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The Scott Shaw Blog

Scott Shaw
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Here you will find some new thoughts and writings plus some of the Greatest Hits from previous blogs.

Spiritual Something
To catch up on previous blogs check out: Scott Shaw Blog Books.

Parking Lot Talk

Sadly, I had to go to a funeral yesterday. That’s one of the sorrowful realities about life, the older you get, the more people you witness passing on.
 
The funeral was for my aunt in-law. The wife of my wife’s mother’s brother. Good lady. She was born in Japan occupied Korea. So, due to the brutal occupation of Japan, the conditions of her early life were not good. I think most people don’t think about stuff like that anymore, Japan’s occupation of places like Korea and Eastern China and all the devastation that they brought. Anyway, she was here, lived her life, had five sons, and now she is gone. It’s never easy when someone you know passes on.
 
I think most Westerners don’t know about this fact, but the Christian Church is really the lifeblood of modern Korean-American society. It is at the heart of their culture. One may question, why did this group of Asian peoples so heartily adopted a religion that was not their own, but that is an entirely different subject. Nonetheless, it is what truly runs, entirely, through their culture. As such, most Korean-Americans attend Sunday service.
 
Ever since I first became involved with the Korean-American community, as a young boy, via the martial arts, I would periodically interact with this Korean church going culture. It is a sight. Every Sunday, go to any Korean-American church and there is tons of people, true believers, in attendance. But, before I get too far off point…
 
As my aunt in-law was Korean, her Korean minister provided the service yesterday.  As he was giving his eulogy, he brought up the fact that she never participated in, “Parking Lot Talk.” I’d never heard that term before. But, he described it as what many in the congregation do after the service. They go out into the parking and complain about whatever, gossip, and the like. If you know anything about Korean culture, this is a very common mindset. I just never heard it labeled before. But, the minister spoke of how she never did this. Instead, she worked to try to make things better.
 
“Parking Lot Talk,” it made me think about how so many people base their life on this mindset. Particularity now, in this age of the internet, all a lot of people do is talk about nothing, complain, criticize, and gossip. But, how few step up to the plate and do something that truly makes the world a better place?
 
The minister spoke about how my aunt in-law would do things like help clean up the trash in the parking lot, help to put a tarp over a leaking roof on the church, and the like. Though some may consider these small things, if those things are not attended to, how will anything get better? If those things are not done, things will only get worse.
 
Life is only lived for a very short amount of time. It’s here and then it’s gone. It’s always sad to witness those we know, those we care about, and those we like or respect, pass on. Me, I’m getting rather long in the tooth, as the old saying goes. Me too… I won’t be around that much longer. How about you? Where do you find yourself on the stage of life? How about those you know and care about? Where are they in their life-scape? We’re all only going to be here, in life, for a moment. Is all you’re going to do based on Parking Lot Talk? Or, are you going to get out there and do something positive and make the world a better place?  
 
That eulogy was an interesting place to gain a new realization. One I never saw coming. We all need to stop the Parking Lot Talk and get out there and pick up the trash.
 
RIP Wesungmo. Thanks for creating your sons who, two of them, helped me produce a couple of my books. Thanks for your and all of their friendships. Thanks for the holiday dinners. Thanks for being a part of the life play I lived! You are remembered. You will be missed.

The Best Friend You Never Knew You Had

I have always found the definition of a, “Best Friend,” to be very murky. I think through all of our lives there are people we find ourselves hanging out with a lot; some of these people are by necessity while others are by choice. Mostly, we are brought together by the availability of circumstances.  Like I have long said, life is defined by availability.
 
But think about it… Think about the people you have spent a lot of time associating with. Why did that relationship occur? In virtually all cases, you came together due to where you found yourself in life. Whether this was where you lived, where you studied, where you worked, where you worshiped, or where you hung out, once there, there was a limited number of people you could choose from; or that could choose you.
 
What if that availability wasn’t the defining factor of your life? What if you could have hung out with a vastly different set of people: in a different city, a different county, a different profession, a different religion, a different social class, then wouldn’t everything in your life, and who you choose to befriend, have been different?
 
The fact is, we only can choose from what we have to choose from. That’s it. Certainly, in this age of the internet, this level of choice has expanded. This being said, people still congregate where they feel comfortable and move towards what they like. Thus, yes, the number of nameless, faceless, people, who are most likely lying about who they truly are, has expanded, but people are still locked into the confines of what is available.
 
Think about yourself… Think about someone you were once a friend with, but are no more. What happened and why? Maybe it was no big deal. Maybe you just drifted apart. But, why? Why did you (and they) let that happen?
 
Or maybe, there was a very concrete reason for that relationship to end. They did something, you did something, but why? Why did you (or they) do it? And, why did that cause the end of your relationship? Really, think through these things. It’s important.
 
The thing is, relationships are fragile. The smallest thing may bring them to a close.  
 
Now, think about someone, a friend, who has been in your life for a long time. First of all, what drew you together? Why are they still in your life? Why are you still in theirs? What has changed in you, what has changed in them, and why, throughout all that change, (if there was any), did you choose to remain together? Again, really chart this out.
 
So many people are lonely in this world. So many people believe that they do not have true and meaningful relationships. But, who’s fault is that? Is it that person out there? Or, is it the person who is feeling the loneliness?
 
Who causes what and why? Do you ever ponder this? Do you ever question the WHY of your reality? Do you ever look to who you truly are and what command you have had over where you find yourself in your life?
 
The truth is, most people don’t. And, from this, they find themselves, wherever it is they find themselves, with not only a hazy or distorted sense of Self but simply lost in a world, surrounded by a bunch of people, who have not taken the time to know themselves or understand why they associate with the people whom they associate with. Thus, they have no true idea about who they are associating with or why either of them is truly there in that relationship.
 
Think about a time when someone you considered a friend screwed you over. Think about a time when you screwed over someone who considered you their friend. Why did this happen? Why did they do it? Why did you do it? If you only thought about yourself in that equation, what does that say about you and your ability to be a true friend? If you are only motivated by what you are thinking and feeling, and not caring about the impact your actions may have on someone else, what kind of a friend are you?   
 
Seriously, how much time have you spend truly getting to know the True You in order to know why you associate with whom you associate with? How much time do you spend analyzing your patterns of behavior to come to understand how you may hurt a so-called friend?
 
If you don’t know, you don’t know. And, this is where all of the hurt of friendship is given birth to.  
 
On the most superficial level of life, and this is the place most people operate from, people associate with others who give them something that they want. It is as simple as that. This, “Something,” spans the gambit from physical, to material, to psychological, on to spiritual. But, when this is the case, then that relationship is only based upon that THING. Once it stops, once the person stops giving or the other person ceases receiving, the relationship is over.
 
Again, think back to your own life and your own relationships. Why are some no more? Why are some still in existence? How were you involved in the continuing or the ending of any/all of them?
 
If you do not know what you want from a friendship, if you do not clearly define it in your mind, if you do not or cannot express it to that other person, if you do not analyze what you bring to the relationship, what are you doing with that other person in the first place? All you’re doing is being selfish. You’re doing nothing more than killing time. Which, if I might say, is really unfair to anyone else involved. And, if you know you have the potential to hurt them, be conscious enough to stop before you even begin.
 
Take the time to know you. Take the time to understand what you need and even expect from another person. Take the time to know what you have to offer. Because if you don’t know, you don’t know. If they don’t know, they don’t know. Then what? Just another association that leads to nothing more than chaos, frustration, hurt, anger and maybe even heartache.

***

Does it matter what name you call god?

***

The people who don't want to know the truth will never find the truth.

The people who wish to live in denial of the truth can never embrace the truth.

The people who hide from the truth will remain blind to the truth.

Hiding from the truth, does not change the truth, it only makes the people who deny the truth live a lie.

The Worshiping of Negativity

I’ve often wondered why people worship negativity. Whenever I hear someone saying something negative or evoking a mood of negativity, in whatever situation they may find themselves, it perplexes me; why?
 
As grew up, and was able to pull my mind away from the gang ridden environment, of where I grew up, all I surrounded myself with was with people who embraced a goodness. Each in their own way, they were doing something positive. I always applauded that.
 
Speaking of my youth, once I moved away from Southcentral L.A., where I lived, there was no need to embrace negativity and violence, yet that is what I continued to witness so many people still doing. I witnessed as L.A. embraced its, “Bussing,” program. Which basically brought youth from the South section of the city up into other communities. With them, many brought the essence of negativity and violence.  They were the ones who would instigate the fights in the schoolyard. They were the gangs that would attack singular individuals. But, why? Those who locally lived there did not need or want that. Yet, they were forced to encounter it. For anyone who lived through this era of Los Angeles history, they can attest to this fact. And, I use Bussing as an example because it illustrates how negativity breeds when it is allowed to find a conglomeration or a following.
 
Finally, “The City,” stopped this program, realizing it was causing more harm than good. But, that was after the harm had been instigated. As I have told the story before, I failed gym class at Virgil Junior High. Impossible to do, most would say. But, I couldn’t go into the locker room. Every time I did, I got jacked. I had to fight. So, I just quit going. Try growing up like that. But, why? Why was that? It was because people, young people, projected and embraced a realm of negativity. But, what was the benefit? What did they gain? In the end, did it/did doing that embracing of negativity make anything any better? No. Where is their life now? What is their karma now? Did they live a good life? Or, was their life defined by strife?
 
Look at your own life. Where do you find yourself? Are you living a life of peace and prosperity or are you continually encountering trials and tribulations? Whatever your answer, do you ever think about the fact that you are to blame?   
 
