel and why.
 
Though this is the common pattern of behavior when one encounters this mindset, is it the most beneficial? Is it the best method of coping? Not necessary.
 
When one is turned solely inward, in a non-positive manner, all that occurs is that the overwhelming thought of that emotion is churned and regurgitated over-and-over-and-over again in the mind. From this, there is no moving out or moving forward. There is only the trance of thought brought on by whatever instigated that feeling. From this, no forward movement—no getting better is encountered.
 
Here's an idea… And, this is an idea that you should keep in the back of your mind for if and when you ever encounter one of these overwhelming emotional conditions. Instead of becoming lost in thinking about yourself, and what you are mentally experiencing, catch yourself, STOP, and get out there and do something for someone else.  Whatever it is, and it can be anything, get out there and do something good and positive and caring and helpful.
 
What will occur from this? First of all, you will break your pattern of Self and Self Only Thought. You will shake up the feeling. By getting out, and the getting OUT, (Outside), is absolutely necessary, you will encounter other people, you will interact with other living beings, and most hopefully you will do something that will contribute to the life or lives of that someone else.
 
Shake up the pattern of only thinking about YOU and what YOU are feeling. Go and do something good and helpful. From this, who knows what positive life experience you will give to that someone else. Who knows what positive life experience you will encounter. What will occur for sure, is that you will break free from the bind of that painful thought pattern you are holding onto. And, you just may make not only your life, but someone else’s life just a little bit better.

Karma and Your Reaction to What You Did

People always turn to karma as a means of describing the what is happening to that whomever. “They’re getting their karma.” That term is generally invoked when something bad is happening to that someone else. But, what about when something good is happening to them? Then, what? Who, or better put, what do you blame for that? Are they getting their karma when something good happens to them?
 
Like I have discussed forever, karma is such a complicated subject. If you look to its historical foundation and definition, few people truly understand the subtitles. But, if you have, like I have done, studied its origins in the Vedic scriptures, it is a vastly misunderstood ideology that is simply defined by each individual mind.
 
To me, karma is so extremely misinterpreted, and the term is thrown around so wildly, that it barely resembles what the philosophy truly embodies. Moreover, like I have long said, just because a person gets their, “Karma,” for what they did, how does that help the damage they created in the life of that other person that they hurt?
 
So sure, a person may, “Get theirs.” But, who is getting what? Is their, “Getting theirs,” fixing the anything that they have done? Probably not. Simply more hurt and more life damage is being created.
 
What about those that are getting the GOOD? Isn’t that too based in their karma?
 
What about when that person who has done bad things, has something good happen to them? Where’s the karma in all of that?  Think about it, a lot of people who have done a lot of bad things, aren’t they, many times, the person who rises to the top of the heap?
 
I believe that all of us that walk the path of consciousness, and I would hope that would be all of you who read this blog, do so with the hope and the belief that you are and will be a positive and good influence on the greater whole of the all and the everything. But, what about when someone does not like what you say or do? Have you ever had that happen? You believe that you are trying to do something good, but someone takes it the wrong way and they get upset at your saying or your doing? You are not trying to hurt anyone. You are not trying to damage anything. But, someone does not like what you said or did. Then what? Where is the karma in that? Perhaps they want you to, “Get yours.” But, what should you get? You were trying to help. You were trying to do a good thing. It was they who misinterpreted your auctions. Where should the karma fall in all of that?
 
Moreover, how much/how many of the negative things you have done, things that hurt the life of that someone else, have you attempted to fix and/or repair? Do you ever even think about doing any of that? Do you ever even try? Or, do you simply dismiss them and that other person’s feelings, thinking only about yourself? If you think or live in this manner, what do you believe your karma actually holds?  
 
What about when something bad happens to someone good? They are good person. They are always nice and trying to help. Yet, they are sucker punched and something bad happens to them. Why? Why should they be the victim?
 
Now, we can all blame the Bad Doer in that equation, if there is one. But, what if that hit comes from something outside, like a disease or an act of nature or a ??? Where is the karmic answer to, “Why,” in all of that?
 
If you are honest with yourself, when someone who has wronged you gets hit with some negative recompense, you are probably a bit elated. They messed with you and your life and you feel happy that they are now hurting. I guess that’s a natural reaction. But, does it fix anything? Does it undo anything?
 
Karma, as a word or as an understanding, may be a great answer for people to make excuses for the truth of their reality. But, everyone has karma; both good and bad. Even the good can be seen as bad when the good of one person is viewed as bad by the understandings of another.
 
Ultimately, if you based your life around the concept of, “Karma,” you will sorely be left unrelieved. All you can do is what you can do. Always try to be good. Always try to do good. Always try to help. Never try to hurt. Undo any pain that you have unleashed. And, if you take pride in the pain of someone else, citing, “Karma,” does that really help your anything? Or, does that simply create more negative karma?

So, You Think You Know Me AKA How Right is Your Wrong?

Every now and then I’m pointed to some site where they have information about Scott Shaw. Though I can’t fault these sites for taking the time to put my info up there, they do often amuse me about what they get right and more particularly what they get wrong, because there always seems to be a little bit of both. The things that they don’t know are always the most interesting to me.

Here’s one of the Scott Shaw Info Panels I was recently guided towards. This one isn’t too right in it’s wrong. At least they are not claiming I am the nephew of the actor Robert Shaw or the grandson of George Bernard Shaw like some sites have claimed. Just know and remember, what you read is not always the truth.
 
Scott Shaw
Biography
Date of Birth 23 September 1958, Hollywood, California, USA
 
Nickname Dr. Shaw
 
Height 6' 2" (1.88 m)
 
Trivia
Scott Shaw is one of the most advanced non-Korean practitioners of the Korean martial of Hapkido in the world. He is ranked a 7th Degree Black Belt Master by the Korea Hapkido Federation.
 
The final two credits in virtually all his films are, "In Memory of Dinosaur Filmmaking" and "The Zen."
 
He is the creator of Zen Filmmaking. In Zen Filmmaking no scripts are used. There are no rules and no definitions. The spontaneous creative energy of the filmmaker is the only defining factor - this allows for a spiritually pure source of immediate inspiration to be the only guide in the filmmaking process.
 
Graduated from Hollywood High School in Hollywood, California
 
Is often called, Swamiji or Baba by his friends. This is in obvious reference to the time he spent in India as a monk.
 
Lives much of every year at his beach house in Kamakura, Japan.
 
He was the first non-Korean ever to be awarded the advanced master rank of 7th Degree Black Belt by the prestigious Korea Hapkido Federation.
 
Holds both American and Japanese citizenship.
 
Has a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Asian Studies.
 
Holds three Master of Arts degrees. One from California State University, Los Angeles in Geography, the second from California State University, Dominguez Hills in Humanities, and a third, a Master of Herbology degree, from Emerson College of Herbology.
 
Received a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University, Northridge in Geography.
 
Has taught courses on filmmaking at the University of California, Los Angeles, (U.C.L.A.).

The Picture of Your Crime

I grabbed just a bit of local Morning TV, as I was eating my oatmeal, this AM. You know how Morning TV goes; they do these stupid little bits. Me, I like information. I want to learn. But, sadly (or maybe not), their focus is often on the more mundane.
 
Anyway, the question they asked is, “Do you have any regrets?” About ninety-one percent of the people who responded said they did. I semi-jokingly exclaimed, “My whole life is a long list of regrets.”
 
One of the hosts stated that tried and true, relatively false statement, “That you can’t change your past, so you just need to live with it and accept it.” But, that is all too BS shallow for me. If you don’t have regrets, you are a sociopath.
 
But, here’s the question, “If you do have regrets, what are doing to remedy them?”
 
Think about your own life, do you have regrets? What regrets do you have?
 
Now, think about this… Most of us do accept that we have regrets. We did something that we are really sorry that we did. We turned left when we should have turned right. We made a decision to do something that turned out badly and maybe it even sent our life in the wrong direction. Maybe we are really sorry about something we did to someone else that hurt them. And, all of that kind of stuff…
 
But, in all of that, that Life Action is trapped only in your own mind. And/or maybe the person or persons you lived it with.
 
For most, we try to block that/those incident(s) out. We try to forget it.  But, think about this, as technology has moved forward, there are cameras everywhere. I won’t even go into all the possibilities of being photographed, but the chance of your, “Regret,” being photographed has advanced immensely.
 
What if there is a picture of your crime? Then what? Like it is stated, the Aboriginal tribes of the times gone past believed that a photograph would steal your soul. …I don’t know if anyone or any tribe actually believed that, but that is what is stated. But, think about it, what if you had to view a picture of your regret? What if it was locked into the annals of time forever?
 
Kind of a sidebar here. But, not really…
 
I remember when I was watching the first season of the TV show COPS. …One of my big influences as a filmmaker. I guess that would have been in ’89, when it premiered. On one of the episodes the, “COPS,” went to a hotel room at what was then known as, “The Rock n’ Roll Hyatt,” on the Sunset Strip. This was due to the fact that, back in the day, a lot of the Rockers on tour seemed to stay there. Anyway, they went into a room where there was a reported disturbance. There was a young Asian woman and about three, “Rocker,” type dudes. You know, long hair and cowboy boots, ‘80s style. “What do you think happened,” states the girl to the, “COPS,” and the cameras.
 
BAM! I knew that girl. We had met in Japan and when she moved to L.A. she looked me up. We had gone out for a moment. In fact, she got drunk and crashed her car, breaking both of her legs at one point. After hearing this, my friend and I went to speak with her one drunken night at two or three in the morning at USC Medical Center, just before we were going on a quick tour. Me, I was the only one who hung out with her when she was wheelchair bound at home.
 
For whatever reason, I was busy or whatever, and I moved on. I hadn’t seen her in a year or more. But, there she was, featured on COPS.
 
Now, she was no saint. I’m sure whatever happened in that room, she was a willing participant. But, there it was, caught on camera. Locked into the mainstream of modern culture forever.  Did she regret it? Did she regret signing the release for it to be broadcast on COPS? I don’t know. But, this/there is an ideal example of having your regret caught on camera.
 
That doesn’t happen to most people, however. What they do is, “Photographed,” only in their own mind. And there, it is locked away and hidden forever.
 
Again, what do you regret? And, what if what your regret was photographed and brought to the surface? How would that change how you reacted to that regret?
 
In some ways that may make people try to fix what they regret, especially if that regret hurt someone else. Most, simply pretend that they didn’t do it. But, you did do it. Regret it or not, it is one of the factors that defines your life. Simply because you pretend it did not happen, does not mean that it did not happen.
 
Life is complicated. We all have regrets. Well, at least ninety-one percent of us do, so says Morning TV. Most regrets we can’t really change. So yes, our only hope is to live with them the best that we can. But, if you can fix your regrets, if you can fix what you’ve broken, if you can unhurt that person that you hurt, don’t you believe that you should at least try? And, if you have hurt someone, or even yourself, and you don’t care, what does that say about the person you are?

***

What does the person you are having a conversation with in your dream think when you wake up and you disappear?

Those Who Don’t Make It

I was thinking back to my days as a martial art school operator. The thought of two of my students came to mind. Both were advanced students and were very good practitioners; each in their own individual way.
 
One of the guys was smaller in statue but he was very good with his feet and with hand techniques. The other one was very tall. I’m guessing six foot six. He was kind of an interesting guy. Though I was teaching Hapkido and Taekwondo, which are both very formalized styles, when it would come time for him to spar, it was not uncommon for him to, if say a highly skilled Korean-born student was getting the better of him with his feet, to grab them, pick them up, and toss them to the ground. He was using the best of what he had: his height and his overall size. Of course, I would immediately step in and stop the match. I did that then; I would not do that now. He was doing MMA long before it had ever developed a name.
 
In any case, they were both red belts. So, they had been around for a while. They were about to test for the black belt when they both abruptly quit around the same time. Each for their own individual reason.
 
The Guardian Angels were just forming at this point in time. The one man went to join their ranks and he felt he didn’t have time to train. Every now and then he would stop by the studio with his fellow Guardian Angels, dressed in their red jackets and red berets, to say, “Hi,” and I guess to show off to the other students a little bit.
 
The other, very tall man, had just turned seventeen and he decided to drop out of high school and join the army. “I have to do my service for my country,” he explained. 
 
I could not fault either one of these men for the choices they made. They were both providing a very important service. My only thought, especially for the younger man was, he should just give it a little bit more time, finish high school, earn his black belt, and then move on to the army. The high school diploma and the black belt would be something he would have forever. But, they both left the school.
 
The one thing their individual choices did cause me to understand, way back then, is that it is generally the choices a person makes that keeps them from truly, “Making it,” in life. They were so close, yet they made a choice that would affect them forever.
 
Certainly, through my many years of experiences in the film industry, I have watched so many people be offered an opportunity to progress, but they throw it away.
 
Mostly, at least in the film game, I believe this is based in ego. Everyone imagines that they will be a star tomorrow. But, that happens for very-very few. Most go back to Kansas with their dreams smashed. They may be offered something, they be provided an opportunity, but for something developed only in their head, or by being poorly guided by someone else, they throw the chance away.
 
The thing is, the film game is just like pretty much everything else in life. You must start out a novice. You must take your blows. You may not like everything that is taking place around you, but sometimes you simply must bite your tongue to develop the skillset you need to move up.
 
I know I have reached out a hand of help to more than a few people, some have taken it and have moved up. Others have simply tried to bite the only hand that ever fed them. Why? Ask them. But, the one thing that is certain, in that bite, their career went no further.
 
It is like all of these people who write and speak about the film industry from afar. Maybe they do critiques or do reviews or do whatever… But, if they are not here, if they have not actually lived the game, they have no idea what they are speaking about. If they haven’t been here on the streets of Hollywood or New York or Mumbai, they have no true idea about the realities of the film industry. Yet, they talk. But, what they are saying is not based in lived truth and/or actual reality. Come out here, try to be an actor, try to be a filmmaker, give it a couple of years, and see how far you get. Only then will you possess a true understanding about what actually takes place.
 
The point being, the choices you make define what you will ultimate become in your life. You can talk all you want to. You can describe the SOMETHING you almost became. You can discuss the realities actually lived by sometimes else and pretend you know the facts. But, if you have not made the choice to BECOME all you are will forever be defined by is what you are not.

***

Many people believe that when someone they love passes away that person becomes their guardian angel and is looking out for them from the great beyond.

Think how many people have died over the many eons of human existence. If that were the case, what has become of all those wandering spirits?

The Two-Day Movie

Here is a chapter from my book, Independent Filmmaking: Secrets of the Craft that I thought some of you filmmakers out there may find interesting. You can also read the article on my other site, Zen Filmmaking.com @ The Two-Day Movie.

When I tell people that they should film their independent movies in two days, they most often respond, “That’s impossible!” But, I can tell you from personal experience, that, “Yes, it is.” In fact, I have made an art out of shooting entire feature films in just two days.

This process began when I made Samurai Vampire Bikers from Hell. Making a film this quickly was in direct response to the months-upon-months Don Jackson and I took to make The Roller Blade Seven.
 
While making RB7 I came to the realization that though all of the time we had spent during production had, for the most part, been a fun experience, it truly did not make the movie any better.
 
Now, RB7 was filmed in numerous locations—many of which were a long distance from our offices on Hollywood Boulevard. The truth being told, if you are going to shoot at that many locations, with that much of a distance to travel, then, “No,” you probably cannot make your movie in two days. But, if you keep your locations central to your homebase, then this style of filmmaking is very doable.
 
Why
The question is often posed to me, “Why make a film in only two days?” The logic is simple.  First of all it’s cheaper. If you are paying or feeding anyone on your set, then keeping the shooting schedule limited to only two days cuts way down on your production costs. Secondarily, and perhaps most importantly, people have lives, people have jobs, people have families, people have egos that can be damaged, people have the belief that your production is not that great and they will soon be offered a bigger position in a larger production. In short, your crew and particularly your cast are going to move on. But, if you shoot your film in a minimal period of time, their interest will remain high and they will stay onboard until the completion of your production.
 
In addition, the two-day film really works great for the working masses, because you can make an entire film over the weekend. As most people work Monday thru Friday, their weekends are open. With this, they do not feel that they are being cheated out of their daily wage for taking part in your production.
 
Also, if you need to rent equipment, film rental houses have a policy that renting equipment for the weekend is billed as a single day rental.  So, if you need to rent equipment, you can save some money.
 
Scheduling
The successful two-day film is all about scheduling. Whereas many novice indie filmmakers go into their project with their script in hand and the idea of what they hope to film on a particular day, their schedule quickly becomes lost due to the fact that they are messing around with the lights, talking and joking with the cast, rehearsing their actors, and generally not getting anything done. If you are going to make a two-day movie, you need to know how to get things done!
 
On every film, there are things that are going to come up that you cannot anticipate and these situations will lead to your planned schedule being altered to some degree. So, what you want to do is to alleviate as many of those potential problems as possible. For example, you will want to
KNOW your locations.
 
With the two-day movie you cannot just show up to a place you have never been to before and expect everything to go fine. Maybe everything will go fine, but that cannot be guaranteed.
 
So, when planning for the two-day movie, prior to shooting, you will want to visit, dress the sets, and setup your lights, if possible, at each location to fit the needs of your film. Then, on the day of shooting, when you travel to the location, it will be ready to go.
 
Scheduling the Actor
One of the primary things that you will want to do, particularly in regard to actor scheduling, is to only bring them onto the set when it is near the time for them to shoot their scenes. So many filmmakers bring actors onto the set and then have them sit around for hours, if not all day. Sometimes these actors are not even used if a filmmaker encounters any problems. This is just the wrong way to make the independent film.
 
What this style of filmmaking does is to alienate your actors from you and the production and cause them to be discontent.  By the time you are ready to shoot their scenes—if, in fact, you ever get around to them, their emotions are displaced and they are not happy—which may be projected into your film. So, the main thing you have to do is to decide the order of the scenes you are shooting on a specific day, in a specific location, and then bring the actors onto the set near the time you plan to begin shooting the scenes that involve their character.
 
There will certainly be lead or co-star actors and actresses that will need to travel with you to the various locations you are shooting at on a given day. What I find works best is to meet them at the first location, if this location is some distance from your primary set.  Shoot their scenes at this location and then move onto the next set or location.  You can either have them leave their car at this location or have them follow you.
 
The other thing to do is to meet at your primary set and then drive in one car with them.  With this style of transportation, not only can you discuss any questions they have about their character or the scenes you are going to shoot, but you can also learn about their personality.  From this, you, as a director, will better know how to guide them through their performances.
 
The main thing you do not want to do is to lose you actors in the process of the two-day movie.  Because, with no cast, there is no character development, and your movie can never be completed—at least not as scheduled. So, you want to keep your lead actors close.
 
The Look
The two-day film does not have to look low-budget. With a schedule of ten to twelve hours a day, you can shoot a lot of character development at a lot of locations and give your film the look of a production that took much longer to create and cost much more. Achieving this is easy. Chart out your locations, film your scenes at them and then move on to the next location. Don’t mess around. You can do that later. Get out there and get your movie filmed.
 
Those Who Get It
Let’s face facts, some people, “Get it,” and some do not. Some understand that an indie film is a low-budget collaborative process that is designed to be a stepping-stone pathway to make inroads in the film industry and some do not.  What you want to do when making the two-day film and, in fact, when making any indie film, is surround yourself with a cast and crew that “Get it.”  From this, you will alleviate many of the problems that may occur, particularly with your cast.
 
The Reality
The reality of the two-day movie is that you can create a very nice product while interfering with the lives of your cast and crew in the most minimal manner possible. With this, they come away with a new credit on their resume while having had a positive experience.

If, while editing you find that you need another scene or two to fix any holes in the story, as the production was so trouble free your cast and crew will be happy to come back and give you another hour or two.
 
The problem with long independent productions is obvious.  The cast and the crew become too involved in the lives of each other, and from this, the flaws in the production and individual personalities are revealed. This abrasive reality drives many people away. From this, the film can never be completed in the manner in which it was hoped. The solution; the two-day movie.  You get in there, you get it done, and everyone moves on with his or her life.

Happy Birthday Buddha

I was at this Buddhist temple, I frequent, the other day. …I was there, as people prepare for the birthday of the Buddha (this year) on May 15.
 
As the birthday of the Buddha is approaching, there tends to be various gatherings and meditations and the like. At the temple, there was this organized precession of the True Believers walking the grounds and heading towards the temple.
 
Let me sidetrack here for a moment… First of all, how do they know the birthday of the Buddha? He is believed to have lived approximately five hundred years before Christ. But, the exact time frame has never been historically absolutely established. I guess how could it be? Yet, they (the True Believers) celebrate his birthday on a specific day each year. 
 
All this is not so different than the birthday of Jesus, I suppose. But, that day is more established. And, in fact, much of the calendars of the world are based upon it. Anyway…
 
More commonly, the Buddha’s birthday is celebrated in April. But, this year, 2024, due to the whole lunar thing, based around the Vaisakha calendar and all, it will be celebrated in May.
 
Back to the story… I was at the temple and there was this long precession of True Believers. The men walked in one row, the women in another. They were all cloaked in black robes. Most wore face masks, due to the lingering worry of the COVID-19 pandemic and all. A few had them pulled down and others, I guess, just refused to wear the mask at all as they had none covering their face.
 
The thing that caught my eye, as the very long line of the woman’s group passed me by, was one woman wore these very dirty white tennis shoes. This caused me to focus on the shoes. In fact, the thought came to me to film the long line of passing shoes, to create some sort of Zen Film, but filming at the temple is forboden, and, I guess, that would have been a bit disrespectful in any case.
 
As the shoes walked by, I could not help but study the difference it what each person wore. Most were tennis shoe style shoes. There were a few hard/dress style shoes. And, even a couple of sandals. What this truly illustrated to me is how each of the woman were so different. They were all there. They were all (obviously) True Believers. They all held firm to a common cause. Yet, the shoes they wore detailed who and what they truly were, how they focused their life, and the level of affluence they did or did not possessed.
 
I have long believed (and stated), “You can know a man by the shoes he wears.” And, you can. People with money or the fake it till you make it people always wear expensive shoes. Most people, whether they have money or not, want their shoes to look nice. But then, there are those, like the first women I took notice of, wearing the most trashed shoes and just do not care. Why? Who know??? But, the shoes a person wears truly describes who they are, how they think, and what they are attempting to portray (or not).
 
So, who are you? What shoes do you wear? And, why do you wear them? What shoes is the person next to you wearing and why?  If you never think about this, maybe you should.
 
Happy B’Day Buddha!

Admit That You Are Nothing

The majority of most people’s lives are spent in pursuit of something: becoming something, getting something, or possessing something. The majority of most people’s lives are spent dreaming about what they desire. The majority of most people’s lives are lived attempting to obtain that which they will never obtain. The majority of most people’s lives are spent in a state of dissatisfaction because they are not all that they want to be or that they do not possess all that they wish to possess. Due to the factors, the majority of most people spend their entire life in a state of discontentment, displeasure, disappointment, and frustration.
 
What if you accepted the fact that you were nothing? What if you did not attempt to achieve anything? What if your life was not defined by your desiring to become something? What if you simply admitted that you were nothing? Wouldn’t everything become a whole lot easier?
 
In Zen Buddhism there is the concept of, “Wu.” Wu means, “No thing.” Not, “Nothing,” in the sense of something. But, “No thing,” in the sense that everything has no absolute validity.
 
In Zen Buddhism there is also the concept of, “Sunyata,” Sunyata describes the fact that all things are empty. That all things have no absolute essence; they are simply a projection of the mind.
 
Think of your life. Think of all the things that your desires have led you to do. Think of all the pain you caused to the life of other people and to your own life due to the pursuit of your desires. Think what your life and the life of other people would have been like if you did not walk down the path of desire.
 
Think of all the things you have done; the actions you have taken and the money you have spent in order to become who you wanted to be and in order to own all that you wanted to possess. Think what your life would have been like if you had not done those things and spent that money.
 
Becoming nothing is the easiest thing in the world. You just surrender to the fact of nothingness. You do not have to do anything. You simply submit. By submitting you Become. In fact, if you do submit to the nothingness, in Zen Buddhist understanding, you have become the ultimate example of life. Yet, how few people desire to follow that path?
 
Can you embrace the no-thing-ness? Can you re-embrace your ultimate essence? If you can, all things fall into place; your life and the world become perfect in their simplicity. 
 
Try it. Even if you do it for a moment here or there you will gain vast new understandings into the ultimate truth of your existence.

***

It's easier to break something than to build something.

What are you doing, breaking or building?

Asking God for the Wrong Favor

Have you ever noticed when you don’t get what you want, on the most simplest of terms, you get upset? Sure, there are all of those really big, grand ideas that we each hope and want for our life. But, as they are so big, we kind of understand that they probably are not going to happen. But, it is those small things that get to us. Things that we think are so simple that they should be ours. They are the ones that get us riled up.
 
Like a parking spot. We go somewhere, we expect to find parking, and when we don’t get it, that question of, “Why not,” rages inside of us.
 
I know for me, in places like San Francisco, there have been more than a few times when I have been trying to go to a restaurant, a gallery opening, or something like that, and I would drive around and drive around but there was nothing. I had a reservation, but I couldn’t get to it.
 
One time in particular is etched in my mind. I dropped my lady off in front of the restaurant. This restaurant was on Polk Street, and that area of SF can get a bit sketchy.  I wanted to keep her safe and so she wouldn’t have to walk and all that.  My thought was, I’ll just go and find a spot. But, nothing, nada. I looked and looked, drove and drove, I could find nothing. My lady was sitting there, waiting for me. But, I had nowhere to park. I was freaking out.
 
Something so simple. Something so small. Something so expected. But, I could not get what I wanted/needed.
 
Maybe you have had one of those moments. Something so simple that should be yours, but it is kept from you. Thus, and therefore, you are completely freaking out.
 
Some people, in those situations, cry out, “Why?” Some, (I guess), even pray to God. “God help me!” But, why should God be bothered with some level of granting you your desired foolishness?
 
And, this takes us to another area of this entire issue; i.e., who you ask for help and why. Like I mentioned, many people commonly cry out to God, as that is what they have been trained to do. Who else can you ask for help in a situation like that?  It’s not like any physical being would/could have the potential to get you a parking spot when there are none.
 
But, here is where all this subject gets complicated… …All that asking…
 
It’s like the teacher of my teacher, Swami Sivananda would discuss, (and I am paraphrasing), if you are asking for help from the Great Beyond, (he referred to whom you are asking as the Devis, (female deities), you will be expected to pay them back. And, that’s the thing, asking is easy. People ask for things from the Great Beyond all the time. They want what they want for free. But, what are they willing to pay back when the bill comes due? Nobody ever thinks about that.
 
How many people ask, but how few people pay?
 
Most people ask the Great Beyond for so much, from the very big to the very small. Do you?
 
I think back to a couple stories spoken to me by my Zen Filmmaking brother, Donald G. Jackson that are an ideal example of The Asking. For example, he believed that chanting got him from working in a factory in Michigan to a job in the film industry here in California. He had joined the Nichiren Shōshū group, where they chant, “Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō,” while having their students focus intensely on what they want. And, it is promised they will receive it. Don believed it worked for him. Maybe it did, I don’t know? But, like I have questioned since the ‘70s, over and over and over again, about this society and their methods, “How is that Buddhism?” Buddhism is about achieving, No Desire, not the acquisition of desire. But, he believed that he asked and he received.
 
The twist to all this came later in his life, leading to the title of this piece. He would detail to me that he would pray that all he wanted was a way to make micro-budget films and he hoped for a means to finance them. A finance company did come to him. One of those dirty deeds done dirty cheap film finance companies and Don and all the investors got screwed. They all ended up in court and all that. But, in the interim, Don lived very high on the hog and made a bunch of movies. Movies that he hated. He would often say to me, “I am so sorry that I asked for something so small.”
 
But, here’s the thing… Don wanted, he asked, and he got. But, when what he received was not what he truly wanted, then what? Moreover, what was Don willing to pay back? He never even thought about that question.
 
How about you? What have you asked for? …Small or large? When you asked, did you ever think about repayment? Whether it was/is something so small as a parking spot, or something much grander, what are you willing to pay for getting what you want? And, once you get it, what happens if and when you realize, it is no longer really what you wanted?

***

When you are hungry enough, you will eat anything.

When you are thirsty enough, you will drink anything.

When you are gullible enough, you will believe anything.

What does that tell you about the human condition?

What does that tell you about you?

***

Knowing that the system is broken doesn't mean that you're doing anything to fix it.

***

With everything that is created there is something that is destroyed.

***

People can change but they have to have a reason to change.

***

You don't have to do it today but you may not be able to do it tomorrow. Then what?

Riding on the Edge

Back in the day, in the long ago and the far-far away, every now and then, on this blog, I would post the music I was listening to on a certain day, (or night), whether it be on vinyl, cd, tape, my car via the expansive world of the world wide web, streaming, or whatever… I guess it was a popular feature as I used to get a lot of, “What’s next,” when I didn’t post. Anyway, and in any case, I thought, as I sit here (tonight), in the late night, I would give you the latest batch of what I have been listening to, in the background of my life right now. Maybe, as a means of your inspiration.
 
Here it goes…

 
Ville Valo — Neon Noir
Dark — Lover in the Dark
Dark — Skeleton Dance
Dark — Forever Suffer
Dark — In the Dark You Die
Clan Of Xymox — She
Clan of Xymor — How Long
Ladytron — Destroy Everything You Touch
moonvampire — Suicide
Caput Medusae — I Wear Black 'Til I'm Dead
Twin Tribes — Fantasmas
Twin Tribes — Monolith
Twin Tribes —Shadows
Twin Tribes — Heart & Feather
Diar Storm — No One Will Cry

***

Just because you can't find it doesn't mean that it does not exist.

Chasing Enlightenment

By the 1300s, approximate eighteen hundred years after the passing of The Buddha, there was estimated to be eighty thousand scriptures written about the teaching of The Buddha. This many scriptures, how many lectures, how many aspirants, but, yet, how many people found enlightenment?
 
Of course, the actual answer to that question is unknowable. For most who do encountered nirvana are silent in their realization. Yet, with all of those teachings being taught, the number has obviously remained very small.
 
In the West, when the true dawning of Eastern understandings came to be knowingly embraced, most notably in the eighteenth century, many a postulant came to join the growing ranks of those who sought the realization that The Buddha had encountered, giving birth to a world-wide pursuit of divine realization. From this, and because of this, how many more treatises on The Buddha’s teaching have been composed? How many lectures have been given? Yet, how many people have found their way to enlightenment? One would think that with more and more individuals pursuing this advanced understanding, more would have reached that goal. But, have they?
 
Here lies the ultimate illusion of following the path to enlightenment. If you are seeking, you will forever be a seeker. You will never be a finder. No matter how many scriptures you read, no matter how many lectures you go to, no matter how many times you are initiated, as long as you are Doing you are Not Doing which is the ultimate guideway to enlightenment.
 
There are times in human history where true inner knowledge and a quest for enlightenment are decidedly on the minds of humanity. There are also times when it is not. This being said, throughout all time, even long before the birth of The Buddha, people have sought to know the unknowable. But, as long as you seek what cannot be known, by the average methods of the thinking with an analytical mind, no emancipative knowledge can ever be encountered.
 
You cannot know enlightenment. You cannot study to become enlightened. If you could, via all those texts and all those lectures and all those initiations, a lot of people would have found this ultimate state of existence.  But, they have not.
 
Unknowing is the only way to know enlightenment. The more you think you know, the less you know. If you truly wish to find the knowledge possess by The Buddha let go of the traditional path of study. Let go and know with knowing. That is enlightenment.

***

People measure themselves by their accomplishments.

Instead, people should measure themselves via the things they have done wrong: whom they have hurt, what they have damaged.

From this, then they may be motivate to repair what they have broken.

The Greater Good

Each day when I wake up, I ask myself the question, “What am I going to do today for the greater good?” What question do you ask yourself when you wake up? Do you question anything at all?
 
The fact is, most people do not think about doing anything for the Greater Good. They just think about what they think about. They give very little though to planning to help the Great All as their thoughts are so commonly focused only their Self. How about you?
 
There are some, however, who have set their entire life on a course of doing that Something to help the Greater Good. Teachers, doctors, nurses, paramedics, firemen, these are all professions that are entirely focused around doing for the Greater Good. But, few people focus their life upon truly giving, however.
 
If people question the question of themselves, “What am I doing for anyone but me?” Many will come up with delusionary answers. “Well, my job has me making something that people can use.” “I make a donation to that whatever every once in a while.” “I give the unhoused person on the street corner some change whenever I can.” “I’m an artist or an actor or a musician or a comedian, I make people happy with what I create.”  All this and that kind of Mind Junk is simply excuses for living a life focused on the Self, while desiring to get a payroll check and perhaps even gain some recognition. Though people may live and use what you make. And sure, what you do is a necessary product in the worker bee essence of life. And yes, some people may even like what you create. But, does any of that truly aid to the enhanced evolution of the betterment of life?
 
Here is the question that you must ask yourself every day, “Is what I am doing actually doing something for someone else, while not doing anything for me?” Your answer to that question is the essence of giving to the Great Good.
 
Now that you know this, what are you going to do today for the greater good?

***

Is failure truly failure or is it simply you learning a truth that you did not want to know?

Why is Everyone So Angry?

I pulled up to a stop sign this AM and I looked in my rearview and the guy in the car behind is sitting there, double flipping me off. He was really agitated. You know the style, with his arms moving back and forth. It made me smile. I had no idea what was going on in his mind.
 
Me, I opened my door, twisted around, and leaned out of my car, as there was really no other way to find out what was going on. “Is there something you want to say to me?” On the verge of yelling, “Turn on your fucking turn signal before you come into my lane!”  OMG. This guy was that pissed off about something like that? Sure, I had changed lanes, but I didn’t cut him off or anything. I guess in his mind, I did. But, I didn’t feel that I had. I reiterate because I didn’t like his attitude, “Is there something you want to say to me?” “I just said it!” I continue, “Unless you’re man enough to get out of your car, you really shouldn’t be flipping people off.” He just sat there. I closed the door and drove off.
 
Now, if we can pull this apart a little bit… I should have just let it go. I shouldn’t have said anything. It would have ended there, and all would have been forgotten. But, I have this very bad side to me. You know, like the old saying goes, “You can take the boy out of the jungle, but you can’t take the jungle out of the boy.” When someone comes at me like that, it’s difficult for me not to respond. My bad!
 
The other side of this issue is, and this is just a warning for the unexperienced or a reminded to you street fighter types, you always want to be prepared to get out of your car first if things are about to go down. So, have your door opened. Because if you are trying to get out by the time your attacker is on you, and you stick one leg out of the door, they will probably take control over the door and smash the door against that leg numerous times, which can be really devastating.
 
But, the fact of the fact and the question of the question is, “Why is everybody so angry?” Was what occurred a reason for this guy to completely lose his cool. I mean, there he was, probably a forty-something guy with your standard haircut, driving an SUV.  What is so wrong in his life that he gets that angry over nothing?

And… It is not just him. I have been witnessing this style of random, undirected, and stupid anger happening all over the place. For me, it seemed like a lot of it has been going on since the end of the pandemic. What is so wrong with the life of all these people that they must dwell in a life defend by anger?
 
I drove on. Maybe five minutes later, I was traveling down this street and this girl in her car pops the stop sign on the side street she was coming off of, not even looking before she jams onto the street, almost completely sideswiping me. I had to totally veer out of the way, so she didn’t hit me. Now, for that, there may have been a reason to get mad. But, I just let it go. I could have yelled and screamed and honked. But, what good would that have done?
 
After that, I thought I would play a little game with myself. Let me see how many people do something that I would consider wrong or rude or possible accident-making as I drove to my destination? My count, twenty-seven. Besides the one thing with the girl, who almost hit my car, I got cut off a few times, this one old man pulled in front of me and was driving so slow that it was infuriating, there was even a homeless skater dude who darted out onto PCH, stopped in the middle of the street, got off his skateboard, turned and walked backed to the sidewalk, while giving me a dirty look. Now, if I was going to create a situation that could escalate into a fight over all of those episodes, I would have had to go toe-to-toe many times.
 
I don’t know what it is with people like that guy this morning? I guess it is just that they are so internally angry with their own life and what is going on in it, and all of that kind of stuff, that they wish to lash out behind the safety of the inner-workings of their car. It’s kind of like all those internally angry people on the internet that spread all that negativity and haltered. They're hiding behind a screenname, from who knows where, a place where they can never be found.
 
I think back to this documentary that I saw a few weeks ago about some of the people that made up the hacker group, Anonymous. Some of the stuff that was discussed in that doc was pretty interesting and revealing about their origins and how they came into existence. One of the people interviewed was discussing how so much of what he and they did, in the early stages, was based upon their own internalized anger. And, how it lead to a lot of bad things occuring. I guess that’s the point of all of this…
 
I believe it/this is something that we each need to study in ourselves if we hope to become a better and more positive vehicle for life. If we find ourselves angry and reacting angrily, like the guy did to me today, you really need to dig deep and find out why. You really need to look at this. You really need to study yourself. You really need to know yourself. Because anger leads to nothing good, only damage.
 
If you are angry, figure out the reason why—know your reason why. If you are angry at someone else, whether it is some nothing something like the situation I encountered this morning, or even something bigger, know that it is only you who is angry. Even if there are others who, like you, are angry about the same thing, know that it is only you who can control you; what you feel, and you act, and react. Sure, we all get pissed off, from time to time, about stuff. But, it is only you who can choose what you do with that anger. Think/know, you can turn off that anger if you choose to.
 
Anger is never a good thing. Do not let it guide you down the road to something negative.

***

Everybody has a reason for saying and doing what they say or do but how many of those reasons take anyone else's reason into consideration?

Finding Your Center

“Finding your center,” is a common term designed to remind an individual that they need to possess a certain sense of inner awareness as a means to forward themselves in a more refined manner as they pass their way through their life. Though, “Finding your center,” may be a great call to arms in spiritual circles, but it is completely undefined. What does it really mean? How does one actually do it?
 
For anyone who has walked the path of the martial arts, you know that, especially in the early stages of your training, you are constantly reminded that you must focus on your center. In Korean, the center of the body is known as the, “Tanjun,” or “Hara” in Japanese. It is understood that the tanjun is the body’s center of gravity and the bodily location from where Ki, “Internal energy,” emanates.
 
It is taught that for the practitioner to truly execute an effective technique their focus on this center of gravity must become innate. This is also where the, “Kihap,” in Korean, “Kiai,” in Japanese, the yell a martial artist does when they perform a technique, is launched from.  The tanjun is a location approximately four inches below your naval. From this central location, the tanjun extends approximately two inches wide by two inches in height. 
 
Within the martial arts, as this is a very sacred location on the human body, it is treated with the highest respect. There are numerous techniques taught to the practitioner in order for them to not only focus on this bodily location, but to utilize it to its fullest potential.
 
Though this is the case within the martial arts, the use of the tanjun is primarily based around enhances body balance and dynamics to advance the development and the utilization of Ki development and to be used in offensive and defensive fighting techniques. Does this cause the individual to rise to a deeper understanding of, “Finding their center?” Some would say, “Yes.” But, can something so physical ever cause the individual to truly developed a deeper understanding of their Inner Self? I suppose the answer to that question is questionable.
 
The point to all of this is, what are you doing to find your center? What are you doing to truly develop that sense of enhanced inner consciousness?  At least the martial artist is using the practices of tanjun focus and Ki development, designed around the body’s center of gravity, to utilize this understanding in making their physical and thus their mental being more profound. But, what does the average person do to do anything about this concept of, “Finding your center?” For most, the answer is, very little or nothing.
 
There is no one technique for an individual to find their center. There is one constant, however, the person must work at it. For without working at it, noting can be accomplished.
 
In closing, this is simply a wakeup call for you to do something other than nothing as you walk the pathway of your life towards a deeper understand about you and your life and your interrelationship with other beings and the greater universe as a whole. If you do nothing to find your center, your center will never be found. Sure, that may sound a little bit Zen. But, if you don’t try, you don’t try. Then what? Do you wish to live your life with no deeper understandings about the greater truth buried deep within yourself?  If you care to, “Know,” you need to find a method to find that answer. There are a lot of techniques out there. You simply must find the one that works best for you. Find your center.

Every Day Something is Lost

“For the person of the world, everyday something is gained. For the person of Tao, everyday something is lost.”
 
That’s s quote from the Tao Te Ching.
 
The Tao Te Ching is one of the most profound books ever composed. From the moment I discovered a copy of it on the shelf of my local bookstore on Western Ave., back when I was very young, that text has been one of the primary guiding factors of my life.
 
There are numerous translations of the book. Even I composed a translation of it back in the 1990s. But, as there were/are so many, I put that manuscript under the covers and moved on. And yes, there is historic debate about who actually composed the text. I’ve written on that subject, as well. But, the fact of the fact is, whatever its origin, it is one of the most important and philosophically profound books ever written. If you haven’t read it, I truly suggest that you do. I recommend the version translated by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English.
 
Even if we look at the passage above, we can learn a lot about a pathway of life that can prove to remove so much of the chaos that we each encounter in our lives on a daily basis.
 
Think about what you think about. Think about the path you have chosen for your life. Think about what you do and why you do it on a daily basis. For most, what all that equals is acquisition.
 
Think about how much time you spend getting and trying to get. Think about how much time you spend wishing you had that whatever else you don’t have. Then, think about all of the problems you have lived through because of you getting that something that you once wanted. Like I have long said, in a mechanical world there is mechanical problems.
 
But, more than just that… Think about how much unhappiness you have lived through due to you seeking your desires and then the problems you have encountered because of you getting your desires.
 
Now, think about if you could simply let yourself be free. Seek nothing. Try to gain nothing. Desire the No-Desire of not becoming anything. How free would your life become?
 
Think about your life. Ponder the path you are walking. You may want to rethink and reenvision what you have Become and what you are Becoming. You may want to change the way you live your life.

The Law of Diminishment

It is forever interesting to me how people wish to categories everyone. More often than not, they wish to categorize them/anyone in terms of the negative.
 
Why is that? Why do people wish to cast others to something lower than themselves? Why do they wish to cast judgement? Why do they wish to give them (that other person) the title of that something less? Why? Because they wish to be something more. They wish to appear to be more and better than that someone else. But, are they?
 
If you ask me, life should be more than that. People should be more that.
 
It is like I often state, particularly when someone is asking someone else a question about me or my filmmaking or my art or my writing or my whatever… “You’re asking the wrong question.”
 
It is like in the earlier stages of my career as a filmmaker, people have often accused me of making porn or making porn orientated films. But, is that the case? No. Absolutely not! Has there ever been any sex in any of my films? No. There has even been any actual sex.
 
People have also spoken and commented about my using adult film stars and adult film personalities in my films. They ask, “Why?” But, they ask the wrong questions of the wrong people.
 
If they asked me, I would tell them the true answer. But, they don’t ask me. They either ask someone who is not me, someone who does not know the true answer, or they simply speculate.
 
Let me answer… I have never been into porn. Even as a young male, that was and is never my thing. If you like it, great. Good for you. But you are not me!
 
I love artistic photography and artistic filmmaking. If that artist photography involves a nude body, great. But, that is not porn. This is the same with artistic filmmaking. If it involves nudity, great. But again, that is not pornography.
 
Even more to the point… And, to answer the question(s) people have asked of others but not of me… Why have I used adult film actresses and adult stars in my films? Because they are okay with being nude. And, if they are okay with it, that means it is okay with me.
 
One of the cheapest forms of special effects is nudity. Plus, it is beautiful. Who does not like to see a beautiful nude body?
 
Me, I never want to cause anyone to do anything that they do not want to do on camera. If, at any time, anyone has ever mentioned they were uncomfortable with anything, that is the end of the scene. Done! Cut! Moving on. That is not the case with all filmmakers. But, that is my code of ethics.
 
Even more than that… Who are these people to judge the life choices of individuals who have chosen to make their living in the adult industry. That is their choice! Who are you (or anyone) to judge? They are human beings too. Each with the ability to make the choices that they make.
 
So, back to the point of people involved in the adult industry. They are okay with being nude. And, with being nude in a film. Plus, they do not have to have sex. So, they are all happy to get their day rate to simply take off their clothing, be nude on camera, and to perhaps act in a film that may provide them with some credibility in the greater film industry.
 
Another thing to keep in mind is that I have not made a character-driven film in like fifteen years. My filmmaking has become much abstract. So, why lock yourself, why lock me, why lock anybody into a time long gone past?  People change. The life of a person changes. Minds and ideas change. Artistic realizations change. Why hold anyone to who they were then? What good does it do them? What good does it do you?
 
Now, this piece is not just about my filmmaking and me. I am just using some of my Life Junk as an example. It is about you. It is about you asking the wrong people the wrong questions. It is about you thinking you know when what you are thinking is actually wrong.
 
Keep in mind, before you think you know, realize that you do not know. If you want to ask questions about anyone, ask the questions of the source. Moreover, don’t judge! Who are you to judge the life of anyone? What makes you so all-knowing and so all-holy?

***

No matter how long you boil water the moment you take it away from the flame it starts getting cold.

Forced Fashion

Long before the baggy clothing crazy hit in the mid to late 1980s and onward, I had taken to wearing baggy cuffed pants and oversized suit coats. I guess I was sort of a trend setter. Happy
 
Though it wasn’t my true inception in the process, but one day, while walking down the street, I had found this used clothing store on Melrose, back when Melrose was a thing here in L.A. I walked in and was blown away. They had tons and tons of very clean suits, pants, and sport coats from the 1940s. Back when baggy was the thing. I was so blown away, I didn’t buy anything right then, I was a bit overwhelmed. Later that evening, I had gone and picked up my then girlfriend and brought her back to the store with me. This was at a time when the traffic wasn’t so horrendous in L.A. I bought a few items and continued to go to that store until they final closed a few years later.
 
Times and trends change. That’s just life. And, if you hold too tightly onto a trend, when that trend has changed, you look kind of stupid. Though I’ve always remained oversized in my clothing choices, I kind of miss the freedom of those days and the style that once was, that was once again, at least for me.
 
Recently, there has been this massive push to get the young and the stylish and the trendy to wear these very baggy jeans and stuff. I noticed it beginning maybe a year or so ago. I mean these pants are really exaggeratedly big. More and more, as I look around, I see the young falling prey to this trend of Forced Fashion, as that is what they are wearing. …I guess that’s the thing about youth, you want to be cool, you want to fit in.
 
But, in all of this, think about how much personal choice has been removed. Take a look at your own life. Think back through your memories. Think about what you wore back when and what you no longer wear?  Take a look at what you wear now, how you wear it, and why you wear it. How much of it/that was a product of your own creation and how much of it/that was you simply taken part in a trend? How much of what you wear is based solely upon you wishing to impress the eyes of that someone else?
 
We each have a choice to make in life.  Choice is all around us. But, how many of us make a choice compared to how many of us simply follow the trends?
 
How about you? How much of what you choose to do, what you choose to wear, is defined by YOU verse how much of it is defined by what you are force fed by whomever it is out there that is force feeding you?

Other People’s Money

As we pass through life, there is the simple reality that we each need to find a way to survive. Once upon a time, in the long ago and the far-far away, that may have meant building your own shelter out of your surrounding materials, growing your own food, and/or killing your prey to eat. And, for some, that is still the case, I suppose. I know back in the 1960s, there were those who set out to created, or maybe better put, recreate, a completely agrarian, self-sustaining, community. For some, that worked for a while. But, most of those have fallen away. Now, what we are left with is trying to find a means to pay for our everything to survive.
 
How do you pay for your everything to survive?
 
Most people never truly chart out that question. They simply do what they need to do. For some, they were born with family support, providing them with the financial and the psychological fortitude to drive forward into life with a keen sense of survival. Many were taught to do what they do as their means of survive based upon the moral good of not intentionally doing things that will hurt others as they chart their way through their life. Sadly, this is not always the case, however. Some people, for whatever reason, simply do not care about the effect they may be having on others as they find their means of life support.
 
This factor is not always as obvious as one may think. Sure, there are those who steal from others, take advantage of others, or obviously hurt others as they find their means of surviving their path through life. But, there are also many more subtle levels of this process. There are those who are, for example, provided with an inheritance or a trust fund from money made by a previous generation. There are those who are provided with a home of their own, based upon their family’s previous earned money—money generated by someone else. There are those who may have been married, then divorced, and live off of the alimony or palimony of their former spouse. Though all of these methods may be considered acceptable by modern society, are they truly karmically acceptable? Or, if they are studied—if the person taking advantage of these methods of financing their life, via someone else’s money, are studied, are they truly walking a good or righteous path, no matter what they do with that someone else’s money?
 
This is one of the most important and essential things one must view as they truly study the life of themselves or any other individual. How are the surviving? How are they making the money they need to house and to feed and to take care of themselves and their family?  
 
If you do not, very consciously, study this process, in and of yourself, if your do not, very consciously, chart what you are doing, how you are doing it, why you are doing it, and how what you are doing is doing to others, in your method to financially make your way through life, then what does that make you? Answer: A person who cares for no one but yourself. Is that who you are? Is that who the people you associate are? And, if so, what does that say about you? What does that say about the people you associate with?
 
If you do not/have not thought about this factor of your life, don’t you think it is time that you did?

***

Do you possess the ability to know what someone else is thinking or why they are thinking it?

If you are honest with yourself, the answer to that question is, "No."

Knowing this, why should you ever think or say anything about anyone but yourself?

***

How many things do you not know about?

What you do not know about is the true definition of your life, not what you believe you know.

Finding a Place to Meditate

Whenever someone thinks about meditating, they generally hope to find a quiet and serene location where they will not be distracted by worldly noises or other people. Though this may be the ideal and the hoped for location to meditate, for many it is rare that they can have such a situation on a regular basis. What then? Where can you meditate when you are not afforded the ideal placement?
 
I have believed forever that if you hope to truly meditate you must make meditation a part of your everyday existence. You must make what you do your meditation.
 
In many ways, if you do something in any repetitive manner in your life, it is very easy to make that action part of your meditation protocol. It is simply the way you focus your mind when you are doing what you are doing. If you decide what you are doing is a mediation, then it becomes a meditation.
 
Most people are not like that, however. If they are doing something that they do every day, say as a part of their job, for them it simply becomes a chore.

This is all based on a state of mind, however. If you can change the way you’re thinking about that something, that anything can shift from being an imposition to becoming a meditative tool.
 
One of the main things a person should develop, if they hope to advance their mind via meditation, is that they must guide themselves, they must allow themselves, to meditate wherever they find themselves.
 
For example, if you are waiting for your appointment in some office, and you know that you will be sitting there for a few minutes, that is an ideal time to shift your mind towards meditation. If you are riding on a subway, or are on a plane, yes, there may be a certain level of commotion taking place around you, but if you take the time to focus your mind, and take the incentive to meditate, these situations can be an ideal time to meditate.
 
Many believe that one must sit in a crossed legged position on the floor to meditate. That they must sit there quietly, with their eyes closed, with no distraction to meditate. Though that is an idealized image of meditation, it is almost too fabricated to be a reality in this modern world.
 
We are all dominated by the hands of time. We must all go places to do something. Yes, it is important to set a time for yourself to quietly meditate each day. Beyond that, however, if you truly hope to make meditation an integral part of your life, you must transcend beyond the common depiction of meditation and bring it into all aspects of your life.
 
Allow yourself to meditate where you find yourself. From this, true self-realization may be understood.

You Only Pretend

I was speaking with someone who recently had a very serious health complication. And, though I did not want to take away from their moment, in any way shape or form, I did mention that I had been through something very serious in my life. And, once it happened, I was never the same. I told them, after that moment, all you can do is to pretend that you are okay. I told them this with the hopes that they could understand that even though trauma hits your life, and yes, everything changes, your life does move on. It moves forward, just defined by a different set of standards.
 
I don’t want to get into all the HIPAA thAng, and all of that. But, what happened to them was very serious. But, as it is me, I can speak to the fact…
 
When I was twenty-one, just before I was to start my last semester at CSUN, for my undergraduate degree, I had a very serious motorcycle accident. It was a Sunday. And, as Sundays went, at least back then, I was to go and have dinner with my mother. Me, I hopped onto my scoot, and I was on my way. A few blocks from where I lived, BAM, a car turned left right in front of me, and I was toast. My scull was fractured in so many places, my bones were broken, and my were muscles torn.
 
As the driver had turned in front of me, my cycle hit the side of their car, and I was thrown, flying through the air, over the car, and my face and my skull hit the payment. All not good.
 
They took me in an ambulance to a local hospital, but they didn’t have a neurologist on duty, as it was a holiday weekend. From there, I was transported to USC Medical Center, over in Boyle Heights, where the only neurologist, in the whole of L.A., was on call. They saved my life. Barely… But, I would never be the same. They had to open up my skull, lift my forehead off of my brain, peel back my face to remove bone fragments from my sinus, and the list goes on and on. All like a horror move stuff; right?
 
I remember when I got home, and I was trying to do the things that I had done forever: the movements, the actions, the life, it was all gone. There was this intense moment of realization, when I became aware, I couldn’t move the way I used to move. I would never be the same.

From the physical perspective, as a martial artist who was operating a school, I had to relearn and retrain my body to do many of the movements that defined my life and livelihood. It wasn't easy, though I fought my way through. What else could I do?
 
Then, the subtleties… The subtleties that no one told me about, that no one explained. Doctors just didn’t talk to you back then. Due to the brain trauma, my emotions, my relations, my reactions would never be the same. But, nobody told me that! It took me years to realize THAT and to try and control THAT part of the new ME.

Never the same… That’s a hard pill to swallow.
 
Me, like everyone who has ever experienced anything like that, they try to pretend that it is not the case. They try to pretend that they are the person they were before the incident. But, they are not.
 
Today, in my speaking, I tied to pass on the sad realization, that the person would never be the same. Perhaps they can pretend, like all of us, who have gone through something like that, try to do. Perhaps they can lie to themselves, like most of us, who have been through something like this, do. But, the fact of the fact of the fact is, no, they will never be the same.
 
That motorcycle crash took place in my life over forty years ago. I never thought that I would live this long. I don’t believe anybody thought I would live this long. But, I did. So, the truth of the truth is, life does go on, no matter what happened to you before.
 
Hopefully, you will never go through an event like this in your life. But, just know that if you do, you are not the only one. You are not alone. There are a many of us, who once were one thing, and now, because of the cruel hands of fate, we are not that something anymore.
 
And, for those of you who encounter someone who has suffered such trauma, please try to be forgiving, because who they once were are not who they are now.

The World of Fake Reviews

Do you ever take the time to read reviews before you buy a product, go to a movie, or go into a business? I always find it so interesting how you can tell, so obviously, if the reviews are stacked for or against a product or a business.  Maybe you look at a book on Amazon, or somewhere, and there is pile of all five-star reviews for a book that has not sold very many copies. Stacked!
 
Here’s a fact, on average, a publisher must sell one thousand copies of a book to generate a single review. Yes, they do have a formula for this. So, how does a low-selling book generate a ton of positive reviews?
 
This is the same with negative reviews. If you see a low-selling book, with a lot of hate being directed at it or the book’s author, you know that those reviews are most probably bogus.
 
The one good thing that Amazon has developed, in recent years, is that they have this notification next to the review, “Verified Purchase.” That’s really the important factor to look for whenever reading any review on their site. For if it is not there, that review is most likely fake.
 
This is the same with businesses. Do you ever read the reviews about the restaurants or the whatever you are planning to go to on Yelp before you go in? If you see a whole lot of reviews written by people that have only written one or two reviews, have posted few photos, or have no community friends, that is clear sign the review, be it positive or negative, is fake.
 
The main thing about reviews is, you really must look for the subtilities before you ever take them to heart.
 
If we take this to a more personal level, think about the things you have liked as you have passed through your life. Maybe you really like a band when you were growing up. (Or, even now). You listen(ed) to their music over-and-over again. If you were to write a review, it would be full of praise, as it should be. You love the music produced by that band.
 
Now, think to a time when you really got screwed over by a business or a business owner. You really don’t like them, and you have a valid reason not to.
 
For me, the whole reason I became involved with writing reviews on Yelp was due to the fact that I had taken one of my Rolex watches to be cleaned at this business that claimed they had a Rolex trained watchsmith on the premises. Six weeks later, I get the watch back, paid a lot for the service, and it still did not function properly. I take it back. I go to check on it a few weeks later. I go into the shop and the owner’s son was wearing it. Are you fucking kidding me!  
 
Meaning, if you write a review from an experiential perspective, positive or negativity, there is truth in your presentation. That is fair and good and all that kind of stuff. But, if you are writing a review to help out a friend, make your own whatever look or sound better, or to just to go after someone or something that you have something against for whatever reason that was born only in your own mind, isn’t that fairly disingenuous?  
 
In this world, and this day and age, there is term that I heard, I guess late in the game, that I find amusing, “Keyboard warrior.” A Keyboard warrior is someone who expounds negative, offensive, and hurtful comments about someone or something out onto the internet. They do this, most commonly, by hiding behind a screenname so there can be no personal repercussions. They do this for no reason but some self-developed ideology, based in a need to find some sort of self-validation, by damaging the life of a person or the operations of that something else. We all know stuff like that is not good.  But, look around, it goes on all the time.
 
This is just an important thing to think about as you read reviews or as you create reviews. What is the reviewed based upon: truth or falsehoods? Mainly, never immediately believe or take a review to heart, simply because someone took the time to create it.

Just Another Night

It’s a warn night here in L.A. They tell me, via the weatherman on the news, that it’s supposed to cool down and rain again later this week. A bit unusual for April. But, it’s all good with me. I love the rain. I prefer the cool.
 
We’ve had a lot of rain this year. A few houses have slide down the hills around the area. That’s not good if that’s your house. But, for me, the rains have been a blessing in a year where there’s not been too many, at least not so far...
 
I’m sitting here in the late night. …The late night as I tend to do.
 
Once upon a time, in the long ago and the far-far away, I would write literature late into the late night. Compose, with a bottle of the grape by my side. Those days, (I mean those nights), seems to be long gone. …Gone, at least for now.
 
But then, not now, is what this piece is all about…
 
As I tend to do, before I plan to hit the sheets, I pull up some music videos to watch on various stations upon the air waves. Just a something in the nothingness of life. A moment to chill. A moment to reflect. A moment to engage in the movement of the notes. A moment to find the silence in between the notes.
 
Sometimes the music videos are fun to watch. A needed distraction.
 
Anyway, and in any case, I was watching and listening to the music video,
Suicide, by the band Moonvampire. That video features the cast from the TV series, Chilling Adventure of Sabrina. That show was the next step in the (kinda) remake of, Sabrina: The Teenage Witch. The song is good. The music video is good. The cast of the show fades in and out from the main stage dancing. Interesting…
 
I don’t really know why or for whatever reason, that song hit a spot in me, and it caused me to flashback to a music video from the past,
Just Another Night, by Mick Jagger. That song so kinda described my life in the way back when. Back when I was bouncing around the globe all the time, and I spent more than a few lonely nights, in, as Mick puts it, “I’m freezing in this hundred-dollar hotel room.” That was a good piece of change, equaling a high-end hotel back when that song was released in ‘85. Now, you can’t even find a decent motel for that price. …Me, I also spent, more than a few, not so lonely nights… But, that song always hits a note of remembrance in me. A time in Tokyo…
 
Further Flash Back: Kind funny/interesting, I guess… The last time I checked into the Hilton International in Tokyo, located in Shinjuku, the staff member at the desk asked me if this was my first time at the hotel. Why they asked me that, I don’t know??? Why they didn’t have my record laid out in front of them, I have no idea??? My response, “You realize, I have lived at this hotel for more than a year of my life.”
 
Back in the 80s, when the hotel was new, and into the 90s, I stayed at that hotel more times than I can even count.  A week here, a week there, and so on… Over and over and over again…
 
Same in hotels like the Hilton International in Hong Kong, in Central, before it became an office building. The Oriental Hotel in Bangkok. So much time in those hotels…
 
But, that’s the thing about life, you live your life and who does it matter to but you?
 
Just Another Night: The female lead/love interest of that music video was Rae Dawn Chong. She describes, how years before, when she was a teenager, she had sex with, a much older, Mick Jagger. She has no regrets. At least from what I have read. Now/then, 1985, there she is, by this point, a major movie star, playing the infatuated love interest of the performer. It was a different time.
 
And, this is also the thing about life, times change… Ideas, morals, realities; everything changes… You can’t compare today to what was yesterday, because it is all so different.
 
This is an essential thing that you must realize about life. If you weren’t there then, you weren’t there then. You can never understand what the, “Feelings,” were. So, don’t try to pretend that you know.
 
As for me, the Flash Back was great. Good song, interesting music video. I wish I could go back. But, I can’t. None of us can.
 

I was there then. But, this is here, now. Sure, I wish I could be twenty-five years old and dancing in Tokyo again, living in a hundred-dollar hotel room. But, that just ain’t the reality of the reality. So, I guess all I’ve got is to sit back, a glass of the grape in my hand, typing a few words of poetry at this keyboard, and remember what I can remember by allowing songs that hit that spot in me to guide me back in time. 

You’re Asking All the Wrong Questions

If I can start this little soliloquy by taking it into the realms of the personal…
 
The reason I rarely ever do interviews anymore is that the people who are interviewing me always seem to ask me the wrong questions. I really hate to say, “You’re asking the wrong question,” or, “Next question.”
 
I don’t know??? Is what’s happening based upon the fact that they don’t get it, they don’t get me, they don’t do their homework, or that they just want to ask the same question that I’ve answered a million times before? Whatever the case, it just sends me to questioning, “Why bother?”
 
Then, there are the times when people ask other people about me or my films or my writing or my art or my martial arts or my whatever. First of all, why ask anybody about anybody else? What true knowledge do you hope to find?  I mean, I hear the questions, I hear the answers, and inevitably it is all just wrong. Wrong question asked of the wrong person who gives the wrong answer.
 
Now, I’m not even going to go into the whole all and the everything about people that speak about me (and others) out into the realms of the inter-web. In many cases, I can’t even figure out what they are basing their whatever upon, as they are so wrong. Even if they have read my writings, watched my films, listened to my music, viewed my art, spoken to somebody who knew me sometime, way back when, all they do is to blast their own prejudices upon my life, my life philosophy, and my life vision. Even when they quote me, they quote me out of context. So, why even bother? Why bother talking about me at all? Moreover, and more importantly, why should I bother talking to them?
 
Very few people come at any of this from a refined and selfless perspective.
 
Now, let’s move this away from me and onto you.
 
What do you want to know about someone/anyone else and why? How free are you to hearing what they actually have to say, especially if you have already made up your mind about that individual in either a positive or a negative manner?
 
What question would you ask of that person and why? What do you want to know about what they do, how they do it, and why they do it? Moreover, are you truly interested in what they have to say or are you simply looking to cement what your mind has already concluded about them?
 
What questions would you ask me?
 
Here’s the thing, as long as you look outside of yourself, attempting to know what someone else knows, you will lose all of your own All-ness. You are seeking to know what they know to know what they know. But, how can you know anything about them on any true or pure level because you have not lived what they have lived, you have not experienced what they have experienced?
 
With this understanding as a basis, why do you need to ask any-one any-thing? Why do you need to think or to speak about anyone else? Why do you need to appear to be some sort of an expert on anyone else? Because if your focus is elsewhere, all you are doing is hiding from your true self and who you truly are.

If you want to peer into the life of anyone, why don’t you peer into your own life? Why don’t you spill and reveal your own hidden truths out to the world?

Phone Number to God

“Just because you can’t see god that doesn’t mean that he is not there.”
 
There’s a few parks around the area where I live. Every now and then, in the afternoon, I’ll take a walk to and around one of them. They each are very different, and they each offer a new and distinctive walking experience. You gotta keep moving and all that.
 
At one of the parks I walk to, just as I entered it, I noticed that phrase written into the sidewalk with crayon. It was actually done pretty well, using a few different color crayons, even though it obviously wasn’t done by a professional calligraphist or anything like that. Just below it, was the statement, “If you have any questions or you need an answer call…” A phone number was written down.
 
I thought it was kinda funny that (I Guess) the powers-that-be at the park had left the statement(s) but scribble out the phone number also with chalk. They didn’t want anyone getting any free publicity for their organization, or whatever it is, on the sidewalk of their park. Or maybe they didn’t want anyone having the phone number to god?
 
But, more to the overall of this… You know, there are all of these people out there and all of these believers that believe that their person or their origination, or their church, or their whatever has the answers. That they are the ones who know something that others so not. That they are the ones with something to give. Some think they are the ONLY ones with these answers.
 
But, have you ever traced these people? Have you ever followed the followers over time? If you have, you quickly come to see that anyone or anything who is offering such a service is never the one who should be.
 
What’s the moral of the story? I guess it is, if you are trying to attract followers by seeking them with crayon written statements on the sidewalk of a park, maybe you should try something else because your phone number will more likely than not be crossed out? And, that’s probably a good thing.

***

Are your actions creating a victim?

If they are, what will be the ultimate outcome to your life?

A Cinematic Masterpiece

I watched the documentary, “Sweet Black Film: The Birth of a Black Hero: Sweet Sweetback,” AKA, “Naissance d'un héros noir au cinéma : Sweet Sweetback,” the other night. It’s a doc about Melvin Van Peebles and his filmmaking career, particularly focused on the making of his film, “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song.” It was a good doc. It was tight and well put together.
 
There have been other documentaries made about the man and that film. Others about him and his son, actor and filmmaker Mario Van Peebles. But, this one is one of the best I’ve seen.
 
As stated, the doc is primarily focused on the man and his creation of, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song. It also speaks to his making of the film he created before that movie, Watermelon Man.
 
I remember seeing, Watermelon Man at the Wiltern theater when it can out in ’70.  The Wiltern was always one of my favorite theaters back when it was a movie theater. I saw so many movies there, through the younger years of my life. That movie itself was a fun comedy.
 
Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, that’s another issue all together. I remember seeing it at a Hollywood Blvd. theater, (I forget which one), when it was finally theatrically released in the early ‘70s. It’s a curious movie. If you watch any of the docs or listen to any of the interviews about the making of that film, and there are several, or read any or the writings or the literature, there is some blatant sex taking place in the film and even what is, (or at least verging on), child pornography. I won’t go into all of that here, but when you find out what went on, in some ways I am surprised the film was theatrically released at all. I don’t think it would be in today’s theatrical marketplace. You should read about the making of the film, there’s a lot of interesting information out there. In fact, in many ways, what went into the creation of that film is far more interesting than the film itself.
 
The doc is compelling in that it goes into how Van Peebles financed the film, shot it under the radar of the unions. It was a non-union film. How he sought out porn filmmakers to make up his non-union crew, and so on. A lot of interesting information is in it, narrated by his sons: Mario and Max, and his daughter, Marguerite, along with some other people.
 
One of the things that I find most interesting about that film and the filmmaker, at least in relation to independent filmmakers like myself, and the movies we create, is the fact that, yes, that movie is an idea example of independent, experimental, avant-garde cinema. Yes, it was shot under the veil, hiding from the powers-that-be. But, is it a good movie? Like all things, “Art,” that is up for debate. Did I like it as a young teenager? No, not really. Now, as time has gone on, and I have seen it a number of times over the years, I have really studied what went into the making of it, and it is definitely interesting. It has changed my appraisal.
 
Be all that as it may, that movie has gone down in the annals of filmmaking as a cinematic masterpiece. If a film like that is the standard, why haven’t, (for example), some of my Zen Films been so categorized? Why haven’t the creations of other avant-garde filmmakers of this modern era fallen under that heading? They only seem to receive criticism from the people that have not actually studied the films, the filmmaking process, or the philosophy of the filmmaker that went into the making of the films.
 
What’s the difference and why? Is it simply that, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song was made by a black man, with a theme focusing on the trials, tribulations, and the repression of black society at that point in U.S. history?
 
I believe this brings us to the essence of all of this. If you do not truly understand the foundations of a filmmaker, or the limitations they encountered in creating their cinematic pieces of art, whatever it is you feel, think, or say about the film is sorely lacking, defined only by your own predispositions.
 
Art is art, simply because it was created as art. What you or I think about that art, does it really matter?  And, if you think that what you think about someone else’s art should be heard by others, you should at least possess the discipline to study the entire process of and the motivation for that artistic creation before you ever mutter a word.
 
I could end with that statement, as it is a good conclusion, (I believe). But allow me to continue just a bit farther, adding some personal life realizations.
 
In many interviews, particularly when Zen Filmmaking was the Talk of the Town, I would be questioned, did I think if I had created Zen Filmmaking in European cultural it would have received a more welcomed response, as Europe seems to possess a more open mind to cinematic artistic endeavors than it does say here in the States? I would answer that question different ways at different times, deepening on how the question was phrased. But, I believe it all goes to a bigger question than this. Yes, in certain cultures, at certain times, art, by whatever medium, and however you define it, can be more accepted. But, there is also the world-mind, defined by the large(r) cultural awareness, that can come to be the definition of a particular piece of art.  For example, during time frames like the 1960s and into the 1970s, there was a more willing global acceptance to art that was presented in different and unique manners than there is today.

I mean, the fact of the fact is, Zen Filmmaking has influenced the creative process of many a filmmaker since its inception. Back when, some of those filmmakers would tell me so. Some of them were very well known filmmakers. Some would reference Zen Filmmaking as a creative source-point during interviews. Some would provide me with a credit roll, “Thanks.” Something… But, then (I guess) ego(s) took hold. Gone was the reference to Zen Filmmaking. They never again mentioned me or it. This, even though some would still tell me, person-to-person, that Zen Filmmaking was part of their creative process. …That what I had laid down had influenced them. I always found/find all of this very disingenuous. Yes, people should own what they create. But, if we, the artists/the filmmakers can't pay credit where credit is due, can’t pay tribute to our influences and influencers, where does our lineage lie? It is like the spiritual aspirant, they all wish to trace where the source of their knowledge came from. Similar to the Samurai, they always pay respect to their teacher and their teacher’s teacher. But, if borrowing technique and philosophy, without documenting the source, is all a filmmaker, their filmmaking process, and their film possesses, what is the true essence of their art?
 
Another of the things that also plays into this, Sign of the Times, was how art was viewed when, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song was first screened. Back when it was initially released, there was not even buyable or rentable video tapes, as of yet. People had to go and see that film, if they did go and see that film, (or any film), in a movie theater. Meaning, viewing that film took effort. It became an interactive event. Not only the viewing of the film but interactions with those other people viewing the film around you all came into play in one’s overall viewing experience. Now, in the world of today, few ever leave the confines of their home to watch a movie. From this is born a singular mindset motivated by the Individual Self. Even if multiple people agree on what they see or feel or experience from a film, that realization is based upon a selfish, unenlightened, non-actualized, non-studied, viewing experience. Hand-in-hand with this is the ease at which one can create either a positive or a negative critique. With just a few keystrokes on a keyboard or a phone the viewer becomes a film critic. A film critic with no credentials, no degrees, no true understanding what it took for the filmmaker to make the film, what went into the making of a film, or the motivations or the philosophy of the filmmaker. Just simply the belief that what they think and believe about whatever it is they critiquing should be seen by the world. Something is truly lost in all of this.
 
In closing, (finally), Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song is an ideal example of how by knowing what went into the making of a film, that knowledge can truly change the entire viewing experience of that film. Here’s a suggestion, take the time to know before you simply
think you know. As that true knowing can change your entire experience.

Here’s What You Need to Know Before You Travel into the Path of Totality

“Here’s what you need to know before you travel into the path of totality.” I didn’t invent that title. I popped onto my main page on the inter-web this morning and it was a title of an article about the problems people can face while trying to get to a location to see the total solar eclipse that’s happening on Monday.
 
My thought was, “Wow, that sounds like a title I may have created.” So, I borrowed it.
 
The fact is, that title had nothing to do with the article. It, or anything like it, was never mentioned again. But, good title, don’t you think?
 
Me, I was never that drawn to solar eclipses. No more than the fact that I knew you should never look at them directly. So, even as a child, I would never even go outside when they were happening. Some people dig them though. Good for them.
 
I always wondered what pilots do if they’re flying towards the sun during an eclipse. But, I guess they have that all figured out.
 
More to the point, “The Path of Totality,” and what you need to know?
 
There are some of us who walk that road. …That pathway towards the promised greater knowledge provided to us by the great teachings and the great masters. Few and far between, yet there are those of us who want to know, understand, and interact with cosmic enlightenment and god consciousness, by however you define that understanding.
 
Everyone knows about that kind of stuff. Everyone has heard about it. Many/most simply dismiss it as mumbo-jumbo. Others maybe poke their nose into the concept(s), but soon fade away when all isn’t reveled immediately.
 
How about you? How much time, how much of your life have you devoted to seeking that deeper knowledge and understanding?
 
Probably the biggest point to make, “Before you travel into the path of totality,” is that the deepest truth of the truth is that all of this everything is so cloaked in illusion that few people can ever navigate the pathway. Yes, there are some/many who truly believe. There are those who spend their entire life seeking. But, as by this path’s very nature, it is so elusive that very few find their own Buddhahood.  
 
So, what does this tell us? Does this proclaim that one should not even try? No. I don’t believe so. I believe that enlightenment is as easy as anything else in life. It is as easy as you make it. As long as you do not believe that you cannot find enlightenment, that you are not pure or holy enough to ever encounter cosmic consciousness, or that you have to spend your life living in austerity. If you believe in this manner, yes, it will be impossible to achieve. If, on the other hand, you follow the path, defined by schools like Zen, that everyone already is enlightened, all one has to do is to reembrace this fact, than all of the illusion falls away.
 
Life is your choice. You can live a life never seeking to understand the deeper knowledge that is out there, or you can choose to find that deeper understanding. There are a million ways to follow this path, none is necessarily better than the other. But, “Here’s what you need to know before you travel into the path of totality,” if you’re not willing to let go of illusion, further forms of illusion is all you will ever find.

***

If you don't put things away now you'll have to put them away later.

The People That Hold You Back

Your life is defined by the choices you make. It is as simple as that. You make a choice, and you must live with the consequences: good or bad. There is no one to blame but yourself.
 
Yes, there are those times and those people who invade your life space. From this/from them you may be hurt, damaged, or have your planned evolution disrupted. But, even in those cases, if you look beyond the obvious, you most likely made a choice to be in the situation where they/where it was encountered.
 
Your life is also lived and defined by availability. You can only choose from what you can choose from. From this, and because of this, some people possess a vast array of more positive possibilities than do others. Where they are born, where they live, the class of life they find themselves born into, all set a course of events into motion that lead to the set of life circumstances and life choices a person can make.
 
In life, we all choose to associate with other people. Again, the choice(s) of whom we associate with is defined by availability. We can only choose from what we are allowed to choose from.
 
As we pass through life, we will each look back to the people we associated with and we will conclude whether or not they became a good and a positive element to our life, providing room for growth and/or opportunity, or just the opposite.
 
Some people we choose to associate with come into our life and guide us down a dark road leading to unwanted events. The thing is, most of these definitions are realized after the fact. It is only when we look back that we conclude whether a person was good for us or not.
 
Sure, there are a lot of variables in all relationships. There is a little bit of good combined with a little bit of bad, and vice versa. Some relationships are truly good. We look back and only remember the benefit(s). There are also the very bad relationships. We look back and only feel regret. As stated, most are somewhere in the middle, however.
 
The thing is, and this is something that most people never seem to consciously realize, the moment you meet someone, or at least soon after that fact, you can tell what type of person they are. You can surmise if they are a good, positive person or if they are just opposite. Sure, some people lie and pretend. But, even with that style of person, if you open your eyes, it is pretty easy to see through their illusion. You simply have to be present in your moment, not allow yourself to be taken in by physical or psychological illusion, and see who and what they truly are.
 
Many people look back to the person that threw some sort of a road block in their life and they blame them for all that came after that fact. But, who chose to hang out with that individual in the first place? Answer: It was a choice made by you.
 
This is the same with someone who has helped your life. Though, most probably, you look to them with fonder regards, so you do not attribute the level of negativity that you feel about that other type of individual.
 
Here is the fact, the fact that few people wish to acknowledge, you chose to associate with whomever you chose to associate with, defined by what availability was present to you. The result may have been good. The result may have been bad. But, it was you who made the choice to associate with that individual, leading to whatever it is that happened next. Good or bad, stop blaming anyone but yourself.

***

Just because you are moving that doesn't mean that you are going anywhere.

Room Without a View

The homeless, or I guess it is more politically correct these days to say the unhoused, crisis has really grown here in Los Angeles and in many places around the country and across the globe. With the massive influx or people seeking a better life, via claiming refugee status on our boarders, you can see news footage of people sleeping on the streets in many Southwestern, boarder towns and as far north as places like New York City where these people have been transported to.
 
Certainly, homelessness is nothing new. Go to India and it rampant. But, in some cases, they have a better take on it. Become a holy man, a sadhu, and it is one of the greatest austerities to be homeless. An individual is revered for it. For most, however, this is not a desired end goal.
 
I remember the first time I took notice of mass homelessness in Tokyo. I believe it was in 2002 and there were rows of people’s cardboard boxes lining some of the subway tunnels. Being Japan, it was all so organized, however. There were men’s shirts neatly hanging on hangers upon the side of their cardboard box shelters and things like that. As time as went on, you began to see, in the autumn, spring, and summers months, unhoused people in small encampments in some of the Tokyo parks. The problem has continues to grow.
 
Back in the ‘60s, if a person was on the road, hitchhiking across the country they were considered a true rebel, someone to be looked up to. At least by those of us who were into such things as the counterculture and the like.
 
Now, there are all these places where the homeless have congregated. They are filled with trash, while people are shitting and pissing on the sidewalks. It is not pretty. It has caused a lot of problems.
 
But, to the point… There is this one African-American lady that I frequently see. Well, better put, I often times drive past where she sits. What she does is she sets up one of those foldout patio chairs and she sits with her belongs on this one corner. Sometimes she extends an umbrella to protect her from the sun. I see her there all hours of the day. At night, I have no idea where she goes?
 
She has been doing this for a long time, at least a couple of years. She is obviously unhoused. But, for whatever reason, she has chosen this boring corner on a boring urban street, and there she sits all day, every day. Why, I have no idea?
 