I believe that’s the thing you really need to think about whenever you are either encountering or unleashing negativity. Where will it lead? Do you want to hurt someone? ‘Cause that's all negativity does. If you do, what does that say about you?
 
Really, niceness is always better. Goodness is always better. Positivity is always better. Encountering negativity with positivity can change everything!
 
If you are going to instigate, relish in, or enhance negativity, catch yourself—stop yourself. Be that better person.
 
I say it over and over again, the world begins with you. Do you want to be the source of making people feel better or do you want to hurt someone/anyone? The answer should be obvious. If it’s not, you should really take a long hard look in the mirror.
 
Make positivity your everyday, every moment goal. Believe me, not only will you feel better but then the entire world becomes just a little bit better by you simply doing the things that you do.

Random Acts of Kindness Verses Strategic Acts of Kindness

I was driving home, listening to AirTalk on KPPC this late morning, and they were discussing Random Acts of Kindness. This Ph.D., from wherever, had done a study on the subject and he was detailing how these acts, based in expecting nothing in return, truly had the ability to make other people’s life better, if even for a moment.
 
All of this got me to thinking, and to re-realize, how I believe I have encountered very few Random of Acts of Kindness in my life. I don’t know if that is based in where I live or who I have associated with, but there have been very few times when someone just did something for me expecting nothing in return.
 
How about you? How many Random of Acts of Kindness have you encountered?
 
I was thinking about it, and I realized, girls, (or women), or however you want to define them, encounter many more Random of Acts of Kindness than men. At least seemingly random… But, as they are girls, and probably most of these supposed acts of random kindness are perpetrated by men, who are obvious hoping for something more, are they truly selfless?
 
This leads me to the next point; I have encountered a lot of Strategic Acts of Kindness in my life, provided by people who want something from me. Whether it was girls who wanted to be with me, believing I was the man of their dreams. Wrong! Martial Artists wanting me to promote them in rank. Individuals wanting me to put them in a movie. Someone who wanted me to do something for them: edit their movie, give them music for their film, let them release one of my films through their distribution company, so they wouldn’t have to get out there and make a movie on their own, people wanting to borrow some of my equipment, or people wanting me to help them do whatever... Of course, the list goes on, but I have experienced a lot of that style of people doing so-called kindness to get something that they wanted out of me.
 
How about you? How many Strategic Acts of Kindness have you encountered? And maybe even more important, how many Random of Acts of Kindness have you unleashed compared to Strategic Acts of Kindness during your lifetime? Think about it. Put a definition on it.
 
I remember one time, and this is the only true Random of Act of Kindness that someone did for me that comes to mind. I was in my early twenties. I had this orange Porsche that had gotten a flat tire. I was in a parking lot, trying to break the lug bolt free. Back then, I didn’t know the secret on how to do that once they were put on by an air wrench. Anyway, this big burly, biker looking guy pulls up, gets out of his truck, and pops the bolts for me with very little effort and then he just left. “Thanks!”  But, that’s it. That’s the only time that comes to mind.

But yeah, a Random of Act of Kindness is a good thing! Let’s make that the goal of today. Get out there and perform a Random of Act of Kindness. You can also do it tomorrow if you want. Maybe even the day after that. You can make it a habit if you have the mind for it. Why not? It doesn’t have to be a big gesture. Just do small things that make somebody’s something just a little bit better.

I think if more of us did that, the entire world would become a better place; don’t you?

The Optics

First of all, allow me to provide you with a little bit of a backstory. I’ve never been into porn. Even when I was young, that style of exploitation never appealed to me. Meaning, I never like watching porn movies. Yes, I had a friend who would, every now and then, drag me into one of the Pussycat Theaters here in L.A., and make me watch a few minutes of whatever adult film was being broadcast onto the screen. And, what some of you may find sacrilegious, in the early days of my owing a martial art studio, one of the students I was teaching, who was around my ago of twenty or twenty-one, had one of the first home video tape decks and he wanted to show it off to me and a couple of other students, so he brought it into the studio one Saturday afternoon, showing us the only video tape he owned which was porn. But, in the all-in-all, it’s just not my thing.
 
When I got into the filmmaking industry, I was not against using actress that were involved in porn, however. Whereas many traditional filmmakers had something against using them. They thought they would somehow tarnish their project. For me, if they were a nice person, that’s all I cared about. Maybe I could help them expand on their acting horizon. I’ve worked with several adult film actresses, especially in my earlier years, and I have never had a bad experience with any of them.
 
Okay, skip forward to, I believe, the 1996 American Film Market. Back then, the American Film Market was an event. This was long before internet distribution came to take hold on the industry. Buyers would come from all over the world to Santa Monica to purchase the rights to films to show to the unique audiences of their country.
 
Don Jackson and I were offering Toad Warrior, among other films, at this market. Though not happy with the first edited of the film, we were offering it for Theatrical Only release, knowing this would limit the number of buyers. As Adrianne Moore AKA Jill Kelly, (who was at the height of her adult industry fame at this point of time), was in it, we invited her to come by our suite and to make the rounds around the market with us.
 
AFM was the Go To place that everyone wished they could go to. But, getting in was very hard if you did not own a distribution company, where not a national or international buyer, or where not a star.
 
In any case, she showed up and she was just stunning. What she wore, and her overall look, was unparalleled. Just beautiful! Don Jackson and I made the rounds around the market with her on my arm. All eyes were on her, with several people stopping her and telling her, they loved her work. And, a few telling me, I love what you do. Wow, I thought, they saw Roller Blade Seven or Samurai Vampire Bikers from Hell?
 
Here we get to the tie-in to porn… As I never watched porn, I did not know that the male sex/love interest of many of the girls in these films was a guy with long blonde hair. It really wasn’t until years later that I realized that people would see my license plate or something, figure out I was in the film game, and assume I must be one of those long blonde haired porn guys. Now, it makes me smile. But, no, not me. I just appear in bad Art House movies, not porn.
 
Back to AFM… With all eyes on us, they all thought I was an adult film actor and that is why I was walking with Adrianne. People thought, but what they thought was wrong. The optics created a scenario. But, what they saw in their mind’s eye, what they assumed, was not the actuality of reality.
 
This is an important thing to think about as you pass through life. What you think you see, may not be based in the authenticity of the truth. In may simply be what has been projected onto the screen of your mind. But, if what you think/if what you believe is not the truth, what are you basing your life, your judgements, your discourses, and your decisions upon? Answer: Falsehoods.
 
If you make your life decisions based upon falsehoods, what are you left with? Answer: The lack of truth.
 
Do you want to base your life upon what you think you see, what you believe you believe, even if it is not the truth?
 
Be careful, because what you think you see may not be based upon the reality of truth at all.

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A selfish person always denies that they are selfish; generally even to themselves.

God Save the Queen

There was that great Sex Pistols song, “God Save the Queen.” Sadly, The Queen passed onto the greater realm today. It actually brought a tear to my eye as I heard it on the radio as I was driving. And yes, I know that song was not a tribute, but think about it, she seemed like a really nice lady. …Never met her. Me, I’m just a lowly individual. Not of Royal Stock. But, she did die in the land of my ancestors, Scotland.
 
Tucker Carlson did a really nice tribute to her tonight on Fox. He spoke about how there were a lot of people bagging on her and the British Empire. But, once they were gone, what was left? A lot of chaos. True.
 
Now, don’t get me wrong. No one wants to be ruled. The United States included. But, the British Empire, at least as defined by Carlson, left at lot of structure that has lived-through onto today.
 
I mean, all death is sad. Especially, when it is someone who seems so nice. I’m not going into all her apparent niceness here, but don’t rip on the someone trying to be nice.
 
I think that is one of the biggest problems of the world, people rip on the people who try to be nice. The people who try to do good things.

…The doing of good things, not everyone is like that. Are you? Did you wake up today thinking about how you could make things better for anyone else than maybe yourself? Most likely, you just woke up today, thinking about you. Certainly, saying anything bad, is never good.
 
Think about it, what The Queen’s life must have been like. Being born into that dilemma. And then, trying to make to best of the best.
 
No one does everything right. No one does not make mistakes. But, to have to live your life on that level. Man, that must be hard.
 
So, that amazing woman passed on. Let’s think good thoughts about her. Let’s send her legacy positive vibes. Because, if we cannot say something good about someone who tries to be good, what does that say about any of us?
 
God Save the Queen.

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If you want, you will always want more.

The Weird History of Taekwondo

I was pointed to this interesting article about Taekwondo on an Anime site, How The God of High School Revealed the True, Weird History of Taekwondo. I looks like it was written about two years ago. I always like to throw some love towards the people who develop an interesting take and disseminate some new and important information into the mix of a historical subject. Check it out if you feel like it.

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What words do you say and why do you say them?

If you don't know why you speak what you speak you can never find your inner truth nor can you ever learn mental mastery.

Zen in the Adverse

Whenever one thinks of Zen, the image of peace and tranquility and all-goodness comes to mind. Just the thought of Zen conjures up an idealized image of harmony and serenity. But, even for those of us who walk the path of Zen, life is not always like that.
 
Right now, here in Southern California, we are experiencing a heat wave, as is much of the Western United States. It’s hot! For those of us who live along the coast, most of us do not have air conditioning in our homes as the climate is generally fairly tempered. So, asides from a fan, which basically just blows around the hot air, there is little we can do to bring the temperate down.
 
It seems for like for a week or so every summer, I am in misery. Every year, I contemplate buying one of those portable air conditioning units, but then I convince myself not to as what am I going to do with it the other fifty-one weeks out of the year. But, for that week, (that is going on right now), I am stymied; trapped by the heat. No matter how hard I try to see the Zen in all of this, it is very difficult.
 
That’s life! That’s how life is. That’s how Zen is. Yes, people make the claim, “It is all perfect.” And, “Just feel the perfection.” But, they are saying that when nothing is going wrong in their life. Then, it’s easy to make that statement. Try it when it’s a stuffy one hundred degrees. Try getting something done when life is like that.
 
Here’s the paradox of life. Here’s the paradox of Zen. You can lie to yourself and pretend everything is okay. But, if it is not, it is not. Sure, you can embrace the heat, maybe pretend to love it, or simply accept it as a condition of life, but that is all nothing but Mind Junk. What you are doing is pretending. You are lying to yourself, trying to make yourself believe something that is not real—at least not real for you. So, where is the Zen in any of that?
 
Zen is the absence of all-things. But, life is the presence of all-things. As long as we are alive, we all will be forced to feel and to deal. And sometimes, you just ain’t going like what you are feeling. The trick is in those moments, those moments that you hate, is to find the space of life forgiveness within yourself. Why? Because nothing you are going to do—nothing negative you are going to feel is going to change anything. You just have live through it, without pretending or lying to yourself, and try to find your own Zen in amongst the frustration and the distain.
 
Though the vision of Zen is perfect, life is nowhere close. If you want to claim Zen, all you can do is be as Zen about everything as you can be, because you cannot change the reality of life, no matter how much you get upset, no matter how much you get frustrated, no matter how much you complain, life is life is life is life, and that’s all you’ve got. That’s all Zen is. Without life, there is no Zen.

Thing Verses Non-Thing

In things, you have something. In no things, you have nothing. Here lies the essence to the truth of spirituality.
 
What actually leads you to having more in life? Is it what you own or is what you know? The paradox comes in getting to what you know as what you ultimate comes to comprehend takes training, which may occur via doing things like reading books, going to classes, passing tests, and the like. All of these things lead to things, but all of these things actually lead you away from the truth of reality, for as long as you see them as an end goal, you have lost the true path to realization. Because an end goal based in the possession of anything is absent from the truth of pure knowledge.  
 
Why do you go to school? To learn. At the end of your school session that usually means you earn a degree.  A degree is a thing and by possessing a degree you can claim to be in possession of the proof of your learning. Yet, what is a degree? In its most material sense, it is nothing more than a piece of paper. Is that piece of paper the truth of what you know or is it simply an exhibition of knowledge that someone else has claimed you possess? But, do you actually possess it? Is that piece of paper simply something you hold onto as a possession? And, how does that piece of paper prove anything? There are an untold number of pieces of paper circulating throughout this world, each claiming something, but there is no absolute method of validation for what is stated on a piece of paper as to what is truly understood in the mind of any individual. So, what do they really mean?
 
People seek to claim. People acquire to gain. But, in that process the true path of realization is lost, as there has, and never can be, proof of how what one individual possess, in the realms of the external, translates into proof of expanded consciousness.
 
Is there a diploma for enlightenment? Is there a certificate for god consciousness? No. There is just a bunch of pieces of paper handed out from one person to another exclaiming that person is a something. But, if the first source of that expansion of knowledge is flawed, in any manner, or if that line of transmission has become tainted at any point along its path, then every participate down the line of that school of thought is simply a source for the propagation of the lie of the truth of unified and sustained knowledge. Thus, all those who claim to hold anything, based upon anything material, are simply proliferating the lie to the ears and eyes of the unaware. They are trying to gain by possessing but gaining by possession is a flawed process, in and of itself, as it is never based upon the truth of the nothingness of absolute consciousness. For aren’t those who claim nothing the purest examples of advanced consciousness? Does the true knower ever assert that they are a true knower or a teacher? No. For a person who does that bases their life upon nothing more than ego. And, ego is never an example of higher consciousness.
 
On your path to life realization, always remember that those who claim to know, and defined themselves by the proof of their self-worth defined by evidence of possessing something that someone else has given them, is never one who exists at the advanced level of human awareness.
 
To know is never to brag about what you know or what you have achieved. To know is to be silent.
 
Enlightenment does not come by possessing. Enlightenment comes by embracing the essence of nothingness.

When Dogs Get Old

It’s one of the saddest things, I think, when a dog gets old. I mean, they are a puppy, then they are an adolescent, then they are a full-blown dog, running and playing and happily living their life. But, when they get to their later days, it is just so-so sad. Maybe they get grey, maybe they walk slowly, maybe they can barely walk at all. Whatever the case, it is so hard to watch a dog get old and climb towards death.
 
Maybe two months ago now, I would be walking in the afternoon around my neighborhood, and as I would start to climb up the hill on this one street, I would hear this dog barking. When I got closer, I would see that there was this German Shepard sticking his (or her) head out through this small crack on a patio, looking out onto the street. The crack was so small, it was one of those things where you wonder, how can he get his head through that opening?
 
When he would see me approaching, his barking would stop. I would halt my walk for a moment and say some nice words to the dog, as obviously he was lonely, as that’s why dogs bark when they are alone. Mostly, I thought it was really fucked up for his owners to lock him up on that small patio during the day. I would have gone and petted him, but he was on the second story so I couldn’t get to him. Overall though, the dog looked healthy.
 
Then, a few weeks back, I was driving up that street and I saw that dog was out in front of the house. Just as I approached, he began to walk back up the steep driveway of the house. It was so sad. Though in his face I didn’t see, this dog was very-very old. He walked so slowly up the driveway, seemingly barely making it. I was sitting there with tears running down my face. I watched until he made it to the safety of his back yard.
 
Certainly, everybody claims, we are all going to die. And, stuff like that. But, that’s just bolstered bullshit. Walk up to the door of death, witness someone you love die in your arms, or straddle the door of death yourself, and you develop a very different attitude. Really, age is a sad thing because it signals the approaching climax of life. Especially when you witness someone you love deteriorating it becomes so hard, knowing the what is to come next.
 
I haven’t seen the dog in a while. I hope it is still healthy, happy, and holy, enjoying the days of his retirement. At least they don’t lock him up on that patio anymore. That’s a good thing.
 
Really, cherish the life of those you love: spend time with them, do fun things with them, let them know you care about them, because life is so short.

The Scott Shaw Biography

I am forever vastly amused at the biographies people write about me. Some are based in love, others are based in hate. Of course, I appreciate the one’s based in love more. …That’s just natural, I guess. But, both can be interesting. Here’s one I was pointed to. It looks like some of the info may have been taken from my website bio, maybe parts from some of the information my publishers have put out there, maybe some from the Martial Arts Encyclopedia, and other parts from an earlier Wikipedia entry. We all know how I feel about Wikipedia… Whatever the case, it looks like it was researched and came from multiple sources. Anyway, for your amusement, here it is. …I guess it's all true but it sure makes my life seem so much grander than it ever felt. Happy  
 
Dear All,
 
I am very proud to inform, “AKADEMIA KENJUTSU” is presented as a source of credible information concerned KUMDO in a website of TAEKWONDO HAPKIDO INTERNATIONAL established by an US expert in KOREAN MARTIAL ARTS – Mr. SCOTT SHAW
 
I would like to present the Biography of Mr. Scott Shaw, one of the most respectable experts of TAEKWONDO, HAPKIDO & KUMDO and other Korean Martial Art outside SOUTH KOREA.
 
Venerable Sahjonim Mr. SCOTT SHAW - Born in Hollywood, California, Scott Shaw began training in the Korean Martial Art of Hapkido at the age of six. Enthralled with the Martial Arts, Shaw studied daily and in 1969, at the age of eleven, earned his 1st Degree Black Belt in Hapkido. In 1971 Shaw was introduced to Taekwondo. By late 1972 he held his 1st Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo, as well. During his youth Shaw also began practicing Kumdo, the Korean Art of the Sword. As an adolescent and young man he additionally trained in boxing with his uncle who was a professional boxer during the 1930's and 1940's.
 
As the years progressed, Scott Shaw never lost his focus on the Martial Arts and practiced relentlessly. At the age of eighteen he was promoted to 4th Degree Black Belt in both Hapkido and Taekwondo and was awarded Instructor Certification.
 
During his youth Scott Shaw also became deeply involved in Eastern Meditative Thought. Throughout this time period, he practiced Yogic, Sufi, and Buddhist meditation with such renown teachers as Swami Satchidananda, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, and Thich Thien-An. Though young in age he became a certified instructor of Yoga and Meditation.
 
Shaw then traveled to India and Japan where he refined his understanding of Meditation and Ki. These are essential elements he has continued to integrate into all of his Martial Art Teachings. While in Japan he also began his study of Hapkido's root art, Aikijitsu and Kumdo's root art, Iaido.

By twenty-one Shaw was teaching the Martial Arts in association with Grandmaster Hee Hwan Yoon. He was promoted to 5th Degree Black Belt and was awarded Master Instructor Certification. In the following year, Scott Shaw, as the highest ranking non-Korean practitioner in Los Angeles at the time, was chosen to lead over five hundred Taekwondo practitioners in the first annual Los Angeles Koreatown parade. That same year, he was the only non-Korean to be appointed as a body guard for the President of Korea on his first visit to Los Angeles. Shaw commonly trained L.A.P.D. and Los Angeles County Sheriffs in self-defense applications.

During this period of time, Scott Shaw frequently returned to Asia to refine his understanding of the Martial Arts. He trained predominately under the guidance of Hyn Sup Park in South Korea and Harias Takeda in Japan.