Over in places like Venice, there have been large homeless encampments that have grown along the boardwalk and out onto the beach. Every now and then the city, (or whomever), gets together and clears them out. Out to where is the question? But, I get setting up camp in Venice. It’s a cultural hotspot. It always has been. There’s a lot of people, public bathrooms, and showers. Plus, there’s a lot of places to find food. Moreover, you’re right there on the water. The ocean is right in front of you. There’s something understandable about all of that. But, for this lady to set up in the middle of an urban wasteland; why?
 
There’s always the promises people and government officials make to help the unhoused. The newest mayor of L.A. made all of these guarantees, promising in her campaign to get these people off of the street and into housing. It has equaled very little. But, what can you expect? She’s a politician.
 
I don’t know what the answer is. I always thought that if you end up homeless you may as well kill yourself because there probably is no way back. But, some people seem to like it. Every now and then, on the news, they interview one of the unhoused and they talk about having done it for years. …That they don’t want to pay rent, etc…
 
I don’t know???
 
What I do know, is that there is a corner. A very boring corner in a very boring part of the city. On that corner a woman lives her life. Doing what, I have no idea? But, there she is, doing it nonetheless. Is she a sadhu, a holy person? I don’t know? Maybe. Or, has she simply given into her fate. Choosing to accept it and live her days as best as she can. If nothing else, I guess that’s a fairly holy way to encounter life.

***

If you fill a dirty glass with clean water you're still going to be drinking dirty water.

Zen and the Distinct Passageway to Nowhere

Zen and the Distinct Passageway to Nowhere
To catch up on the previous blogs and aphorisms written over the past few months check out the latest book based on the Scott Shaw Zen Blog: Zen and the Distinct Passageway to Nowhere.

If You Observe How Things Are Set in Motion You Can Truly Trace How Everything Occurs

If you observe how things are set in motion, you can truly trace how everything occurs.
 
In life, one thing always leads to another. The choice that is made at one moment sets the next set of circumstances and choices into motion.
 
What you choose to do or what someone else chooses for you causes you to act or react in a specific manner. From this, the next definition of your life is given birth to.
 
People generally only look outside of themselves, where they place the blame, if something in their life did not turn out the way they had hoped. They made a choice to do something with someone, and if that something does not turn out the way they desired, then they seek to blame that someone else for the occurrence. Yet, they never look to themselves for choosing to know that person, deciding to associate with that person, or to be willing to do the thing that they did that turned out adversely from what they had hoped.
 
Life is much easier when you place the blame elsewhere and take no blame onto yourself. But, the fact of life is, no matter if something turns out great or it turns out very badly, you were are least partially responsible for placing yourself in that situation where the occurrence could occur.
 
Everyone wants things to turn out great. They want things to turn out the way they want them to turn out. If something turns out good, all is good. But, when things go the other way, then someone must be to blame.
 
How willing are you to look at yourself when something goes wrong in your life?  Do you ever realize and admit that even if you did not choose for a specific life event to happen, it was you who create the greater life-scape where that event could take place?
 
Bad things happen in life. Yes, it is very sad.
 
Bad things are done to people by other people in life. Bad words are spoken. Bad actions are taken. All that is wrong. How much wrong have you committed? Do you allow yourself to know you are committing wrong when you are doing it? Do you accept your responsibility after the fact? Or, do you simply pretend your words and your actions have created no damage? Do you lie to yourself?
 
When you have done something bad to someone else, why do you not simply realize that what goes around comes around when bad acts are done to you?
 
Moreover, when bad things happen to you, what responsibility do you hold in the foundations for that trauma? What did you do to allow it to happen? What did you do to set it in motion?
 
If you look at your life… If you look at all of the good and all of the bad that has happened to your life… Who is ultimately to blame?

***

Before you say or do anything you should ask yourself the question, "Is that what the Buddha would do?"

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You'll never find something that doesn't exist.

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How many times has your guardian angel saved you from disaster and you didn't even know you were protected?

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What if you called The Buddha by another name, like Joe or Frank or Steve, would that change who or what he truly is?

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You can't threaten a person with death if they believe that when they die they are going to go to paradise.

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How many times have you walked down the same road?

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Isn't it better to be friends than enemies?

Repair your relationships.

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How much of what you are planning to do today is for the greater good of the All compared to how much of what you are planning to do today is for the greater good of You?

***

When you're the one to blame, who else can you blame?

What Happens When You Overpay for Your Karma?

To begin with, pretty much everyone knows about the concept of karma. It is the whole, “As ye sew so shall ye reap,” premise.
 
I have written a lot about karma throughout the years; from a metaphysical perspective onto a historical basis. The one thing that I can say, and this is something I have always said, few people truly understand the subtleties of the hypothesis of karma.
 
This being stated, karma is the promised remedy for those who have done you wrong. Whenever anyone hurts you or me, steals from us, or does something that damages our life, the common thread of hope is that, “They will get theirs.”
 
Sometimes this comes to be the case. Sometimes we witness it or, at least, hear about it. Other times, it seems like they get away with it—whatever that, “It,” may be. But, it is the passed along belief and understanding that if you do something that hurts someone, you will pay the price. It is for this reason that all
good people strive to inflict no pain on anyone. They work to unleash no negative karma.
 
Let’s look at this from another angle… Okay, you’ve done something wrong. You know you’ve done something wrong. You understand you hurt someone. And, no matter what your motivation may have been, when someone is hurt, they are hurt, and thus, you are destined to receive your negative karma of your chosen actions.
 
If you are a conscience human being, you may even acknowledge that you’ve done something wrong. Then, when you are hit with the consequences, you understand why. You know it. You feel it. You understand that whatever is happening is occurring because of what you have done to that someone else. You may even believe, “With this, I have paid my karma.” But, what about when those negative occurrences keep coming at you? You are hit again and again and again. “Didn’t I pay my karma,” you may question?
 
Like all things associated with karma, there is no easy answer for this. But, the question you must ask yourself, if you hope any negative repercussions to cease is, “Is what I did, that negatively affected the life of that someone else, still hurting and/or damaging their life.” If the answer is yes, then you have your answer. What you did unleashed long-term pain and as long as it is still hurting the life of that other person you will continue to receive your negative karma. Simple as that.
 
On the other hand, maybe what you did was a small thing. Maybe what you did seemingly went away, and the other person is no longer affected by it. Then, the question you must ask yourself is, “What did my actions set into motion?”
 
Here’s the thing, everything you do—everything you choose to do, sets a course of events into motion. If that course of events is positive, all is good. If, however, that course is negative, or hurts anyone, what you have set in motion will equal you eventually receiving the negative karma for what you instigated as it initially affected one person, then the next person, and the next, and the next.
 
So, next time you get hit by some unexpected negative something, instead of looking outside of yourself for the causation factor, instead of asking god, “Why,” look to what you have chosen to do. Generally, if you are truthful with yourself, you will understand it is you who is to blame. Now what?

The Essence of Zen Buddhism

Ask any person on the street, “What is the essence of Zen Buddhism,” and they will most probably not have an answer. Maybe they’ll say something like, “A bald guy sitting and meditating.” Ask any practicing Buddhist, “What is the essence of Zen Buddhism,” and each person will give you a different answer based upon what tradition they are involved with. Even ask the internet, “What is the essence of Zen Buddhism,” and you will see numerous answers based upon different concepts, teachings, or schools of Zen Buddhism. So, what is the essence of Zen Buddhism?
 
If you ask a Christian, “What is the essence of Christianity,” though they may provide you with slightly varying answers, the commonality of those answers will be very similar. Christianity is easy to define as its proclamations and its goals are very clear. This is not the case with Zen Buddhism.
 
There are some primary elements of Zen Buddhism that one can easily trace. Certainly, Zazen, or seated meditation, is one of the elemental ones. Because, as can easily be understood, if an individual does not possess a quiet mind, and the ability to control their racing thoughts, any level of higher consciousness is impossible to achieve. Again, though this is one of the primary concepts, seated meditation is not where meditation ends in Zen Buddhism; meditation goes much farther than that by its various practitioners. There is Kinhin, walking meditation, Kyūdō, Zen Archery, the Zen tea ceremony, most commonly referred to in Japanese as, Chanoyu, and the list goes on. In fact, there is virtually no area of life that is not defined by a meditation practice in Zen Buddhism.
 
Though there are the obvious levels of meditation associated with Zen Buddhism, depending upon the school, the understanding of the basis for meditation goes much deeper than this. For example, in some traditions of Zen Buddhism meditation is broken down into three varying elements:  Samatha meditation, which is designed to calm the mind, Vipassana meditation, which is deigned to provide the mind with insight, and Mettabhavana meditation which is developed to remove negative thoughts and thus negative action leaving the practitioner in state where they do not create negative karma and thereby they are guided away from rebirth.
 
Those are just a couple of examples of the complexity of the various schools of Zen Buddhism. I could speak to you about the varying aspects of the different traditions for hours. It can all gets very complicated.
 
Certainly, Nirvana, (enlightenment), is the at the apex of Zen Buddhism. But, as enlightenment, by its very nature, is such an abstract concept, and though people have attempted to define it and reach it throughout the centuries, the pathway to it is as vast and unchartable as the mind of each individual practitioner.
 
So, what is the essence of Zen Buddhism? Here lies the hidden and most deep understanding of this school of religious thought. Answer: It is unknown. It is undefined. Yes many, throughout the millennia, have attempt to cast their definition onto the concept. But, that is all that it is, individual interpretations.
 
The essence of Zen is as abstract as the entire concept of Zen. There is no definition. Thus, its essence is left in the shadows only to be defined by those who choose to lose all concept of the concept. This is why so few people have truly understood Zen. They tried to make it a something when, in fact, it is a nothing. It is simply a label placed upon an abstract school of thought where the few individuals who choose to walk the path of Zen ultimately understand that it, like them, is nothing.

Who Are You Going to Help Today?

Who are you going to help today? This is a question I ask myself each morning when I wake up. This is also a question I ask other people when I find that they are all locked up within themselves in some form of obsessional selfishness.
 
Truly, who are you going to help today?
 
In some ways, you can plan ahead in answer to this question. There are those cases when you know what you are going to do and how you are going to do it. More commonly, however, your ability to help someone will come at you in the moment. You will see something or someone, there will be a need, and then you jump into the response. The caveat here is that you must be willing to do it. You must be willing to step up to the plate and help that someone or something out, even if you don’t feel like doing it. Are you willing?
 
Some people set their entire life up in order to help others. They are the teachers, the medical professionals, the police officers, the firemen, and even the baristas or the food servers in a restaurant. They each provide a very necessary service which is a way of helping others. But help, and the planning to help, goes much deeper than just that. Helping is a mindset that must occupy your thoughts each day. If you truly wish to be a helpful person, which is a higher calling, you must make this an essential element to your everyday thinking.
 
Some people believe helping someone may occur by hurting or attacking someone else. This is never the case, however. That’s all just mind junk based in ego, desire, and power tripping. It is not helping.
 
Helping, by its very nature, arises from a state of mental purity and caring. It is done to make someone else’s something better, easier, more happy-feeling, equaling a better life for that someone else, if even for a moment.
 

So, ask yourself, who are you going to help today? What’s your answer?

Zen Filmmaking: Truth Verses Lies

I am so often perplexed by people that go after other people, via whatever method is at their disposal, as a means of attack. Sure, we all like what we like and don’t like what we don’t like, that’s life. But, what I find profoundly troubling is when people state completely wrong ideas, that are complete erroneous about that someone/anyone else. I mean, if you don’t possess a fact-based knowledge about a person or a subject then all you are spilling is conjecture. And, if what you are saying is wrong or flat-out untrue, shouldn’t that make the speaking individual feel bad and shouldn’t they do all that they can to right their wrong? Yet, who does?
 
As someone who has been in the public eye, (in my small little way), via my writings, my films, my music, and the like for many-many years, I have encountered a lot of falsehoods being stated about my works and myself. So, I guess that has provided me with a bit of insight into the all of this. Personally, I really don’t care what someone is saying, especially if what they are saying is false. This being stated, I have witnessed the impact of how some of these false words have negatively affected my life’s landscape.
 
I threw Zen Filmmaking into the title of the piece as I was just having an interesting discussion with this one guy, who’s a fan of my films. Thanks! He mentioned that he had read that someone on some site was going on about my movies, stating that all I do is turn on the camera and let people speak. And, that’s why they are all so bad and he hates them. That’s not true. That’s not true at all.
 
Zen Filmmaking is not about improv. Zen Filmmaking is not about letting people say whatever it is they want to say. Zen Filmmaking is about embracing the perfection of the moment and allowing the magic to happen. In terms of dialogue, I set up the scene and then allow the actors to put the situation into their own words. Thus, allowing them to be natural in their words and their responses. It’s as simple as that.
 
Every scene, in all of my Zen Films, I know what we’re going to shoot. I simply allow the actors to decipher the dialogue and their actions by their own unique methods of interpretation. I allow for the freedom of the spontaneousness and the natural to guide us through the scene and in new directions if that becomes the inspiration.
 
The reason I spell this out, (and for those of you who know anything about Zen Filmmaking, you already know about all this chatter), is that here is somebody making a statement, proclaiming it to be true, but what they are saying is just blatantly wrong. He (or she) hasn’t studied the craft of Zen Filmmaking, yet they proclaim all this supposed knowledge about the art form, but they are wrong. What does that say about them?

I haven’t even made a Narrative Zen Film in well over ten years. I’ve been focused on creating the Non-Narrative Zen Film. So, everything that person is speaking about is ancient history.
 
Over the years, I’ve read some of the reviews of my films, or even watched a few of the video presentations people have done about my movies, but what is so often the case is what they are saying is wrong. What they claim is not true about the inspiration, about the story, about the method, about the technique, about me, and about the everything else—particularly when they are basing their appraisal upon a negative point of view. Yet, they present it as fact, nonetheless.

Do they ever communicate with me to check their facts? Do they ever go back and correct their mistakes? Do they ever say, “Sorry, I was wrong?” Nope. They just leave all of their falsehoods out there for the world to see. What does that say about them as a human being?

You don’t like my Zen Films, that’s fine. Here’s an idea, don't like ’em, don’t watch ’em. But, don’t proclaim factual falsehoods and pretend you know anything about the craft, or about me, when what you are saying is blatantly false.
 
We each encounter this style of life-dialogue all the time. Look around you: view, listen, read; people talk all the time about all of the things they claim that they know, but how often is what they are saying simply based in their own personal, unrefined, prejudices and not based in truth or fact?
 
What can we do about all of this? Nothing. It’s just the name of the game. What we can do, however, is not be that person who states false facts. We can choose to only speak the truth. I mean, why talk about anybody else anyway? Don’t you have enough going on in your own life to keep you busy?
 
Moreover, if you see, hear, or read the falsehoods, call these people out. Because if no one stops their speaking of un-truths, just think about how many lives they will hurt.

Like I state in my number one motto, “Be Positive.” Say good things. Do good things. Help everyone you can and never hurt anyone. Just think how much better the world would become if we all practiced that philosophy.

***

If you live in a world of normality, you will encounter normal things.

If you live in a world of strangeness, weird things will find you.

Dream Yoga

Have you ever had a dream of someone that you would rather not remember or even think about? I imagine that most of us have had one (or more) of those dreams. Have you ever had a dream that was really intense, totally overwhelming, and you really wish, while you were in the midst of it, that is was not happening? I imagine that most of us have had one (or more) of those dreams. The thing about life is that every time we sleep, we dream. And, though there have been contemplations, lectures given, books written, and scientific studies performed about dreams there still is no absolute answer as to what they truly are or what they actually mean.
 
In Japanese, the word, “Yume,” is used to describe a dream. It’s direct meaning is, “Eyes in sleep.” I think that’s a pretty good definition as though, in our dreams, our bodies are removed from the physical world of actuality, we are living a complete reality.

Think about it. Think about how real your dreams truly feel. You are living a complete storyline in all its completeness. You move, you feel, you act, you react, you interact, and a story is constructed and told. When you are in that dream is your reality any less real than it is when you are awake? But, that story ultimately means nothing, because when you wake up, it is gone. There is no action or reaction or karma or anything.
 
Some/many believe that dreams are the foretelling of what is to come. But, what is to come? Is not what is coming based upon you deciding to do what you have done in the past, leading to what you will encounter in the future? Isn’t what is to come based upon what you decide to do right now? So, any prophecy may be a prophecy, but a prophecy is only ultimately defined by the choice(s) you make in any given moment.
 
In Tibetan Buddhism and various sects of Hinduism there is actually a Yoga developed to embrace dreams. It is known as, “Svapnadarśana Yoga,” The Yoga of the Dream State. Without going too much into detail, as that would take volumes, Dream Yoga is based on the theory of, “Bardo,” in Tibetan Buddhism, which refers to transitional states in human consciousness. “Milam Bardo,” is the stage of Dream Yoga when one works to use dreams as a pathway towards greater realization.
 
From this teaching, and numerous other schools of thought, people have attempted to control their dreams and the direction they travel and the things they experience within them. Some even claim that they can. But, have you ever attempted to control your dream and change its direction once you were deeply inside of it? As dreams completely overtake your sleeping body and mind, this is virtually impossible as you are so lost and/or control by the mechanism of the dream. Thus, those claims are simply the proclamations made by persons who wish to appear more than all who follow them. …Just like all of those unlikely claims that no one else (that you) can never seem to be able to accomplish. It’s all just gibberish.
 
So, where does this leave us? It comes back to the
fact of life that so many people attempt to fight; life is life, reality is reality, and that is all we have. Dreams are a reality that we are given and must live with.
 
In Zen, it is understood that though it may be human nature to fight the obvious; the clearest, purist truth of reality is that the simplest is the most pure and true. Though there may be all these implied definitions placed upon why you dream. Though there may be all of these techniques that claim you can control your dreams and use them for some greater good/goal in your life, that is all just the promise of illusion. It is all maya. For at its simplest most pure understanding, dreams are just what they are; dreams. No matter how hard you attempt to alter the reality of your dreams, your dreams exist in a separate plane of existence where physical choice and mental selection is highly removed from the equation. You are just living what you are living.
 
In awake life, there are choices to be made. These choices not only set up what you will encounter next, but they can affect the life of you, your loved ones, your friends, and maybe even everyone else on the whole planet. Thus, your choice is the defining factor of your karma and what is to happen next in your life. Dream, on the other hand, exist in a place of no karma. They exist on a plane of reality that is not bound by physical reality. Thus, you may love the dream you have, you may hate the dream you have, you may live all kinds of weird storylines in your dreams, you may even spend your whole life trying to control your dreams, but that does not make them holy. But, if you release, if you let all things simply be as they are with no judgement or attempt at control, than all things in your dreams and, thus, your life, become perfect. At least as perfect as the Zen of Acceptance can lead you to.

Zen and Enlightenment

The purpose of Zen is to obtain enlightenment. It is as simple as that. End of story. Yet, throughout the centuries, people have placed all kinds of definitions, schools, practices, and products that are attributed to Zen. Are any of this THINGS a pathway to enlightenment? If they are not, then they are not Zen.
 
Since the birth of Zen, that evolved from the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, the Sakyamuni Buddha, enlightenment has been the primary focus of this teaching. Yet, for most, it has become an unachievable goal. Like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, it is so close at hand but never obtainable.
 
The main problem(s) that arises in the pursuit of enlightenment are based in concept. For the few people who actually do choose to devote their life to encountering enlightenment, they each follow a path defined by concept. They are taught the teachings of their teacher and their school. They read the scriptures that have been laid down throughout the centuries. Though all of these things may be understood to be a guide, by their very nature they go against the true understanding of Zen, which is, we all are already enlightened—it is in our ultimate nature. It is only for us to peel back the layers of delusion and illusion for us to perceive this fact. Yet, every word and every teaching, as good intentioned as they may be, do the exact opposite of this. Instead, they add more pieces to the puzzle and make the end goal that much harder to obtain.
 
There are many facets to Zen that come to the mind of the zealot and the researcher: Zazen or meditation, Dōkyō or reading scriptures, Samu or everyday work done with a spiritual focus, Koan or piecing through the veil and finding the meaning hidden beneath abstract word constructions, and Dentō the passing of enlightenment from teacher to disciple. These, and many more practices, all define the pathway of Zen. But, they are all just THINGS. And things, by their very nature, keep one from encountering enlightenment. Meaning, hand-in-hand with the essence of Zen, there have intentional roadblocks put up to keep one from obtaining that which is the most easy to obtain if one simply lets go of all of the materializations of the practices.  
 
In Zen, the understanding of, “Kensho,” is often explained to be the pathway to nirvana. Kensho means, “Opening,” or better explained opening up to the true nature of the Self—that place that is enlightenment. Though some Zen Buddhist sects teach that enlightenment must come via a gradual process following an ever-expanding process of steps and obstacles, this is actually a misunderstanding of the entire truth of Zen. For even if one walks down the road towards finding enlightenment, it is only in that moment when nirvana overcomes the individual where all time and practice is lost to the realms of pure understanding. For once one embraces enlightenment, there is no longer any frame of reference for the pathway that got the individual to that point. All simply is.
 
For those who walk the pathway of Zen, yes, they are embracing a higher calling. But, just as all inner truths and deep wisdom are hidden behind the veil of illusion, as long as one prefers walking the path to actually obtaining the end goal, there will forever be the need for texts, scriptures, teachers, and schools, that are designed to guide the devotee. But, the truth of the truth of Zen is, that its pinnacle needs no teacher or teaching to obtain. All one has to do is to embrace the pure essence of Zen, located at the root of its teaching and instantly all the schooled stuff become unnecessary. For it is at the point, which by its very definition is the simplest to obtain, enlightenment is known.
 
If you wish to know about Zen, you can read the books. There are a lot of them out there detailing the understandings of this philosophy. If you want to be called a practitioner of Zen you can go to a temple and be initiated into the sect by a monk. But, if you want to live Zen, then discard all of the physical manifestation and embrace enlightenment, for that is the only true heart of Zen.

***

Just because you don't get it does not mean that it can't be understood.

No Mind Verses Some Mind

In Zen Buddhism, the state of Mushin or No Mind is the sought-after space of existence. From meditation, to art, to the martial arts, onto living wholly and consciously in everyday life, the seeker of absolute awareness focuses on traveling to the place where they may exist in Mushin.
 
Why is this the desired state of consciousness? Because it is only in this place one can free themselves from all wordily constrains and encounter a state of absolute freedom in thought, movement, and action.
 
For the artist, they concentrate on this mindset to gain a perfection in each brush stroke. For the martial arts, they focus on obtaining this state so that their movements become the perfect form of meditation as they are not guided by any external hopes or desires. For the meditator, this state is sought so that they remove all limitations of desire, leading to karma, and thus are free to exist in the space of Pure Mind where all is set to the natural experience of Zen.
 
For thousands of years there have been those who pursue Mushin. Throughout those thousands of years, however, those number have been minuscule in comparison to those who seek a wordily existence. Where do you find yourself in this pursuit? Do you seek a silent mind or do you seek all that the world has to offer?
 
Most, seek the world. Some, seek at least some level of deeper consciousness. Very few devote their life to finding No Mind. Why is this? Because the benefits are not obvious. What do you gain by encountered Mushin? If you cannot even understand the concept, how can you come up with an answer to that question?
 
This is why so few pursue Deep Mind. This is why the world lives in a state of ongoing chaos. This is why you are happy, sad, elated, depressed, fat, skinny, broke, in-debt, drunk, high, angry, hurtful, selfish, and self-centered. You seek what is Out There but not what is In Here. In Japanese, this state of mind is known as, Ushin, the opposite of Mushin.
 
There is the old saying, “You can live in the world but not of the world.” We all must find a way to survive. But, that does not mean that we have to do it in such a manner where we create negative karma.
 
Everyone knows what selfish and hurtful actions are. Yet, think about it, how many people know those definitions but do those things anyway? How many people applaud those who live in that state of mind? How about you?
 
There is another side to all of this. You can live in the world but not of the world. This is where Mushin may be encountered. You can do what you need to do to survive but you can do it from a space of Pure Mind. You can operate in the realm of the rejection of being called into external life-play. You can consciously be conscious. How do you do that? You just do that. It is a simple as that.
 
People confuse things like meditation, the arts, the martial arts, and living a spiritual lifestyle as doing something. But then, it becomes a, “Thing.” It becomes something that you must strive to do to perfection. But, think about it, if you allow all things to be perfect within themselves, doesn’t everything find its own space of flawlessness?  If you don’t try, you don’t have to try. You can just let things be as they are. With no desire, aren’t you free? That is the essence and the pathway to Mushin. Let go.
 
Finding No Mind is as easy as letting go of your Known Mind.

***

Does a thief feel guilty about stealing?

No, or they would not steal.

Does a liar feel guilty about lying?

No, or they would not lie.

***

What do you dream about when you're sleeping in heaven?

***

If you are saying anything negative about anybody for any reason you are NOT making anything any better.

***

If no one told you about God, you would not know about God.

***

Just because you believe you've paid your karmic debt for doing what you know you have done, that does not mean that the person you hurt believes you've paid your karmic debt.

It Doesn’t Really Matter to Anyone But Me

I know I’ve discussed this subject in this blog a while back, but I still find it interesting…
 
Several years ago, I made a statement and titled a blog, something to the effect, “No One Remembers My Father But Me.” This statement was based in the fact that he passed on in 1968, I was an only child, all the family quickly dispersed after his passing, and I now know none of them, etc… I am the last man standing. I held on to this belief until earlier this year when I came upon a blog dedicated to the history of USC, (University of Southern California), where the historian, who runs that blog, began to speak of my father and even my grandmother. WOW! That was a surprise. Then, a couple of other people chimed in and spoke of their memories of my father and the USC themed restaurant he owned way back when.
 
I imagine the historian is not that old and did not personally know my father. From his entries, it reads more like a historical quest for the people that shaped the USC lifestyle. Which is very cool. He must love USC. And, he is doing what no one else is doing. But, for those people who actually interacted with my father, they must be very-very old by now.
 
The point being, I guess I was wrong. I am not the only person who remembers my father.
 
All this being said, and the point of this piece being, does any of this really matter to anyone but me? For those reading that man’s blog, do they really care about my father? Sure, a mention of a man, and there are a lot of USC orientated historical figures mentioned in the man’s research and writings, may make a person marginally intrigued. But, do they truly care? I don’t think so.
 
This is the important thing to keep in mind as you pass through your life. Who really cares? Who cares about you? Who cares about what you care about? And, who will care about what you provided to the world, ten, twenty, or a hundred years down the line?
 
Most people exist in a space of selfishness. They only care about who and what they care about until they care about them/it no more. So truly, what will your life have meant when you are no more?
 
Below, I am going to copy and paste the writings the man has collected about my father in the order they were published. Don’t worry, it's not that much stuff. I don’t know, you may find it interesting??? Or maybe, it may just kill a moment or two of your Life Time if you don’t have anything better to do. There’s also a link to the man’s blog. It’s really a big one.
 
Anyway… Think about it… Who cares about you? Who cares about me? And, who cares about what you and I care about?  
 
 
Inside USC with Scott Wolf
 
May 14, 2021
Does anyone remember Stubby Shaw?
He opened the Trojan Barrel bar in 1955 that eventually turned into Julie’s Trojan Barrel in 1975, which was not to be confused with Julie’s Restaurant on Flower St., which was opened in 1941. Those were owned by the legendary Julie Kohl.
 
But back to Shaw. He was a fixture to students in the 1950’s and would sponsor intramural basketball teams that featured actual players like Jim Kaufman and Danny Rogers.
 
If Shaw was well known, so was his mother. Known to dental students as “Mrs. Shaw,” she was fixture at the dental school from 1931-62.
 
Mrs. Shaw (born Maude Frances Mashburn) worked with more than 3,000 dental students, the “little white haired lady who signs (the) state board examination card indicating the culmination of formal dental training.”
 
Some would say this was a time period back when USC was known for having family atmosphere.
 
May 17, 2021
As so often happens when I write about USC history, after initially writing about a subject I learn more through readers and more research.
 
I asked if anyone remembered Stubby Shaw on Friday.
 
In 1955, Shaw opened “Stubby’s Trojan Barrel” bar near USC. Many students simply called it “Stubby’s.”
 
Around 1965, it was purchased by Marlin and Mike McKeever. I’m not sure how long the McKeevers owned it, but in 1975 Julie Kohl purchased the bar and it became “Julie’s Trojan Barrel.”
 
“It was so dark, you couldn’t see yourself,” a reader who went to Stubby’s in the 1950’s told me.

Frankly, that’s what I remember about going there when it was “Julie’s Trojan Barrel.” You could walk in for lunch and it was like walking into a cave.
 
A USC alum told me Friday he thought Shaw might have played for the L.A. Dons football team.
 
Over the weekend, I came across a photo from 1956-57 of Stubby’s and on the far right is Shaw himself. Now you know why he was nicknamed Stubby.
 
July 30, 2021
And now for some history:
 
I heard a great story this week regarding Stubby Shaw, the owner of Stubby’s Trojan Barrel, which later became Julie’s Trojan Barrel.
 
In the early 1960’s, an underage USC student walked in Stubby’s.
 
“Whaddya drinking?” Stubby growled.
 
“I’ll . . . have . . . a . . . water,” the terrified student said.
 
“Water?” Stubby said incredulously. “If you want water, go to the Union 76 across the street. We drink beer in here.”
 
August 6, 2021
Here’s another story on Stubby Shaw, who owned Stubby’s Trojan Barrel, which later became Julie’s Trojan Barrel.
 
“He had a real red face, he was always red,” said a USC student from the early 1960’s. “He looked like a football player. I think he played for the L.A. Dons (the first pro team to play in the Coliseum from 1946-49). He really kept the place in order. The McKeever twins really wanted the place and eventually bought it from him.”
 
January 21, 2022
Here’s a 1948 photo of a game between the L.A. Dons and Cleveland Browns. The Browns defensive player who ran into the goal post, Tony Adamle, is the father of former NFL player/NBC Sports announcer Mike Adamle.
 
Remember, the infamous Stubby Shaw played for the L.A. Dons.
 
But the main reason I ran this photo is the clean look of the Peristyle, free of all the bric-a-brac USC stuck there over the years.
 
April 15, 2022
And now for some history:
 
Stubby Shaw (right) at his bar on Figueroa and 37th street circa 1956-57.
 
One of the things I love writing about USC history is the way I stumble across more stories. I’ve written before about Stubby Shaw, who opened “Stubby’s Trojan Barrel” in 1955. Around 1965, Shaw sold it to Marlin and Mike McKeever and in 1975 it was bought by Julie Kohl and became “Julie’s Trojan Barrel.”
 
This story came from an alum:
 
One night, in the early 1960’s, a customer kept giving Shaw a hard time, making rude comments and threats. As the customer prepared to leave, Shaw ran out the back entrance of the bar and went to the front entrance, which had two swinging doors like a Western saloon in the movies.
 
When the customer exited, Shaw punched him so hard, he flew back into the bar through the swinging doors. “Don’t ever come back here again!” Shaw growled.
 
If you look at the photo, I’m not sure why anyone would antagonize Shaw.
 
April 22, 2022
Last week I told the story of Stubby Shaw punching one of his customers through the swinging doors at his bar on Figueroa and 37th street. He was also a fixture to students in the 1950’s and would sponsor intramural basketball teams that featured actual players like Jim Kaufman and Danny Rogers.
 
In conclusion… As a small child, I spend many-many hours at the Trojan Barrel. I’ve told some of the stories I lived in novels and in other writings. As referenced in that blog by that onlooker, I too witnessed my father punch more than one guy in the face. It was a college bar okay… It could be a ruckus place, especially after a game. Though he wouldn’t take any shit, mostly my father was a good guy. He liked to hang out behind the bar, always with a cigarette in his hand, pulling beers from the beer tap, and talking to his patrons. I drank my first beer there at a very young age. Plus, I have a photo of me, pulling beer, when I could not yet even walk. So, as all fathers are, and in some cases their jobs, that place was a formative part of my early existence.
 
But again, back to the truth of the truth… Does any of that matter to you? Probably not. So, when you and I are gone, who will care about what you and I cared about? Keep that in mind.

PS: Just for the record, I didn’t go to USC. I paid my own way through college and I couldn’t afford a school like that. Though, in reading this man’s blog, I guess I wish I could have. Happy

***

When is a sin forgiven?

***

People often make the claim that when they pass away they will see a lost loved one in heaven. But, what if that lost loved one wants to reconnect with someone else in heaven—someone that you don’t like? Doesn’t that mean that you will be locked into eternity with a person you hoped you would never encounter again?
 
Is heaven the way you want it to be or is heaven the way someone else wants it to be?

***

You can never gain any wisdom from a book that was never read.

***

You only ask for forgiveness when you know you've done something wrong.

How many people have done something wrong but never even consider asking for forgiveness?

Who’s to Blame for Your Failure?

I used to live in this apartment. Downstairs from me, this couple who were both MMA fighters, moved in. This was in the early days of professional MMA. Every now and then I would hear them arguing when one of them would lose a fight. One would yell at the other one that they didn’t train hard enough, or that they didn’t listen to their corner, or that they didn’t anticipate the other fighter’s moves. While one was yelling, the other one would always make one excuse or the other. But, at the end of the day, they had lost a bout. Who was to blame?
 
Whenever someone loses a confrontational anything: whether it is a fight, a court battle, an argument, a whatever, they always look outside of themselves for someone to blame. Rarely, will you ever hear anyone saying, “I just messed up.”
 
Think about your own life. Think about the battles that you have lost, be they large or small. What happened and why? Was it your fault? Or, do you blame someone else?  If you do blame someone else, was it only their fault, or did you have some participation in your loss?
 
People, by the very nature of most, do not want to take responsibility for their losses. Even if it is them who instigated the battle, if they lose, they want to shift the blame to some external something. How about you? Really think about this.
 
Why do people do this? Because then they do not have to acknowledge the impact of their responsibility in the loss or the fact that they did something wrong. Even many criminals, when they get convicted, they blame the victim, the jury, or their lawyer for not getting them off. But, if they hadn’t done the crime in the first place, they would never have gotten arrested.  
 
There are two levels to life. There is the level where you live your life in the most peaceful, wholesome, non-desire-filled manner possible and then there is the life of conflict. Of course, even for those who seek peace, confrontation may find its way into an individual’s life. But, by not seeking it, by consciously steering clear of it, one is far more protected than the person who goes out looking for a fight or spends their life defined by living in a world of competition.
 
Most people, in their life, will encounter loss at some point. This, whether they choose to enter into the competition or not. As long as you shift the blame from you onto whomever or whatever else, when and if this occurs, there is never a place where you will encounter and possibly learn how to be able to correct your failings.
 
Blaming is much easier than taking responsible for your own choices and actions that lead you to where you find yourself in life. But, by blaming, you never meet the true you. You never take responsibly for what you have created. Thus, you are lost to living a life defined by denial.  
 
You can blame someone else all you want. But, as long as you blame, you will never find the true you. Thus, you can never learn from your mistakes and not make them again.

***

How long do you need to look at something before you can see what it really is?

***

Saw this quote on Facebook today. Thought it is a good one.

"You’ll never be criticized by someone who is doing more than you. You’ll always be criticized by someone doing less. Remember that." Denzel Washington

***

There's a difference between pleading not guilty and being not guilty.

The Cost of Your Karma

Recently, I’ve been writing a lot about human personal interaction and the way it affects the condition of a person’s life. Because really, isn’t that all we have? Our life. What we live. How we live. And, who comes into our life.
 
Each person brings with them a certain set of lived reality. For some, that reality is defined by goodness, caring, and the desire to help. For others, that reality is desired by wanting. In either case, who we meet and what they do once we meet them comes to not only affect our life, the choices we are presented with, but ultimately what we do with what that other person has brought into our life.
 
We all know the various types of people. There are those who want to give us something and those who want to take something from us. Of course, most life interactions are not that cut and dry as most people exist somewhere in between these two extremes. But, no matter the cause or the case, what a person first desires and then chooses to do is what sets the entire rest of their life into motion and it directly affects all those who are affected by their desires and their choices.
 
Throughout history, this is why some people have chosen to retreat to places like monasteries. It is believed that the farther you remove yourself from the world, the less internal conflict you will encounter. Of course, this is true. This is why many people retreat to whatever safe hiding place they can find. The less you do, the fewer people you interact with, the number of your life problem substantially diminishes.
 
Over the past couple of decades, life and life interaction has changed drastically due to the development of the internet. People live, work, buy, sell, and interact on a scale that was impossible just a few years ago. For some, they find this appealing. For others, however, all kinds of life interaction comes at them in ways they never imagined that they do not want or appreciate. Today, the fact is, virtually no one is not affected by this human construct that has taken on its own identity in many ways.  It has become virtually impossible to retreat. From this, the pathway of human existence has drastically been altered. One may argue that this factor has not changed the true personality of a person. Though this may be true, it has given everyone a new set of tools to live their life by if they wish to partake of them.
 
From this and because of this, what a person chooses to do with their life has the potential to affect others in not only so many previously unknown ways but also to direct a person’s life down an either positive or negative pathway.
 
This is where life gets complicated. This is where life has always gotten complicated. What are you going to do with the tools at your disposal? Are you going to use them to get what you want? Are you going to use them to give someone else what they want? Are you going to use them to fulfill your own desires? Or, are you going to employee them to give to someone and/or remove the hurt from someone else’s life? Are you going to help or are your going to hurt?
 
Most people do not take the time to truly understand why they are doing what they are doing and what effect it will have on that someone else that they might not even know. But, hurt anyone and everyone is hurt. One hurt has the potential to move from your single action and go on to hurt a multitude of other people. This is also the case if you help one person. This positive action has the potential to move outwards and create a great world of giving.
 
But, why are you doing what you are doing? This is a question few people as themselves. Few people ask themselves this question because they do not want to know the answer. They may possess a million rationalizations. And, even if they believe what they are doing is being done for someone else, it is them who is instigating the desire to do what they are doing. Thus, the truth be told, all they are doing is doing something for themselves.  Some people are fine with this fact. But, if they are, (if you are), then what does that say about that person. It says, they do not care about anybody but themselves and all they are doing is being done with only themselves and their own set of wants and desires in their mind. How can that be a good thing?
 
In Buddhism, it is understood that all life actions are defined by the Sanskrit word, “Cetanā.” This word means, “Intention.” Your intention is what sets your actions into motion and your intention is what will ultimatly defines what your actions will equal—not only to your life but to the life of all those affected by what you choose to do.
 
In the Satipatthana Sutta the condition known as, “Mindfulness,” or, “Sati,” in Sanskrit is explained. It details how one can consciously encounter life. But, you don’t have to read a sutra to understand what is right or wrong and how you can behave in a conscious manner in your life. You simply must be willing to view the possible consequences of your actions on a grander scale than simply how what you are going to do will affect you. You must reach outwards from self-consciousness to view the grand scale of all humanity and see how what you do will affect that next one person and may spread outwards to affect numerous others.
 
Doing right is always a very obvious choice. Justifying your doing something that will hurt someone/anyone else is always the wrong choice. It’s really very simply. That is mindfulness. Caring enough to choose not to hurt the life of anyone but to put whatever desire you have away and help.
 
What you do with your life is your choice. But, as in all things life, there will always be consequences, both good and bad. If you help, you have helped. That will spread outwards. If you hurt, you have hurt. That too will spread outwards. Whether you help or hurt one person or millions, that will come to be the definition of your life and will either cost your life a lot or you will be rewarded in goodness.