 
Throughout the years Scott Shaw has been certified by numerous Asian and Occidental Martial Art Associations, from his 1st through his 8th Dan Black Belt. In 1987 he was awarded the 7th Dan Black Belt in Moo Duk Kwan Taekwondo. In 1988 he earned the 7th Dan in Kumdo. In 1992 he tested and was certified Hapkido 7th Dan by Grandmaster Sung Soo Lee in Hapkido Moo Hak Kwan. In 1996 Scott Shaw became the first non-Korean ever to be awarded the 7th Degree Black Belt by the Korea Hapkido Federation. In 1999 Shaw was promoted to 7th Dan in Aikijutsu and 8th Dan in Taekwondo. In 2001 he was awarded the 8th Dan Black Belt in Hapkido. He is the founder of Ki Sul Kwan Hapkido, the President of Hapkido Taekwondo International, and is on the Board-of-Directors of several established Martial Art Organizations.
 
Scott Shaw has been a mainstay in Martial Arts Media for over two decades. Over three hundred of his articles have been published on the subject, by the most respected journals in the industry. Click Here to view an overview of articles he has written. In 1994, Unique Publications, a leader in Martial Art Publishing and Video Production, asked Shaw to create a four-part Instructional Video Tape Series on Hapkido. In 2007 this series was re-mastered for distribution on DVD. In 1996 Tuttle Publications, the most respected publisher of books on the Martial Arts in the world, contracted Shaw to write the book, Hapkido: The Korean Art of Self-Defense. In 2002 they requested that he write the book, Taekwondo Basics, and in 2006 they asked him to write the book, Advanced Taekwondo. In addition to these titles, he has written several other books on the martial arts, published by industry leaders. Beginning in the late 1970's Scott Shaw began to continually return to Asia and the Middle East, spending extended periods of time throughout these regions. He has continued this tradition and frequently returns, documenting obscure aspects of Asian and Middle Eastern Culture in words and on film.
 
Today, Scott Shaw is a prolific Author, Journalist, Filmmaker, Seminar Instructor, and University Lecturer on the subjects of Asian Studies, Filmmaking, Zen Buddhism, Yoga, the Martial Arts, Ki Science, and Meditation.
 
Mr. Scott Shaw is one of the most renowned martial artists in USA.
 
PIL SUNG !
Dariusz Wyspianski

Just a sidenote here: After reading this biography again, it makes me remember how, so many times, I have tried to just ditch my bio on this website and in other places. No matter how I say it, or how anyone else says it for me, it just seems like such an ego run. But, it seems like every time that I do ditch my bio, I get hit up by tons of people asking question or people in chatrooms talking smack. So, to override as much of the nonsense as I can, I leave one up on the site. But, just know, whatever is said in that bio, is not the true me. That’s just all life stuff. I’m a completely different person than any words on any page.

Every Day Something is Lost

In the Tao Te Ching there is a passage, “To the person of the world, everyday something is gained. To the person of Tao, everyday something is lost.”
 
If you think about your life, what do you think about? Do you ponder release, letting go, having and doing less? Or, do you ponder getting, achieving, and acquisition? For most, it is the latter.
 
The problem is, with all that is GOT, there is the process of getting, keeping, and then maintaining. Think about the lengths you have gone to GET. Think about the length you have gone to KEEP. Think about the lengths you have gone to MAINTAIN. It’s a lot of work. Now, think about this, what if you never attempted to GET anything. How free would your life have been?
 
Just a strange little example of all of this… Awhile back, I was attempting to follow somebody or something on Facebook. I forget who or what it was. I get the message, that said in essence, that I had already followed the maximin number allowed on Facebook, which was five thousand. If I wanted to follow anyone or anything else, I would have to delete some of those I previously followed. Wow, that was a shock. Five thousand??? How could that have happened? I guess in my early days on Facebook, I was thinking it was like MySpace, (previously, a far better social platform), where you just pretty much followed everyone and everyone followed you.
 
Anyway… So, I begin the process of deleting. The problem is, Facebook has this weird set up. You can’t see all of those you follow. They come up a certain segment at a time. You can’t even really search; things and people just come up when they come up. But, when they do, BOOM, unfollow. Now, this process has been going on for a long time. It continues to amaze me, the people, the bands, the news agencies, the film festivals, the guitar companies, the movies, and the whatever that I once upon a time followed. Now, not every time, but whenever I have a moment at the end of my Facebook session, I go through and delete. …Delete the people that once were and are no more, the film festivals that no longer exist, the news agencies that never revealed anything to me, and so on.
 
Back then, I was trying to gain. Now, I am attempting to lose. And, though this process of deleting makes me feel so much better: it does take time, it does take effort, it does take work. But, think about it, if I had never followed any of those people or companies, I would not be forced into this doing. The DOING of UNDOING. I could be doing something way more important with my time.
 
This is the thing about life, and this is the definition of doing. Doing, wanting, acquiring, getting, all takes time, it takes effort, it takes labor, it takes your Life Time. Mostly, what it takes from you, is your inner, spiritual essence. Your Mind of No Mind, where you can/could meet your Higher Self.
 
So, think about this the next time you go after something/anything, small or large. No matter what it is, it will keep you from embracing your Pure Self where none of that ANYTHING actually matters.
 
To the person of the world, everyday something is gained. To the person of Tao everyday something is lost.

Documenting Your Life

My lady, who’s a big player in the corporate world, is off to have her headshot taken by the company photographer today to hang on the wall next to all those of importance. Good for her! As she walked out the door this morning she jokingly said, “I’ll probably hate the picture.” Isn’t that how we all are, we mostly dislike the photos taken of us.
 
This whole forced headshot thing made me think back. I never had my senior year high school photo taken for the yearbook. So, if you look at the 1976 Hollywood High Yearbook, you ain’t gonna see me. By that point in my life, high school was just something I had to do. My life was already far outside of that sphere of reality. I was getting set to go to India and my mind was on, what I considered, vastly more important things. I just thought that school photo thing was stupid. Though now I realize, I guess I probably should have had it taken.
 
Once upon a time, in the not that long ago, photos were taken with film. You had to buy the film, shoot the shot, and you never really knew what you were going to come out with until it was developed. Then, first with the advent of digital photography and later the smart phone; think about it, the millions and millions of photographs that are taken of people every day that more than likely will be viewed maybe once and then never seen by anyone ever again.
 
Every now and then, I’ll be in a thrift store, antique store, or something like that, and I will see one of those very high-quality portraits or family photos taken a million years ago. Just the essence and the quality of those shots is so striking. When I can, I rephotograph that photo. I did that yesterday. I saw this group of family portraits and photos just thrown in a pile. I posted one of the pictures of a picture I took to my Instagram account. Check it out if you feel like it. Sometimes I use them for my music collection covers and stuff like that. …In my small way I am attempting to cast the image of that person to eternity. As if it wasn’t for me, as the photograph had already had been discarded, they would become completely lost to time.
 
I wonder if those people, in those photographs, liked what they looked like?
 
This is the thing, time passes, we are young, we are old, then we die. All that is left for most of us is those few photos that prove we existed at all. What will be the proof that you existed? Only a forced photo of you that you may not really like?

Roller Blade Warriors Taken by Force

I thought I would take a few moments and explain a little bit about Donald G. Jackson’s feelings about his film, Roller Blade Warriors, as I am periodically asked questions about this movie.
 
Since his passing in 2003, I have watched as concentration on the films of Donald G. Jackson has swayed from interest to the lack thereof and back again. Due to the fact of the bizarre nature of most of his films, some of these features have remained under discussion by those who enjoy viewing cinematic creations such as these, while others have not. As my promise to him, in his dying days went, I have strived to keep his filmmaking legacy alive. But, the reality of the reality is, times change as do the minds and the tastes of people. This being detailed, and as a foundation for what I am about to say next, don’t you believe that if one is to truly honor the filmmaking legacy of a filmmaker one should follow their direction in how they wished to be remembered?
 
Donald G. Jackson was a complicated, most would say, psychologically disturbed individual. This being stated, he did what he did with a passion. This passion, however, lead him into doing and saying things that others certainly disliked and even he often regretted. This too was the case with many of his films. He would often describe his films, once they were completed, as just another piece of crap on the shit pile. This was especially his feelings about Roller Blade Warrior.
 
If you watch the documentary I put together on the first film we attempted to make together, Roller Blade 3: The Movie That Never Was, you will see him reference his films Roller Blade and Roller Blade Warrior as not very good. But, the film he was then making, Roller Blade 3: Samurai Sisters, as a would-be good film. Of course, this did not come to be the case. Nonetheless, his distaste for Roller Blade Warriors goes much deeper than this.
 
Don certainly was a lover of women. Though he was married for decades, he bedded many of his starlets. He was no saint. This changed, however, as he moved towards his later years. He had a strong religious re-conversion, re-embracing his Christian faith. Though he would tell me he never liked the physical violence perpetrated against the female characters in Roller Blade Warrior, blaming it on the screenwriter, as he neared his later days, he truly was disgusted by what takes place in that film. Of all his films, he would tell me, that was the film he wished he had never made; at least not created with the storyline that was presented.
 
That was his feeling, as simple as that. He asked me to do all I could to bury this film after his passing. Following his wishes, I have done all I could to do just that.
 
As we all understand, with the internet came uncontrollable movie distribution. Though in the early years, after Don’s passing, it seemed interest faded in Roller Blade Warriors, then, people with no rights to distribute the movie, attempted to release it via various methods. For most, this was a means to make money, and, I suppose, for others it was due to the fact that they enjoyed the movie. But, you must question, why would someone enjoy watching a movie where women are brutalized?
 
With no other method, and becoming tired of paying my attorney a lot of money to halt people who had no rights to the movie from distribution it, my distribution company released it on DVD as a means of substantiating the ownership of the only person who held the rights to this film and to maintain control over its distribution. There was minimal interest in the release of this film and that, I believe, would have been what Don would have wanted.
 