Ask yourself these simple questions before you do anything, “Is what I am about to do going to make me smile? Is what I am about to do going to make the person I am doing it to smile?” Your answer will tell you what you should or should not do.

Your life is your choice. But know, for everything you do, there will always be a price to pay. If not today, someday.

Choose mindfulness over desire. Choose to care more about that someone else than yourself. That is true enlightenment.

***

Constructive criticism is still just criticism.

What is criticism? It is you deciding that you know what is better for another person than what they know is best for themselves.

The Diminishing Peak Experience

For anyone who has walked down the Spiritual Path, they understand that the Peak Experience is a by-product of that journey. But, just what is the Peak Experience? In brief, it is one of those moments where all things align and your mind and your body move to a level of new peace, joy, and cosmic understanding. It may exist for only a moment in time but in that short time period all is as it should be.

A common name for the Peak Experience in Japanese is, “Satori.” This term describes momentary and instantaneous enlightenment.

In Hinduism, enlightenment or, “Samadhi,” is broken up into several categories defining the various level of Samadhi. In brief, these levels are: Savikalpa Samadhi, Nirvikalpa Samadhi, Dharmamegha Samadhi, and Sahaja Samadhi. But, as in all things based in Hinduism, this categorization makes the understanding very complicated.

Whether you walk on the Spiritual Path or not, have you ever experienced one of those moments where everything just feels so awe inspired and perfect? Commonly, these occurrences occur, much more commonly and freely when you are young. This is a time space where life is new and your mind has not become confined by programming and expected expectations.

Certainly, love has the potential to drive one towards a Peak Experience. When love is felt, and especially when it is returned, there is that grand feeling of all-right-ness.

Though love may be used as an example of the feeling of the Peak Experience, the Peak Experience itself does not need to be motivated or instigated by any one event. …Though it may be. The Peak Experience simply comes over you, and in that moment of knowing, one feels the grand glory of goodness and perfection that can be experienced in life. But, almost as soon as it arrives, the Peak Experience dissipates.

The problem with the Peak Experience, (if you want to refer to it as a problem), is that once it is felt, it is known, and from this, the Feel-er hopes to feel it again. Like a drug invoking the perfect experience, it too can become an addictive focus.

In some schools of spiritual practice, they discourage people from seeking out the Peak Experience. Or, when it is felt, the zealot is taught to rebuke it. But, what it is the fun in that? So much of life is held back by the reality of living in reality that when goodness arrives, via any flavor, don’t you think it should be embraced and relished?

Think about a time in your life when you had one of those experiences—that feeling of All Goodness. Maybe it only lasted for a second but in that second all things felt so good.

Maybe you were doing something that motivated it. Maybe it was someone who caused you to feel it. Maybe it just happened. However it occurred, remember that feeling.

As we get older in life, these feelings of overall expansive goodness seemingly do not appear as frequently. There is any number of psychological reason for this, but does that have to be the case? Or, is it simply you not allowing yourself to be free enough to embrace the perfection of your reality?

So here, try this experiment. Just STOP right now. Close your eyes and let go of the all and the everything that you are thinking and feeling that is making you feel all of the non-perfect things you may be perceiving. Just let it all go.

Now, find that place in you that is the essence of feeling good and whole-life connected. It’s in there. Maybe you have not allowed yourself to feel it for a long time but it is there. Look for it. Touch it. Feel it. Don’t make excuses why you can’t feel it, just let it overtake you.

Here’s the thing about life, as you grow older, more and more things become expected. More and more things become known. As you know them, they are not new—they are not experiential. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Next time you are doing anything, experiencing that anything as if it is the first time you have ever done it. With this, everything becomes new. Everything feels fresh. Everything can be your pathway to the Peak Experience.

Let go, be free, allow yourself to encounter the Peak Experience.

***

If all you have is what you had then you have nothing.

***

Once you realize you've missed your train there's no more reason to rush to get to the train station.

***

You can't go somewhere that no longer exists.

***

How many people are asking god for help right now?

Next time you ask god for help consider who else is asking for help at that moment and why?

Then consider, do you deserve god's help?

***

The minute you think you're right and someone else is wrong all of the problems of the world begin.

***

Just because the liquid is clear and looks like water does not mean that it is water.

***

If you didn't know what day your birthday was on you wouldn't expect anyone to wish you a happy birthday.

***

You can fill your cup until it runs over the top but that does not make your cup any more full.

***

You can't buy something that isn't for sale.

Try This

Try This:

Do something nice for someone you don't really like today.

Don't make a big deal about it, don't tell them about it, don't think you're going to get some good karma for doing it; just do it.

Watch how the world becomes just a little bit better.

Try This:

Do something nice for someone you do really like today.

Don't make a big deal about it, don't tell them about it, don't think you're going to get some good karma for doing it; just do it.

Watch how the world becomes just a little bit better.

Every time you do something nice for someone everything becomes just a little bit better.

***

Life is a slow process of realization.

If you're not looking for the new understandings you will never find them.

If All You Are Doing is Caring About Yourself Then All You Are Doing is Caring About Yourself

When you wake up in the morning what is your first thought? Does it involve you or is it focused on someone else?

When you go into a store, who are you thinking about? Why are you going in there? Are you thinking about what you want to buy or are you thinking about what you will buy for the greater whole of humanity—for people you do not even know?

When someone cuts you off as you drive or bumps into you as you are walking, do you blame them or do you blame yourself for being in the same space as they are?

Truly, how much do you think about yourself: your needs and your wants and how much do you think about someone/anyone else—particularly someone that you do not know?

If you look at yourself and if you are honest with yourself, most probably you will see that you think about you above all others. Yes/sure you think about that person you are infatuate with or in love with. You may even claim that you think about them and do things for them more than you. But, is that true? I don’t know think so. All you are doing is doing something to buy their love. You are behaving in a manner that will make them love you—that will make them want to stay with you. So, your actions are about you, it is not about them.

When something negative happens, who do you blame? Most people blame the other person. It can’t be your fault; right? Even if it is your fault, most people will do all they can to shift the blame onto the other person. They will lie and they will deny. Some are so blinded by their own self-involvement that they will not even admit the truth to themselves when something is, in fact, their fault. In the public eye, forget about it. The gloves are off and no action is too far out to be employed to win any meaningless battle.

But, why is this? Is this simply the human condition? Do you ever take the time to ponder how you interact with the world? Do you ever ask yourself who you think about first and why? Most people don’t. They are very satisfied to focus on themselves and maybe even claim they help other people via donations and other giving. But, this is all a lie. What is giving? Isn’t giving simply something that a specific person wants to do? What do they give? They give what they want to give. So, how is that a true act of selflessness in any way?

You can choose to not only think about yourself. The problem is, most people don’t. Thus, what we are left with is a world full of selfish people, doing whatever they need to do to get over and get what they want. They take no personal responsibility for anything as long as they can keep the life focus on themselves.

It doesn’t have to be this way but it is this way. But remember, all change begins with you. You can be a better, less self-involved person. But, will you?

Selfless Service

In virtually all forms of advance spiritual practice it is taught that Selfless Service is one of the greatest goods. …That giving is always better than taking. But, what exactly is Selfless Service? Selfless Service is you giving/you helping even when it takes away from your own life.

Here is where a lot of the confusion of Selfless Service arises. Many doctors, nursers, ministers, or teachers will believe that what they do/what they have to give is Selfless Service. But, it is not. Sure, what they are doing may be considered a, “Higher Calling,” but what they are doing is something that they want to do. What they are doing is something that they gain ego gratification from. What they are doing is something that they are, most probably, being paid for. Thus, it is not Selfless Service.

Selfless Service comes from a mindset of surrender. It comes from helping someone or something who needs help even when it will cost you something very big to give that help. Selfless Service is you turning off any sense of reward or desire or any hope of any compensation, on any level, and helping—doing for that person or persons, (that whatever), simply because they need your help—they need you to do what you can do.

Think about it, with this as the definition, throughout your life, how many times have you truly preformed Selfless Service? How many times have you turned off the YOU and did what needed to be done to help that someone/something else; leaving behind all of your plans, no matter what it cost the what you thought was supposed to happen next? My guess is, you have done this very few times, if any, throughout your entire life.

The fact is, most people could care less about Selfless Service. They care about Self-full Service. They want what they want and if they go out of their way to help someone out they expect some sort of a reward—even if that reward is understood to be simply Good Karma coming their way.

Think about the times you have been helped in your life. It felt pretty good didn’t it; those times when someone unexpectedly came to your aid? Now, think about a time when someone helped you in your life and you were very thankful but then you found out they expected something in return. I imagine that changed your entire perception of the experience and that individual.

Think about the last time something unexpected occurred and you dropped everything, gave up all of your plans, and truly came to the aid of that someone/something else. How many times in your life can you say that truly happened? Very few, I would imagine. This is the thing about Selfless Service, few people practice it. Fewer yet are willing to practice it. Most people simply remove them “Less,” from,“Selfless,” leaving only, “Self.”

You cannot really plan to practice Selfless Service because when it is needed it will happen in an instant. What you can do is be willing to practice Selfless Service the moment it is needed. You can be willing to turn the YOU off and be willing to truly give.

Selfless Service is not easy. But, think about how much better the entire world would be if it were more frequently practiced.

A better world beings with you. What are you going to do next?

***

What are you planning to do today about the negative words someone else has or is speaking? What are you planning to do today about the negative words you have or are speaking? If you don't do anything then nothing is done.

***

Is the world a better place because of your existence?

Humbleness Verse Prestige in the Martial Arts

This piece may be a little too acutely focused for the non-martial artists out there but I hope all can hopefully gain a few new ideas from the understandings presented.

I earned my black belt in Hapkido in 1969 when I was eleven years old. I had worked towards in since I was six. I had a Korean instructor and when it came my time for promotion he simply removed my red belt, tied the black belt around my waist, and shook my hand. I was, of course, ecstatic. There was no big ceremony, no certificate, or anything like that given to me. It was just the belt and the knowledge that my instructor believed I deserved it.

My father, who earned his black belt in jujitsu during his military service in World War II, also never had a certificate. At least none that I knew about.

What I am saying is that times were different back then. A student studied, learned, progressed through the ranks, and was awarded a belt based upon their developed understandings. It was based upon an instructor to student relationship.

When I was studying the martial arts as a young boy, through adolescent, and onto becoming a young man, none of my instructors, (who were all of Asian descent), ever asked to be called, “Master.” Yes, it was a formal relationship but the students simply referred to them as, Mr. (Whatever their family name was). This idea of, “Master,” was not a part of the equation. From this, I and my contemporaries, were taught and learned to respect the teacher without being forced to place an idealized image upon who and/or what they truly were.

It wasn’t until the time when a large number of Koreans began to immigrate to the U.S., in the early 1970s, that things begin to change. With the large number of newly opened Taekwondo schools, that was taking place, somewhere/somehow this ideology that your instructor was a, “Master,” came into play.

It must be noted, that my first Taekwondo instructor, who was also a newly arrived Korean immigrant himself, (that I began studying from when I was about twelve), never asked to be referred to as, “Master.” Mr. Kim was fine with him.

But again, somewhere along the way, the newly arrived Korean teachers, particularly those out of the schools of Taekwondo in South Korea, decided they should be referred to as, “Master,” or the Korean equivalent of the word. With this delineation, everything in the modern martial arts began to change.

I always would downplay this titling to being more akin to British English, where a school teacher is sometimes referred to as, “Master.” This being said, this was not what was in the minds of these martial arts instructors. To them, they were a, “Master,” and they deserved that labeling.

As the U.S. is where these people relocated and opened their schools, their primary students were Westerners. Through time, and rank advancement, these Westerners rose up through the ranks and became the next generation of instructors. Thus, they too took on the title of, “Master.” But, were they/are they? Or, are they simply perpetuating an ideology based upon ego but not accomplishment? In fact, what actually constitutes a master?

Having been at the source point of a lot of the evolution that took place with the Korean-based martial arts in the U.S., and being located at one of the central cities involved in the expansion of these Korean martial arts, I witnessed a lot of the hidden undercurrent of what was taking place among these new schools of self-defense and the people who owned and taught at them. And, a lot of it was not pretty, honest, or honorable. There was a lot of lies being told, and a lot of deceptions put into place, which have now become solidified and believed truths due to the fact that these fabrications were spoken so many years ago. The fact is, these newly arrived instructors needed to earn money so they found a way to do so, oftentimes this was at the expense of their students.

As Western martial artist rose through the ranks, became instructors, and opened their own schools, many of these, less than ideal, trends of school ownership and the need for external validation came to be the hallmark of these expanding systems of self-defense. As some of these Westerners decided that they were, “Good Enough,” and no longer needed the support of their Asian instructors or organizations, they founded their own associations. As many of these instructors also believed that they were progressing faster in their understanding of the arts than their instructors believed, they looked for ways to accelerate their movement up through the ranks outside of their original student to instructor relationship. From this, from this belief in the Self, the rank structure of the modern martial arts became so convoluted that everyone began questioning everyone. But, it shouldn’t be this way.

Rank is nothing more than Ego. It is a name and a number on a piece of paper. But, what does that even mean? What does it mean when so many people are claiming so many things and so many organizations have arisen giving recognition to someone who simply believes that they should be referred to as, “Master?” From this forced evolution, no matter where or whom that certificate comes from, it no longer has any absolute meaning as there is no solidified standard for rank promotion.

My primary focus, through my many years of involvement with the martial arts, has been the Korean systems of self-defense. This being said, as I have spend a lot of my life in Japan, I have been lucky enough to have also trained in the Japanese arts. No one there, none of my instructors, ever asked to be called, “Master.” “Sensei,” which means, “Teacher,” is the respectful title which was assigned. And, that was that.

One could argue that this goes to the cultural identity of Koreans verses the Japanese. And, that may be the case. But, like I have long said, “If you are referring to yourself as a Master that probably means that you are not.”

First there was, “Master,” then there became, “Grand Master,” then “Supreme Grand Master.” But, what do any of these titles actually mean? What makes a person a, “Master,” or a, “Grand Master?” Isn’t it simply a name and a number on a piece of paper?

I fully understand that there are a lot of Asian and Westerners that have devoted their life to the study and the teaching of the martial arts. I applaud all of these people. But, how many of those people have forgotten the primary principle of the martial arts; humbleness?

If you feel that you must proclaim what you are, then what are you? If you feel that you must be referred to by an exalted title, who are you? Where is your humbleness and is what you are doing, (studying and teaching the martial arts), truly based upon helping others and making this world a better place or is it simply a means for you to fill an internal lacking within yourself?

As for myself, yes, I did earn some certificates. As I say, “I thank all of the instructors and the organizations who found me worthy.” And, even I, when I was younger, fell prey to the ego of being, “That Something,” when I was teaching the martial arts on a full-time basis. Thankfully, I caught myself and woke up. Now, my certificates are all in a brief case in my storage unit. At least I think they are? I haven’t looked at them in years. When I am teaching seminars, I only have the students refer to me as, “Scott.” I know this sometimes upsets the school owners who have invited me. But, I refuse to be dominated by a title that has become so convoluted in this modern era.

In closing, I believe for all of the true marital artists out there, we really need to return to a simpler, less ego-filled time, when the martial arts were an instructor teaching a student in the refined levels of physical and mental awareness without the need for all of the glorifications.

Humbleness should be at the heart of all martial art training. Isn’t that what all of the ancient sages have taught us?

***

Forgetfulness is the biggest form of denial.

***

We are all limited by what is available to us.

***

If there is a heaven, by its very definition, the people who are there do not deserve to be there.

***

How much of what you think about only matters to you?

***

We all learn from the mistakes we make. Many times we learn to never do what we did again. The problem is, once you've done something it cannot be undone. For this reason, you must be very careful with everything that you do because what you do, even once, can set an entire course of events into motion in your life.

No Footprints in the Sand

As you pass through your life, it is defined by doing. Your life is defined by what you have done, what you hope to do, what you are currently doing, and the impact your doing has had on others.

If you look backwards onto your pathway, what have you done? Hindsight is 20/20, so seeing the things you have done is much easier that anticipating what you will do.

What have you done? Do you ever take the time to study the path you have walked?

Many people are so focused on the dreams of their future they never look to what they have left in their wake.

Many people are so lost into the drug of the moment of doing; whatever it is they are doing: loving it or hating it, that they never study the imprinted trail that they have fashioned.

Most people live in a state of oblivion. Yes, they may love or they may hate what they are living at any given moment of their life, but they are not doing anything that they do consciously—nor are they thinking anything that they are thinking consciously. They are simply in a state of objectifying their moment with no thought of how that moment is truly being lived.

Think about your own life, how much of each moment do you truly experience? How much of what you do in each moment is a pathway to a suchness of understanding and helping and how much of what you do is simply an action designed to fulfill what you hope to accomplish, what you hope to become, or how you hope to be perceived?

Every step you take in your life leaves an imprint in the sand. Every thought you think, every word you speak, every act you complete not only affects your own life, your own karma, your own destiny, but it also affects all of the individuals it affects and they thereby affect the person they affect by what they do based upon the waves you have instigated. Thus, as I always say, every person possesses the ability to affect the entire world by what they do; from one person onto the next and the next. But, few ever contemplate this. They just do what they do to get whatever it is they want at any specific moment; at any specific point in their life. How about you?

You have a choice in life; you can do what you do with a very deliberate, defined, and righteous purpose or you can just do what you for yourself defined by whatever whim you are experiencing.

The pathway you carve in life can always be well perceived by anyone who chooses to have the eyes to see it. But, most people simply look the other way. How about you?

All life is your choice. All action you do shapes a pathway. At the end of your days, what will the pathway you are currently living say about you?

***

La vida es un proceso paso a paso. Antes no sabias lo que sabes ahora porque entonces no estabas preparado para saberlo. Mira tu vida como un trayecto global. No mires atrás con remordimiento, porque no puedes hacer nada para cambiar el pasado. No vivas pensando en el futuro. Haz algo o no lo hagas. Vive las cosas cuando lleguen... "El pequeño libro del Tiempo"

***

Sin esa experiencia negativa inicial, no habrías avanzado nunca hacia algo positivo.

***

Ama todo lo que existe en este momento y serás libre.

Doing Nothing Verses Experiencing Nothingness

The term, “Mu,” is used in both Japanese and Korean. The term, “Wu,” is used in Chinese. This term is used in association with the Buddhist understanding of, “Nothingness.” But, what is Nothingness? Is it having nothing? Is it doing nothing? Or, is it something much more profound?

In life, most everyone wants to do something. They wish to accomplish somethingness. But, how many of those people who Want to Do actually do anything? Most of the dreams that people hold are expressed only in the fantasies in their mind or in their conversations. People can think and talk a lot about what they want but few take the steps in achieving anything. Fewer still follow through to actualizing their end goal.

Why is this? The fact is, thinking, hoping, and believing is easy, whereas achievement is very hard. This is especially the case when one must have other people either help in their goal of achievement or approve them for the level of achievement they desire.

This is the thing about life and the reality of the reality of life; all things, “Life,” requires the doing and the approval of so many people. Many times these people are unknown to the desirer of achievement. Thus, doing becomes a competition of a single person against the reality of life. This is why those who do actually
do achieve are so well thought of. They have fought against the tides of life and have won.

But, what does winning, what does achieving actually equal? Does it provide true happiness? Does it provide the perfect life and lifestyle? Does it remove all unhappiness? Does is give the all and the everyone in the world something they actually need? Maybe, but most probably not. Why? Because, “Doing,” is based in someone’s wanting. They desire that achievement and they set out to accomplish it. By the very definition of this process, all that is known to provide an individual with spiritual emancipation is gone. All that is fulfilled, at best, is the achievement of a desired desire. Thus, all that is given birth to is ego. Is ego helpful to anyone but the person who is feeling it? No. Therefore, by basing your life on, “Doing,” you may achieve something, you may even become noted for that achievement, but what truly occurs is that you are ultimately and permanently removed from the higher understanding of the No-Self.

There are those who consciously choose to leave the world and all of its desire(s) behind and focus their attention on the embracing, Mu. There is one problem in this process, however. That problem is, if the achievement of Conscious Nothingness becomes a goal, then it can never truly be experienced. Thus, the basis of its true understanding is lost. It is for this reason that walking the path of desire, no matter how spiritual that pathway may sound to the naïve ears of the uninitiated, if any step that is taken is taken with a goal in mind, the true essence of Nothingness is lost.

All people want. Most people want to achieve. Many people spend their entire life attempting to succeed. But, this is one of the ultimate illusions of life. Accomplishment is never whole and complete onto itself. No matter what you
do, no matter what you do accomplish, it will only lead to you wanting/desiring something more.

So, where does this leave us? It leaves us with the understanding that doing can be done; doing may even lead to accomplishment for the life of a very few, but doing can never lead to true peace, true happiness, and divine understanding.

Do you wish to live your life forever unfulfilled? Do you wish to live your life constantly chasing? Do you wish to live your life hoping for and dreaming of something that you may never achieve? If you do, then
do. If you don’t, if you want that illusive understanding of true inner tranquility, then seek out, Mu. It is there that all of the wants are fulfilled without ever doing anything.

Discipline

There is a couple of way to translate the word, “Discipline,” from English into Sanskrit, depending on how it is to be used. A couple of the most common words are, “Abhyāsa,” “Niyana,” “Anunaya,” “Vinaya,” or, “Manovinayana.” Perhaps the most direct way of translating this concept into English is the word, “Caryācaraa,” which refers to the practice of self-discipline.

Yoga is a pathway of discipline. Whereas most people when they hear the term, “Yoga,” simply think of it as the physical postures that people perform. This, however, is a very small part of the overall understanding of yoga. The Sanskrit term, “Yoga,” literally translates as, “Union with God.” But, what does this actually mean?

The thing that many practitioners of modern yoga do not understand is that the yoga they do in their classes is properly defined as, “Hatha Yoga.” This yoga is a small part of the greater overall understand of, Raja Yoga. Raja Yoga is a pathway of mental and physical disciple that leads the practitioner towards communion with God. But again, what does this actually mean?

Yoga is a practice based in Hinduism. Though many people wish to disassociate the physical postures they preform in their classes from this fact, this is the fact. Yoga is a Hindu-based practice of mental and physical purification. I cannot tell you how many devoutly practicing Christians, who practice Hatha Yoga, I have mentioned this to and they go into complete denial about this fact. They make up all kinds of mental excuses. But, there is no denying the birthplace, the evolution, and the true meaning of yoga. It is based in the Hindu understanding of reality.

This is not a good or a bad thing. This is just a thing. But, for so many people who base their entire reality upon their Western-based religion, such as Christianity, the path they walk by preforming yoga, is in direct conflict with their chosen beliefs.

For the most part, Christians do not base their life upon following a disciplined existence. Thus, the concept of focusing their existence on the concept of restraint is alien to them. But, discipline is at the heart of all practices and all forms of yoga. Even the Tantric Yogis of Khajuraho perform their techniques based upon self-discipline.

“Pari
kāra,” translates as, “Self-discipline.” This understanding is at the heart of all yoga practices. But, how many people who perform the modern applications of Hatha Yoga or pranayama, “Breath Control,” ever even contemplate the root of what they are doing? They just do. And, here lies the problem with the modern, undisciplined practice of yoga. It entirely misses the point.

You can go to any exercise class and hopefully get your body in better shape. The Western purveyors of modern, “Yoga,” make all kinds of claims about its benefits. And yes, there are many. But, if the essence of, “Yoga,” is not embraced and understood how can there be any true internal growth via its practice? If people live in denial about what, “Yoga,” truly is, how can they actually live what it has to offer.

Yoga is based in discipline. It is based in self-discipline. It is based in a prescribed control of the body and the mind designed to bring the practitioner closer to physical understanding leading to spiritual awareness. Is yoga a practice based in Christianity or any other Western religion? No, it is not. It is based in an understanding formulated in India thousands of years ago.

Can yoga be adapted to practitioners of other religions? The answer to that is yes and no. Yes, the physical postures can be performed and maybe they will help the health of the practitioner. But, without a true emersion into what, “Yoga,” truly is, the absolute essence of this religious-based practice is lost. Thus, the answer is also, no.

Yoga is a religion. It is a part of a religion designed to guide the practitioner towards spiritual growth via discipline. If you are not willing to see, “Yoga,” for what it truly is and accept is foundations, then, at best, all you are doing when you practice, “Hatha Yoga,” is getting your body more stretched while living in denial about what you are actually doing.

The essence of yoga is, “Union with God.” How do you achieve that? Discipline. How do you
not achieve that? Pretending that you are doing something while not understanding what is actually taking place.

Don’t lie to yourself. Yoga is a religion. It is a religion based in Hinduism. If you’re not willing to become a Hindu then you can’t really practice true, “Yoga.”

The Liars Have All the Answers

Way back in the way back when I had met this girl. We met via my involvement with Swami Satchidananda and the Integral Yoga Institute. She had come to take a class. Me, I was young, and veering away from the Bramacharya mindset. Her, she was pretty. We began to hang out which all turned out to be a big mistake but that is an entirely different story.

At the time, I was living in the Valley and going to college. She was living down in the O.C.

Like many people of the era, she was seeking spiritual understanding. Also, like many people of the era, she moved between teachers attempting to find the path that best suited her.

One night, she invited me to visit this one teacher she had been working with. He was a Caucasian guy who operated a yoga studio out of an upstairs unit in what may best be described as a strip mall. I believe, forty years or so later, he is still there.

Anyway, he went by this holy sounding Sanskrit name. When I entered the room and sat down he came up to me, as he could see I was new, to introduce himself. He asked about me and I told him I was a student of Swami Satchidananda. I could immediately tell this struck him as disconcerting as he now had someone within his ranks who must know his stuff. All the others were just those people seeking a route to the promised enlightenment of the era or a father figure. Both of these were a very gullible type. When I told him what I told him, he began to laugh and laugh and laugh. It was so contrived. I could immediately see this was one of those ploys to throw someone off their game. But, I have always been the wrong person to play mind games with, even back when I was young.

The evening went on. The man gave his lecture. We did the meditation session, etc… We left. I, of course, never returned.

There are so many people full of so much bullshit that it is almost hard to believe. They gather borrowed knowledge from this book, that lecture, that whatever, and then dish it out as if it is their own. Some, like this guy, added orange robes and a Sanskrit name to the equation, just to provide more apparent authenticity. But, all of that never changes the bullshit.

I have encountered a lot of people like that throughout the years. Certainly, far more back in the 1970s than today but truly little has changed. And, that is the problem with seeking. The people who seek want to be given something—they want to be provided with that some imagined something. But, due to the illusive nature of that abstract something what they are given can never be proven or disproven. That/this is why so many people fall prey to the manipulative words and hands of the liar.

A couple of years later, I think I was twenty-one. I was at the Bodhi Tree Bookstore one day, which was then the mecca for spiritual knowledge in L.A., and I noticed that this Eastern Yogi was going to give a lecture. I had always enjoyed listening to what different teachers had to say, so I decided to go. When I got there, I found that the lecture was to be given in this very rundown section of Hollywood, in this old street front business. Whatever… I went inside and there were like three people in attendance. The guy walked in. He was a true Eastern Yogi. Even though there were only a few people there, he gave his talk. It was completely uninspired. Nonetheless, after the lecture, I went up to meet him. Nice guy. A true believer/a true liver. What was the difference between this man and the aforementioned individual? Heritage and purpose. He wasn’t making excuses for doing the things that a true yogi should not be doing, whereas the other man was. One was in it as a business; the other was in it as a life and a lifestyle.

So, here’s the thing… You can claim to be something. You can read and study all of the books on the subject. You can even change your name to something grand and auspicious, and maybe even get a diploma or a proclamation, but you cannot change the essence of your being—you cannot change who and what you truly are. Whenever you go to any teacher, you really need to remember that. Are they doing what they are doing as a business? Or, are they giving what they know to you for free? If they’re a business, then they’re a businessperson. If they are true to whom they are and what they have to teach, then they will give it to you for free.

The problem is, the world is full of liars. Most teachers are liars. This is especially the case when they are not at an accredited institution like a place of higher education. These people can say whatever they want. They can claim whatever they want. They tell each person what they think they want to hear in order to get their money, their body, their loyal, their whatever… But, at the root of all truth, at the heart of each true teacher, is the person who is truly themselves—the person who has no need to lie or develop students or clientele. If a teacher is looking to get more students then they are lost in the mindset of conquest. How can any individual who is on a quest to get more of something or someone in their life be a true person—how can they be trusted? If a person seeks nothing and gaining no one more, then why would they need to claim to be anything? Why would they need to lie?

The truth of a person is self-evident. How do you know a person is a true person that can be trust? They claim nothing.

Remember, the liars have all the answers. If someone is telling you what you want to hear, if someone is promising you anything, be very weary of that person because they are obviously hoping to gain something for themselves.

You Owe Them Everything

I was having lunch with a friend of mine when an interesting situation occurred. But, before I get into all of that let me give you a little bit of the backstory.

I am writing this during the time of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. At least here in California, the restaurants have all been ordered to close. They are not allowed to offer indoor dining. During this time period they are only allowed to offer take-out. One of the ways some restaurants have been getting around this is that, previously they were allowed to offer outdoor dining. From this, many restaurants set up, in some cases, elaborate parking lot tent facilities and/or in some cities they have actually taken away the street parking allowing restaurants to set up their tables and their chairs in the streets; bounded by makeshift walls, of course. Though they are not currently supposed to do this, in order to keep business coming in, some restaurants have put their tables back up and allowed patrons to sit at them as long as they buy their food to-go.

With all that out of the way, back to the storyline…

Anyway, my friend and I had picked up some food and we were on our way back to her place to eat it. As we walked past, there were two aging Korean men sitting at one of those tables that aren’t really supposed to be used. They both had coffees in to-go cups and one of them was even smoking which is totally verboden in association with all California dining establishments. But, you know how Korean men can be… (Maybe you don’t?)

Anyway… The one guy was wiping down his phone with one of those single use packaged wipe things that look kind of like a Handi Wipe. He had a couple more of the packets lying on the table. As we walked by my friend surprisingly asked the guy, “Can I have one of those?” He looked at her. He looked at me. He looked at his friend. He said something under his breath to his friend in Korean. And, then he handed her one. “Thank you,” my friend exclaimed in all of her youthful exuberance. I observed as the two men both watched her walk away with her long legs extending below her short skirt. You know the kind of look I’m taking about.

She grabbed my hand and we were back on our way. She was happy, she got one of those wipe things as she felt her phone needed it. I smiled and I explained to her, “Now, you own that man everything.”

The thing about life is, and a thing that very few people ever contemplate is, that whenever you take something from someone, (given willingly or not), you owe that person. If you take something from them without their freewill of giving, forget about it, you really owe them. But, in life, most people simply want what they want and, small or large, as long as they get it, all is well with their world. But, they never think about the, (for lack of a better term), karma that is invoked by the act of taking.

Think about your taking… Think about how you feel when you get. It probably feels pretty good; right? You have gotten what you want.

Now, think about the act of giving. Giving may also feel good or it may feel bad. But, whatever the case, when you give, that personally costs you something. If you give something that means you had to get something. In most cases, getting means you had to earn the money to buy it. What did that earning cost your life? How much time did it take? How much work did it take? What did it do to your life?

Giving, whether it is in the form of something physical or something mental, first requires the getting. The getting always cost the giver something. This getting is never free. And, if you get, you owe the giver.

Again, most people never think about this. They just want. They just ask. They just take. They dismiss what that giving cost the giver because they are now content in what they have received.

If you wish to live a conscious life, you really need to be careful of your taking. For
taking always sets the need of owing into motion. No matter how willingly anything is given to you, if you take you own that giver something. Maybe, you owe them everything.

The Claim of Destiny

Depending on how the term is intended to be used, the most common Sanskrit words utilized to express the concept of destiny are, “Daiva,” or, “Adrishta.”

Destiny is this strange undefined thing that people put into play when something either happens to their life in a positive or a negative manner. “That was just your destiny…” Or, “This is my was destiny…” But, what is destiny and what does it truly mean?

For each of, we seek to find a definition to the happenings in our life and the lives of others. We seek someone or something to blame. When good things happen, some but not all of us, give thanks. But, who is that thanks given to? …Some mystical, undefined, Out There being. When negative things occur, we seek someone to blame. But, who is to blame? Is it that same mystical, undefined, Out There being or is it simply ourselves for placing ourselves where a specific type of events may happen to us?

Rarely, do people take full responsibility for the happenings in their life. They prefer to claim, “It was a gift from god,” or, “Destiny sent me down this road.” But, what does any of this actually mean? What is destiny and why do people relinquish control of their life over to such an abstract concept?

We all understand what destiny is intended to mean. It is that something that was meant to happen to us that we have little or no control over. But, think about your life… What don’t you have control over? Sure, you can decide to walk a path of goodness or you can decide to walk a path of badness. You can choose to help or you can choose to hurt. You can choose to go to the left or you can choose to go to the right. You can choose to associate with a certain person or a specific type of people, but is any of that destiny? No, that is simply what you choose to do based upon the choices you are allowed to make.

People lie to themselves all the time about the happenings in their life. They give thanks or they blame others. Why do most people do this? They do this either because they don’t want to take personal responsibility for their actions or they have been programmed into feeling that they are not worthy of holding control over their own life. But, you are in control! What you do is what you choose to do. What happened to you is not destiny it is simply a reaction to your action of making a choice.

Where you place yourself in life comes to define what happens to your life. What you choose to do in each situation that occurs in your life, defined by where you have chosen to place yourself in your life, is what occurred by where you choose to be and what you choose to do.

Destiny is an excuse. Take responsibility for your own choices.

Other People’s Knowledge

I was having a discussion about Japan, Korea history and the evolution of the Japanese martial arts with one of my colleagues the other day. He mentioned that he had read this Master’s Thesis on the subject where the author had referenced one of my books. He pulled it up and showed me the segment. It was interesting to read how one person had interpreted my writings. What he did was to take my research on a subject and then put his own spin on it. Certainly, all that is part and particle of the academic world. People find the research previously composed on a subject and then draw their own collusions based upon the amalgamation of their research and the writings of others.

For anyone who has walked down the path of academia you will understand that it takes time to find previously composed research on a subject, study it, and then find works that help present your own point of view and conclusions. In fact, the more previously composed works you sight in your paper, or in this case Thesis, the more likely it is that your instructor or Thesis Committee Members will find your work compelling.

I truly suggest that anyone out there take a class where research and writing is required and then really take the time to deeply research a subject and compose a documented paper. It truly opens up an entirely new realm of life-understanding as it causes you to be forced to explore the understandings of others.

There is a problem in all of this, however. And, this was one of the subjects of my colleague and my discussion. That problem is, perceived and presented rationalizations. The fact is, people want to present any understanding that they believe they understand from their own point of view. In fact, that is what the composition of a Thesis or a Dissertation actually entails; the study of previously composed documentation on a specific subject combined with individualized research into order to present a new and unique understanding about a topic defined and rationalized by the mind of the student. The key premise in all of this is, however, an individual’s personal point of view. One person studying what has previously been documented and then finding the appropriate texts to support their own point of view.

But, what is a point of view? Is a point of view fact or is it personal perception? If one truly contemplates this subject, the answer is obvious. Yet, there it is, all of this information being present in a Thesis as fact, based upon all of the previously prepared research, that was also presented as fact, that has been published in books, and then conglomerated by the student hoping to present the topic in the way they perceive the subject.

One of the things I do in life is critique the writings presented to publishers from authors in hopes of acquiring a book deal. I think back to this one manuscript I was asked to read by this one publisher. It was a book on the history of the Korean martial arts. Just as my colleague and I were discussing, you cannot understand the Japanese or the Korean martial arts without understanding the history and the evolution of both of these cultures and ancient systems of combat.

The manuscript I was given was full of quotes from other previously published books and writings, including my own, on the subject. But, what overpowered all of this author’s research was personal opinions leading to, in some cases, false conclusions. This is where the problem arises in not only academic document creation but in the works of all authors, including myself.

As an author, specificity in the realms of non-fiction, you are asked to present a specific subject in a specific manner that then may be consumed by the reader. In many cases, you are asked to present the subject in a manner that was prescribed by an editor. Thus, you must meet their requirements if you hope to have the book published. This is the same in the world of academia, what you write must be written in a manner that will be accepted by those people judging your writings. What does this all lead to? What it leads to is expected and acceptable conclusions.

All writing, by all people, whether they are academically trained or not, is defined by a point of view. That point of view may or may not be based upon a very prescribed set of parameters, dictated by someone other than the author or not. But, whatever the case, there is a set of rules that must be followed either in the publishing or the academic world.

What does this leave us with? It leaves us with a world of writings based upon a prescribed set of expected standards combined with a person’s personal opinion. Meaning, all things that you read must be understood to be less than one-hundred truthful and valid as they are composed by the mind of one or more individuals presenting a specific subject from a prescribed point of view.

The person’s Thesis that I just mentioned interpreted my writings to suit his own needs. Were his quotes of my work construed as I had meant them to be understood? No, they were not. They were his interpretations of my research. They were him defining my writings (as others) based upon his own individualize perception. Thus, though his Thesis was a work of supposed history, was it? Or, was it simply his decided upon perception of history?

All life is defined by what you think. All life is defined by what the person next to you thinks. Do you think the same thing? Probably not. Moreover, what do you base your thinking upon? Is it true research that you personally investigated? Or, is it simply opinion with documentation, presented as fact, composed by the mind of a person with a prescribed point of view to present?

One really needs to question anyone’s presentation of knowledge. Because is what they are saying truth or is what they are saying simply their interpretation of someone else’s opinion based upon the previously composed research of someone else who is also presenting the subject based upon their own point of view?

Purpose Verse Intent and the Why a Person Does What They Do

The Sanskrit word, “Varta,” is the translation of the English word, “Purpose.” More exactly, “Varta,” describes someone with a firm purpose as to what they hope to achieve. The Sanskrit word, “Kardatha,” defies someone having a very specific or highly defined goal.

If we look to the world, if you look to yourself, how many people have a very specific goal—a very designated endpoint that they hope to achieve? Yes, most everyone has a daydream, “Divasvapna,” that something that they wish they could achieve, but how few are the people that set a clear path to its achievement?

Though there are several words that can be used to translate the English word, “Purpose,” into the Sanskrit language, perhaps the most commonly used word is, “Azaya.”

A person’s purpose is why they are attempting to make something happen in their life and/or the life of other people. Now, this is where one of the primarily elements of Life Accomplishment comes into play and how it affects the overall evolution of the individual. Why is a person doing what they are doing? What do they hope to achieve?

If we look to the person who is centered onto themselves, and if they possess a clear purpose, they hope to achieve something to make themselves that something more—they hope to achieve and become that something that they consider better. Though one may argue that this style of, “Purpose,” is based in ego and therefore by that very definition it removes a person from following the Higher Path of consciousness, it is nonetheless a clear purpose. Thus, they hold a clear intent.

Many people in this world place their focus outside of themselves. They define their life by what and who is outside of them. They do not focus on making themselves that something more—becoming that better, more accomplished, and fulfilled individual, instead they want to do something that affects the life of someone else. Some people do this a mean of helping others, while others do it as a mean to hurt others. Though one of these pathways is obviously of the higher calling, they both have one primary foundational element; they cause a person to place their focus outside of themselves. Thus, all that is done will not and cannot cause that person to find a Higher State of Self. At best, all any of their actions can do is to provide that person with a sense of elation. Therefore, all they are ultimately doing is taking a drug. The drug of doing something to or for someone else that makes them feel a specific kind of sensation.

Each individual has the choice to make about what they do with their life. Some people set a clear goal at becoming the best person that they can be. Others hope to become revered in the eyes of others. While still others hope to influence the life of people outside of themselves in either a positive or a negative manner. The question that few people ask themselves, however, is why are they doing what they are doing; what is their purpose and what is their internet?

To truly understand life, to truly understand your life, and to truly come to a clear conclusion about why you are living what you are living and why you have encountered what you have encountered as you have passed through your life, you must come to understand your self-proclaimed purpose and your self-defined intent.

Take a moment right now and think about it. Clearly bring into your mind what is your purpose and what is your intent. Why have you done what you have done? Why are you about to do what you are about to do?

Whatever your answer is that is your answer. There are no right or wrong answers. But, if you have truly investigated your motivational pathway not only will you have done something that few people ever take the time to understand but you will also have come to a much clearer conclusion about who you are, why you are, and what you can expect to happen next in your life.

Each person is defined by their purpose and their intent. What are yours?

***

Be positive.

Be good.

Be caring.

Forgive.

Do good things.

Hurt no one.

Help everyone you can.

System of Belief

Everybody believes in something. Even the people who do not believe in a greater power have a belief. The belief of nothing. Some people keep their beliefs to themselves. Others project their beliefs out to anyone who will listen. No matter the case, one thing is true; belief is only belief, it is not necessarily fact.

Here lies the problem; most people cannot differentiate the difference between belief and fact. Thus, they present their beliefs as fact and as most people do not possess the level of discrimination to differentiate between the two, life becomes a convoluted mess of varying beliefs affecting the lives of the all and the everyone.

Think about the people who believe in Christianity; they hold their set of core beliefs based upon what is written in the Bible. Think about the people who are followers of Islam; they hold their set of core beliefs based upon what is written in the Koran. These are two religions that both claim to hold the truth. Millions upon millions of people believe in both of these religions. Are they same? No. They each possess varying teachings and they each teach that one should rebuke the nonbeliever. So, which religion is right?

You see, here lies the essence of belief; it is based upon an accepted concept in the mind of the believer. Is it right or is it wrong? Who can say because it is solely based upon what one believes? Who can be the actual judge?

In life, some people loudly proclaim what they believe. From a psychological perspective, the reason the people who proclaim their beliefs the most loudly is based upon the fact that they hope to be viewed as a, “Knower.” But, what do they actually know? All they know is what they believe but if what they believe is based upon nothing more than what they think they know then by that very definition their belief is flawed as it is nothing more than an opinion and an opinion is nothing more than a personal belief based upon self-defined assumptions.

To take this to a more personal perspective, every now and then I will see someone on Facebook or some other social platform posting how he or she is going to clean house of the people that are negative or spouting something they do not like or believe in. Frequently, you hear about people facing online bullying, being trolled, or being attacked by some entity out there in cyber space based upon someone not liking a person, what that person creates, what they say, or what they stand for. During the recent election season, here in the U.S., which was very divisive, I have seen so many people posting very negative, very biased, opinions based solely upon belief—based solely upon what they heard from someone else that propped up what they already believed. In fact, some people I observed were actually banned from Facebook, Twitter, and other social platforms for posting things that apparently were not permitted. But, the problem is,
everything is based upon belief. The only problem arises when someone decided to broadcast that belief and someone else does not like it. But, if most things are based upon what an individual personally believes, and not based upon fact, who should hold the power to judge what is right and what is wrong?

From a person perspective, as a creative person, (for lack of a better term), my work and myself have been the subject of some people’s beliefs. Not always, but sometimes, what people have said or written about my work or myself was complete wrong. It was totally false. Yet, due to their belief, which was not based upon fact, only opinion, they put what they thought out there to the world. From this, others have believed what they concocted. Not fact. Just belief. Yet, it is present for the world to see. This behavior is the sourcepoint for one of the modern world’s great problems.

I imagine we have all experienced situations such as this to varying degrees. For some of you out there, reading this, I imagine that you are one of the vocal ones, presenting your belief(s) to others or to the entire world as a whole. For those of you who do this, either on a small or a large scale, do you ever contemplate the fact that what you are thinking, equaling what you are saying, is nothing more that a belief that originated in your own mind? And, if you do understand this fact, do you predicate what you are proclaiming with a statement to that affect? Do you tell people what you are saying is just an opinion? Or, do you state what you state as if it were based in fact when all that is being said is simply an assessment concocted in your own mind?

Most people never take a look at their beliefs. Most people never study what was the impetus or the causation factor for their beliefs. They just believe that they know what they know. But, if you don’t know why you know what you know, if you don’t know why you present your sometimes false-opinion(s) as fact then you are not only doing a disservice to yourself but you are doing a disservice to the entire world because you are desecrating truth and replacing it with nothing more than your personalized system of belief.

***

You can always tell the people who are insecure, unfulfilled, and unaccomplished. They say negative things about other people.

You can always tell the people who are secure, fulfilled, and accomplished. They say positive things about other people.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness, or as I like to spell it out, Mind Fullness is one of the essential elements of causing your body and your mind to rise to a level of enhanced awareness, self actualization, and, dare I say, enlightenment. But, how many people even contemplate mindfulness as they pass through their day? How many people take note of any element of how they are feeling or how they are experiencing life unless they are thrown into a moment a chaos by spraining their ankle, having something stolen, or experiencing someone breaking their heart? Then, the experience is all about them. It is all about feeling what they are feeling. But, is that mindfulness? No. That is simply being forced into encountering an emotion. Mindfulness occurs from a much more pure and focus state of mind.

When you are washing your hands do you contemplate the temperature of the water? Sure, if it is very cold or very hot you are forced to think about it. But, what about when it is lukewarm? …When it is just average? …When it is the way you always expect it to be? Do you experience the water, how it feels on your hands, how the soap feels and smells? Do you ever contemplate any of this? Probably not. Few people do. But, here lies the source of the problem of why so few people understand the concept of mindfulness.

In traditions like the martial arts, one is taught to train the body and their mind and bring them into an acute harmony so that they can exactly perform physical techniques. Yes, this is a style of enhanced physical and mental training that few people truly embrace. For most martial artists, however, they never transcend beyond the physicality of the martial arts. They are happy and proud to demonstrate how well they can perform a technique or how many boards they can break. But, this is nothing more than exhibitionism. For all of the martial artists out there, ask yourself, how often did your instructor teach you how to truly encounter your moment both in terms of internal feelings and external stimuli? For most, the answer is never. Why? Because the instructors were never taught nor did they seek out the pathway to true mindfulness.

Mindfulness is you truly experiencing your moment. Wherever you are, whatever it is you are doing, it is you allowing your being to truly feel all that is around you and then stepping deeply within yourself and coming to terms with how you are an interactive part of the entire process.

In Tantra Yoga, one is taught to truly embrace their partner while engaged in an intimate relationship. Whereas most people enter into these occurrences via desire and seeking that good feeling that arises from a sexual encounter, the Tantra Yogi is taught how train their body and their mind to step beyond the physicality of the act itself and, by truly moving deeply it the transcendence of the act by truly merging with the experience via the partner, they can gain a glimpse of Satori. Again, how many people follow this pathway? How many people even ponder following the pathway of Tantra? Very few.

Is mindfulness a complicated process? Yes and no. The true answer is, no. It is extremely easy to allow yourself to become consciously mindful of all of the things that you do. You just have to do it. The problem is, very few people have ever trained their mind to become mindful. They are just taught to do what they do until they are on to doing the next thing. Sure, they may love or they may hate what they are doing. Sure, what they are doing may make them feel good or feel bad. But, none of that is mindfulness. That’s simply responding to stimuli. Mindfulness is choosing to become aware of all that you are doing, all that is being done to you, removing your process of thoughts and definitions and transcending to the essence of the experience. It is there that a true understanding of life—your life may be encountered.

Right now, STOP, take a moment, shut off your thoughts, emotions, judgments, and predetermined notions. STOP and feel. STOP and experience. What are you feeling? What does your life experience feel like? How does your body feel? How are your emotions feeling? What are they causing you to feel?

Take some time and feel what you are feeling. Take some time to come to terms with why you are feeling what you are feeling. Take some time and analyze how what you are doing, what you did, is causing other people to feel.

Feel, experience, transcend. Find where you are and why. Meet mindfulness.

***

You can believe anything that you want to believe but just because you believe something does not make it the truth.

You Can Make Things Better

You can make things better.

If you've hurt someone, do something good for them, say something nice about them.

If you are feeling overwhelmed step outside, intentionally step away from the chaos. Turn off your mind. Take a walk.

If you are focusing on the negative and/or hating your life. Stop it! Turn it around. See the positivity in the negativity. Appreciate what you have.

If you are lonely, go outside; internationally introduce yourself to someone.

If you are unhappy; you can trace that unhappiness to its root and eliminate it if you have the time. If not, just stop it! You have the power. Go and do something you like. Go exercise. Replace the unhappiness with positive activity and the unhappiness will fade.

Just as negativity begins with you, so does positivity. You can choose to make things better.

Your yesterday does not have to be your today.

Be nice to people. Reach out to people. Do good things for people. Say good things about people. Do good things for yourself. Do this, and everything will become better.

***

How many times has your guardian angel saved you from disaster and you didn't even know it?

The Goodness Directive

Assignment for the Day:

Do something good today.

Do something positive that helps someone.

Say something nice about someone—maybe somebody you don't even like.

Say something nice to someone. Compliment them.

Give someone a gift.

If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts or find yourself about to say something negative or mean; catch yourself. Turn it around and say something nice.

Take today and do something nice, good, and positive.

You can do this everyday if you want. That's a great way to live your life. But, if nothing else, start with today.

Make this a day that you base in goodness, doing something good, saying nice things, giving, and making everyone's life just a little bit more positive.

Make today a day of positivity.

Most People Don’t Give Back

Right now, today, what are your plans for giving anything to anybody? When you woke up this morning did you have a game plan in place for what you were going to do for someone today? Yesterday, what did you do for someone? The day before that, what did you do for anybody?

Most people are very centered on themselves. They think about themselves and maybe those people they care about. They think about what they want, how they are feeling, and how people are reacting to them. But, they spend very little of their Life Time turning off Self Thought and actually doing something for someone else.

Think about it, who have you helped lately? Who did you think about, who did you decide needed some help, and who did you actually provide that help to?

If you did provide help, how did that helping help you? Was your helping actually given from a pure perspective of caring or was your giving motivated by what you would receive?

Think about your life… Think about your Right Now… What plan do you have to help anyone? Are you planning to help anyone?

Sure, you may be having all kinds of problems in your life. Sure, you may be very busy. Sure, you may be working hard to make ends meet. All of these are common excuses. But, excuses are just excuses. They arise from a very self-centered perspective.

All of those excuses, being as they are, who are you going to help? Who are you planning to give to? What are you planning to do for anyone but yourself?

There are a lot of people who need help out there. What are you going to do about it?

Sure, helping can be big. It can be giving someone some money; buying them something that they need. It can be giving them a place to stay when they have no roof over their head. It can be giving them a job. It can be helping them move. It can be buying them a meal. Or, it can be holding their hand when their heart is broken. Helping can also be small. It can be saying a nice word when someone else is saying something negative. It can be smiling at a person. It can be telling something that you appreciate that they exist, that you are happy that they are in your life. Helping can be anything but to help, “Helping,” has to be actualized. It has to be you stepping outside of your Self Involvement and actually doing something for someone else.

Try it, help someone, and watch everything become just a little bit better.

Telling the Truth

Let’s fact facts, a lot of people lie. A lot of people disguise the truth. A lot of people hide the truth. A lot of people stretch the truth. A lot of people make up a lot of things.

There is really no reason to go into why people lie because each person who lies has their own reason for doing so. Whether that reason is also a lie is a whole other issue but I think we can leave it to say, a lot of people lie about a whole lot of things. Some even fight to get their lies to be believed.

The problem with people lying is, because they are a liar, most of those liars think everyone else is lying as well. They know they don’t tell the truth, so they assume and accuse other people of lying just as they do. Some even accuse other people of lying to cover up the lies that they have told.

Have you ever lied? Why did you lie? How did that lie come to define and affect your life?

How do you feel about the lies that you've told? Do those lies bother you? Do you ever think or care about how those lies have affected the lives of other people? If you don't, what does that say about you as a human being?

Once you lied were you afraid of getting caught in your lie? Did you get caught in your lie? If you did, how did that affect your life?

Some people never get caught in the lies they have told. They live their entire existence based upon a lie they told years and years ago. They get away with it. But, simply because a person gets away with telling a lie—and even if that lie comes to be believed, does that change the fact that it was not the truth? And, if a person basis their life upon a lie—if they succeed because of a lie, what does that say about the foundation of their life and any success they may have achieved? Moreover, what does that say about all of the people who came to believe their lie?

Most people want to believe what another person is saying. This is why some people are allowed to define their entire life based upon a lie.

Some people believe the lies that they tell other people. But, simply because someone has come to believe the lie they originated does it ever become the truth?

The truth is easy. It may not be pretty, it may not be eloquent, but it is the truth.

A lie is messy. A lie is forever a problem because a lie is never the truth and there is always the possibility that the truth will be revealed.

We can all understand that all people should only speak the truth but that will probably never happen as people want to be seen as more, people want to have achieved more, and people want what they want and they are willing to lie to get what they want.

What does this tell us about life? It tells us that as long as we base our life upon the truth, as long as we always speak the truth, at least our part of life will remain honest.

It’s important to note that telling the truth is not you telling someone what you think about them for all that kind of mind stuff is simply based in judgment, emotions, and ego. The truth of the truth goes much deeper than all of that, “What you think and feel,” kind of stuff. The truth is what you have actually done, what you have actually lived, what you truly are and who you truly are. The truth is you being true about yourself and to yourself.

A person can lie about who they are all they want. They can lie about what they truly do and what they have truly done. A person can live their entire life based upon the falsehoods of self-imagination, self-projection, and self-proclamation but if they do that, at the end of their days, they will never know the truth as their life has been an expression of a lie.

So, next time you think about lying, catch yourself, and don’t do it. For there is nothing that you will truly gain by lying. The next time someone lies to you, smile, know that what they are saying is emanation from a lower level being who is lost in their own self-projection of a false reality and walk away. You don’t have to call them a liar; you just do not have to believe them.

If you live the truth, then you are the truth, as plain, as simply, and as boring as that truth may be. If you live the truth, though you may never be seen as some great, grand, representation of someone who lives at the pinnacle of all that is desired but, at least, you will never be known as a liar.

***

To understand what someone is actually attempting to communicate you must have a mind developed to the degree that you can comprehend what they are presenting.

Take Some Time in the Morning

When you wake up in the morning what do you do?

Are you woken by an alarm clock each morning?

Or, are you allowed to wake up slowly, roll around, think the thoughts that the new day brings, and finally decide to get out of bed when you feel that it is time to get out of bed?

Most people do not address a new day with any sense of consciousness. Many/most are woken up by an alarm clock, at a specific time, because they are expected to get up, get ready, and go to work. Many/most spend most of their life behaving in this fashion. Then, the weekend or the day off arrives and the person is typically too emotional strained and drained to do much else but wake up and restlessly roll around in bed, at about the same time as they are forced to wake up everyday, due to their biological clock taking control over their mind.

Even the person who lives in the ashram or the monastery is expected to wake up at a very specific time. They are then required to get up and meditate or pray.

For the people who wait for the weekend, they too often force themselves out of bed in the morning with little or no forethought, at a specific time, because they have, “Plans,” for the weekend—things that they want to do that they can’t do during the workweek.

Though this is the status of most people lives, I believe that we all can see that there is something missing in this process. That, “Something missing,” is waking up and embracing the day with any sense of awareness or consciousness.

In each of our lives there is time when we naturally wake up. For each of us, this is somewhat different, but for each of us there is an internally natural time frame when our body and our mind knows that it is time to sleep and knows when it is time to wake. For most, however, this naturalness of sleep and wake is never allowed to guide the life process as the requirements of modern life are allowed to be in control.

The fact is, there is very little most of us can do about this fact. As an adult, or even as a young student, we are generally required to get up when we are expected to get up as we must make money to survive and/or go to school so that we can prepare ourselves to make money to survive. So, what does this tell us about life, what does this tell us about sleep, what does this tell us about waking up, and how can we do anything about any of it?

Here is the fact; most people do not attempt to live a conscious life. Most people never try to take emotional, psychological, or spiritual control over their life. They simply are dominated by their expected life and they live this way until they die. Though this is the commonality of a common life, it is does not have to be like that. You can consciously take control of your mind and your life patterns and bring them to a point where there is a greater state of expansive awareness.

To begin to do this, in regard to sleep and waking up, the next time you wake up take the time to consciously embrace the day—spend some time doing nothing; not jumping out of bed, not falling back to sleep, simply witnessing your mind, following your thoughts, studying your emotions and your expectations about the day, and coming to know what your waking up is truly about.

For each of us, when we wake up, the factors of the night of sleep are most with us. This is when we remember what we were dreaming, how those dreams made us feel, and what those dreams lead us to think about and realize. When we wake up, the emotions and the expectations of the day are most clearly in our mind. This is the time when we can study what we are feeling and why we are feeling it. We can even possibly clearly conclude, from a state of a clear and rested mind, what we should do next in our life to bring our existence to a better state of being.

Many/most people waste much of their life. They miss the opportunity that human existence is designed to provide. Waking up is one of those things that many/most people never take advantage of.

Even if you must be awoken by an alarm clock each day so you can get to work on time, choose an alarm that wakes you to the sound of the waves, birds chirping, or the wind in the forest. Don’t force your self to embrace the day in a flash and get out of bed immediately. Wake slowly, naturally, take a moment and let your self meet the day with a sense of consciousness. From this, you may be allowed to embrace who you truly are and you may gain enhanced insight into what you should do to become who you can ultimately become.

Interpretative Reality

What are you thinking about right now? Do you ever think about what you are thinking about? Do you ever control what you are thinking about or do you simply let your thoughts guide your mind and control your emotions?

What did you think about when you woke up this morning? What did you think about the movie or the TV show you saw last night? What did you think about the sporting event you watched on TV last week? What do you think about the people that you see in the supermarket?

Right now, take a look outside your window. What do you see? What do you think about what you are seeing?

Though people see the same things, each person interprets that reality in their own unique manner. For many, they believe their interpretation is the only valid interpretation. They never look beyond their own mind for a definition of reality. For others, they believe all what someone else has to say about life and life actions. As their own mind frame is not critically defined, they instantly believe what anyone else is saying. Others look for substantiation for what they think. They look for someone else who thinks the same way as they think. Thereby, they can claim mutual validity for their thought process. But, is any of this true? Is any of this the truth? Is any of this actual fact? Or, is it simply interpersonal interpretation of life and this life space?

What do you think when someone thinks something different from you? What do you think when you disagree with what someone else is thinking? Do you fight for your rightness and their wrongness? Or, do you simply let those rising emotions flow through your being understanding that thought, no matter who is thinking it, is simply an interpretation of reality and it is not the whole and the actual true truth?

Some people fight for what they believe. This is where many of the problems of the world begin. Some people diminish others for what they believe. This is where hurtful behavior arises. Some people are so locked into the belief that what they think is the only belief that is right that they attempt to spread what they believe onto others. This is where prejudices and global pain begins.

Are you mentally aware enough to understand that what you think is simply what you think and what you think is not an absolute truth? Are you internally complete enough to not attempt to force your interpretation of reality onto other people? Can you be integrally wise enough to let reality be as each person understands it or must your force your interpretations onto other people?

Do you live in a reality of judgment? Do you live in a reality defined by your judgments? Are you hurt or hindered by the judgments of others? Or, are you free of judgment, understanding that each person reality is a creation of their own mind?

***

How long is your forever?

***

You can run as fast and as far as you can but if you don't know where you're going you will never get there.

***

The next time you encounter somebody saying or doing something negative, override their actions by saying or doing something positive. Observe the response.

The next time you are thinking something negative about a person, take control of your mind and think something positive about the person. Observe the response.

The next time you are about to do something negative to a person, stop yourself and do something positive. Observe the response.

***

Always question who is saying what and why.

All Beings Are Bound by Karma

One of the primary Buddhist concepts, and the first of the Four Nobel Truths is the understanding that, all beings are bound by Karma. Though the word, "Karma," is constantly thrown around in modern society, few people actually comprehend this understanding. Here's a little background for you…

The Sanskrit word, “Karma,” literally translated, means “Action.” This word represents the law of cause and effect, “As you sew, so shall you reap.”

Karma
Karma is one of the most complicated and profoundly philosophical issues each person must deal with in understanding Zen Buddhism and, in fact, life. This is because of the fact, right and wrong, good or bad, are not universally defined in this physical world. Not only does each culture possesses a somewhat differing view of right and wrong but each person holds their own values and individual perceptions of good and bad. Certainly, there are distinct wrongs: hurting someone unnecessarily, forcefully taking something from another person, behaving selfishly, and so on. But beyond these obvious instances, the precise definition becomes lost. For example, what about when you hurt someone unintentionally? Or, while pursuing the spiritual path you must leave someone behind, thus, causing him or her to suffer at your absence?

The question of Karma is amplified when people justify the wrongs they are performing for what they believe to be a just cause. For example, how many people have died in wars on this Earth motivated by religious idealism?

Perhaps even more disconcerting is the case of individuals who continually cause physical and emotional pain to other people. Yet, somehow their life seems to continue forward in an unhindered path of success and acquisition. When justifying their negative Karmic actions these people oftentimes allude to the fact that they had a bad childhood, are getting back at the world for what was done to them, or due to negative peer influence they were guided down the wrong road. Though these may be psychologically valid rationalizations, none-the-less, negative actions have taken place, often times injuring good people.

On the other side of the issue, there are those individuals who continually provide a positive service to the world. Yet, they are confounded by continued negative encounters. Why should adverse experiences happen to these people if they are expounding good to humanity?

The philosophic debate on the nuances of Karma has gone on for centuries. And, it will continue. In ancient Vedic scriptures, three levels of Karma are defined which may provide some insight into the various types of Karmic actions.

The three levels of Karma are:
1. Sanchita Karma, “Accumulated Karma.”
2. Prarabdha Karma, “Actions which create Karma.”
3. Kriyamana Karma, “Current actions.”

Sanchita Karma
Sanchita or “Accumulated Karma” is the Karma that you have previously substantiated. Sanchita Karma, not only defines actions that you have taken in this life, but also actions that you performed in previous incarnations. Many believe that this is one of the primary components that go into the formation of an individual’s personality—as they are acting out a life style and mindset that they substantiated in a previous life.

The understanding of Sanchita Karma is also used to define why seemingly good people encounter negative events in their life. It is understood that though they may now be very good, in a previous existence they must have created adverse Karma. Thus, they suffer in this lifetime.

Certainly, in the Western world, the concept of paying for sins from a previous life strikes an adverse chord in many people. This is because of the fact that they believe that their current body is their only body and even if they do accept the theory of reincarnation, why should they have to pay the price for an existence that they no longer have any control over? This is where the belief systems indoctrinated by religion comes into play in the definition of Karma. For example, a Buddhist would simply let go of philosophic questioning and relinquish him or herself to accepting the understanding of Sanchita Karma as fact. Thus, any life occurrence, be it positive or negative, is quickly rationalized and accepted as Karma.

Prarabdha Karma
Prarabdha Karma is the Karma that has come into existence due to past actions. Illustrative of this type of Karma is the individual who performs negative acts, for what ever physical, emotional, or psychological rational, and then later in their life they encounter unfavorable situations. These events may take place in the next life, the distant future, or may happen almost instantaneously. This understanding provides some solace to people who have been wronged by others, as they know, sooner or later, that unjust individuals will have to pay the price for their actions.

It is additionally understood, at this level of Karmic understanding, if one’s Karmic debt is paid up, then any Karmic retribution for a negative act will be incurred relatively quickly, as there is not a long backlog of wrongs waiting to be repaid.

Prarabdha Karma not only details the events that occur as a result of adverse Karma but it is also equally applicable to positive Karma, as well. This can explain why the rare case of a truly negative person, in this life, continually encounters seemingly positive experiences; they were a very good person in a past life.

Kriyamana Karma
Kriyamana Karma is the actions you take that lay the foundations for either positive or negative Karma in the future.

Some people were born into economically poor living conditions, dysfunctional families, or have had a childhood corrupted by bad influences and occurrences. Others have experienced a relatively positive childhood only to be impacted by negative situations, as they have grown older. For decades, Sociologists and Psychologists have attempted to draw conclusions to why an individual follows a particular path in life based in their foundational attributes. Though there is, no doubt, quantitative validity to some of their findings, it must be ultimately understood that we each are the masters of our own destiny. At any point in life, be it before you instigate any adverse Karma or post having unleashed a plethora of negativity, you can take back your life and choose to consciously move forward—doing good things for the world, creating good Karma, even while you suffer the inevitable repercussions for actions you have taken in the past.

Certainly, most of us have encountered influences in our lives that were not of the purest content. Additionally, due to innumerable psychological factors we have all walked down impure paths with people we should not have. Under these influences most of us have all performed acts that we now can see as, “Bad Karma.” Knowing this, you have two options in your life. One, you can hold on to those experiences and allow them to set a pattern for the rest of your life. Two, you can consciously let go of the past and move forward into a world where you will never allow negative people or situations to guide you again. With this more positive approach, you allow yourself to live each new moment of life in a positive fashion; following the path to self-realization while you do good things for all those you encounter.

Creators of Karma

From ancient Vedic scriptures we learn that once one’s personality is initially set in motion by Sanchita Karma, the individual then moves forward into life choosing to act out one of three types of Karma: Sattva, Rajas, or Tamasa. These three types of Karma parallel the understanding, known in Sanskrit as Gunas, or “The Three States of Consciousness.”

Sattva is the pure state. Rajas, is the active, passionate state. Tamas is the dark, overripe state.

The Sanskrit word, “Karman.” is used to describe an individual who is creating a specific type of Karma. Thus, an individual is a Sattva Karman, Rajas Karman, or a Tamas Karman.

The Sattva Karman’s actions are pure, precise, and directed towards a higher good, each step of their life. A Rajas Karman’s actions are all performed from a sense of ego—everything is done for the betterment of him or herself. A Tamas Karman’s actions are performed from a dark, deluded, and confused state of mind—serving no one and no thing.

Karma and the Human Being
Existing in a human body means that everyone, no matter how holy, is bound by Karma. It must be ultimately understood that no act is wholly good and bad. What may benefit one may cause pain to another. Thus, as we are bound by the complexities of human existence and good and bad will remain an individual’s perception.

The Zen Buddhist does all that he or she can do to create a positive world: forgiving those who have hurt him or her, helping those who need help, guiding those who need guidance. Any action is attempted from only the most pure of motivations. Understanding that, ultimately, each person is their own person, with their own emotions, desires—cultural and psychological influences.

You cannot make everyone happy. Thus, the Zen Buddhist walks their path, embracing life and attempting to do the most possible good each step of the way.

***

It is easy to lie when nobody knows the truth.

Higher Consciousness and Why So Few People Achieve It

Does doing anything bad—does saying anything bad ever achieve anything good? Your answer to this question defines whether or not you are currently able to achieve higher consciousness.

Does acting on your impulses ever achieve anything towards the greater good? Your answer to this question defines whether or not you are currently able to achieve higher consciousness.

Does basing your life upon personal judgment—about what you think about another person ever achieve anything good? Your answer to this question defines whether or not you are currently able to achieve higher consciousness.

Does hurting anyone for any reason ever achieve anything good? Your answer to this question defines whether or not you are currently able to achieve higher consciousness.

Right now, take a look at your life. Take a look at the life you have lived. For each of us, we do what we do based upon how we have learned how to behave towards other people, society, and the greater whole. We have learned how to behave based upon the way other people have treated us. The question that must be asked at this juncture is, are you in control of the way you behave or are you simply reacting to the way you have been treated, thus giving birth to the way you act towards others and the way you treat others?

It is an easy thing to see in life; the people who are the most judgmental are the people who have been judged this harshest. In some cases, one or more people who have been judged harshly, thus giving birth to low self-esteem, congregate. From this, a group of people that judges others assembles and forms a cohesive unit. You can point out this fact to them, you can tell them that this is not the best way to act and live their life, yet this is how they behave and from group consciousness they rationalize their behavior. Thus, as long as they partake of the poison of judgment, they cannot reach higher consciousness.

To take this mindset up a notch, we find the people who physically hurt other people, whether through verbal or physical violence, are the people who have encountered this style of behavior directed towards them in the past. Thus, they act and react in the way they were schooled to behave. It is what they have experienced and thus this is what they know, therefore it is what they do. These people also sometimes congregate into groups and form a large-scale consciousness. From this, hurt and damage are unleashed. Telling them that what they are doing is wrong will only bring out further acts of anger and retribution. The point to keep in mind is that though you were probably not the person who inflicted the initial pain on them, if you point out what they are doing and/or why, you may become the focus of their hostility. Thus, through ongoing negative acts they too cannot reach higher consciousness unless they have a profound realization and begin to change their frame of mind, their life, and their life actions.

Do people who operate on this these lower levels of human interaction care about the hurt and the damage they leave in their wake? No. In fact, some relish in any hurt they can unleash. Why? Because they are not clear enough in their own understanding of human reality to comprehend that hurt only induces more hurt and thus the pattern of ongoing damage is never halted.

These people operate from a very low level of human awareness. But, look around you; you will see it all the time. Maybe it is you who behaves in this fashion. Maybe it is someone that you know. But, hurt only equals more hurt, not only to the person whom you are attempting to hurt, but to your own life and all life on the whole, as well. Why? Because what goes around comes around and if you are unleashing judgment, hurt, or damage, for any reason, all you are doing is instigating the type of behavior that will find you again and again and again. Thus, moving towards higher consciousness is impossible.

So, what does this tell us about individual awareness and higher consciousness? Ask yourself; do you even care about higher consciousness? Do you care about helping others reach higher consciousness? Do you care about helping those people who need help or those people who appear to need no help? Do you care about anything other than yourself, who and what you like or love, and whatever emotions you have motivated yourself to feel in any given moment? If all you base your life experience upon is your own personal self-defined projection of reality, you do not possess compassion. If you do not possess compassion, you can never encounter higher consciousness.

Hurting always hurts. Look at yourself—look at your life; how do you felt when you have been hurt? Helping always helps. How do you feel when someone has reached out a hand to you and helped? Obviously, one is better than the other. And, this points us towards direct understanding of the pathway to higher consciousness and why so few people achieve it.

The reason I speak about human psychology and human interaction when discussing higher consciousness is because all life is defined by human interaction. All karma, good or bad, is created due to the choices you make while interacting. You can remove yourself from human interaction and do nothing but meditate in a cave but, as all life is based upon human interaction, from your inception onwards, human contact and what you do with and because of that human contact becomes the ultimate definition of your life. Thus, it defines your pathway towards self-realization.

The all and the everything begins with you. It begins with what you think. It begins with what you do. It begins with how you act towards others and how you interact with life. But, if you do not understand why you think what you think and you are not in control of what you think and you do not understand and knowingly control what you do, then what you do only creates chaos and that is what rains throughout your life and the life of all those you encounter. Thus, if you do not know yourself, you cannot comprehend and you cannot care about individual awareness and higher consciousness. If you create hurt, no matter what your self-motivated logic for doing so is; you hurt your own chances at living a whole, complete, and good life. You loose the chance to experience higher consciousness and you can never truly understand the essence of life.

If you present this fact to those people who live their life at a very negative level, they will immediately say they don’t care—that they could care less about advanced awareness. Okay, right there, that very thought is the essence of self-destruction and that is where the motivation for the hurting of other people is born. Thus, that is what keeps them from obtaining higher consciousness.

Life begins with you. Life begins with what you do. What you do is based upon the understanding and the control you have over your own mind. Those who say and do hurtful things, do not care about other people’s feelings, thus they are doing what they do based upon lower, not higher consciousness.

The essential fact to understand in all of this is, being spiritual or being on the path of seeking higher awareness does not make someone special and/or better in and of itself. What does makes someone a superior human being is someone who leaves behind a life defined solely by personal judgments and the seeking of fulfillment as a means to an end. What makes someone a good and whole person, which leads to living a life defined by a higher understanding, is someone who cares about other people first. Thus, they do not unleash hurt for any reason. Moreover, it is defined by someone who encounters any negativity they witness with a positive word or action. This does not mean that the positive person attempts to fight and overcome the negative person, because then things just become a battle of the mind. They never instigate a clash. What it does mean is that when someone who is walking the path of consciousness encounters negativity they insert a positive word or a positive action in order to countermand what negativity has already been unleashed. Thus, setting a more positive pathway for the ever-growing enlightenment of humanity.

It is you who defines your own reality as well as the reality of those people you bring into your life. A true life, a good life, is one that is heralded by a person who intentionally and consciously walks the road of ever-evolving human awareness leading to higher consciousness.

You can be anything you want to be in life. You can live your life and do the things you want to do. But, if all you do is hurt, if all you do brings the life one person or a large number of people down, you have defeated the entire purpose of personal choice in life. If your choice(s) do not create personal understanding leading to universal betterment, how can you believe that you will ever find advanced human understanding?

Higher consciousness is haveable. Even if you don’t desire it, there is the obvious benefit to living a good life based upon doing good things that help but hurt no one.

Begin with yourself. Find an enhanced personal understanding. Help other people. Do good things. And then, whether you are seeking higher consciousness or not, it will find you and you will understand why it has been one of the most sought after goals throughout the existence of humanity.

They Never Say, “I’m Sorry.”

I think for most of us we have encountered situations in our lives where somebody has done something to us that has hurt us. Maybe these were small annoyance or maybe they were larger, life-altering events. For some people, this is the norm in the way they behave. They do things that hurt people and they do not care. For most, however, they may do something without truly calculating or thinking about the affect that what they do will have on the other person. In either case, how many of these people acknowledge what they have done, once they have done it, and set about on a course to rectify or repair what they have done and say, “I’m sorry?” Very few.

Why is this? There is one root cause in all of this; selfishness. A person did what they did because they didn’t think about the other person. Then, they do not care to fix what they did because they don’t care about the other person.

Life is an interplay of all of the people in the world. There are billions. Most, you will never meet. Some, you will see only for a passing, unnoticed, glance. Others, you will be forced to interact with. Maybe this is through accident, chance, or a calculated effort on the part of one person but not the other. Still others, you will choose to let into your life. Whatever the causation, people interacting with people is where the concept of, “I’m sorry,” is born.

People do things to people. People do things that affect other people. It is as simple that. Sometimes what a person does hurts another person. It is what happens next that set all of life into motion.

Now, think about your life. Think about a time when someone did something to you that hurt you in some way, shape, or form. How did that person react to you once they did what they did? I imagine, like in the case of most of us, if that person apologized and tried to make things right, forgiveness of them was much easier than if they did not apologize. Did they apologize? If they did, what was the next step in your interactive interaction? If they did not, what then?

Now, think about your own life from the perspective of you. Think about a person you have hurt with your words or actions. Once you knew you hurt them, how did that make you feel? Did you feel guilt, sadness, or regret? Or, did you feel empowered over your ability to control and hurt another person? The answer to this question says a lot about who you truly are.

In life, most people think about themselves. They think about themselves until they are forced to think about someone else. How about you? Who do you think about? Is your life only about you and you getting over? Or, is your life about you in association with the all and the everybody?

Selfish action is easy. Selfish, unthinking action is easily done. Caring enough to fix what you have done takes a person who possesses a certain enchased character. Who are you? Do you say you’re sorry? Or, do you simply dismiss any pain you’ve caused?

Who do you associate with? People that cause another person pain? Then, when and if they do, how do you behave? Do you allow them to hurt and feel they have the right to hurt? If you do, then be prepared for the pain they will unleash on you. Be prepared to never hear, “I’m sorry.”

All life is born from your interaction with another person. All life is born form how you treat anyone/everyone. Can you care enough about what you have done to say, “I’m sorry?” Or, do all you care about is you?

***

If you haven't lived what another person has lived you have no way of understanding their reality.

***

Do you ever question your reality?

When You Believe a Lie

When you hear someone saying something do you ever question who is saying what and why or do you simply believe what you hear? Simply believing what you hear, with no thought, has lead to some of the biggest disasters that this world has witnessed.

Do people lie intentionally? Yes. Do people lie unintentionally? Yes. In either case, what they are saying is not based in the truth and from this a falsehood is spread outwards from one person to the next and onto the next.

People tell lies for all kinds of reasons. Everybody has a reason for saying what he or she is saying. Some people believe they know the facts. Some people want to make their facts, (the facts that only exist in their own mind), a reality. Some people want to cast a judgment and either rise up or diminish another person and to do this they choose words that others listen to and believe.

Why do people lie? There are many reasons for this. Some people are simply pathological liars. They either want to be liked, are liked and want to remained liked, or want to control the thought patterns of other people so they say words that will guide people in this direction.

Some people find an empowerment in altering the facts to suit their own needs. They embrace the sense that people are turning to them for guidance and they find that by created a world dominated by what they think, be it factual or false, they are able to control the thought patterns of other people.

Some people are simply ashamed of what they have lived, what they have done, and from this they are instinctively guided to telling lies. They want to hide the truth.

The people who speak the loudest are generally the liars. The people who talk the most are generally the lairs. The people who talk about other people, but rarely about themselves, are generally the lairs. The people who boast are generally the lairs. The people who tell people what they think are generally the liars.

Have you ever had someone tell a lie about you? Have you ever had someone alter the facts of reality so it affected your life advancement? What happened to you because of their telling a lie? What happened to them because of their telling a lie?

Have you ever told a lie about someone? Have you ever altered the facts about the truth of a situation in order to affect the life advancement of someone else? If you have you understand the motivation for concocting a lie. What did that concoction result in? Did you gain what you wanted? If you did, what was the price to the life of the other people? What was the price to your life evolution? And, do you care?

Telling the truth is a conscious choice. Telling the truth is not always pretty. Telling the truth may help everyone. Telling the truth may help someone else while it hurts you. But, if you do not tell the truth then the all of your everything is only based in a lie. If your life is based in a lie, you can never be whole. You can never not worry that someone will find out the truth. If you live in this space—if you have to argue to make others believe your truth then you hold no truth.

Question who is saying what and why. Know the truth.

***

Does saying something negative about another person make you a better person?

Does saying something negative about another person make them a worse person?

We should all define our lives by what makes us, other people, and the whole world better.

Negativity never achieves that goal.

The Good That You Do

Everybody knows what is good. When you see it, when you hear it, when you experience it, you know that it is good. It makes whomever it encounters better.

Some people try to do good. Some people strive to do good. Some people turn off their egos and go out of their way to do good. Do you?

Just as everyone immediately know what it is good; everyone immediately knows what is bad. Hurting anyone or anything for any reason is bad.

But, there is commonly a place where the definition of good and bad becomes convoluted. Though they should not, they do. Why do they? Because some people become motivated by their own desired outcome and from this they place their own definition and rational upon their actions. Though their actions may, in fact, be bad and/or harmful, they are presented as being good.