So, for your fans of Roller Blade Warriors out there… For you distributors who are circulating this movie with no rights to do so… For you admirers of Donald G. Jackson, who are you providing a service to when you disseminate this film? Donald G. Jackson? No. Yourself? Maybe. But, if you care about a filmmaker, you should care about their wishes, whether they are alive or no longer with us. Isn’t that the best way to pay tribute to their filmmaking legacy?
 
And, to all you filmmakers out there who create works of cinema where women, or anyone, is brutalized, who does that help and how does that make any level of life any better? For all you viewers of cinema where women, or anyone is abused, how does that make any level of life any better?

Truthfully, I really hate to even discuss this movie, as it, and the way Don felt about it, is so negative.
 
This really brings us to a question of life and something that each of us must consider as we live through our days, is what you are doing setting the stage for the betterment of the world or is what you are doing glorifying the bad elements of life? Moreover, is what you are doing going to be regretted in future times?  Think before you do.
 
My advice. and my hope for the world, is that we should all only do things that expands positivity to all who encounter our anything.

Why You Do What You Do

I believe we are all pushed up against the wall of the things we must do and the things we must deal with in order to live our life. I mean think about it, what do you have to do today just to be able to survive: to eat and to keep a roof over your head? Sure, some people are lucky: they are rich, come from money, or whatever. Others, are deadbeats and live off of their parents, alimony, welfare, and the like. But, most of us, we must DO to survive. And, that doing takes time, it takes energy. The more you do, the more you have to do.
 
One of the big problems with life is it seems that everyone is on the hustle. They do one thing, so they can do another. They do this, so they can do that.
 
Certainly, people do all kinds of dastardly deeds to make money. Think about yourself, what do you do to make money so that you can live, survive, and do some of the things you want to do? How do those things you do affect other people? And mostly, do you even care?
 
I’m sure we all have our personal experiences where someone has done something that messed with our life. Somebody did something, so that they could make some money or get some sort of something, and in doing so, it messed us up. Maybe bring one of those incidents to mind. Who did what to you and why? How did it affect your life? If you can, maybe you can even figure out why they did it?
 
Turn it around now, think about a time when you did something to get something and what you did hurt the life of someone else. You know you had a reason for doing it. You probably knew it was going to hurt someone else. Maybe you even unleashed that hurt on purpose. But, no matter the reason, did you doing what you did truly give you want you wanted in the long run? And, if you got what you wanted, did you really care about the damage you created? For most people, the answer is, “Who cares! I got the money, I got the fame, I got the feel good. So, fuck ‘em.”
 
Now, we all can say, that is not the right way to live life. But, look around, it goes on all the time.
 
I mean, these life incidents are large and they are small but they all set the stage for the definition of our existence.
 
Like just recently, I took my car into this shop I’d never been to before for some warranty work. The guy at the shop snaked me into spending a couple of G’s out of my pocket, then I drove off the lot and my front end was massively banging. I called the guy, but instead of saying, “Sorry, I’ll fix it,” he started to calculate how much more he could charge me. It was like the age-old promise, you take your car to a mechanic to have one thing fixed and they break something else. But, this was blatantly obvious. Not trusting them, I took my car to this shop that I do trust, and it cost me over a thousand to get what the other shop broke fixed. Equaling, like three thousand dollars down for something that was supposed to be free. Good trick. I wish I could pull that one off.
 
This stuff goes on all the time, all over the place. The thing is, most people do not acknowledge that they are doing it. They don’t own what they have done and acknowledge how what they have done and what they are doing is hurting someone else. They just DO so they can get what they want to do what they want to do. How about you? Really, how about you? What have you done, what are you doing, and how has that doing something bad hurt someone else? Be honest with yourself.
 
I think this is as good as a day as any to set aside some time to do something right. Make a plan. Do something good that helps someone. Maybe if you have hurt someone or ripped them off or something, try to undo it. If not, just go and make somebody’s something just a little bit better.
 
A better world all begins with you and what you do!

The Evolution of Movement

I guess you could call me a lifelong marital artist, as I have been involved with the craft just three years shy of sixty years. I was six when I formally began to study, though certainly I was aware of the arts even before that point in my life. With this as a framework, I have witnessed a vast evolution in the martial arts over these many years. Throughout my early years, the martial arts were very formalized systems that existed firmly within themselves. A style was a style and that was that. The practitioners of that style practiced only the techniques of that style.
 
Somewhere in the early 1970s, however, this all began to change. Certainly, Chuck Norris was one of the first noted practitioners to go to other schools and watch their practices sessions and then integrated some of the other school’s methods into his overall dissemination of his art. Of course, Bruce Lee became one of the key components of style integration and from what he set in motion many practitioners, from the various styles, beginning to integrate other ideologies into their overall practice.
 
Though this inclusive method of style evolution was taking place, there were still many schools that held very fast to the formalized techniques defined by their system and they would not sway from these methods. As a young person, I was lucky enough to have studied from a few of the first-generation Korean martial art instructor who arrived in the U.S. Though each of them came from a similar background, and claimed allegiance to the same system, from each of them I was taught somewhat different techniques. I remember at one point, when I was about twenty-one, I was teaching the martial arts in association with this first-generation instructor and we had a student who just could not effectively deliver an ax kick. I believe it was due to his body structure. I suggested that he, in its place, preform a crescent kick during our warm-up exercises, so instead of halting his progress of understanding he would at least keep his movement flowing and his heart rate up. A few weeks into this, the first-generation teacher, witnessed this and totally ripped into the guy. I interceded and told him, it was my suggestion. He just said, “No, no, no.”
 
The man was so locked into the way he believed the system should be practiced that he completely rejected the crescent kick as a tool of offense, defense, or system compliance. This, even though when I was a child this was one of the first kicks I was taught, by another first-generation practitioner, of the same art.
 
I remember reading an article about Dan Inosanto, probably in the later 1970s, and he was discussing his teaching method. He stated, in essence, that he would simply let his students do the techniques as best as they could. If they were throwing a punch or kick incorrectly, he just let them continue in order to find their own pattern of development. I always thought that was a great ideology in that it allowed the student to find what works best for their body and from this they can become the most competent technician they can be.  Instructors who hold fast to a highly formalized style do not allow for this level of personal development.
 
Even more to the point, though there is obvious formality, defined for each system of the martial arts, every instructor comes to a unique understanding of effective behavior to emulate that system. Thus, though each system is the same, it is also different.
 
As we progressed through the 1980s and onwards, it became more common than not that an instructor may claim to be teaching a specific style of martial arts but they would also have learned and have adapted other system’s ideologies into their overall training method. During this period of time many instructors also left their original system behind in order to form a style of martial arts that conglomerated techniques from various systems. Some of the traditionalists found this to be a very bad thing, while other modern practitioners thought this was the ideal example of natural evolution.
 
At the heart of any system of anything is structure. You can adhere to that structure and follow it to the best of your ability but then you only become encased in that structure. You are not allowed to evolve and expand.  Not everyone can do every movement in the most perfect manner possible. Does that make them a bad practitioner? The answer to that question is twofold. One: The answer is, yes. If you are trying to do what you are doing, defined by some other individual or some other entity, then it must be done to their defined level of perfection or you are doing it incorrectly. Two: The answer to that question is, no. If you allow yourself to exist within your own level of perfection, doing things from a self-developed exhibition of your own unique ability, then anything you do becomes yours. From this, you are allowed to move it forward, allowing it to evolve, until it can become the perfect example of your own expression of human consciousness.
 
To evolve, you must allow yourself the ability to evolve.

Los Angeles Skid Row 1983

Los Angeles Skid Row
Housing and Life Styles

 
During Pandemic Lockdown, one of things I did was to go through the papers I wrote in Grad School. As you may know, that’s one of the main things you do in Grad School, write tons and tons of papers. I thought that I would perhaps put a book together of some of the more interesting studies. I transitioned several of those papers from typewritten pages to digital. They were originally composed in the early 1980s okay.... The main one left to do was this extensive study I did on Los Angeles Koreatown but then the world opened up again and I got distracted. Anyway, I’ve been seeing a bunch of stuff about homelessness in DTLA and the Skid Row section of L.A. on the news of late and it made me think of this paper. In my Grad School days, due to my ongoing research on the subject, I also taught a few seminars on this subject for the Urban Geography department. Anyway, I just thought I would throw it out there for you to read if you feel like it. …To see what I viewed way back in the way back when. Sorry, no Maps or Tables. But, other than that, here it is. Happy  
 
Table of Contents
Introduction
Boundaries of Skid Row
Inside Skid Row
Housing: Hotels
Housing: Lofts
Missions
Food Services of Skid Row
People of Skid Row
The Future of Skid Row
Conclusion
Appendix 1
Bibliography
 
Maps and Tables
Map 1
Table 1
Map 2
Table 2
Table 3
Table 4

Introduction
In every large city there is a place where the people who do not choose to live the average American lifestyle tend to congregate. These areas are generally in the older sections of the city. They are for the most part run down and accommodations are inexpensive. Hotel units make up the majority of the living spaces. In these environments a person may walk about and live as he chooses without being ridiculed from other members of society. Los Angeles’ Skid Row is this type of location. It is made up of a large part of a population of those that may be described as derelicts. Also included in this area are a large number of retired people and those who simply need a place to escape, “Average society.”

Los Angeles’ Skid Row has a slight twist to its inhabitance, however, compared to many other city’s Skid Row sections. This is defined by the fact that a large percentage of its living space has been converted from old factories, offices, and industries to what are now called, “Lofts.” Here, in these lofts, live artists and those who think it is the, “In,” place to be and wish to be viewed as, “Hip.” Therefore on Los Angeles Skid Row not only do we find the hotel and the street dwellers, but we also find those who live in these lofts.

This paper will deal with the housing of this area of Los Angeles known as, “Skid Row.” We will view the location, the type, description of, and the people, who make up this area. As all areas of a city deserve study, this area is no exception. Within the oldest area of Los Angeles is a very fluctuate population, yet at the same time, very stable. Some people come here and never leave, roaming from hotel to hotel, corner to corner. They find this area to be suitable as their home.

The Boundaries of Skid Row
Skid Row is located in the Eastern section of downtown Los Angeles: bounded to the North by Second Street, the East by San Pedro Street, the South by Seventh Street and the West by Main Street. (See Map 1.)

The Skid Row area itself has been serving its function as a place to house the poor, the drunk, and the unacceptable since the onset of the American Depression in the 1920’s. The area surrounding Skid Row, though not always immediately noticeable, serves a much different function than this area itself, however. In many cases, one may cross the street and the atmosphere changes completely. This is the case with the Northern boundary. It is undoubtedly the most definite and radical change for located on the Northern side of Second Street is the new Otani Hotel, a multi-million dollar structure that sets the boundary for Little Tokyo.

To the South side of Second Street there exists a few Japanese businesses and hotels where the Skid Row type of person tends to live. This boundary is very evident, but the interesting thing about it is if it were not for the placement of the Union Rescue Mission on Main Street, just South of Second Street, the area known as Skid Row would end approximately at Fourth Street.

The placement of this Mission, though constructed long before the New Otani Hotel, undoubtedly annoys the corporate owner and management of this hotel for more often than not, a lone derelict will stagger into this architectural wonder seeking a place to sleep for a few hours. Of course, he is immediately evicted, but the need for this act is no doubt a great imposition along with embarrassment for the hotel.

As one views Second Street, there are many people sleeping on the street or just sitting watching the day go by. The predominance of these people are to the Western section nearer the Mission having just left the confines of this structure and deciding what to do for the balance of the day.

San Pedro Street is the Eastern boundary and perhaps the least definable one. Although there is a concentration of more industry to the East, there are still a number of hotels, food services, and a Mission. The truly definable quality of this boundary is the make up of its population. As soon as one crosses San Pedro Street, the evidence of a highly Latin predominance comes to sight. As one goes west into the Skid Row section, the ethnic make up changes to highly African-America with a large evidence of Caucasians, but few of Latin descent.

The type of businesses along Fifth Street and Seventh Street East of San Pedro Street cater to the Latin community. There are Mexican restaurants, bars, etc. Though the structures are of the same age and physical appearance, the people that make up their inhabitance are different.

To the South we find Seventh Street. Just to the North of Seventh Street are a number of inexpensive hotels and food services that cater to the Skid Row population. There are also a number of street sleeping spots, which attract numerous constituents. The Greyhound Bus Station is located to the North on Seventh Street, which is a favorite sleeping and socializing spot for the dwellers of this area.

As we move to the South of Seventh Street, we find the beginning of the Los Angeles Garment District. The number of hotels drops to near zero as offices, show rooms, and factories take over. This area, though not necessarily more patrolled, has no real attraction for the homeless, as there is little ability to socialize and find food and sleeping arrangements.

The Western boundary of Skid Row is Main Street. This was once the central street of Los Angeles. Now, however, it has been left to many out-of-business store fronts and run down structures.

As we cross Main Street onto the western side, we see the beginning of the Central Business District of downtown Los Angeles. Along its western side are the nicer of the downtown hotels: The Frontier Hotel, the Hotel Cecil, etc. These structures, built in the early 1900s, serve as much nicer types of residences in this area and differ greatly from the rundown housing structures that lie to the East of Main Street. One does find derelicts to the West of Main Street, however, for in the Central City area there is excitement and reason for the few blocks walk to view this entertainment. Perhaps more than this, due to the amount of businessmen, shoppers and storekeepers, a persistent derelict has the ability to panhandle money for the desired food or alcoholic beverage.

As we now understand, the boundaries of Skid Row are only as defining as those who live there choose to make them. Within this section though, there is a certain conformity and a reason to be there. Moving out from this section a person finds a different environment; one perhaps not as accepting of his chosen life style.

Inside Skid Row
Once inside the boundaries of Skid Row a certain congruence is found not only of the people but of the structures, as well. Here are old buildings, built for a different reason at a different time in history, yet they have continued to serve a purpose; a purpose of housing and livelihood for a population that either cannot afford to move or does not choose to do so.

In 1849, the area that makes up Skid Row was all cropland, except for a few small structures along Main Street. In 1909 the area was completely developed. Most of the structures that were built in that fifty-year period are still in existence today. Examples of this are the Hotel Leland along Fifth Street and the King Edward Hotel and the Chapman Building along Main Street. These buildings have not out lasted their usefulness for they are all still inhabited and completely used.

The Skid Row area has not changed at all structurally since 1947, except for the construction of the new Police Station, which began in 1973, the Greyhound Bus Terminal, which began construction in 1970, and GTE Satellite Station that was constructed in 1976, and one new apartment building along Fifth Street, which was built in 1974. (For name and location of all structures, see Appendix 1).

The structures of this area are old and mostly show their age. They have deteriorated for there was no real need to keep up their appearances. The dwellers of this region do not consider appearance as a deciding factor as to where they will live.

Structures in this area, used for business purposes, vary in the degree of their appearances. Wholesalers along the main streets, such as Main, Los Angeles and San Pedro Streets, have well kept buildings. In some cases, the owners keep the buildings in good shape for their clientele while other owners simply do not bother. Bars, food services and hotels could be categorized as all being in a rundown condition.

On the main street of Skid Row or the actual Skid Row, Fifth Street, we find a rundown street with many hotels, bars, a few Thrift Shops and many people congregating. The one saving grace of this street is the newly constructed Police Station giving those who are apt to commit crimes a reason to think twice.

To the outsiders, this area may seem intimidating: the worn buildings, the trash all over the streets, the people sleeping on the sidewalks or in doorways, and the anger in the eyes of many. This outward appearance is, however, deceiving for the people that live here and their lifestyle is their way of existence. The worn structures and their inhabitance function well within this world as it is their home.

Skid Row Housing: Hotels
Hotels are the lifeblood living structures of Skid Row. There are no houses in this area and the nearby Bunker Hill condominiums are far out of reach of the Skid Row people. For those who live within an actual dwelling, the hotels are their homes.

Entering these hotels, East of Main Street, one will, without exception, find signs stating, “No Visitors Allowed.” Many times there are bars or a metal screen doors not allowing anyone but the residents to enter. These are signs of impending danger and crime, and perhaps they do give a certain amount of safety. It is a closed world that the inhabitants must live with.

Once inside a hotel, there are generally prices posted. In some hotels, there will be a television set in the main lobby where residences congregate and pass the day. To view these people, we find many older, retired people, who when spoken to, discuss how they have lived in that specific hotel for twenty years or longer. They also describe how many things have changed since they first took up residence.

We also find a younger to middle-aged group of people whose stay in these hotels is generally a short one. Their taking up residence in these hotels occurs for many reasons, but mostly it is due to a lack of funds to locate in a better area of the city.

It is essential to note that the hotels of Skid Row are not necessarily that inexpensive with prices averaging $50.00 per week. (See Table 1) This is quite expensive for what one receives.

Each hotel not only attracts a specific type of clientele, but each offers different amities. Some rooms contain bathrooms; some do not. Cooking is almost universally not allowed, thus none have kitchens.

As explained, each hotel attracts a certain type of resident. The Hotel Bixby, for example, has a large number of transvestite gays living there. Other hotels, such as the St. George Hotel, allows families. The Russ Hotel has many retired people. This explains that each person who lives in this area has their own niche and may function well within it. These hotels are not only run down on the outside, but undoubtedly, need much improvement on the inside.

None of the hotels East of Main Street have complied with earthquake safety standards, yet have variances, which excludes them. All Los Angeles City hotels are required to have fire sprinkler systems and appropriate fire prevention methods. The City inspects for these, but to view the hotels, few have the necessary precautions.

The City of Los Angeles believes that only a few of the hotels that make up this area comply with set City Building Safety Code standards. Through various methods, these hotels are not forced to comply with required standards. The probable reason for these hotels being allowed to exist with meeting city safety standards is, where would their inhabitance go, as the city does not wish to deal with this population, if they are put out on the street. In fact, The Los Angeles City Planners feel that all of the Skid Row hotels could be condemned if the city chose to do so.

There are three hotels along Main Street that are quite different from the those that exist in the rest of the area. They are the Hotel Cecil, the Frontier Hotel, and the King Edward Hotel. These hotels all serve a much different clientele. They were built at the same time period as the others of the area but they are kept up in a much nicer condition.

The people that live in these hotels are generally long term residents. Many have worked while living there and continued to stay on when they retired. The amities are the same as others; some without baths and no kitchens. The average price is just a few dollars more than the rundown hotels in the Skid Row section of the city. Why more people do not inhabit them is the question? It is perhaps due to the fact that each Skid Row resident, who can actually afford to pay rent, congregates to a specific location where they find residents of a like mind.

Though in better physical condition, these three hotels are believed to be equally below city code standards. Yet, once again, the city allows them to exist. (See Map 2 for housing location.)

Housing: Lofts
Loft living is a relatively new type of housing in this area. Near the end of the 1960s and early 1970s many of the downtown businesses began moving to more hospitable and larger locations, leaving industrial factories and office buildings vacant. Los Angeles’ artists, seeing this as an opportunity to have large space with very inexpensive rents, began to move in. This movement took hold in the mid 1970s and now has become quite fashionable.