The definition of bad is obvious. But, do you think about this definition before you decide to do what you do or say what you say? Judgment or criticism are two of the most obvious and commonplace forms of badness that are presented and believed to be good. But, they hurt people, so by their very definition they are bad.

Projecting personal beliefs onto a particular subject or person is also oftentimes presented as being good when it is anything but. The question you have to ask yourself is, “Who is believing what you are believing? Is it everyone or is it simply you having concocted an ideology in your own mind which causes you to present it to the world with the hopes that others will believe as you do?” Again, as this behavior has the potential of negatively affecting the lives of other people, there is no goodness in your actions.

All good things and all bad things boil down to what one person does. What do you do? Do you allow your ego, your cultural programing, and your projected desires to guide you to do what you do? If you do, then how can what you are doing be universally seen as being good?

Doing good helps one person or it helps everyone. Doing bad hurts one person or it hurts everyone. Can you be whole enough to always do good? If you can—if no one is hurt by your actions, then everything, everywhere becomes just a little bit better.

Strive to do good.

Who Are You Going To Help Today?

Most people spend their days doing things for themselves. Or, they spend their days doing things because they have to, like going to school or going to work. How often do you wake up with the thought, “Who am I going to help today?”

In life, a person’s thoughts are obviously focused on Self. And, that’s fine. That's just life. But, though your thoughts can be focused on you, they can also be focused on you helping other people. You should try it.

Try this: Turn what you currently want and what you’re thinking off for a second. Who would you like to help? Who could you help?

Helping does not have to be some grandiose thing. Helping can be small. Maybe it is giving a homeless person a dollar. Maybe it is buying them a meal or a new pair of shoes or an outfit, if you can afford it. Maybe it is helping the preverbal old lady across the street. Maybe it is just smiling at someone and saying something nice to them. All of these things help people.

If you want to take it to a bigger scale, you can. That’s great! You can go and feed the homeless at a shelter. You can go and pick up trash and clean up the environment. The list is really endless. But, helping people is always a good thing.

Some people come at this ideology the totally wrong way. They attack others and they somehow translate that into helping. It is not. Negativity, on any level, only hurt. For example, there is this new show on TV set on the East Side of L.A. One of the characters is really down on the gentrification of the area and she does things like go and spray paint, “Fuck White Art,” on the windows of a gallery owned by a white person in the historically Latin neighbor. Though that is funny on TV, that is never the right pathway to take, as damage, of any kind, never equals helping.

All life begins with you. What you encounter next begins by what you say and what you do today. If you hurt anyone or anything, that is what you will next encounter, no matter what your motivation. But, if you help, the exact opposite is the case. You will encounter positivity.

Think about your life. How does it feel when someone smiles at you? How does it feel when someone lends you a helping hand? It probably feels pretty good. You can do that! You can be that person.

Your assignment: Who are you going to help today? When you wake up tomorrow, who are you are going to help tomorrow?

If you make this a life practice, everything gets better
.

***

At the end of everyday day you should question, "Have I made my life better?'

At the end of everyday day you should question, "Have I made anyone else's life better?"

At the end of everyday day you should question, "Have I hurt anyone?"

At the end of everyday day you should question, "Have I repaired any damage that I may have created?"

At the end of everyday day you should question, "What am I going to do tomorrow to make the world a better place?'

The Fact of the Facts and Do You Even Care?

For each of us, we interpret reality in our own unique manner. Though there is a wide-spanning agreement as to what is taking place over the greater all of our experience—post that, each of us sees life and interprets what we are presented with in life by our own unique definition and standards.

For example, have you ever explained something to someone and though you believed you provided them with a very clear and pinpointed definition they completely misinterpreted what you said and took the subject off onto their own tangent? Was it that they did not listen? Was it that they did not hear you? Was it that they did not care what you said? Or, was it that due to their own personal life-interpretation and the way they want to read reality that this mindset guided them to the space where they heard what you said but did what they wanted to do anyway?

Everybody has a reason for believing what he or she believes. Just as everybody can explain why they do what they do. But, life is based upon human interaction. Therefore, it is expected that to have a conscious interactive process of communication, you must listen to what the other person says and then come to define your mutual interactive reality based upon both points of view.

How many people do that? There are some, yes. But, many completely dismiss what the other person is saying, what the other person is doing, what the other person is feeling or thinking, and simply walk down their own path based upon what they feel, what they want, and what they believe reality to be. As disingenuous as this is, why do you think there are so many lies spoken about other people? Why do you think so many people are hurt by the actions of other people? Why? Because many/most people are not listening and/or do not care what another person is saying. How about you?

So, as we pass through life we are all going to encounter this type of interpersonal interaction. We are all going to say something, expect that we were heard, and then be surprised to find out that the person we were speaking with did not hear, listen to, or even care about what we said at all; as they just continued to walk down their own road based upon their own interpretation of reality. Sad but true.

What can we do about it? We can re-express our feelings. We can yell, scream, and fight. We can take revenge. Or, we can simply accept that this is a condition of mind that those who are locked into the mindset of self-selfishness are not big enough to overcome and move along. Moving along is the path of least resistance. But yes, that does not mean that in moving along we are not left injured by the actions of a person who does not care enough to truly listen.

Listen.

People Never Say Thank You

It is so rare in life that we find people saying, “Thank you,” to anyone. We live in an era of SELF and from SELF comes the concept that no one is owed anything for doing anything. “I did it. It was me,” is the common statement. This is very sad I believe, as so many people go into the doing of anything. Yet, very few people appreciate or acknowledge this fact.

Though it may have been you that had the inspiration, the courage, or the force of will to achieve and/or do what you have done in your life, you would be nowhere without all of those around you who inspired you, guided you, taught you, supported you; providing you with the determination to follow through with what you have accomplished. Did you thank them?

More than simply the people who liked, loved, and cared about you, there have been those people that you did not like or did not like what they instigated but from them you also learned. You learned what you don’t like. You learned what not to do. Did you thank them?

In life, most people only see the all and the everything based upon what they are thinking and what they are feeling. But, why are you thinking and feeling anything? Who guided you towards those life conclusions? Did you thank them?

It is essential that we each periodically step outside of ourselves, study where we find ourselves in life, and define how we have arrived here. Then, once these understandings are reached we really need to take the time to step beyond our own selfishness and self-centeredness and speak up and say, “Thank you,” to those who have helped us arrive at our currently life location.

To all the people who have inspired me, “Thank you.” To all the people who meet negativity with positivity, “Thank you.” To all the people who have helped me, “Thank you.” To all the people who have supported my vision and what I do, “Thank you.” I really mean it, “Thank you!”

***

Your heart is only going to beat so many times.

***

Everybody has an excuse.

The World of Judgement

Many people live in a world of judgment. They judge everyone and everything. Some may say that they judge based upon the way that they were judged. Other would say that their judgment is based upon a sense of entitlement, arrogance, and all-knowingness. Wherever an individual’s mindset of judgement comes from, what it sets into motion is a world where someone is right, someone is wrong, and personal expression and emancipation are not allowed.

As one travels through life, you can witness as a person gets older, whether or not their mind becomes more refined or more embedded with a sense of their own righteousness. In some cases, people who were once judgmental evolve and become more understanding of the fact that each individual operates from a perspective of their own state of mind and life understanding. In other cases, people simply become more and more harsh and more rooted in their sense of they know what is right, wrong; good or bad.

How a person views the world is the defining factor of all they will encounter in the world. How a person views and judges other people is what sets the process for their personal life evolution and advancement into motion.

From a perspective of refined consciousness, it is commonly understood that being judgmental is not only a detriment to one’s self but to the overall expanding evolution of life, as well. For if one is living their life from a space of being judgmental, they are not only hindering the forward movement of interpersonal learning within themselves but they also hinder the expansion of knowledge to all those they encounter who listen to their evaluation of other people and other life situations that they provide.

So, where do you find yourself in life? Are you a person who immediately believes they know what they know before they ever allow a person or a situation to simply be who and/or what they are? Or, are you silent and take the time to understand that each person operates from their own level of understanding, based upon what they have been given in life, and from this allow each person to make their own unique contribution to life without the need to predicate that contribution upon the basis of whether or not you do or do not like it.

The Guy Who Never Made a Movie/The Guy Who Never Wrote a Book

I find it rather interesting/amusing that every now and then someone will heads-up me to the fact that this one guy is out there attempting to cast shade on me as a filmmaker—criticizing my films and/or my life in one derogatory way or the other. The funny thing is, and the thing that anybody who reads his posts does not realize, is that it was like ten years ago or so that this guy first contacted me directly saying something negative and telling me he could and has made a better movie than I ever could. I gave him my address and told him to send me a copy. Of course, he never did as he has never made a film. Yet, there he is, still out there all these years later, throwing around negativity focused at me and I imagine other people, as well. But, who is he really angry at? Me, for making movies or himself for never making one?

Maybe twenty years, when my first book on Hapkido came out, I was contacted by this school owner telling me how terrible the book was. I suggested that he write one. He told me, of course he would, and it would be so much better than mine. Great, I told him, I look forward to reading it. But, that book was never created. I guess he either never wrote the book or he found out how impossible it is to actually get a deal with an established publishing company. All these years later, still no book on Hapkido from him…

In the same vain of the martial arts, every now and then I will read how someone is trying to alter the facts and make me or some other established martial artist look bad. As I have long discussed, this is really an epidemic among modern, low-level martial artists who have found an outlet for their frustrations via the internet. But, why is that? The martial arts should be all about personal growth and positive empowerment. But, for those who have not truly achieved, they find solace in embracing negativity to cover-up for their own lack of personal accomplishment.

As we all can understand, there are the people out there in cyberspace just trying to cast shade on others by altering facts or just pointing any reader with a mind geared towards negativity in that direction. For some reason, some people are not secure within themselves and thereby have to attempt to find fault in others. The point being, in life, the negative musings of others can come at you from people across the spectrum of life: all backgrounds, all occupations. But, words are just words. The question one must always keep in mind is, "Why is that person saying what they are saying?"

You know, when I first began putting the formalized foundations for Zen Filmmaking together; the words I spoke, the classes I taught, and the writing that were published were all designed to help the person who may be having a problem getting his or her film actually done. The teachings were put together as an inspiration. This is still the case. But, back then, all the so-called, know-it-all, wanta-be filmmakers were saying Zen Filmmaking was all wrong. A film could never be made without a script. But, that was never the point. The point was, JUST DO IT! Simplify and get it done! Since that time, I have still received the same words of criticism. Sure, there are a lot of people who have made a lot of indie films since I first came up with Zen Filmmaking almost thirty years ago. But, there are also a lot more who have failed. …Failed for whatever reason. Mostly, as I have said so many times, the reason people fail in their filmmaking process is their expectations. They want their movie to look like a several million-dollar production when all they have is a few hundred dollars. Or, they wait and wait, hoping that big break will come their direction but it never does. But, if you let go of your expectation, if you let go and allow yourself to be free in your vision, you can actually get something done. You can actually make a movie or create anything else that you want to create and you can do it with your own personal style.

This is the same with all things in life. Maybe you have a vision. Maybe you even dislike what someone else has created and want to do it better. But, until you have shown what you can actually do and put it on the same chopping block of public opinion—exposing it to the same damnation, then all you are is voicing words that holds no true validly.

Maybe you don’t want to make a movie. Maybe you don’t want to write a book. And, that’s great. That’s who you are. But, if you do, then do it. Sitting around telling someone else how bad they are, how bad what they are doing is, means you are doing nothing.

Don’t You Feel Bad When You Get It Wrong?

There are so many people saying so many things and so much of what they say is so not true.

Every now and then I cannot help but take note about all of the false information that people spread across the span of human existence. Though everyone in the Free World certainly has a right to their opinion; an opinion is not a fact as I so often point out. Yet, everyone states what they state, believing what they believe, but if a belief is not based upon a truth than what is the purpose of that belief? It becomes only a tool for a person to use to substantiate their placement in society and to attempt to influence the minds of others.

A belief is a projected ideology used as a replacement for the truth. Thus, it has no absolute meaning. Yet, how many people are intelligent and ideologically coherent enough to realize that fact? Very few. Instead, they take what they have heard, they take what they think, and then they package it and release it as if it were a gift but it is not. It is simply a falsity presented with a bow.

From an academic perspective, people do their research. They find their evidence. Then they present their revelations to a board of other researchers who check and cross-check this data. Beliefs are never just thrown out there claiming to be substantiated facts. They are only accepted as a fact after a long process of assessment and evaluation.

People, however, find excuses for the falsities they present. They find justifications. They claim free speech. But, if someone is claiming free speech that in and of itself is a sign that what they are presenting has gone through no process of reevaluation by others who possess the qualifications to provide validation and approval. Thus, you must always be weary of what you hear if someone is justifying what they are saying. You must ponder, why are they saying it.

Moreover, do you feel bad when you get something wrong? Do you have any sense of remorse when you have stated something that, through further evaluation, turned out to be wrong? If you don’t, what does that say about you?

Life is lived by what we learn. If what we hear, leading to what we learn, is not true, our entire life became a false, baseless existence. If you are contributing to that epidemic, your whole existence becomes the flash point for the demise of not only the other people who have listened to what you have had to say but to the ongoing betterment and evolution of the human race, as well.

A lie is never the truth. A belief that is only believed, is never a fact. Thus, be conscious of what you say and what you put out there, for a false belief you hold, equally a lie you tell, has the potential to not only define your entire existence but the lives of those who have listened to you, as well.

Hey, YouTube Star, What Are You Doing to Save the World?

Ever since people found a way to find their celebrity on the internet, it has become a platform for publicity. Though this is not in the exact order of occurrences but first there came websites like Naked News, then personal/explicit website came to be at the forefront of media discussions. The first incarnation of MySpace was a big catalysis for this style of personality driven stardom. Now, sites like YouTube offer a pathway for people to find their fame. But, at the root of this celebrity is one person finding their pathway to recognizable notoriety. Okay… But, the question must be asked. “Hey, YouTube star, what are you doing to save the world?”

People forever find a reason to accentuate their life and to make it better. Some people are, by their nature, very outgoing and driven and they seek to be the center of attention. From this, if they have something that the internet masses desire, they may find a pathway to celebrity.

Now, there is nothing wrong in all of this. Throughout modern history some people have desired fame. But, how many people who desire fame ever think about anybody but themselves? How much time do they spend consciously giving back to the world? Sure, most of these people will have an excuse. “I make people laugh.” “People like to look at my naked body.” “I tell people what I think and they seem to like it.” Of course, the list goes on. But, how does any of that make this world a better place? How does any of that help the person who is homeless and does not even own a computer or a smartphone? How does that help the people who are devastated by weather or by war? How does that do anything to save the world?

Certainly, there have been celebrities through this modern era who actually stop looking in the mirror, step up to the plate, and go out there and do something that matters—something that truly helps people. How many YouTube celebrities are like that? How many of them get out there, get their hands dirty, and actually help the people in need?

Here are the questions you must ask yourself as you pass through life: “What am I doing to make the world a better place? What am I doing to help those in need? What am I doing for anyone but myself?” If you don’t have an answer to these questions then the answer is obvious; you are doing nothing. If you are doing nothing, you are doing nothing. You are not trying to help those less fortunate than yourself. If this is the case, why do you feel you deserve any celebrity what so ever?

If you are not doing anything to save the world—if you are not actually trying to help those in need, what does that say about you?

If you want to be famous, be famous for helping people. Then your life will have actually meant something.

The Helping Hand

I frequently ask people the question, “What are you going to do today that will help somebody other than yourself?” Right now, answer that question.

For most, they do not have an answer to that question because they do not think of other people, they only think about themselves. For others, the ones that actually pretend to care, they may attempt to come up with a suitable sounding answer. But, is that actually a real answer? Have they actually preplanned to do something for someone else?

As we pass through life, the
something in most everyone’s life is themselves. That something is based upon what they want and how they want to feel. If someone else enters into that calculation, equaling something that they want or someone who makes them feel the way they want to feel, then that person is the person they may considering doing something for. But, is that, “Doing,” in its purest sense? Or, again, is that just doing for yourself? I believe the answer to that question is clear.

The other factor in this equation is that people are quick to dismiss, "That person doesn't need my help or there is nothing that I could do to help them." Dismissal is easy. But, dismissal is just as the definition of the term implies, it is you not even caring enough to care or you not trying hard enough to try. Dismissal is easy. Trying takes caring focus. It takes effort.

So, again, we come to the place where the question must be asked, “What are you going to do today that will help somebody other than yourself?” Can you shake your mind out of its commonality of self-thought and actually care enough to do?

As we all can view our own lives as a basis for understanding, I frequently pose this question to myself. I do this to: 1) shake my mind free of self-absorption and 2) to make sure that I am caring enough to care at all junctures of my life. So, right now, ask yourself, "What can you do that will make someone’s life just a little bit better and are you willing to do it?"

As we can look to our own life as a basis for understanding, every now and then I take stock of what people have done for me. When someone does something nice for me and it comes my direction out of the unexpected nowhere I always extend my sincerest appreciation. Other times, I question why does no one cares enough to care—to say or do something nice? It is at those times when I (when we) should study our own pathway and first of all remove the self-motivated desires which equal obstacles. For if we open our eyes we may see that if all we are desiring is the only thing that we will believe is a, “Doing,” than we may miss the fact that there are people out there caring about us, and doing things for us, in their own small way.

At the end of our days, our life will not be measured by what we did for ourselves. It will be judged by what we did for others. So, “What are you going to do today that will help somebody other than yourself?” Right now, answer that question. Right now, go and do something for someone you know, someone you don’t know, someone you like, or someone you hate. Caring and doing good is always the best thing to do!

***

How many of your facts do you know that you know?

How many of your facts do you confirm?

How many things do you repeat simply because you heard it somewhere from someone?

Does it bother you that you don't check your facts?

Does it bother you when you say something that turns out to not be true?

What do you do about the false knowledge that you spread?

What do you think the false knowledge you spread does to the world as a whole?

The Bigger Question is, Why Do You Care?

People spend a lot of time thinking and talking about things outside of themselves. Whether it is discussing what they think about a particular person, a sport’s team, a music group, a movie, or a religious figurehead, whenever this style of dialogue occurs the discussion is moved away from Self. When the discussion is moved away from Self, the individual does not have to study who they are, what they are, and why they behave the way the behave. Thus, all sense of rising interpersonal human consciousness is lost to the mundane.

At the heart of all advancing mindfulness is a person’s ability to study themselves. From this study, they are allowed the opportunity to raise their level of awareness, take control over their mind, and guide themselves towards become a better, more whole, human being. For those who spend their time disregarding this fact and losing themselves to monotonous patterns of thinking, they lose any chance they have of rising above the commonplace and moving themselves towards a deeper understanding of Self and universal knowledge.

Taking control over one’s self is not easy. In fact, it is one of the hardest things that any person can accomplish. Removing one’s self from this task is easy, however, as there are a million things out there to distract you. There are a million people, saying a million things, all designed to keep you from looking within. Everywhere you turn you will find someone attempting to drag you into the discussion of the mundane and keeping you from turning within, developing a highly defined mind, and moving yourself towards the higher mind and the betterment of all instead of simply focusing on what somebody thinks about some one or some thing.

This is your life. You are the only person who can take control over it and decide to make yourself something more. So, why do you care about something that does not truly effect your overall evolution? Why do you waste your time thinking about it? Why do you waste your time discussing it?

***

It's easy to voice your opinion when the person you are voicing your opinion about has no way to respond.

***

What are you going to do today that helps someone other than yourself?

How Choice Equals Your Everything

As we pass through our life we each make choices. In many incidences these choices are something that we have chosen to do in the moment with little forethought. Whether they ultimately turn out to be a good, positive choice or a bad, negative choice, the ramifications from that choice are lived but then we are allowed to move on, leaving our past behind. This is not always the case, however. In some cases, these choices come to define much of the rest of our life. This is certainly the case when someone commits a crime and is caught and legally punished for it. This is also the case when someone meets someone, has a child with them, comes to truly dislike that person, but they are forced to deal with that person, due to the child, for much of the rest of their life.

The previous examples are two of the very obvious ones. There are understandably other actions that people choose to make that binds them to a specific period of their life and a specific person in their life. In many cases, they do this without ever thinking about the larger ramifications of the choice(s) they make on their life and to the life of the person or persons who are affected by the choice that they made. But, whether the action was a conscious choice or not, they bind themselves to that specific choice and/or a specific person. Thus, they become defined by a definable point in their past throughout the rest of their life.

Take a look at your life. Think to the things that define your life. Who are you, what are you? Who are the people around you and why are they there? Now, focus on the things that caused you to become that person. Then, trace this back to the choices you made that caused you to emerge to the point where you find yourself in life. What can you conclude? There is no right or wrong answer, this is simply a prescribed pathway which allows you to see how you have become the person whom you have become.

Once you have a clear perspective of yourself, take a few moments and look to the people whom you’ve interacted with throughout your life. Now, think to the people you have positively touched as you passed through life. What did you do to make them have that affirmative experience? Next, think about the people whose life you have damaged as you made the choices that you made as you have lived your life. What did you do to hurt them and why did you make that choice?

It is essential to note that the karmic ramification of someone you have hurt are always far stronger than someone you have helped? Why is that? Because pain, (physical, emotional, or otherwise), is long-lasting, especially when you have done nothing to undo the damage. Thus, that person is continually thinking about what you have done and this will forever become a defining factor to your existence in their mind. Thus, the two of you are bound together, via a negative experience, forever.

Think to the people that have been bound to you by the actions you have taken based upon the choices you have made. Define in your mind, the type of relationship that developed between the two of you based upon the choices you have made leading to the actions you have taken. Do you care about the way they feel or how their life has become defined by what you have chosen to do?

For a person with a conscience and a clear awareness of morality they do care. This is what defines them, their relationships, and the choices that they make throughout time. But, there are others out there who do not care. Though you may wish for them to care, you may tell them to care, but again they make their own choices which sets their interactive destiny into motion and if they are a person who does not possess a conscience there is little you or anyone else can do to make them refine and cultivate their mind.

So, what does this leave us with? It leaves us with the fact that not only your life but the life of all those you interact with, as you pass through your life, is defined by the choices you make. It is then further defined based upon the next level of choices you make delineated by the choices you previously made.

What choices will you make today that will define your future? What choices will you make today that will remedy the choices you have made in the past? Your life, your choice.

Speaking Your Mind Verse Mindful Speaking

One of the primary tenets of Buddhism is Right Speech. It is an essential part of the Eightfold Path.

In the modern world, especially in the Free World, people have the belief that they can say whatever it is they want to say with impunity. Perhaps this is true from a governmental perspective but is what is allowed by society the only true definition of human consciousness? No. Just because you think something, that does not make it true. Just because you are allowed to say whatever it is you want to say, that does not make it right. On the path of rising human consciousness the individual should make a cognizant decision to formulate their speech from a more profound perspective then simply letting their thought and beliefs run away with their thinking mind, thereby creating the words they are speaking. That is what sets the person walking the spiritual path in a different direction than the average person; they consciously formulate every aspect of what they do and what they say in order to leave the least amount of impactful devastation in their wake.

Right Speech is based initially upon the Buddhist concept of Right Thought. For, where do your words arise from? They are instigated by what you think. But, why do you think what you think? This goes to the source of whom you associate with. Thus, the Buddhist understanding of Right Association is brought into play. Whom you associate with equals what you think, equals what you say.

As sentient beings we all feel we are whole and compete onto ourselves. This is also the sourcepoint for where the human ego comes into play. As we are whole and complete beings, many feel that gives them the right to do and say whatever it is they want. But, again, this goes back to the sourcepoint for personal thought. Why do you choose to think what you think? What was your inspiration? Why do you feel you have the right to spread what you think out to to the world via your words? What made you believe that it was acceptable to do that?

At the heart of all rising human consciousness is the person who chooses to take control over themselves. They do this realizing that they are not the All Powerful, All Knowing Being that the ego has allowed many to embrace. They understand that they are simply a cog in the wheel and, as such, what they do has an ever-rippling effect onto the rest of world. From this understanding, they choose to take control over their mind and the actions unleashed by their thoughts so that the world becomes a better, less traumatized place. Thus, they choose mindful speaking over speaking their mind.

Where do you place yourself in the spectrum of the existence that you find yourself currently living? Do you feel that you have the God-given-right to expound your beliefs to all those who will listen? If you do believe this, where did that belief arise? And, do you not believe that everything you say possesses an impact on the lives of not only those you speak about but those who listen to your words? Do you not believe that you are creating your own karma by saying what you are saying?

It takes a strong person to put their ego in check. It takes a strong person to not be dominated by what they think and what they believe. It takes a strong person to understand that mindful words are the sourcepoint for making the world a better place as opposed to making it a more damaged place on both the interpersonal and universal level.

Can you be strong enough to choose Right Speech? This is a question that you can only answer yourself. But, be advised, your words equal your karma and your words equal your destiny. What kind of life do you want to live? What kind of impact do you wish to invoke?

***

Goed of slecht is enkel een zienswijze. Als je van de hel houdt wordt het een hemel.

***

Hoe vrij zou je zijn als het je niet uitmaakt wat anderen over je zouden denken?

***

ถ้าคุณไม่คาดหวังเกินไปคุณก็จะไม่รู้สึดผิดหวัง

***

Csak akkor érezheted úgy, hogy becsaptak, ha elvársz valamit. Elvárások híján csalódásoktól sem kell tartanod. Minél kevesebbet vársz, annál szabadabb lehetsz, s annál kevésbé az idő rabja. Miért? Mert elfogadod azt, ami van. Az elfogadás felszabadít.

***

Mindannyiunknak vannak személyes kedvteléseink, preferenciáink - bizonyos dolgokat szeretünk, másokat nem. Az életben mindig van két választási lehetőséged: az egyik, hogy úgy döntesz, élvezed az éppen aktuális eseményt, és tanulsz belőle - még ha nem is olyan dolog, amit szeretsz. A másik lehetőség, hogy végigküzdöd-küszködöd az élményt, közben folyamatosan hibáztatva érte mindent és mindenkit magad körül. Mi lenne, ha minden kedvezőtlen eseményt új megvilágításban szemlélnél? Mi volna, ha egyszerűen elfogadnád a tapasztalatot, mint átmeneti állapotot, és tanulnál belőle, amit csak lehet? Gondold csak el, milyen békéssé válna ezzel az élményed! Ha szereted a Poklot, azzal Mennyországgá változtatod. Az érzéseiddel döntesz - válassz hát körültekintően!

***

Hányszor történt veled valami olyasmi, amit nem szerettél? És hányszor volt, hogy a kezdeti negatív tapasztalat gazdagabbá tett téged, új lehetőségeket kínált:

- erősebbé tett
- megismertetett új emberekkel
- lehetővé tette, hogy tisztábban lásd az emberi természetet
- képessé tett rá, hogy mélyebben megértsd a saját létedet.

A helyzetek és körülmények nem rosszak. A döntéseid, ahogy azokat kezeled, irányítást biztosítanak a számodra, és lehetővé teszik, hogy megszabadulj minden negatív dologtól. A békéhez vezető úton ne hagyd, hogy látszólag negatív események átvegyék fölötted az irányítást, és uralni kezdjék a gondolkodásodat. Ehelyett inkább arra figyelj, hogyan fejlődhetnél tudatosan a tapasztalat által!

***

La felicidad es una emoción. Eres tú quien decide ser feliz o infeliz en una momento dado.

***

Tu aquí y ahora está solo dominado por la complejidad de la vida que te has creado tu mismo.

***

La valoración que haga otra persona de ti, ¿es más importante para ti que tu propio conocimiento de ti mismo?

***

Despierta y siente un nuevo día. Vive y siente una nueva vida. Mira con ojos nuevos y experimenta todas las posibilidades.

***

Perdona y serás libre. Olvida y serás todavía más libre.

***

Sin esa experiencia negativa inicial, no habrías avanzado nunca hacia algo positivo.

***

Olvídate de intentar comprender todos los acontecimientos de la vida y serás mil veces más feliz.

***

All negative behavior comes from a place of unanswered pain.

***

Your life is defined by whom you have hurt.

The Scott Shaw Zen Filmmaking Documentary: The Truth Be Told

Like I always say, “You know you're famous when people you've never met say things about you that aren't true.”

I am sitting here at my studio this afternoon, waiting to run a class with a few of my advanced students/friends and a couple of people have contacted me about the fact that Allison Pregler AKA Obscurus Lupa has put her so-called reedited documentary about me up on YouTube. This makes me smile, kinda. I remember when she first released that documentary and all of a sudden I was getting tons-and-tons of hate email. Hate email for a guy like me… That was a first… Believe me when I tell you, I’m a nice guy. Just ask anyone who actually knows me.

Anyway, as I have a little bit of time before my class, I just took a moment to glance at YouTube and to read some of the comments regarding this supposed Scott Shaw Zen Filmmaking documentary and, as the internet promises, her documentary is once again provoking a lot of negativity being sent my direction. In fact, my web guy, who handles all my emails, told me I have already received a couple of very negative comments and one death threat over the past week since the piece has been up. Not cool… But, I am trying to stay positive.

Regarding the negative YouTube comments… Most everything, everyone is saying is not true! Just like in Allison's piece, the interpretation of me, who I am, how I feel, and what I think is totally wrong. And, this is the problem when somebody creates a documentary like this. It invokes negativity. And, negativity is never, under any circumstance, a good thing. 

Let’s get a couple of things out of the way for those of you who may not know… In a very short period of time, about five or six years ago, Allison did a couple of things, regarding me, without ever contacting me or speaking with me. In fact, to this day, she has never met or spoken with me. So, how can she know anything about me? But, to the point…

1. She stole ASCAP Registered, Copyrighted music I had created and used it to soundtrack a film her boyfriend, (I think his name is Phelous), and she created. Had she just asked if she could use it, I probably would have said, “Yes.” But, she did not. I didn’t even know who she was and I still wouldn't if she hadn't forced her way into my life. The fact is, I had worked long and hard to create that music. Have you ever created something and had someone steal it from you? If you have, you will know what I’m speaking about and why it was a problem for me. 

2. She made the aforementioned FU documentary about me and used footage from my films that were under U.S. Copyright Protection to illustrate it. This, in association with her Trademark Infringement as she confiscated and used Zen Filmmaking in her title to gain notoriety for the piece. If you are going to create an FU documentary at least have the decency to film your own footage like Joe DeMott and Jeff Kreines did when they created the documentary about Donald G. Jackson, Demon Lover Diary. Here’s the thing, and the truth about her so-called Scott Shaw documentary, she takes a word here or a passage there from what I have written and makes it all sound very negative, like I’m a total asshole. I am not. If you read the books she took those words from, Zen Filmmaking and Independent Filmmaking: Secrets of the Craft or anything else I have written about filmmaking, they are all designed to help the indie filmmaker. But, by using limited passages and putting her own spin on it, all she does is invoke a big misunderstanding about my philosophy; how I think and what I do. That is just not cool! How many budding independent filmmakers has she hurt by turning them off to what I have to teach?  

3. She did a highly footage heavy review of Max Hell Frog Warrior, (which she has also uploaded to YouTube). Due to the amount of footage used, my lawyer documented that her review damaged the sales of the movie and its ability to be further marketed. But personally, I thought it was marginally amusing, even though, like in her documentary, she does get several facts wrong. In fact, as I am not a big fan of that movie, when she removed the footage and added her created images to her presentation, I thought it was actually more interesting than when she was only using the film's footage that was protected under U.S. Copyright Law.

It is important to note, believing that she was simply a young woman who did not understand the ramifications of her actions, I personally stopped my attorney, who was also the CEO of my Production Company, from suing her in Federal and Civil Court (he had the papers all drawn up). This action caused us to have a major falling out which ultimately ended our business partnership and cost me a lot of money. But, did Allison thank me for that? Nope. Thus, lesson learned…

In fact, one of her minions posted a highly distorted discourse on what took place between her and I, with Max Hell Frog Warrior, on a website that does not allow rebuttals. Did she do anything about that? Not a thing. It is still up there to this day.

As it was a total hatchet piece and his facts were totally wrong and speculation at best, he also damaged my reputation. Yet, here she is again, re-releasing the documentary and creating all this negative energy being sent my direction. For someone like myself who is all about helping people, this is just not cool.

Ultimately, one must question, what is the point? So she can make a little bit of money off of her YouTube Channel and develop a few more fans? This, while she hurts the career and reputation of another person. Again, not cool!

Keep in mind, I am not the only person this has happened to. Alison has apparently made an entire career based upon stealing the creative film work of other people and then placing her opinions upon those movies. This, without ever gaining the legally required permission to use copyrighted material and/or paying the creators of the films one cent for the use of their footage. From a moral perspective, that is just not right. And, as we all understand, that is one of the main reasons that there are copyright laws in the first place, so people can't just steal the intellectual or creative property of someone else and make money off of it. But, there she is, doing just that. At least she took the footage from my movies out of the YouTube re-release of her so-called documentary.

Loving or hating my films is fine, that's personal opinion. Not understating what I'm doing or why I'm doing it is not a problem, that's just the human condition. But, making money and a name for yourself off of misrepresenting who and what I am and what Zen Filmmaking is all about is just wrong. 

From a personal perspective, I find her misplaced interpretation of my life and my philosophy and her altered dissemination of my writings almost amusing. But, being on the receiving end of what she is saying I also understand the negative ramifications of what she has invoked. Ask yourself, how would you feel if you began receiving hate mail and even death threats because of a highly bias so-called documentary somebody made about you? I thought with the demise of Blip.tv a few years ago, where her presentations were originally posted, all this melodrama was over, but now it has begun again. 

Furthermore, here’s a fact that you may find interesting in regard to this matter… As stated, in the documentary Allison quoted from two of my books on filmmaking. I guess at some point she got pissed off at me and took those books and some of my films and sold them to a local used bookshop. A university student who was into what I do noticed the transaction, alerted me to it, and I own the aforementioned books. Looking at them it was very enlightening in that I could see what passages Allison had highlighted in yellow. Again, those books were designed to help the independent filmmaker but what she had done was to remove passages from the greater text, which not only made me look bad but completely distorted Zen Filmmaking and what I was hoping to present in those writings. Looking at her highlights, I could totally see what she was doing. She was not reading the book(s) as a method to learn new knowledge or to be helped in the practice of filmmaking but as a means to find a method to use my own words to make her preconceived notions about me a reality and to make me look bad. Not cool! But, it was/is truly interesting to witness how her mind works. 

I imagine Allison may post a slanted rebuttal, stealing more of my words, to this piece somewhere, as that is what she has done in the past; justifying her actions. But, I didn't ask to be dragged into any of this. Allison, you should really choose to be more than someone who creates and inflames negative situations.

As I always discuss in this blog and elsewhere, "If you are doing anything that creates negativity in the life of anybody, what do you think the ultimate result of that chosen action will be on your life and the lives of others?” And, as I always say, “Put your personal judgments in check and only say and do positive things! That is the key to living a good life!”

And, to all you naysayers out there, at least find out who I truly am and what I am actually about before you cast your judgment. Read the books if you want to understand what I actually wrote.

That’s the story… It is so stupid to be put through this again. But, what can I do? I just hope those of you who read this will add a little truth and positivity to a negative situation that I had nothing to do with creating. 

Anyway, I have to go teach a class.

As always, get out there and meet negativity with positivity.

Be Positive and Smile! Happy
#bepositive

Follow-up: Somebody asked me an interesting question this morning. They asked, “Why did I mention Allison's name and her Scott Shaw Zen Filmmaking documentary in this blog, as didn't that just give her and it more publicity?” 

The answer: Because one of the things that I do in this blog is detail my life experiences, how they affect me, how I feel about them, and how I react to them. From this, I hope it provides the reader with a deeper insight into life and human behavior—perhaps even giving them some new insight into how they should interact with other people as they pass through their life. Certainly, I would have preferred to never be made part and parcel to any of this. And though I rarely mention names in this blog, but if she or anyone else gets some publicity from what I write; great—good for them!

Ultimately, do I care what Allison or anybody else thinks about me? Absolutely not. My life accomplishments speak for themselves. If they didn't, people like Allison would not be making documentaries about me in the first place.

At the end of the day I am just a very simple person. I hope to keep my family and friends safe and happy and hopefully make this world just a little bit better place with everything that I do. Hope that answers the question and gives everyone else a bit more insight into Scott Shaw, Zen Filmmaking, and the Scott Shaw Zen Blog.

This is Life.
This is Zen.
This is Scott Shaw Signing Out.

God Bless!

***

A saint in one faith is a sinner in another.

***

When the destination no longer exists there is no right way or wrong way to get there.

***

For every bad situation that occurs in your life if you look back through time you will realizing that it began by one choice being made and most often that choice was made by you.

***

Do all of the good deeds you do today erase that one bad thing you did way back when?

***

You getting revenge is only you setting yourself up for further karmic repercussions.

One Minute Later

Have you ever been in a car or a motorcycle accident? How did that accident affect your life? For most, these events are a negative experience—negative, especially if you were hurt or your car or motorcycle was badly damaged.

Now, think about this… What if you had left home one minute later that day. One minute later or one minute earlier and you would not have been at that intersection, at that point in time, where that accident took place. Thus, you would have never been in that accident.

This goes to show you how your life is dominated by simple movements—movements that can change your everything. A choice to leave, when you choose to leave, and everything in your life is changed forever.

I have been in a few serious accidents in my life. Going back to my childhood, when I was maybe two or three, (I remember very far back in my life), a car hit my father late at night. This was my first accident experience. My father, at the time, own a restaurant near the USC campus and we were driving home at maybe one or two AM; whenever the restaurant closed. I was sitting on my mother’s lap. This was long before child car seats or even seat belts. The car hit us. I apparently smacked my head on the dash due to the impact. Though I don’t remember that part. My father, obviously pissed off due to this fact, gets out and the black guy that hit us pulls a knife on my father. …Things were sketchy back then too. My father, a petty savvy fighter, knocked him out. The cops soon showed up and the guy was arrested.

But, think about it… Had we left the restaurant just a few minutes sooner or a few minutes later, none of that melodrama would have happened.

When I was ten, I was driving in a car near Valentine, Arizona with my uncle. It was the winter. We were driving on Route 66. I so clearly remember as this pickup truck drives up next to us, looks at us, and passes us very quickly. I took notice as the two people in the truck were long haired Native Americans. As this was 1968 you took notice of a man’s hair length. Instead of just passing us, however, they intentionally cut us off, causing my uncle to react and, due to the fact the road was icy, we swerved off the road and flipped the car. Why they did this, I don’t know. Drunk? Maybe. Because we had California license plates? Maybe. Or, just to fuck with us. I don’t know… But, it was quite an experience. One that should never have happened. It was the first time that I believed I was going to die—in one of those seconds that seems to last for an eternity. I let go of life. But, I lived and I was okay. Okay, but never the same.

I have been hit while driving my motorcycle a few times. Two of those times were very serious. In one instance my skull was fractured in numerous places, my bones and muscles broken and twisted, and I barely survived. My life was never the same… Hell, my friend even ran into me with his motorcycle as we were driving down the Sunset Strip back in the late 70s. He was trying to pick up on these two girls in a car and wasn’t paying attention. He hit my bike, we both hit the payment. The girls laughed and drove off. Life…

I’ve been in a few smaller accidents, as well, but the one thing that any one who has even been in an accident, large or small, will tell you is that they are not fun. They are an occurrence that comes out of the blue—an occurrence that you wish never happened. An occurrence that can truly change your life.

But, any of those accidents—they did not have to happen. All I had to do was leave a minute earlier or a moment later. But, I did not. Why not?

Accidents also go to the situations when you meet a new person by chance. You are there, they are there and, for whatever reason, you begin a conversation. This conversation may equal great things in your life. It may also equal devastation. A chance meeting, by accident, yet your life is altered forever. Had you not been there, had they not been there, none of the anything would have ever happened. But, you were there, they were there, and now your life has come to be defined by this interaction. An accidental meeting, yet it comes to define you.

Some would say that all things that happen to you are god’s will. Others would call up the karma card. Still others will say it was destiny. Maybe… It could be anyone one of those things if you choose to be a believer. But, life is random. Life happens. Different things, different experiences, happen to all of us. From them, we become who we are.

Some people want to find a reason for no reason. Some people wish to attribute logic and a causation factor to everything so that they may feel like there is something bigger going on—that god has a purpose for them. But, this is all mental masturbation. It is simply people looking for a reason why when there is no reason why.

Life happens. You are here. You do things. You make choices when to do things. From this, your life becomes defined by the experiences you have when you are doing the things you choose to do when you choose to do them.

Reason, logic, justification, they are only there if you believe they are there. But, what does the other person who was part of the accident believe? Probably something totally different from what you are believing. Thus, there is no fact—only supposition.

Life… Though we all wish we could find a reason why, there is no reason why.

Do Something Special Every Day

Life goes by in the blink of an eye. When you are young you don't think about this. When you are old it is too late to think about this. One day you are young; the next day years have gone by but you never saw them going. You never see the passing of time until that time has past. You can only look back and remember your life experiences. Yes, during your life there are good times and there are bad times but while you are living them, you are locked into them. Thus, they are only judged through the passage of time.

Many people choose to live a very mundane existence. The do the same thing everyday. Some like what they do and they are content in their mundane. That is a good thing. Most people, however, are not like this. And, that is bad thing.

Many people feel trapped by their life-definitions. They feel they must do what they must do. But, if what they must do brings them no joy, their entire life passes by with not only a sense of angst and regret but also with a longing to have lived something else. From this is born all of the internal anger perpetuated out to the world by the words and the deeds of the unhappy and the unfulfilled individual.

For many, their life is defined by a sense of necessity. They must do what they must do to survive and/or to feed their family. Again, this goes back to the core principle of life; some people love or at least accept the cards life has dealt them; making the best out of them, while others are regretful and become bitter and angry.

Though there are spiritually based metaphysical methods to teach a person how to rethink and reencounter their life; this takes training. A training that many do not wish to undergo. Thus, what can a person do if they find that they are living a life that they wish was different? The answer, “Do something special everyday.”

Many people adequate, “Special,” with something big. A trip to Hawaii, a new car, a new lover, a new and better job. But, “Special,” doesn’t have to be that. Special can be something very small but very personal. If you like to take a walk, take a walk everyday. Go have a cappuccino. Join a gym. You never know who you will meet. Take a class in something that you are interested in. Go do some hatha yoga. You name it… Special is anything that takes you away from the forced and the mundane in your life. Special is anything that takes your mind off of all the stuff you normally think about. Special is something that makes you feel special. Special does not have to cost money. Special is taking a moment, talking yourself out of any drudgery that you may be encountering, and altering you mind to a place where new and happy realization and life experiences may be born.

Do something special every day.

***

Who has to die so your secrets will be hidden?

Demons Among Us

There are demons that walk among us. People who pretend to be one thing but are completely the opposite. People who lie about who they and what they are to get what they want. People who have some form of mental illness and either hide it from the world or are too mentally ill to even realize the fact that they are flat out nuts. In each and all of these cases, the demons come into the life of someone else and completely destroy it. Caring not about who they are, what they are, or what they have done, they move through their entire lifetime doing nothing but damaging the lives of all those they encounter. There are demons among us.

In most case, it is only after our life has been damaged by one of these demons that we actually realize who and what they are. Initially, we only see the facade.

Most of us believe in people—we want to believe that people are good, kindhearted, and are doing good things while acting in a positive manner. This is where we are taken in by the demon. From believing in the goodness of people, demons find an open door.

In some cases, we can see the demons among us. Are you ever out in public and you see someone talking to themselves? This is the obvious, early stages of mental illness. Thus, they are on the road to demonhood. Some people are just nuts. They are yelling and screaming wherever they find themselves. Demon… But, then there are those who have the ability to hide who and what they truly are. They may do this through lying, they may do this through pretending. Whatever the guise, what they do is hide from the world what they have the potential of unleashing once one allows them into their life.

Sometimes, at a distance, we can hear a person yelling, screaming, and raging in anger. These people are controlled by their demons within. If we can hear them, we know to stay away from them. The problem is, most of these people are masters of deception; they lie and they hide who they are and what they do. They do this so most of the people they encounter do not know who they truly are until it is too late.

This is the same with people lost to the realms of distorted relationships. Some people perform very misdirected and unconscious acts within the realms of a relationship. Sometimes the other participant is a willing participant. Other times, they were simply indoctrinated into whatever levels of wrongness is taking place. Knowing nothing else, they do not question what is going on or why. Still others are lied to by these demonic personages. They are deceived into thinking the person is one thing when they are the complete opposite. This is where the true and absolute damage to a person’s life can occur. They were lied to thus all levels of damnation may occur to them and they may have no way out. Thus, all hope and all life is lost.

At the root of the demons who walk among us is deception. They lie. Whether that lie is a conscious action attempting to gain what they want from other people or if it is simply a reaction; hoping to keep their demonic condition in the shadows, these lies have the potential to destroy lives. We can all say that this person should not have the ability to behave in their demonic manner. And, we can say that we hope we never encounter these type of people. But, they are everywhere. It is only through a very discerning eye and a developed understanding of what traits to look for that any of us can keep our lives free from being invaded by a demon.

Liars are everywhere; don’t allow them in your life. People who hurt people are everywhere; don’t allow them in your life. People who deceive other people about who and what they truly are, are everywhere; don’t let them into your life.

Study anyone and everyone you meet—any person you encounter. Don’t let a pretty face fool you. Don’t let someone who you think is smart fool you. Don’t let someone who you think will be the answer to your desires control you. Know everyone you encounter before you ever let them close enough to demonize your life.

***

Just because you believe something to be true does not make it true.

***

No one wants to admit their own sins but everyone wants to call out the sins of others.

***

You can deny your actions, you can justify what you have done—your friends and your family can support your deeds but if what you have set in motion damages the life of another person then you are the source of that destruction and no words or rationalizations can save you from what will eventually befall you.

***

What happens if no one believed in God?

***

Do you try to fix any damage that you have created or do you try to find a reason to justify your actions?

***

Everybody has a reason for doing what they do but most of these reasons are simply excuses.

Inspiration from the Obscene

In each of our lives there comes a time when somebody enters our existence and they really mess things up. Sometime these encounters only last for a moment. In other cases, these interactions have the potential to define many years of our life. In either case, we don’t want the negative experiences brought on by our interactions with this individual to have ever happened but, this is life, and at times we all encounter negative life experiences delivered to us by someone else.

In some cases, we invite these individuals into our life. We meet them, they may seem nice or appear as if they have something to give to our life that we desire. In other cases, they force their way into our lives in a way that we never hoped-for, desired, or have any responsibility for. These forced interactions can come from any number of causes: another employee at the workplace, someone moves into your neighborhood, an unconscious driver smashes into you with their car, and the list goes on. But, at the root of any of these defining factors is the element that the person enters your existence and things are never the same—they are worse.

Once this person enters your life and they mess things up, it is common to harbor a lot of frustration, dissatisfaction, and anger towards this person. They came in, they messed things up, and you are the one left dealing with the consequences. Commonly, a person who unleashes negativity is so lost to the true realms of higher consciousness and reality that they do not even care who they have hurt and never set about on a course to make it right. In fact, they may even blame you. Wrong, but it is seen as right in their distorted mind.

So, what can you do?

The fact is, there is no hard answer for what you can do as once these encounters take place each person’s life is damaged in a different way. Though you may want revenge, as a conscious individual you will probably never pursue that path. This being said, the one thing that you can do is gain inspiration from the obscene. The first thing you must establish is the villain in the equation. And, if you have personally made the mistake of letting that person into your life, you must draw the boundaries; stop the interaction(s) if you can or, at least, limit the interactions if they are, for example, a coworker or a neighbor. Then, you must study that person: watch them, listen to them, remember their actions; what they did and did not do; what they said and how they behaved. Once you have done this, you, as a conscious person, who truly wishes to make you and the world a better place, must then take what you have witnessed in this person and use it to guide you to never do what they have done.

Never let your actions hurt anyone else. And, if you have intentionally or accidentally hurt someone in your past do all that you can do to undo what you have done and fix what you have broken.

The mark of a caring conscious individual is caring enough to care.

The Process of Realization

Most people never take the time to study why they behave the way they behave. They simply pass through their life giving no thought to the process of personal realization.

Commonly, people know they have a personality and that they feel a certain way or behave in a particular manner when they are reacting to the various stimuli they encounter in life but they never take the time to study why they behave in this manner. At best, they simply write it off to the excuse, “That’s just who I am.”

But, why are you who you are? Why do you behave the way you behave, do the things you do, and act out in the manner in which you act out? If you do not know the answers to these questions you are living your life from a place where no personal realization can ever be had. You are living in a place where your emotions control your every move and can lead you down the road to alienating other people, damaging the lives of others and your own.

When some are confronted with these certainties they write it off to the fact that they do not care about truly knowing themselves — they do care about inner knowledge, all they care about is feeling okay a much of the time as possible and when they do not then their reactions, however hurtful or antisocial they may be, are called for. But, this is simply an excuse not a conscious realization.

This is the place in life that defines who a person truly is and what they can give back to others. For if a person does not care enough to define their own inner motivations they have no possibility of ever gaining control over them and raising to the higher levels of human understanding.

The world begins with you. The world begins with how you interact with the world. Your encounters, relationships, and ultimate life accomplishment are defined by how you act, react, and behave in the presence of others. If you do not take the time to know who you are and why, life simply becomes a random mess of chance encountered dominated by whatever emotion you are feeling at the moment.

Your life. Your choice. It all begins with you. But, it only truly begins when you understand who you actually are.

Where Does Your Empowerment Come From?

Each person wants to exist in a world where they are liked, loved, well thought of, and even respected. They want to be cared about and they want to have their life mean something. To achieve this, people go to all kinds of lengths. The problem is, these lengths are commonly defined by less than ideal actions. From this, though a person may, at least temporarily, gain some of the something they desire, it eventually falls away because it was not a life constructed upon consciousness, thinking of others first, and caring about humanity more than one cares about themselves. 

Take a moment and think about the various things you have wanted for your life. Look at what you want now. What are you doing to receive it?  But, more importantly, think back to what you wanted one year ago, five years ago, ten years ago. Did you receive those life-things? If so what was the price of you getting them? How did you getting them affect others? And, once you got them did they truly make you a better, more whole individual?

This is thing abut time, it allows us to gain perspective. 

In life, there is one common problem. That problem is, most people think about themselves first. They only care about other people in so much as they effect them. Obviously, this is a vey selfish mindset.  But, it how most of the world operates. 

Think about this, how many times has someone only been thinking about themselves and your life or your life evolution was negatively effected by their behavior? Yet, how many times have you hurt someone else’s life by you thinking only about yourself and you did not even care?

Right now, take a moment. Think back one day, one month, one year, or five years — think about another person that you interacted with. Focus on them instead of yourself. Think about how your self-involved, selfishness affected them. You probably didn’t care then. Do you care now?

If you live your entire life based in a space of self-absorption you exist in a very selfish realm of consciousness. The fact is, many people don’t care.  They justify their actions. “I am doing this to get that.” “People have hurt me so I have the right to hurt them.” But, more then these mentally verbalized excuses, most people are so lost into the realms of the selfish-self that they do not even take the time to take others into consideration. They do what they do. They do what they do and at best make up justifications and/or excuses for their actions. But, the fact is, the moment another person has entered your life, either by choice or fate, you are forever intertwined with them. Anything you do that affects them, effects you. And, though you may gain what you want for your life in any given moment by exhibiting bad or selfish behavior, it is that behavior itself that will eventually cause you to lose it and to not achieve your greater dreams.

Think about life. Think about the people in your life. Think about the people that you actually know; not someone that you have heard about. Think about these people because by looking at them you know what you know; it is not some abstract rumor, thought, or impression.  Think about these people. How many of them are truly happy, truly fulfilled, have truly obtained what they have wanted from and for their life? For most of us, when we actually take the time to take a conscious look we will see that most people are unfilled and have not achieved their whole and compete dreams. This is simply a fact of life.

Now, again, look at these people. What have the done to get where they wanted to be? In their process who did they damage in a small or a large way? 

From any damage comes further damage. The damaged go on to damaging others. Why? Because they have been hurt. From this hurt they feel they have the right and/or the need to hurt others. “It’s been done to me.” But, this is biggest excuse that many people employee and the entirely wrong space to live your life from. This is a space of expounding the negative in life; not the positive. If you consciously set about on a path to hurt, say bad things, do bad things to any other person, your life will forever be defined by those actions. This is why most people never live their life dream. They are held back by their thoughts, words, deeds, and actions. 

Many people, however, do not knowingly set out to damage the life of other people. They do not take conscious action. They simply do what they do without conscious thought. Is this style of behavior then forgivable because it was not consciously set in motion? No, it is not. For if you go through life lost in your self, locked in your own mind, then by that very thought process you have committed the ultimate sin — you only thought about yourself instead of the great whole.

People lie. People cheat. People steal. People deceive. People hurt other people, whether consciously or not. People lie to themselves about what they have done. People do all of these things to get what they want. But, if getting what you want involves the damage of anyone or anything you will never truly get what you want. If you do, it will only be very short-lived. And then, you will have had it but will suffer from the losing of it.

If you are not thinking about others first, if you are not putting other people first, you are living your life from a very selfish mind-space. From this, all that is born is disaster. Be more. Care about the other person first. From this, a whole new world of internal achievement is given birth to.

Try it out.  See how it feels.

The Holder of Your Secrets

In each of our lives we do what we do. Some of these, “Done Things,” we are very proud of and want the world to know about them; others—not so much. Some things we do are private; we want to keep them a secret.

Many of these, “Secrets,” are sealed. As no one saw or heard them so they are locked only into our mind and/or the mind of the person we performed them with. This is life…

There is the other side of the issue, however. Sometimes are secrets are found out. …Someone else saw them, heard them, or researched them. From this, at the discretion of
another, they can be released to the world.

There have been tape recorders and cameras forever. Video tape cameras have been around for a long while. Now, everyone carries all three of them on their phone. From this, personal secrets have become very hard to keep.

Most people do not set out to capture your secrets. Unless you are doing something bad to someone or something, your secrets are never sought out, as no one cares. In other cases, it is happenstance. You do something bad (something you want to keep a secret from the world) and what you say or do is so loud your secret is accidentally captured. Then what?

The fact is, people only keep secrets because they wish to hide who they truly are from other people. …They wish to hide what they truly do from others. Why? Because, in most cases, they wish to be seen a certain way by certain people. They wish to be seen as something they are not. They wish to be perceived in a specific light by a specific group of people. Whether this group is large or small is unimportant, it is simply defined by the mind of the individual who wishes others to not know who they truly are and what they truly do.

But, why is this? This mindset exists because people are not truthful about themselves — they are not truthful to themselves; for if they were there would be no need for secrets. If a person would not be attempting to project a persona, if they would simply be who and what they are, then there would be no need to hide anything.

Some people want to reveal and spread the secrets of another person. Some people make this their life quest. Some people lie about other people, pretending that they are telling someone’s secrets when all they are doing is telling a lie.

The fact is, finding out someone’s secrets is invigorating. …You know what you’re not suppose to know. You know what someone didn’t want you know. From this, you feel empowered. You feel you have power over that person. Think about how many negative life events have been set into motion by those who possess this mindset?

In this modern world, your secret(s) may now be easily captured. But, what if you have no secretes? Then, who would care?

Secrets are you hiding the truth about you from someone/anyone. If you existing in a space of being one-hundred percent yourself—one hundred percent honest about yourself, then what secrets would your life hold? You would be free.

Stop lying about who you truly are. Stop hiding who you truly are. Stop doing bad things. Then, you are free as you have no secrets. From this, not only does your world become freer are but the entire world becomes just a little bit better.

Life and Living with Others

I imagine that we each have had people come into our lives and really mess things up for us. Had we invited them in, then it would have been our own fault and there would be no one to blame but ourselves. But, this is not commonly the case for once we know of a person’s prediction for negativity, lying, deceiving, cheating, uncontrolled behavior, and doing other bad things; we very consciously shun them. But then, there is the other life-scenario—there is the case when someone intrudes his or her way into our life, forces their way in, and then by their deeds and actions all we are left with is the life damage and life destruction that they have created.

Hopefully, these experiences will be few and far between in one’s life. But, the fact of the matter is, no matter how few or how far better these life interactions are, once they have occurred, all we are left with is the never ending memory of the damage another person has caused us.

Most people do not set out to hurt others. Though some are of this mindset and intentionally devise a scheme to harm others, they are the worst of the worst; all of their acts are criminal and eventually they pay the price for them. But, more often then not, the people that damage our lives are those who are too unconscious, too self-centered, too unaware, too full of themselves, too much in self-denial and self-deceit and possessing too much unjustified self-importance to even fully comprehend or care about what they are doing. Once they have done what they have done, they lie, they deny, they live in a state of self-imposed superiority so that they will not have to accept that they are truly a bad person, doing wrong things to the lives of others.

In fact, have you ever encountered the situation where a person did a really bad thing to your life and then they tried to turn it around on you and blame you for your reactions based upon their negative actions? This is one of the prime examples of a person who is completely out of touch with the reality of what they are doing to the life of another person. But, people like this are everywhere; lost in their own self-deception and hoping to damage further the life of a person that they already damaged.

Truthfully, it is very sad… Sad, because the lives of the people they negatively affected are affected forever. The person’s life experience, their life chances, and their next level of life opportunities are damaged forever. But, what does the person who instigated the damage do to correct anything that they have done? Commonly, the answer to that is nothing. They lie and they deny. They run away from the truth about who and what they are. And, as previously stated, in some cases, they even attempt to blame the victim for their own actions of instigation. These people are simply bad and nothing that they can say or do will ever change this fact. They cannot change this fact unless they choose to go to source of their problem and undo all the negativity they have unleashed. But commonly, they are too egomaniacal to even attempt this feat.

And, here lies the ultimate definition of a person’s life; does that individual try to fix what they have broken?

In life, most people are good. They try to do good things and attempt to exist in space of harming no one. They are not locked into a mindset of self-deception where they tell themselves that are something that they are not. If they do unintentionally damage the life of another person, they turn their ego off and they do whatever it takes to repair that damage, for they know that damage will haunt their evolution forever if they do not correct it.

The good are truthful to themselves and others. The bad live in a space of denial and self-deception, not caring about others.

In life, though we all want what we want, we all want to do what we want to do, it is essential that we think about our environment and others first before we do anything. For is we do not, our words, our deeds, and our actions can hurt others because we did not take
others into consideration before we performed said actions.

Others are the fact of life. There are others all around us, all of the time. We must think of others first, before we think of ourselves if we hope to live a good life.

In some cases, some people are too self-absorbed to hear or comprehend these words. They believe that it is okay to do whatever it is they are doing, as it is their means to their ends. It may get them money, notoriety, physiological release, or psychological empowerment. But, the root and the heart of the problem, in thinking about life in that fashion, is that it is all based upon the concept of ME. And ME, is a very selfish place to live at.

Others are the key to life as it will be others who define your life.

What have you done to others? Did you hurt others? No matter what your justification for doing what you did may have been, did you undo any hurtful action, did you fix the damage you created, or did you simply live in a web of self-deceit? The answer to that question will define your entire existence.

Others define your life. How did you treat others?

You Are a Liar

Not only am I often asked to speak and write about the subject of truth, I am quite frequently confounded with the realities of life when someone lies to me. To begin this discussion I must state that ever since I was a very young boy I had this uncanny ability to know when someone was lying to me. In my early years I used to confront people with this fact, “You are a liar,” or, “You are lying.” I quickly came to understand that this was not the best method to keep any conversation or relationship moving forward. So, since then, I pretty much just let people keep talking — even if I know that they are lying to me.

At the central core of all that is right and good with life is the truth. But, what is the truth? The truth is not something big, grand, or abstract, the truth is the essence of who we each are. Where does truth come from? It comes from us. We are each the source or the truth or the lies. From truth, goodness is given birth to. From lies, all badness emulates.

People lie for all kinds of reasons. They lie to be seen as something more than they actually are. They lie to get something that they desire. They lie to protect themselves. And, the list goes on… But, at the central core of who and what a person truly is, the question must be raised, “Are they a liar?” Are you? Do you lie? It does not matter the reason or your reasoning? Are you a liar? If you are, all that you will ever be is a liar. For all things that you do and say set the next evolution of life into motion; not only for your life but also for all of those whom interact with you. If anything that you say or do is instigate from a lie, then there can never be truth. For without a basis in truth there can never be a greater good. A lie never equals the truth.

Most people, when they are confronted with the fact that they have lied will either re-lie, attempting to cover up their initial lie, or they will make all kinds of excuses for why they lied — providing all kinds of justifications for their action. But, again, this is not the truth. This is only exaggerating any lie that they already told.

If a person lies to you, they can never be trusted because they were willing to lie to you in the first place. If a person is willing to lie to you, (and justify their actions either to themselves or to you), they are not an honest person. A dishonest person is a liar, no matter what justification they are providing themselves with for doing what they are doing and saying what they are saying.

Life is a very simple place. The truth is the sole defining factor of all interpersonal relationships and with a person’s individual ability to achieve higher consciousness. Think about this, if a person lies to others, if a person lies to himself or herself, do you think they have the ability to obtain higher consciousness? No, they do not. A lie is never the truth, no matter what. If you lie you have tied yourself to the lower level of desire-filled human consciousness and you will never obtain what you hope to achieve for you have poisoned your own well.

As is always the case, the world begins with you. All you say and do affects the all and the everything of the further evolution of this place we call life. If you are lying, for any reason, that means that you are personally responsible for damaging the greater good.

I understand that most people don’t want to hear this and that many people do not even care. But, if you care about humanity, if you care about the greater good, if you care about your own self and your ultimate life-legacy, do not lie. For all lying does is create a world based upon falsehoods and deception. Stop making excuses to yourself for lying and become more. By you become more, via the truth, the entire world becomes better.

The truth is the ultimate defining factor for life. If you lie, stop it. If you have lied, undo your lies. Mostly, stop lying to yourself that your lying is justified. Stop being a liar!

Hidden Behind the Excuse of Mental Illness

When a person sees an individual with a physical illness, injury, or deformity the common emotion is sympathy. When a person encounters an individual suffering from a mental illness, however, the common emotion is to stay away from that person. This course of action is taken due to the fact that the person is most likely behaving irrationally and saying or doing inappropriate things. From this, the common course of action is to keep your distance. In fact, this is not a bad form of behavior or the wrong course of action as a person with a mental illness is unpredictable and they can lead any person who interacts with them down a road that they would have never traveled had they not encountered that individual.

As human understanding, medications, and psychoanalytical treatments have advanced over time many people have become much more accepting of those who suffer from the various forms of mental illness — both of the severe and the less severe. From this, there has become a more wide reaching acceptance of allowing certain individuals to act out and exhibit less than ideal human behavior. In times gone past, a person who behaved irrationally or presented an overabundance of uncontrolled emotion were commonly shunned or sent to a hospitable facility where it was believed they would be helped. Today, whereas those who suffer from the more severe forms of mental illness are generally treated in a hospitable and then only released once they are indoctrinated into the proper medication regiment, those with the less severe forms of mental illness are allowed to walk the streets, do what they do, and as long as their behavior does not become criminal they are allowed to live their life as the see fit. From this, those with these less severe forms of mental illness have been allowed to negatively affect they lives of those people around them. Here is where the root problem of either undiagnosed or hidden mental illness arises for the world on the whole.

Psychotherapy, which has many-many flaws, most commonly the fact that a person only tells their therapist what they want them to know and presents their life-facts through a very filtered perception, is the most common course of action for those with the more minor forms of mental illness. That is to say, it is the common course of self-imposed action for those who are self-aware enough to realize that they are behaving, acting, and reacting in an unacceptable manner to go and see a psychotherapist. Though a psychotherapist may guide their patient down the road to a more controlled life-existence, for the most part, they cannot remove the mental illness from their patient. This is particularly the case with a mental illness like bipolar disorder.

In the situation of bipolar disorder, one of the common symptoms is that of the lack of ability to control the sufferer’s emotional outburst. In fact, many a person with bipolar disorder, in this modern era, passes through their entire life without medical care as they are simply categorized as being very, “Emotional.” As such, they can commonly function to the degree that they can live among society without serious consequences. Though medication and psychotherapy may well help the sufferer of bipolar disorder, many who suffer from this mental illness are never alerted to this fact. This is most commonly due to the fact that many who possess this condition, and other relatively functional psychological disorders, are either not consciously aware of their inappropriate interaction with society or are simply in denial of the altered manner in which they encounter life.

For those of us who have encountered those with bipolar disorder, whether diagnosed or not, we have seen how a person with this condition can truly come to negatively affect the lives of all those around them. As they cannot control their emotions, they are prone to undefined outburst when there is no need for them. From this, not only are relationships damages but also verbal and physical altercations are instigated and lives may be sent down the pathway of unexpected and undesired occurrences due to the course of event set into motion by the person who possess this mental illness.

One of the key components of mental illness, that has come to be very prominent in this current timeframe, is that the sufferer has been feed the elixir that they are not responsible for their behavior; they are ill, they are trying to be better, thus, they should not hold themselves responsible for their behavior or their actions.

At the root or all mental illnesses is the sense of denial held by the person who suffers from the disease. From the modern psychological perspective, and via the words of a psychotherapist who makes their living by keeping each of their patients under their control for as long as possible so they can pay their rent, the sufferer of the disease is provided with a long list of excuses that what they are doing is not their fault, as such, they can continue down the road of negatively affecting the lives of those they encounter with no physical, emotional, or karmic consequences.

For any of us who have had any type of illness, from the most minor cold on up to breaking bones and beyond, we realize that we did not want it to happen to us. This too is the case with those who suffer from mental illness. This being stated, it is the individual’s responsibility, once they witness the problems they create and are diagnosed with a specific condition, that they do all they can to treat themselves for their illness. In the case of biologically based mental illnesses like schizophrenia, psychoses, or bipolar disorder, that means that the individual must seek help, stay medicated, and come to understand that though it may not be their choice to suffer from mental illness, they are the one who must take responsibility for their condition and continue to effectively deal with it. They must stop making excuses for their actions and tying to remedy themselves through self-medication, self-denial, self-deception, lies to others, and mediocre attempts to fix any interpersonal damage that they have created in their relationships. This is perhaps the hardest element to process for those with mental illness, for more often than not, that individual is so used to lying to get themselves though life, that they have lived in denial for so long and have hidden their condition from the world and perhaps even themselves that they are only indoctrinated into living a life based upon deception.

At the heart of all life is the individual. At the root of human interaction is how a person behaves and the patterns of good or bad they expound onto life by their actions and their behavior. Thus, each person must own up to the fact that the truth or the deceptions of life begins with them—the goodness or the badness in human interaction begins with them. Any person, possessing any understanding of mental consciousness and awareness must understand that they are the source for all that is taking place around them. Lies, excuses, and deceptions should be removed and a person’s true being placed out in front of all and any human interaction. From this, other people can come to define who a person truly is, why they are whom they are, and why they behave in the manner they behave. From this, an individual not only becomes true to himself or herself but the complexities of human consciousness can be better understood by all.

Was Your Life Better a Year Ago?

"Was your life better a year ago?" This is a question that I believe each person should ask himself or herself.

I think that we all know people; we have all met people who the first things they talk about is what they are going through and how things are bad or a least not as good as they were back then. What they are doing is comparing their life now to how their life was then. And, that’s fine. Verbalizing what you feel to friends and family is all-good as long as it doesn’t bring everybody down. Maybe this is you. But, though many people feel what they feel about what is going on in their life, few people ever take the time to study the reason why. Few people have the ability to truly look in the mirror and give themselves a true appraisal of what is going on in their life and why. They may justify their actions, they may blame others, they may attribute their current, less than perfect circumstances, to any number of reasons but what they rarely do is blame themselves.

All of your life is based upon what you have done. If you hurt others, you are a fault. If you damage things, you are at fault. If you lie, cheat, deceive, steal, you are at fault. Even if you believe you have a right to do the things you have done, if your life was better a year ago from where it is today, you must have done something wrong.

This is not about karma, self-guilt, or anything like that. For, the fact of the matter is, most people feel no guilt for what they have done—they could care less if they hurt or damage people or things. They feel they are entitled to do what they do when they do it and that is that. Again, few people possess the ability to take a long hard look at themselves in the mirror.

If your life is not on the path you desire; if your life is not fulfilled and abundant, if you are not living the way you want, then who else is to blame but you? You did what you did. You set a course of events into motion. Thus, you have ended up where you have ended up solely based upon what you have done.

Some people are not as selfish, unconscious, or as self-serving as the greater whole. Some people actually care enough to care. But, these people also, at times, find themselves living a life that is not ideal. But, why is this? Why is this if a person tries to give back? Commonly this occurs, in a giving person, due to the fact that they are giving from a space of ego. “I am this.” “I am giving to you.” “It is I who has this to give to you.” “I am doing this for you.” The central precept here is, “I.” “I” is about ego. “I” is not about giving. The true giver has no sense of, “I,” in anything they do.

So, if you are at a stage of your life where you are not happy and fulfilled, if you can look back a year ago and realize life was better then, it is time to make a change. The essential thing to keep in mind is that change is not about anybody else. Change is about you. Change is not about blaming anyone or anything else. Change needs to be based upon you looking at you. Change needs to be based upon you stop doing things that hurt people or things—even if those things are justified in your own mind. Things that you may have told yourself are right but you know, deep down in inside, that you would not want them done to you. Mostly, change needs to be based upon you being a conduit of giving, not taking. Giving with no sense of self or ego. Giving good and positive things. Giving in silence.

Give it a try. Then, in a year, again take another look at your life. I imagine it will be better.

Do You Think That You Don’t Have to Pay for Your Karma?

The question that must be asked is, “Do you think that you don’t have to pay for your karma?”

Most people dance thru life, doing what they do, with little thought about the effect they are having on others. But, as they are doing what they are doing, with little thought, they are creating tons of karma. Then what?

If you are impacting the life of another person or persons, what are the ramifications? Do you think that you do not have to pay the piper?

Many people do not. They are all about getting over—doing what they do, when they want to do it. And, if doing what they want to do makes them feel okay, even for a moment, then all is well with the world. But, what if what you are doing is damaging the life of another person? Then what? What are the consequences to you and what are the ramifications to your life?

There are so many people out there who do not care. They take and they take, they do and they do. They may even think, “Why care about anyone else?”

Some people wake up; they see what they have done. They realize that they have hurt the life of someone else. But, then what? If you have come to understand that you have messed with the life of another person, are you going to fix what you have broken or are you simply going to sit in the realization that you have done someone wrong?

The fact of the matter is, you can stop doing what you are doing that is damaging other people or this life-space but if you do not fix what you have broken what does your realization prove? You must ask yourself, “What have I done to fix or undo my previous actions?”

You see, this is the ultimate flux point in life. Most people don’t care, until they are forced to have a reason to care. They only care, when what they have done has caught up with them and has begun to affect their own life in some negative way. Then, they wake up. But, waking up is not correcting what you have done. Correcting what you have done is correcting what you have done. So, what is it you are going to do to recreate life and fix the karma you have unleashed?

There is, no doubt, that this is a complicated question. But, if you actually care about the other people on this earth and if you actual care about the damage you have created, it is a question you must ask yourself. And, it is question that you must find an answer to. For if you do not fix the negative karma you have created all it does is to perpetuate itself and keep spreading out across this life-space. And, as you are the sourcepoint, who do you think it will ultimately affect the most?

Negative only equals negative, just as positive only equals positive. What are you going to do to fix the bad karma that you have created?

Even if you come to the conclusion that you only care about yourself, it is essentially important that you think about the effect your actions have on others and stop them before you unleash them and/or fix them if they have already been unleashed. Because if you don’t, what do you think will happen to you, your dreams, your life, and your life’s legacy?

You want a good life? It begins with what your do.

The Price of Enlightenment

It forever perplexes me why people turn to modern spiritual teachers who claim to be conduits of spiritual knowledge when all they do is reiterate the words that have been said a thousand times before. Sure, many people are seekers of truth, knowledge, and a better life, but all these false profits do is to capitalize upon this seeking and this desire for a more enlightened and spiritual life to make a living and gain ego gratification for themselves.

Oftentimes, these people speak of, “Energy,” how and why an individual should live a certain way and how by doing so All-Things will be better for them and for the world. But, they do not speak about this subject from a space of pure knowledge. They speak from the place of ego, or “I am teaching and you are learning.” Mostly, they speak to people who will pay to hear them speak. 

This is not true spirituality! If a person is not an ideal conduit of what they are saying, they are a false profit. Investigate whom you are listening to. 

Let’s examine this a bit further…

About a month ago I was asked to speak at a symposium. As I took the stage the announcer said, “Here’s Scott Shaw the author of many best-selling books and a spiritual teacher.” I immediately interrupted him, “I am not a spiritual teacher, I am just a guy you asked to come here and speak.” He was a bit taken back. The crowd all laughed. The lecture went on.

You can call me a martial arts instructor. I have the certifications. You can call me a professor. I have the degrees and I teach at the universities. But, I never refer to myself as a, "Spiritual teacher." Anyone who does is false unless they are truly living the life.

For example, when I was Swami Satchidananda’s soundman, I would travel with him and at every venue he spoke there would be hundreds of people in attendance. Sometimes thousands. He lived what he taught and people understood that. That’s why he was so sought after as a speaker. 

Now, I am not saying he was perfect. I have discussed him in other writings. But, I will say, he was who he was and he did not pretend to be anything else.

A funny story relating to this occurred at the Los Angeles Integral Yoga Institute. A few of the Swamis were complaining about one of the disciples preparing and drinking coffee in the morning. They asked Gurudev about this. He joking answered, “No coffee in the ashrams. That’s why I don’t live in the ashram because I like to drink coffee.”

That is truth. That is honesty. That is true spirituality.

He was not some fake, pretending to hold knowledge that he did not possess, while attempting to lure people under his spell to make money, live high on the hog, and make a name for himself teaching regurgitated words. He was who he was: whole and honest.

Here we arrive at one of the biggest problems of modern spirituality and those who teach it — the people who are doing it, and doing it wrongly, operate themselves and what they teach like a business. Spiritual truth and enlightenment are not a business. It should not be run like one. Yet, these so-called teachers run a publicity and marketing campaign like one would put in place for a business. They knowingly try to lure in more clients.
 
That is simply wrong. If you speak the truth, truth seekers will find their way to you. You do not need to say or do anything to get them to listen. 

This is my problem, (and it should be yours), with modern spiritual teachers. If someone is charging you for the knowledge they have to offer, there is something wrong in the equation. Knowledge, truth, and enlightenment are free. You should not have to extend any of your money, (or anything else), in order to receive spiritual teachings.

So why do these so-called teachers charge for their services? Because they are simply selling you their ego. 

As mentioned earlier, many of these fakes turn to the subject of, “Energy.” Energy has been one of the common focal points of spirituality since the New Age arrived. They will state, “Your energy is this. Your energy is that. You need to change your energy. You need to focus your energy.” But, what is energy? It is one of those nondescript things that anyone can call up and put their own unique definition upon. As it is not defined, it is one of the biggest factors of deception on the spiritual path. If someone is talking about your energy or cosmic energy they are simply using long spoken of false tactics to guide you in the direction they want you to go. And, moreover, energy is one of those things that they can blame when a person does not achieve what they had hoped, “You didn’t put enough energy into it.” Or, “Your energy was not pure and focused enough.” Nonsense!

Let’s look at this process from a bit of a different perspective…

If you want to look to a successful teacher of this modern era and veer away from specifically eastern knowledge for a moment, Anthony Robbins is an ideal personage. He came from a relatively middle-class background and now owns mansions, islands, and all the trapping of pure success. He accomplished this by studying human consciousness and then packaging his studies into a highly defined method that could actual help people move forward and rise up in their life. 

I must state, I am not a fan of him or his teaching, but he does provide an ideal example of a success story based upon helping to raise human consciousness and what can be achieved. 

There are people like myself who knowingly attempt to live a humble life in a reserved manner. Then, there are people like Tony Robbins who exist on a grand scale. The problem is, there are a plethora of false teachers who claim knowledge, yet they cannot even focus this knowledge to the degree to live at that higher financial level embraced by people like Tony Robbins or Deepak Chopra, yet they aspire to it. Therefore, what does that say about what a modern teacher has to offer you if it isn’t even precise enough to cause such a financial income that they can live on the large scale they desire? What it says is that they are trying to use hype and your desire to know more to get you to pay for what they have to offer so they can climb the ladder. But, that style of teaching and the foundational elements that go into it are just not right. Thus, they will never succeed in their aspiration but may damage the lives of a lot of people while they try. 

If a teacher is not an ideal expression of what they are teaching, if a teacher is repeating words that can be heard everywhere else, if a teacher is not a true embodiment of the energy they guide their students to embrace, they are a false profit. 

Don’t follow false prophet.

Do Dreams Know the Stories That They Tell?

I believe for all of us dreams are a unique element of our life. It is us in there, yet it is a different life. “You only live twice,” as the lyrics to the James Bond movie theme go.

Dreams have been debated forever. A person’s dreams are investigated when they go into psychotherapy. They are discussed in religious and philosophic texts. And, there have been tons of books written about the interpretation of dreams and what a dream actually means.

When I was around ten or eleven my mother and I purchased a book that, like a dictionary, supposedly broke down what each element of each dream meant. Every morning I would wake up and look to the book to see what the definition of my dream was and what I could expect for the day ahead. I did that until I realized that the book was generally wrong in its interpretations. Happy

Some people, in the morning, write all of their dreams in a journal. That’s chill if you can do it, I guess? But me, I have too much going on. When I wake up I like to jump out of bed and get busy.

Some people base novels, poems, and screenplays upon a dream they had. I tired to do that, but dragging myself out of bed in the middle of the night just to write down the storyline from a cool dream I had became too counterproductive to my life.

But overall, the writing down of your dreams is a good thing, I suppose... Good, if you desire to keep documentation for that part of your life—because, as stated, it is another completely different life that you live in there. And, as we all know, dreams are generally quickly forgotten.

For me, dreams were always a curious reality. From the time I was a very young boy forward, I began to have dreams of the future. I would be living my life and then, all of a sudden, I would be experiencing what I had previous witnessed in a dream. I would know exactly what was about to happen next. It was like watching a rerun of a TV show.

Many times, when I would encounter this experience, the outcome or certain actions of the participants would be slightly different from what I witnessed in my dream. Eventually, I begin to understand that this was do to the karmic life actions and personal choices that had taken place between the time of my dream and the now.