Living in lofts was illegal until 1979 when the city passed ordinances that allowed people to live in these structures if the owner did minor modifications. With this knowledge of the lofts and these modifications, came the end to inexpensive living conditions, however. Currently, rents for a loft range from twenty-five cents per square foot up to one dollar and fifty cents. The amount of one’s rent is due to how much work has been put into the individual loft itself.

The interesting thing about this is now all loft renters sign contracts that any improvements they may make will remain once they vacate the premises. Through this process many building owners have not done any improvements on their own part. The tenants have done it for them. As each tenant moves, and more desire to live in this location, the rents go up.

Most of the original loft dwellers have left this part of the city. What has come in is people, who want to live in, “Artist’s lofts,” and associate with that type of person. This is not to say that a good deal of artists still do not live in the Skid Row area. As time goes on and rents increase, however, there will be fewer and fewer artistic occupants of the lofts.

Lofts, as with the hotels of this area, are far below city code standards. To keep these buildings from remaining vacant, the city has made concessions. If these buildings were to be fully inspected, they would undoubtedly be able to be condemned due to structure insufficiencies and health hazards caused by rats, bugs, and little or no structural redevelopment.

The people who live in Skid Row lofts are a quite different group, on the whole, than those of the Skid Row hotels. For the most part, they are much younger and tend less to socialize in the local bars. What comes with the merging of these two groups: the younger loft group and the Skid Row group, is essentially a mergences of two cultures. These cultures are very different. Perhaps the most dangerous factor of this merge is the crime rate the loft dwellers must take into consideration. There are variances of the populous yet these two individual cultures seem to function fairly well next to each other.

Housing: Missions
There are three Missions in the Los Angeles’ Skid Row area: The Union Rescue Mission, The Midnight Mission and The Los Angeles Mission. All three provide housing and food to a limited number of people and basically serve the function of taking care of the Skid Row derelicts.

The Union Rescue Mission and The Los Angeles Mission are both church orientated: The Midnight Mission is not. All are run on a very definite schedule. The Los Angeles Mission seems to tend to dominate and order the people around, who are staying there. They tend to show a great deal of superiority over their constituents. Perhaps, as a religious group, they believe in the need to have a strong hand to guide these people. The Union Rescue Mission employs two guards walking in front of the mission to keep the peace. Here, though religiously orientated, they are not quite as domineering as The Los Angeles Mission.

All three Missions give out beds each night until they are full. They also give out clothing. The Union Rescue Mission and the Midnight Mission both have temporary job windows where daily people wait in line for a job. These three Missions add highly to the atmosphere of Skid Row. Lines form for lunch and dinner. The Missions are placed to serve a purpose and the purpose is well served; that of taking care of and guiding these people from many places and circumstances.

All three Missions are both Federally and City of Los Angeles funded and undoubtedly their organizers are making a considerable income. The one obvious thing that is lacking is that of doing a true good for the overall redevelopment of this area of Los Angeles.

Aside from the Midnight Mission, the other two are so orientated around a chapel, that they see no further. What is happening at the Missions is that the people simply become dependent on them for food, medical attention, or sleeping arrangements. Thus, this just breeds the residents of the Skid Row area into more and more of a dependent mindset; not only for the people who already inhabit the area but for potential future residence, as well. These mission set up a culture where not only are the people forced to stay in this area to find substances and acceptance, but, due to their existence, they unwittingly invite others to congregate in this area of the city, as well.

One interesting thing about these Missions is the fact that they offer accommodations for men only. Women are allowed to eat, but then they must leave where they probably must find a place on the street to sleep. (See Tables 2, 3 and I
4. for Mission Time Tables.)

Food Services: Skid Row
Aside from those who get free food at the Missions, the people who live in the Skid Row area must find their nourishment elsewhere. This gives them two alternatives: One, to go to a restaurant or a food stand, and two, go to a grocery store. The food stands and restaurants are numerous in the area. They not only serve the working people of downtown, but those that stay open past 5:00
PM, serve the needs of the residents of this community as well.

The problem incurred here is that most of the people of this area do not have the money to spend at these types of establishments. Thus, only a very few frequent them.

The liquor stores and small grocery stores sell only a limited number of items, which are the essentials. Their predominant sale item is that of alcoholic beverages, which cater to the derelict population. There are no full service food stores in the area. Though this is perhaps not that unusual for a downtown section. As discussed, most housing in this area does not provide cooking facilities so there is actually little need for full-scale markets. What can be concluded from this is that the population is not food orientated. It is available for free at the Missions or if one has transportation, they may travel to where suitable food services are available.

The People of Skid Row
As one hears the term, “Skid Row,” the immediate thought comes to mind is that of a bum or an alcoholic living on the street. Though this certainly does exist here, what one sees in Los Angeles’ Skid Row is that there is much more than that simple definition.

For example, there is a large group of people, who are older and have lived in the area for many years. There are others, who can afford to and do, live in lofts. There is also a large transvestite group who live on Skid Row. This is probably for the same reason many people live there; that they will not be harshly judged.

We must also not forget the families, predominately Latin, who also make up this area. This is an area with a vast cultural make up. Perhaps not much variation in race, but a lot in terms of idealism and views of the world.

The census of this area shows the population to be highly Caucasian. The reason for this is the tract covers areas of downtown where large hotels exist and the people have stayed there many years. The census also shows that the average age of the population is forty years old. This may be the case in some parts of Skid Row. What has happened is that the population of the one time industrial lofts have not been taken into consideration, as this group tends to be much younger.

The population who live and socialize on Skid Row each has their own story to tell. The people are, for the most part, friendly and willing to ask the casual observer for some money.

The Future of Skid Row
As all things in time get old, this is what has happened and is happening to this area. There have been attempts to revive Skid Row but all have failed. The most successful one has been the movement of people into the lofts, but as time goes on and conditions change, this will also undoubtedly go by the way side.

There is currently a proposal to build new structures and apartments for Skid Row. This proposal was brought about by the City of Los Angeles along with the El Peblo Reconstruction Project. The money for this project has recently been cut off, however. Thus, these new structures will not be built. This is what has happened many times to Skid Row as all new structures such as office buildings and hotels in downtown Los Angeles are being constructed West of Broadway. This trend does not seem to be going to change. Once again, the renewal of Skid Row and reconstruction is cut off.

Conclusion
Los Angeles’ Skid Row serves the purpose that has been developed through time to serve. If it were to be removed the people would simply find new areas of the city to inhabit. As each area of the city has its purpose, so does Skid Row. In time, through earthquake, fire or the city deciding to reevaluate its stand on these buildings, this area will change. For now, it is probably one of the most interesting areas both aesthetically and socially within the inter-city.

YouTube Doesn’t Like Me

I always find life amusing. It is always curious to me how The Powers That Be hold all the cards and they have the ability to keep people from progressing in life. This, while they continue to rake in the dough.
 
For those of you who know me, and know about my filmmaking, my filmmaking and I are all based upon a Zen freeform expression of releasing the art. Once upon a time, in the long ago and the far-far away, there was a lot of money that could be made if you were an independent filmmaker. I’ve discussed all that reality in a million other places, so I would do it here. But, like in all things life, times change. Nothing lasts forever. With the demise of VHS, DVD, and the advent of Streaming, big money is gone. I mean, I get like one dollar every time someone streams one of my films on Amazon Prime.  
 
Anyway, though YouTube was not the first platform to offers movies to the public for free… …Initially, you could not even upload anything of that length on YouTube. But, they have now become the powerhouse of internet streaming. A whole lot of Influencers, (or whatever you want to call them), have made a bundle on YouTube. Hell, some of them have even made money by talking about my movies and me on YouTube.
 
Okay great! Good for them!
 
As the VHS and DVD markets are a dead language. Most people I know don’t even own a VHS, DVD, or Blu-ray player anymore. Thus, I have, in more or less recent times, began to upload some of my films to YouTube. Let the masses see ‘em!!!
 
Anyway, about a week ago, I get an email from YouTube telling me that I should join their monetarization program.  The reason I have never tried to this in the past is that when you do they put those annoying ads in your videos. I mean, they do that anyway, sometimes… But, if you play ball with them, it is all the time. I hate those. But… I thought… Okay, maybe… Make a few dollars.
 
So anyway, I do the sign-up process and they tell I will get their answer within a month. Seemed like a long time, but I’m not the one pulling the strings.
 
It’s been maybe four days or something and I get an email, “Your channel is not approved for the YouTube Partner Program.” This makes me smile, with a bit of a laugh, now, as it did when I first read it. You’re the one who asked me to join! 
 
Anyway, I don’t know their reasoning??? They gave me no reason why. I’m guessing… And, it’s just a guess, that I have too much adult content in my films. But, I don’t know??? Maybe they just don’t like me or my films for some other reason???
 
Anyway, YouTube doesn’t like me. They will not allow me to make any money from
their platform. This, while they are sure happy to keep my movies on their platform so they may, at least in some small way, attract more people to their site where they can make tons and tons and tons and tons of money. I mean, one of my movies, that I put up about a year ago, has ninety-four thousand views so far. Another one, that has been up about four months has forty-nine thousand views. Not all of them are like that, but some of them certainly are.
 
Welcome to life. No YouTube money for me. Sad

Nirvikalpa Samadhi

As I always try to do when I present a writing about enlightenment, I state that I understand very few people care about enlightenment and its obtainment. It’s not for everyone. So, if that is your case, just bypass this blog. It’s no big thing.
 
For those of you who do focus your life on the realms of the spiritual, with the hope of obtaining enlightenment, you really need to begin your passageway with the framework of outlining what you define enlightenment to be.
 