As I got older, I consciously stopped my mind from doing this. Me, I don’t want to know the future. I want to live the now, in the now.

But, all of this begs the question, “Do dreams know the stories they tell?” For if you can see the future in your dreams, if dreams are an integral and orchestrated part of your reality and your psychology, if dreams foretell things to come in your life, then they must serve some higher, more rational purpose, than simply a dance in a different reality.

No one really knows the answer. So, the question I ask is moot. Some people claim to know. But, as we have all witnessed, those who claim knowledge rarely, if ever, truly possess it. But, if nothing else, dreams are fun and I am sure they have some other purpose than just to live a new, different, strange, bizarre, limitless, reality.

Paying For Your Crimes

Whenever somebody is sent to jail for doing something that has been deemed wrong by society, it is stated, “They are paying for their crime.” Or, when they get out, people say, “They paid for their crime.” But, whom did they pay?

When criminals set about on a path to steal something or harm someone they know exactly what they are doing. They are setting about on a course that has a desired end result and they do not care who they hurt in the process. In fact, they generally do not even think about the impact that their actions may have on other people. They are simply thinking about themselves; what they want, want they need, and how they want to feel.

In fact, many people who commit crimes do not even view their actions as criminal and deny their culpability to the bitter end. Or, they deny both publicly and internally that they did anything wrong and try to gather a following of people to support and proclaim their innocence.

If you ever watch the shows that chronicle the time before a criminal is sentenced or the time they are spending in prison, little thought is ever given to the victims of the crime. Even if the victim or the families of the victim are allowed to speak at their trail, this changes nothing. What was stolen is rarely returned and the physical and mental injuries that are incurred by the victim can never truly be repaired. Ask someone who has been victimized by a criminal if their life was ever the same and most certainly they will answer, “No, it was not.”

Criminals do what they do motivated by whatever distorted logic they may possess. What is left after their actions is the damaged life of their victims.

Societies set up laws to deter criminals from committing crimes. Yet, this does not stop them. Courts hand out prison sentences that are felt applicable for specific crimes. Yet, that does not stop them. Religions allow people to find redemption for their crimes by confession their sin. That is just bullshit.

Like I have long said, if I was going to be a Christian I would definitely be a Catholic. In that branch of Christianity you simply go confess your sins to a priest, they give you a few Hail Mary’s and Our Fathers to do and you are good with god. Sounds great but what about the victims? Again, I call, “Bullshit.”

Have you ever been a victim of a crime? If you have then you know what I speak about. How has whatever happened to the perpetrator of the crime given you back the innocence you possessed before it happened to you? Yes, you may be glad they were sent to prison and are suffering while doing time but it does not give you back the you that you were before they did what they did to you.

It is the same scenario for people who damage our lives and cry out, “I didn’t know.” Yet, the damage still remains. So, that is no excuse.

There are some who claim, “Let’s go out and get an eye-for-an-eye.” I have known a few who have walked down that road, but then they too became criminals in the eyes of society. And, in a couple of those cases they ended up doing jail time and encountering all of the bad things that are known to go on in those environments.

The answer? I don’t have one. I wish people would stop doing bad things but they probably won’t. I do know that all life begins with you and with me. Meaning, we must think of others before we do things that can knowingly or unknowingly hurt someone else or their life space. We must set an example of how people should behave by doing good things. But other than that, let’s just please stop saying and believing, “They paid for their crime.” Because they haven’t paid for, replaced, or fixed anything; at least not to the person it matters most to, the victim.

A Choice Lasts Forever

Right here, right now there area million choices you could make. Most people don’t realize this. Most people feel that they are stuck—locked into doing what they are doing. Most people follow a pattern. They live the same script over-and-over again. But, every one of us can make a choice.

Choices are everywhere. You can get up right now, go outside, stay inside, go and do something else. This, “Something else,” can be very spontaneous. It can mean going and taking a walk, going for a drive, calling somebody up, anything… But, there is one rule that applies to all choices we make. That rule is; a choice lasts forever.

Why does a choice last forever? Because whatever we choose to do sets our next set of available life circumstances into motion. Whatever we do, whatever choice we make, affects our lives. If we choose to do something with someone else, or to someone else, then karma is set in motion.

There is no choice that is free onto itself. There is no choice that does not come with a price to pay.

Some people set out to make positive choices in their life. Some people make choices that mess with other people’s lives. Both of these are choices. But, the ultimate outcome is very obvious. If you make good choices, try to do good things; the chances that good things are going to come to you are substantially better. If, on the other hand, you do bad things and mess with other people’s lives, than bad things are probably going to come to you from the choices you have made.

All of life is based upon choice.

What are you doing with your life right now? Do you have a job? If you do, how did you get that job? Probably, you needed to make some money to survive and pay your bills and pay your rent. Whatever the cause, you made a decision to go out there, apply for the job, and then you decided to make the choice to accept it, if and when it was offered. What course of events did that choice set in motion in your life? For each person it is different. Some love and some hate their jobs. Some see a job as a life-experience; others see it as a life-waste of time. But, it is what it is. You made a choice and now you are living it. Most people, never even try to reevaluate their choices. They lock themselves into them and they stay stuck.

Are you in a committed relationship? If you are that means that you chose to go out there and seek a companion. That also means that you chose to enter into that relationship. As most of us have found out, some relationships go very bad. But, it was our choice to enter into them in the first place. So, who is to blame? No one but ourselves. Other relationships, however, define our lives in a very positive manner. Again, all based upon choice.

From whatever you have previously chosen to do, bases upon whatever choices you have made in the past; here you are, this is your life. Your previous choices have defined where you find yourself now.

This is your life. You can choose to do anything based upon your life circumstance and the choices you have previously made that set your life-course in motion.

Choice is everywhere. Choice is everything. What do you choose to do now that you understand, a choice lasts forever?

Have You Hurt Somebody?

Have you hurt someone? Is what you are doing today going to hurt someone tomorrow? Did you hurt someone yesterday and is it still hurting them today?

Life begins with you. The world begins with you. Karma begins with you.

I forever find it very curious when somebody does something bad to another person and they don’t care. They continue down their path without even thinking or caring about what they have done. Some never question, “How did I damage that person’s life by what I did?” By not caring enough to ponder this, it illustrates that they do not possess the mindset to attempt to try fix what they have damaged. This is where all of the problems of the world begin.

Did hurting someone make you feel good? Did it make you feel powerful? Whatever your answer, think about this, "How has it felt when someone hurt you?"

My belief is that most people are good. They try to say and do good things and they try to help people when they see someone in need. There is another breed of person, however. They are the ones who do what they do and never even stop to think if they are hurting someone’s life by what they have done. Then, if presented with the facts that they have hurt someone, they simply justify their actions.

This is the paradox of life. Most people who hurt people and then ignore or justify their actions are either too blank or too self-involved to even care what they have done. This is a very sad state of life.

You have to decide who you are in life because what you do today sets your next set of available circumstances in motion. If you hurt someone today and you do not care, what do you think your tomorrow will look like?

One of the most important things to realize in life is that the things you have broken can be fixed if you take the time to try. Repairing what you have broken makes everything better.

The beauty or the ugliness of the world begins with you. My belief is that you should make the world more beautiful.

The Earth Still Spins

Whenever something traumatic or all-encompassing happens to you or something you care about, all of your attention is focused upon THAT. You are sad, you are upset, you are angry; you may even want to get revenge. What has happened has caused you to become very One-Pointed. But, no matter how much something that has happened to you or someone or something you care about may emotionally affect and control you, the earth still spins — the rest of the world goes on and no one else knows or even cares about how you feel.

This is one of the main things that you have to realize in life if you hope to pass through it with any level of refined consciousness. You have to understand that no matter how big the tragedy; other things are happening all across the globe that probably dwarf whatever happened to you.

Even in the case when some large catastrophe has occurred, most of the world still does not have a T.V or the Internet so even if they do hear about it, they cannot take the time to care, because they are surround by famine, by poverty, by violence, by war, or simply they need to go to work everyday to make ends meet. Thus, they cannot take the time to care.

People really get locked into their own head when they do not like what has happened to them or to someone whom they may care about. But, people can only behave in that manner, when they have the time, the money, and the emotional support to do so. They can only care when they do not have to worry about their own survival. They can only care when they have nothing better to do.

Think about this, if you have to focus on your own everyday survival would you care about the small things that you care about? Could you care about those things if you have no place to live, no food to eat, and no one to care that you care?

It really is a simply equation. And, you need to think about this before you spend the time and the emotional energy to be dominated by anything that is not Life-Essential.

Life is life. We pass though it. Things happen that we do not like to all of us.

Are you and your actions defined by those things? Or, are you more than that? Do they control you or do you control them?

Life and consciously living life on this planet is more than simply defined by how you feel about some event in the life of one person.

Seek something bigger than being focused upon you. That is the Greater Pathway.

How You Measure Time

Each of us has a moment that we call our Life-Time. In that timeframe we do what we do and then WE are gone. Much of life is spent taking care of the necessities: putting a roof over our heads, feeding our loved ones and ourselves, and taking care of business. Some of us are lucky, we like what we are doing while we are taking care of the necessities. For others, this is not the case. But, at the end of the day, how we spend our Life-Time is how we spent our Life-Time. Love it, hate it, when it is over it is over and that is that. Though we may be remembered, WE are gone. So, all that takes place after our physical existence doesn’t really matter—at least not to US.

I have discussed TIME is several places, most notability my book, Zen O’clock: Time to Be. Time and how we live it is a very interesting subject. Take, for example, a café’ that you go into all the time. The staff knows you. Then, you are gone for a month or more, you come back and they greet you as if you were never away. Why is this? Because they are locked into the time and space of the reality of the cafe, all they do is based upon that denominator. They know you from there. They see you there. Time passes and they take no notice of the time passing or your away-ness. When you return, they are simply seeing you THERE again. Thus, you were never gone.

We each want to life our Life-Time in a certain manner. We each want to make our Life-Time count. We want to live it well—be fulfilled, be happy, and exist in our own suchness. Most people are not afforded this luxury, however. They are dominated by culture, they give into the daily grind, and they go through their days in a daze; thinking of the promises of the Some-Times and the Some-Days. Thus, they are lost to True Reality and their TIME simply goes by. Others get what they want—at least so they think. But what they WANT ultimately robs their time and at the end of their days their time was gone just as everyone else’s but because they believed their needs were being answered, it took them too long to realize the lie of their own Life-Time — that getting what you want never answers the true desire of forever fulfilled time.

So, what is left? How can you live your Life-Time. How can you live your short moment of life to the fullest? How can you be HERE in the NOW? The ultimate answer is you can’t. Your human form defines you. Your are defined by the length of your Life-Time and the opportunities and availabilities presented to you in that space of reality. You are defined by where you find yourself in time, space, and culture. Thus, you are never wholly you. You are, at best, what you convince yourself to be or, more than likely, what you pretend to be.

Happy or sad… Those are temporal emotions. Fulfillment is simply having your momentary desires met. Fulfillment is not True Understanding.

Life is an illusion defined by time. When your time is up, your illusion will end.

I’m Glad You Received Your Karma For What You Did But How Does That Help Me?

As I’ve been involved with Eastern Mysticism for virtually my whole life, the subject and the study of karma has often been brought up as a source-point of conversation. I’ve written several pieces on this subject and spoken on it often. And, I can tell you, if there is one thing that everybody across the globe thinks about, no matter what religion they come from, it is the subject of karma.

Now, I am not going to go into the fact that I believe most people really do not understand the subtle levels of karma. But, I will say, think about it before you really try to apply it as a Life-Science, because it is complicated.

That being said, I believe that each of us who has been wronged by somebody thinks, (either out loud or to our self), “Just wait. You’ll get yours…” And, generally people who are selfishly motivated or do bad things have their karma catch up with them. That’s just the way life works.

Now, once I again, I could go into all kinds of discourse about who or what is actually wrong — because, (in many, if not most cases), good or bad is only a point of view. But, I think we can all agree that BAD is beyond just what one person thinks it is. BAD is done by someone who is only thinking about themselves and not caring about the impact they are having on others. For example, stealing something is BAD. Hurting someone is BAD. Breaking someone’s something is BAD. And, no matter what your motivation or excuse for doing what you do, we can all agree that certain things are agreed upon as BAD.

So, we get to the central subject of this discourse. That person did something BAD. They got what was coming to them. But, then what? Yeah, they may be hurting from receiving their karma. But, did them getting hurt give you back what was stolen from you? Did it replace what you lost? Did it fix what was broken in your life? Probably not. Maybe it strokes your ego or your intellect to think, “They got theirs.” But, does that make your life any better? At best, that is simply Mind-Stuff. It does not take you back in time and fix what that person took from your life.

This is the whole thing about karma, (and the misinterpretation thereof), people may get what’s coming to them but that doesn’t fix what they broke.

Mad At Yourself Equals Mad At Them

Have you ever found yourself mad at something that you did? …Angry that you did something that did not turn out the way you had hoped?
 
Have you ever been mad at Life? Mad at your life-circumstances? Mad at the cards life has dealt you?
 
In these cases, many people do not get angry with themselves and state, “I really screwed up!” Instead, they get mad at god, another person who interacted with them in the situation… Or, in some case, they get mad at whatever person is sitting next to them — a person who had nothing to do with anything. But, they are closest one at hand, so they receive the brunt of the anger. Have you ever done this?

There are a lot of frustrating things that happen in life. I could go into a very long list of them here, but I will not. We all know what they are and that they are unique to where each of us finds ourselves in life. Some are small. Some are big. Some last only a moment, while others come to define our entire existence.

The thing about anger and dissatisfaction is that, it is a constant in life. If you want your life to be a certain way, if you want certain things, if you want people to behave in a specific manner, even if you want everything to be better; then, life is going to throw you curve balls. 

We could go into the whole spiritual perspective here… “If you don’t desire than you are free.” “If you let go than all is perfect.” "If you don’t do anything then nothing is left undone." And, stuff like that… But, most of life is not like that. Even a person who is considered to be very spiritual, desires their life to unfold in a, “Desired,” pattern. When it does not, dissatisfaction occurs.

But now, let’s look at what you do with dissatisfaction… 

Sometimes when you are face-to-face with the person or persons you considered caused the dissatisfaction, you lash out. You tell them how you feel. You blame them. It is their fault. So, you feel justified in whatever actions you take.

Then, there is the other case… You are mad! You are mad at life. You are mad at your situation. You are mad at the fact that you did what you did. You are mad that you don’t know how to change or to fix the place in life you find yourself in. Maybe you feel it was your family, your friends, or eve god who set all of this in motion. Maybe you even realize that it was you who made a choice that set the circumstance in motion. But, there you are. Someone is there next to you, and BAM, you lash out. You get mad. Maybe you yell. Maybe you scream. Maybe you break things, punch a hole in a wall, throw a tantrum. These are all reactions that take place every day, across the globe. 

The primary element in all of this is that it is you. It is you who is angry for whatever reason. As it is you, it can only be you who defines the reason why. As such, it is only you chart a course for what you do with this anger.

What is the answer? Well, this perhaps is the biggest problem. Life is an interactive place. But, the interactions in life are all defined by the people you interact with. Some people possess even-keeled temperaments.  Some people are reactive. 

We could go into all kinds of childhood and personalities studies to determine why people behave the way that do. But, at the end of the day, how they act and how they act-out is how they do what they do. How you do, is what you. 

To find any kind of an answer… And, I don’t know that there really is an absolute answer… We must go to the source. What that sourcepoint is, “Caring.” Not, “Caring,” in a positive way. But, caring that things are not going the way you want them to go. 

You, “Care,” around something. You want something to be a certain way. They, “Care,” about something. All the people you interact with want something to be a certain way. 

Now, I could say, “Don’t care,” and that would solve everything. And, some people can turning their caring off. But, the fact is, we all care what we care about. So, that is not going to work. At eats not for most of us… 

Thus, the answer comes from a much deeper place. A place where we must earn to take control over ourselves. For some, this is not an easy place to find. As most people in this modern world have passed through their entire life with no sense of discipline. They have felt what they have felt, they have done what they have done, and that is that. But, are you that person? Can you be more than that type of person?

That’s the ultimate question? Can you be more? Can you control you? 

It takes practice…

So, here’s the deal, we all want what we want. We all get dissatisfied when we don’t get what we want. Large or small, we, as human beings, all feel the same thing. How we react to what we feel is what defines us as a person. 

You can yell and scream, you take things out on other people. You can get mad at yourself an punch the wall. You can do whatever you decide to do. Or, you see mistakes, you can view the undesired life results, you can take the curve balls that life throws us all and instead of exploding use them as a means to do something else, do something new. 

Yeah, your life may be a mess because of it. But, it is still you life. NO matter where you find yourself, you can still do something. …Something to make your life and the life of those around you better. You can choose to become more than emotion you are feeling right now. 

Each of us is responsible for our own actions. Even if it was someone else who set a course of events in motion in our lives, it is each of us who decides how to react. Yeah, sometimes things are pretty messed up. Yeah, sometimes we have that innate desire to lash out. But, this is where personal control equaling refined consciousness comes into play. We must decide to be MORE/BETTER than any negative situation we find ourselves in.

What If You Didn't Know

Whenever you are upset about something, (no matter what that something is), there is one common denominator to the equation; you know.

Think about this, what if you didn’t know?

If you didn’t know then you would not be upset about whatever it is you are upset about. And, the only reason you are upset is because you know about something that makes you angry, unhappy, sad, depressed, or whatever. Something OUT THERE is causing you to lose your peace.

How many times in your life has something been going on for a day, a week, a month, a year and you didn’t know about it? Through all that time, your life was fine. Then, you found out about it and you became enraged. Though it was already going on, you didn’t know, so you didn’t care.

It is an obvious expression of life for us to be unhappy about something that we are unhappy about. But, the main point is, all life is based on you. Just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean that the person next to you will not like it. Just as because something makes you angry does not mean that the same thing would make anyone else angry.

That being said, there are things that anger us all. But, it is essential to note that your life and your emotions are defined by you. How you decide to feel about any particular issues is also defined by you. There are obvious things that would make any of us mad if that THING was directed in our direction. But, how we choose to deal with that anger makes us who we are. This choice of dealing is also how we each set the next set of events into motion in our lives and the lives of others involved with us or involved with the issue.

Anger only equals so much. Understanding this, how you deal with your anger is what defines you as a person.

Do you internalize and simply sit around mad? That is understood to not be psychologically good for a person.

Do you react and take over-exaggerated reactions? Meaning, do you do something destructive when you get mad? That’s not good either because that type of reactive action can have devastating effects upon your life.

Do you take concise positive action to undo the negative or destructive actions of others? That’s probably the best action to take, if you decided to take action at all. But, that’s not easy. Most people who do something that will make you angry do not care how you feel or they would not have done it in the first place.

If they cared, they would care about you. If someone doesn’t care about the effect of what they are doing may be having on another person, or the greater scheme of things, that means they only care about themselves. And sadly, this is one of the biggest faults of the human condition; selfishness and not caring.

So here, we get back to the main point—what if you didn’t know?

Is there a way to erase your knowing? I think if this were possible, most of us would erase a lot of the things that have happened to us or the horrible things we have seen, heard about, or have lived. But, I do not think that it is doable, at least not in this day or age. So, we are stuck. We can pretend that we don’t know, but that is only pretending—we still know.

Ultimately, all we can do is do what we can do, as consciously as possible, and then let it go. Though letting go is, “Not knowing.” But, if we can let it go long enough maybe the bad things or the bad people that have made us angry will fade away, captured by their own negative actions.

People Don't Want to Know the Truth

People don’t want to know the truth. They want to believe what they want to believe.

People don’t investigate the truth. They make up their mind and then follow a course that allows them to hold on to and not diminish their beliefs.

How many times have you heard a person say, “I was wrong in my beliefs and I am sorry that I spread the falsehood.” How many times have you heard a person exclaim, “Sorry, I believed the wrong thing and I did something to hurt you. How can I fix that?” Probably not very many.

People don’t do it. They enter a subject based on their programing, what they have been told to believe, their hope to impress someone with their beliefs, and the desired outcome based upon their beliefs. That’s how it is. But, that does not make anyone’s beliefs valid.

The joke comedian George Carlin used to tell, “How many Catholics have gone to hell because they ate meat on Friday,” provides a good view into belief. For those of you who may not know, it was a Catholic tradition to not eat red meat on Fridays. In fact, it was considered a sin. Then, that tradition was overturned.

If traditions can be overturned by something as established as the Catholic Church, what does that say about your personal beliefs about a subject, a person, a religion, a politician, a war, a sporting event, a whatever?

Do you want to know the truth or do you want to believe based in your perceived reality? If you truly want to know the truth you must let go of your beliefs.

Momentary Reality

I always find it interesting in life how WE get so locked into the momentary reality of our lives. And, not in a good way. Not in the spiritual way of being in a natural state in the NOW. No, it is much more emotion and ego based than that.

Periodically in life, most people enter into a space that is overwhelmingly based in emotion. This is commonly due to the fact that either something great has happened so they are filled with an overwhelming sense of self-worth or something they really don’t like has occurred and they are all-encompassed with being upset.

This is one of conditions of life that most people experience, at one time or another, and that is just the way it is. In fact, when these places of emotional life occur one of two events commonly rise out from it.

1. The person who is feeling it attempts to drag as many people into their life-situation as possible. From this, they experience a sense of power and command over others, as they are directing their action(s).

2. In other cases, people who aren’t even the person that is actually experiencing what is happening choose to become engulfed with the feelings and the sensations of the other person simple so that they can get that adrenal rush. From this, the two or more of them can keep escalating their feelings, be they based in positivity or negativity, by bouncing their perspectives back and forth.


Though this is a common condition of life, this is where the path of consciousness comes into play. Because those who choose to walk the path of consciousness, (the spiritual path if you will), at least try to not be guided and defined by emotion. The reason for this is that emotions, particularly strong ones, are very temporary. Though they are temporary, they are very addictive. This is why you see people out there who are continually falling in and out of love, attempting to argue and cause controversy wherever they go, and so on. They do this, because they have come to find that when something extremely positive or negative is going on, they feel ALIVE, they feel they have power, they feel they have a purpose.

Another factor related to this is that power, like emotion, is temporary. Power, like emotion, is based in ego. Therefore any situation based in the power of emotion is ruled and defined by one specific mindset and one person. Therefore, they are the one in control. And, if they are in control, they are the one to sets the tone of the moment. So, other’s are simply following their lead. They are not being in control of their own life and life-time. This is where mob mentality is born — being a part of something to get a boost of that adrenalized energy. And, we have all see the bad things that rise from mob mentality.

Ultimately, emotion is based in a specific person’s appraisal of a specific situation in a given moment in time. For example, what may make one person feel great may make another person feel very bad. So, there is no commonality to emotion. Why? Because emotion is based in personal definition. Emotion is based in ego. Emotion is based in like and dislike. I am, you are not. You are, I am not. I like this, you do not. You like that, I do not.

The problem with emotion is that people do a lot of bad things based upon it. All anyone has to do is look, not only at themselves, but at the whole evolution of human and view the things that were done, based in emotion, that later people were very sorry about.

Though action(s) taken in a moment of emotion may seem very right and empowering in that moment — actions enacted due to emotion are the ones that most commonly will later be seen to have actually damaged the evolution of your life.

The ultimate understanding is, Reality is Momentary. What you feel now, you will not feel in a few moments. The things you think are all so important now, will not matter in a few days or weeks. Who you see yourself as now, will change. The things that empowered you now and you take action on, may very well come back to haunt you later in life. With this as a basis of understanding, it can be concluded, it is far better to let the emotions of the moment be noticed, even experienced, but never allowed to control who and what you truly are.

Ultimately tomorrow is based upon what you do today. If you seek a life defined by emotional upheaval, then you will always be chasing the high of emotion. If you seek a life based in peace, and a future not defined by things done yesterday, you choose to not be dominated and control by your emotions and the emotions of others. From this, you become free, because emotions will not dominate you. You will see any emotion for what it is, Momentary Reality.

The Road You're On

The road you’re on is obvious. What you’re doing while you’re on that road is obvious. What you have to do to stay on that road is obvious. Where that road will lead you is also obvious. Though this is fact, many people pretend that is not the case.

In life, it is very obvious that what you are doing now will lead you to your next set of available circumstances. Many people avoid this fact, which is why so many people end up in a place where they never wanted to exist. Because of this fact, you must ask yourself, “Is the road you’re on leading you to where you want to be?”

When you ask yourself where you want to ultimately end-up, this is where things get a little bit complicated. Why? Because we all want something from our life. We all want to end-up somewhere. We all want to do what we ultimately what to do. And to get there, we have to take certain actions. But, there is a very big difference between being guided down our life road by ego, desire, and thirst for power, over that of choosing to consciously enter a path and then follow through with what it take to obtain our end-goal.

This is why so many lives become corrupted or end unfulfilled. This is also why so many people are injured by people who do not care what about the affect they are having on others as they are only focused upon their own end-goal.

The fact of life is, if all you are thinking about is yourself and/or how you feel, you road will forever be troubled as you will injure others on your path to self-attainment.

Ask yourself. “Does what you are doing help me, help others, or both?” Now, turn off your ego and re-ask yourself the same question. With the ego turned off, the true answer is always self-evident.

Remember, just because you want something does not mean you can or should have it. Wanting is the way of the world. Knowing what you should have is the path of consciousness.

Listen To How You Walk

If you ever want to gain immediate insight into an individual's personality, listen to how they walk. Are their steps quiet and precise or do they stomp across the floor? This tells you a lot about a person.

How do you walk?

Have you ever even taken the time to ponder that question?

If you walk quietly, you are confident and secure within yourself. If, on the other hand, you stomp up stairs and stomp across the floor, you are attempting to bring attention to yourself. Here, look at me! I need your attention.

In the martial arts, practitioners are trained in the ability of exact footing placement. As each move you make, each technique you perform, must be very exact—all step are made very consciously.

Walking softly is refinement. Walking hard and deliberate, is not.

Who are you? What do you want to portray?

You're Either Doing Something Positive or You're Doing Something Negative. But, Which is Which?

The fact of life is, we each set our destinies on a course and we are either going to do something positive or we are going to do something negative with our lives. Certainly, there are a million variants within both of those extremes. And, we each do both positive and negative things in our Life-Time. But, there is the course, either positive or negative, that we set ourselves upon and then we continually return to that path. That path, which is decided upon totally by you, is what defines who you are and how you will be remembered in this place we call, "Life."

There is a lot of negativity in the world. Sometimes it is very obvious. Other times it is much more subtle. There are those people who hate and criticize everything. Yet, they do nothing positive or creative with their own life.

There is also the arm-chair quarterback. It is very easy to sit and watch T.V. and believe that you could play the football game better than the players and judge it better than the referee. But, you do nothing to get on the field and actually prove that you can play the game.

It is kind of like the German term, "Schadenfreude," where people take pleasure in other people's misery. Do you do that? A lot of people do.

You know what is or isn't negative. The simple equitation is, "Is what you are doing or saying taking something away from another person or is what you are doing or saying going to affect another person or person(s) in a negative manner?"

The other side of the issue is those who thrive on positivity. They see the best in everyone and everything. Though people who embrace this mindset sometimes come off as naive. Who would you rather be around?

Negativity, criticism, hating the world, or whatever you want to call it, is a developed trait. Yes, we are each born with a personality, then we are shaped by our socioeconomic and cultural environment, but then it is us who chooses to do what we do with those formative factors.

The problem is, so many people are so dissatisfied with their own lives that they are attracted to the dark side. They prefer to embrace the negativity rather than working towards making their own life and the world a better place. This attitude is the sourcepoint for those who follow cult leaders who preach death and destruction, (and/or anything else negative).

It is very simple to make the choice to be positive. If you catch yourself being critical or negative; stop it! Don't make excuses for why you are doing what you are doing. Negative is negative.

Though being positive may take a little more work — especially in this crazy modern world we live in where we are bombarded by the power hungry people attempting to overpower us at every turn. You can be positive.

If you make positivity a part of you. If you catch yourself and shift your mindset whenever you are feeling critical or negative. If you stop making excuses for doing what you do — positivity will emerge.

A previous asked, "Who would you rather be around?" A person who is passionate about positivity or a negative being? The answer is pretty obvious. BE the person you would like to BE around.

This is Reality

Reality is very simple. What you see is what you get. Though it is very simple, religions and superstitions attempt to feed all kinds of nonsense into it.

Religious and superstitions tell you all kinds of things about all kinds of altered states. They speak about this equals that. And, if you do this you get that. They detail that if this happens, it means that will occur.

Then, there are book written about religions and superstitions to make everything that is stated it them some kind of holy proclamation. From the writing of these books, those of later generations can quote them and claim that what they are speaking is the truth, based upon what holy knowledge has been written in the past.

Some people want to/need to believe all this nonsense. They are, in fact, programmed into believing it from the time of their birth. But, what is the difference between superstation and religion?

One person’s superstition is another person’s religion.


Think about how easy and free life would be if you just let all of this nonsense go and experience reality the way reality actually is; what you see is what you get…

Make Things Better

I am commonly asked the question, “Hey Scott, what do you think I should do?” My answer is always the same. And, it is always quite simple. “Make things better.”

What does this mean? Well, just like the answer, it is very simple. Wherever you go, what ever you do — do what you can to make things better.

Now, I am not talking about some selfish act that makes your own life better. Nor am I saying do something based on some stupid religious ideology that your preacher told you was the way of god. What I am saying is that if you see something that needs fixing, fix it. If you see someone that needs help, help them.

For example, if you are in a store and one of the pieces of clothing has fallen on the floor, pick it up, put it back on its hanger, and put it back on the rack. If something has fallen off of a shelf, put it back in its place. If you are walking down the street and someone has dropped something, pick it up off of the ground for them. And, these are just a couple of examples.

Situations occur in each of our lives where we see things that we can do to make things better. Do them. It is as simple as that.

“Hey Scott, what do you think I should do?”

“I think you should make things better.”

Human Beings Are Very Self-Centered Creatures

The reality of life is, human beings are a very self-centered creature. They only think about themselves. When they do think about others, they do it to equal their own desired ends.

Now, I do not mean to sound cynical here. Because, in fact, I am not. But, the truth be told, the only concern most people have is about themselves and those they have direct feelings for.

Why do they care about people they have feelings for? Because the see them as their possessions. And, they do not want their possession to become damaged.

Let’s think about this for a moment… Remember the last time that the injury somebody incurred really moved you. Maybe you saw it on the news or read about it. You felt really sorry for the person. But, then a week, a month, a year passes — do you ever think about that person’s injuries anymore? Probably not. If the memory does arise in your mind, it is only for a moment and it does not touch you the way it once did.


With the earthquake and tsunami that recently occurred in Japan fresh in our minds, attention has gone to the Japanese people. It is discussed how there is no looting taking place, as is commonly the case in western and middle eastern societies the moment something goes awry. There is no looting because they are a group-orientated people. This may be true. We are all indoctrinated by our cultures. But, the reality is, it has already been proven that the company responsible for the nuclear reactors has lied and has sent its workers into the plants, to attempt to control the leakage, without the proper equipment to even monitor the levels of radiation they are encountering. How, “Group orientated,” is that? And, who knows what other falsehood they have spued? Only time will tell.

Why have they done this? Because they only care about themselves. They only care about the image of their company and the image of Japan on the world stage. And, I will not even go into the amount of lies that comes out of the mouths of government officials.

Religious leaders are no better. They do all kinds of things to stir up the pot and create disharmony directed against other religious or other sects within their own religion. They do this, in the name of God. I mean, God is on our side; right? Our side and nobody else’s… I could go on-and-on about this, but the news does it for me. So, I will not.


On an interpersonal level, think about the people you have met in your life. How many of them were out for themselves? Out for themselves to get ahead, get what they wanted; and they do not care about the cost their actions have on others? I think a good percentage of the people, we have each met in our lives, have been like that.

Some people seem very good. They teach for small money, simply to help the children. They donate their time to animal shelters. The give blood to help the injured. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera… But, why are they doing it?


Do you think that the teacher who earns far less wage than they deserve is not receiving some sort of reward for teaching? Does teaching not put them in a position of power over students? Are they not told by all their friends, what a good job they are doing — truly helping society. And, so on.

People who help the less fortunate in developing countries, ghettos, the reservation, get to feel that they are doing something for the greater good. That they are helping humanity.

And, this list can go on and on.

Even people who appear to be doing something good for no reason, have a reason. You may not know the reason. But, if you look below the surface, it can be seen.

For better or for worse, this is simply the reality of life, human beings are a very self-centered creature.

Why do you do what you do?

Trapped By Circumstance

In 1983, when I was in graduate school, they had re-released the movie, Last Tango in Paris. As I had never seen the movie upon its original release, (I was too young as it was rated X), I decided to go and see it as it had become a modern classic. It was playing at only a few theaters around L.A. One of them was on Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills.

I had a few hours to kill this one early afternoon before my classes were to begin in the evening. I remember I invited my girlfriend but she was mad at me about something. I had probably done something she didn’t like. In any case, I went by myself.


I saw the movie and was on my way out when the man who took my ticket at the door, asked, “Are you Scott?”

As it turns out, he was a guy I went to high school with. In fact, in high school, we were friends. We often walked to school together.

In high school, he was one of those really smart people. I mean, you could just sense his intelligence. I really felt the guy was going to go far.

Me, on the other hand, I was anything but a good student. My mind was far more fixated upon my work with the Sufi Order, the Integral Yoga Institute, playing music, traveling up and down the coast, and following a few other abstract roads to spirituality that most people did not understand.

When we were in high school, he lived in a bungalow apartment with his parents a few blocks from where I lived. His father was a longhaired projectionist at a movie theater in Hollywood. That seemed like a pretty cool job back then. Plus, he had long hair, which was more than unusual among parents of that era. It meant that he, “Understood,” and that he was cool.


But, more than that, his father owned one of the first synthesizers in the home that I had ever seen. He was pursing a career as an electronic musician.

I had long been enthralled with electronic music since its birth. His father was a true inspiration to me. Wow, I thought, you could actually have your own synthesizer in the 1970s. As soon as I could afford it, I bought one. My first synthesizer was a Roland SH 3.

In the lobby of the theater that day, after we got reacquainted for a moment or two, he asked me what I was doing in life. I told him I had spent some time in India, was in graduate school, was teaching the martial arts, was writing, pursing music, and so on. I had no intention of creating this affect but I could see his face drop. He, in fact, made the common, “You’re doing all that and I just work here at a theater.” I guess it didn’t help, but I explained to him I thought that he would go on to college after high school and do something big. “There’s still time, man!” I exclaimed. I mean, we were only twenty-four years old.


For those of you who may not know, here in California, in the 1970s, up to the early 1980, the community colleges were virtually free to attend if you were a California resident and had a high school diploma. All you had to do was buy your books. Anybody could and should go. I did.

I mean look at me, the bad student, who was far more focused on other aspects of living life. I went through the community college system, transferred to a university, and had ended up in graduate school. But, my one time friend never choose that path. He had followed in his father’s footsteps.


Now, this may be a bit hard to understand for you who grew up in other places. But, in Hollywood, there were the haves and the have not’s. There were those who lived in the Hollywood Hills, some of them in virtual palatial mansions. And then, there were those of us who lived south of Hollywood Blvd. Like my friend and I. We were the ones born of the working class. Not the children of producers, directors, industry moguls, rock stars, deejays, and movie stars.

“The Haves,” whether they were smart, talented, or not, seemed to be presented with a path paved in gold. The others of us… Well, we were not.


Except in one case… A situation that truly motived me in life.

Back when I was in school, junior high was three years: seventh through ninth grade and high school was three years: tenth through twelfth grade. So, our first year at Hollywood High was tenth grade. I know it has changed since then...

The first year, there was this guy, who lived up in the hills, who scored with a couple of the prettiest freak girls on campus. We referred to ourselves as, “Freaks,” back then because we had long hair and were more or less ostracized from society. You know, we were the drugies and the etc…


This guy dropped out in the beginning of eleventh grade. One day, early in the twelfth grade, I see the guy. His long locks are gone and he is wearing a green jumpsuit. He had become a janitor at our school.

Certainly there is nothing wrong with being a janitor. It is a needed profession. But, not only did this guy come from money, his future could have been joyous, if he had only played the game. He didn’t. Thus, the guy who had it all in tenth grade, by the twelfth grade, his road to the stars was over.


Believe me, being who I was and involved in the numerous off campus activities that I was, I had many times pondered dropping out of high school. Seeing this guy, however, sealed the deal. I would finish high school and do something with my life.

But back to the main subject... After we spoke for a few minutes, I left the theatre. I never saw my one time friend again. At least not yet...

I really felt for the guy, however, because he was a good dude that could have truly succeeded in life. But, he was trapped by circumstance. I’m sure he needed to get a job after high school to help pay the bills. There was probably no time for college or pursing whatever dreams he had.


In my life, I taught yoga and the martial arts. So, I could make money while remaining more or less free to pursue my life goals. Sadly, it is not this way for everybody. They are trapped by circumstance.

I believe that we need to think about this whenever we question why someone has ended up where they have ended up.

Locked Into Your Own Mind

Let's face facts. People live in their own heads—their own minds. You think the way you think. I think the way I think. And, we each think things that only we can understand.

Moreover, each person thinks and experiences you differently than any other person. I mean, how many times have people described you to other people and they were completely wrong? They didn't get YOU at all. Yet, that is how they perceive you. But, another person will hold a completely different impression about you.

Why is this? It is because people base their opinions upon their own perception of reality.

Furthermore, think about how many times you have projected a reality onto something that you expected to happen. You planned to say this, do that, you thought a particular situation would unfold, but the situation never materialized. It was all in your head.

These mind-things are not right or wrong. They are simply the way it is.

But, what this style of mind-stuff behavior does cause in life, is problems. Why? Because each person thinks and they experience life differently—even if they are living in the same place, at the same point in time. From these individualized perceptions, conflict is born.

This may be the reality of life. But, it is a reality that you do not have to take part in or be defined by if you do not choose to be. Why? Because that's the point, your life and your mind is defined by you.

For example, how many times have people asked you, “What did you mean by that?” When you thought you were very clear in your statement. Or, how many times have they wondered if you have had an ulterior motive for what you said, and they have thought-and-thought about your words in order to try and figure out their meaning? They did this when you meant exactly what you said or you meant nothing at all. You just said something.

This goes to the perception of reality, as well. Due to our undying mind-stuff, we each perceive the events that shape our reality in unique manner. Though we may be living at the same point in history, we each are who we are, we each have our own mind. Thus, what happens in our time and space reality is perceived, contemplated, and understood in a manner that is only wholly defined by ourselves.

The fact is, some people are highly delineated by the perceptions that they hold in their mind and they are
very locked into their own thought process. They define life by how they see things, what they feel about them, and the definitions that they place upon these perceptions. These people are very locked into their own mind and their own thought process. These are usually individuals who either live a very solitaire life or those who have developed the mindset that they are somehow superior to other people.

There are others, however, who are more open and decide not to be dominated by how they see or perceive life-things, because they understand the transient-ness of life, emotions, desires, and ideologies. In either of these cases, an individual’s personality and how they consciously choose to live their life defines their reality.


So, what is the point of this? How locked into your own mind are you? And, how does this effect and affect your reality? It's your mind. Only you can answer this question. How do you want to experience your life?