There are many people who claim to be on the path of obtaining enlightenment but without a very clear perspective of what enlightenment is, what it means to the body and the mind, and the life and the lifestyle after it is obtained, they will never come to its realization as they have not laid the foundations for its obtainment. They will simply be forever lost on the path of attempting to find it. But, by its very nature, it cannot be found. In understanding that statement, the essence of enlightenment may be understood.
 
Most people believe that they must follow a formalized path to the obtainment of enlightenment. They must practice techniques. As the stories are told, even Siddhartha Gautama, the Sakyamuni Buddha followed this path. But, any technique is only as good as its practitioner. Without the right frame of mind, nothing can be achieved.
 
So, right now, take a moment, and define what you believe enlightenment to be. What is enlightenment? What does it mean to your body? What does it mean to your mind? What does it mean once you obtain it? How will you live your life once it is achieved? Is enlightenment the same for everyone or does each person exhibit enlightenment in a fashion that is uniquely their own?
 
If you are walking the path of spirituality, really think through this. Find your own heartfelt definition. Don’t rely on what you have read or what you have heard, though other people’s words affect us all. Find your own true definition of what enlightenment truly is and how it will shape your body, mind, and life.
 
Once you have this understanding in place, define what your pathway to obtaining enlightenment will be? What tools will you use to get there?
 
For many, they believe that the only true enlightenment is Sahaja Samadhi. That enlightenment that overcomes an individual in an instantaneous flash of pure realization. Though this can and may be the wished for emanation of realization, to wait for this or to look for this completely eliminates the possibility of encountering it. Thus, most look for a formalized pathway.
 
Throughout the centuries, there have been an untold number of techniques designed to help the zealot find at least a glimpse of realization. Each of these techniques are undoubtedly valid and provide the practitioner with hope.
 
One of the techniques that arose in my mind was a pathway to Nirvikalpa Samadhi, where the individual witnesses a state of devoid self, where all levels of bodily consciousness have been replaced by the ecstasy of complete and total divine interaction and cosmic consciousness. Though that is hefty wording in that sentence, it is used to define the ideal state of perfect emancipation.
 
It must be noted that some people should never practice an advanced technique of spiritual awakening, like I am about to detail. If your mind is not in the right place, if you have psychologic, psychiatric, or emotional issues, be self-aware enough to step away as following this pathway may be dangerous to your psyche. Be strong enough to know. This being said, here is a simple technique that can help guide you towards an enlightened state of mind.
 
Sit down in a quiet, dimly lighted place, where your mind will not be distracted or disturbed. Take a few moments and enter into a meditative mindset by whatever techniques you commonly use to still your mind: pranayama, candle gazing, wall staring, or whatever you find effective. Once you have found your meditative mind, take control over your mental focus. Find the source of your inner mental self. Clearly bring it into focus. At this point, being to witness your being disintegrate. This can occur in whatever form you find best. Perhaps witness your mind and your body breaking apart into small particles and floating outwards, away from you, into the atmosphere, as you slowly become nonexistent.
 
At the essence of enlightenment is becoming nothing and merging with the cosmic expansive whole. This advanced meditation technique may help you achieve that state of grace.

Meeting the People You Never Knew

Certainly, since the dawning of the internet, how we meet and interact with people; everything has changed. I mean, with a few taps on the keyboard you can find way too much information about pretty much anybody.
 
Back in the early days of the internet, there were chat room, (by various names), and people would say all kinds of nothing. There was love, there was hate, there was the dissemination of information: both true and false. Mostly, there was a lot of blibber blabber, (as there still is today). Not good or bad, (necessarily), this just became the way it was/is.
 
Then, email arose. I used to answer most all of the emails I received. What a mistake!  Even now, I am more sorry than not when I answer an email. Me being me, since the early stages of the internet, not only have I received a lot of nice communications but also tons and tons of unwanted questions and supposed proclamations about my life that I just did not need to hear.
 
Remember, the internet is only a couple of decades old.
 
Some people have hidden in the background throughout all of this. Good for them! Have you ever searched for someone you knew, once upon a time, in the long ago and the far-far away; just wondering whatever became of them, and there is nothing? No photos, no nothin’… How they did that I don’t know??? But, that is a skillset that they should teach.
 
Mostly, way too much STUFF about everybody is out there.
 
But, getting more to the point, at least the point I had in my mind when I began this ditty… You know, you meet someone… They seem nice and you make small talk with them and stuff. Maybe you even have an idea like you could be friends or something… But, how often do those relationships ever more forward? Very rarely, I believe. I know I have met a lot of people that in my mind’s eye I thought of things beyond just the what was right in the moment.  But then, nothing ever came to be. Was it me? Was it them? Was it life situation(s)? Previous choices made? Or, just karma? I don’t know???
 
It's the same on the internet. There is all this availably/possibility of contact. Yet, as least from my experience, it is only people contacting me who want something from me. No one is ever reaching out a hand of friendship or love or caring or giving or whatever…  They just want something. How about you? Who contacts you and why? …On the internet or otherwise…
 
People talk about me on the internet. You can find that nonsense all over the place. And, this has been going on since the birth of the internet. But, all of those people who talk don’t know me—they have never met me. Most have never even spoken to me. They have never met or spoken to me when meeting and speaking has become so easy. So, what does that say about what they are saying?
 
Life is a strange beast. I am sure this has always been the case. But, now, HERE, this is what we know. This is what we are living. What are you living? Who are you living it with? Who, out there, do you contact? Who, out there, is contacting you? Who, out there, would you like to contact? Why do you want to contact them? And, perhaps more importantly, if you can contact them, why don’t you contact them? What have you got to lose?

***

Just because you refuse to take responsibility for what you have done does not mean that you are not responsible.

***

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

The Truthful Answer

Have you ever met one of those people who has the answers to everything. Ask them a question and they will concoct a response as if they have studied the subject in depth for their entire life. Even worse, they hear other people speaking and butt into their conversation, relaying all that they supposedly know about that thing they truly know very little about.
 
I have always been left somewhere in between amused and upset when encountering one of this type of person. It is obvious that they do not know what they are speaking about but they present themselves in such a manner as if they do. I think a lot of misinformation gets put out to the world by these people and a lot of people get sent down the wrong road by listening to their words and/or advice.
 
Think about it… Think about a time when you encountered a person like this. I don’t know, maybe you are one of those people? But, if you do call up one of these memories of encountering and interacting with someone like this, think about where the information this person provided you with lead your life. Was it anywhere positive?
 
Most people who live this style of lifestyle, are so locked into their own mind that they may not even consciously realize what they are doing. Usually, the people who behave in this manner, once known and interacted with, will commonly be understood to be one of those individuals who is best categorized as a, “Liar.” But, the fact of life is, most pathologic lairs cannot stop themselves. They are so locked into lying that is just what they do. Thus, it spreads to all aspects of their life, thereby, affecting the life of any other person they interact with.
 
We are all going to encounter people like this as we pass through life. That’s just one of the unfortunate truths about life. And, the main problem being, when we are first getting to know someone, who’s life is defined by this pattern of behavior, we may even listen to them. We may believe what they have to say. Through time, however, we may come to understand their flaws, but that may occur too late, as something negative may have already happened to our life due to their words and guidance.
 
What is the answer? I don’t know? There are a lot of those kind of people out there. The best we can hope for is to look for the telltale signs of who and what that person truly is. If they speak on a subject, ask them what is their basis for knowledge. If their only answer is, “That’s what I think,” That’s what I believe,” “That’s what this person says,” or “That’s what I heard for whomever,” steer clear of anything they have to say. Because if you don’t know, you don’t know. Simply by claiming that you know, is never a definition of actual knowledge.

You Can’t Help Everyone

For any of you people out there who actually know me, or even for you people who read this blog or my other writings, you will know that I am a strong advocate for helping everyone you can whenever you can. I truly believe the world becomes just a little bit better every time someone reaches out a hand of kindness and gives a person some help no matter how large or small that gesture may be. This being said, the reality of the reality is, you can’t help everyone.
 
I flashed back to the incident earlier today. It was in the later 1970s and I was LAX waiting from my then girlfriend’s plane to arrive. She had gone down in Florida to visit with her father and I had gotten to the airport a little bit early so I was just sitting around. This was long before the days of all the intense security that currently takes place at airports.
 
Anyway, I was sitting there, and this guy walks up to me.
 
If I can go into a bit of a sidebar here… For those of you who did not live through this period of time, you may not know this but, if a man had long hair and another long-haired guy arrived on the scene there was this level of assumed camaraderie; like you were walking a similar path and fighting a similar battle. Though this was rarely the case, this was the prevalent mindset of the era.
 
Anyway… This guy seeing me, and me being the only other man in the terminal with long hair, I guess he assumed that I was one of the tribe. He walks up to me. He straight out asks me if I could give him and his girlfriend, who was apparently also soon to arrive, a ride home. He explains that he had spent all his money on drinking at the airport bar. I could smell the whiskey on his breath. And, that his girlfriend would be very upset if they had to, “Hitch,” home.
 
Okay… How is that any of my problem? And, if you did not spend all of your money on getting drunk, then maybe you could have taken a taxi or a bus or something…
 
Of course, I didn’t say that. That’s just what I was thinking. I nicely declined. The guy was not happy with my answer, however. First, he begged, then he almost got angry when I continued to refuse. Like I was somehow supposed to say, “Yes,” simply because he wanted me to. Finally, with my not budging, he walked away.  
 
Though everyone can certainly be found worthy of help, but a person who behaves in this manner—a person who is not even willing to help themselves, can their motivations be trusted? Thus, should you help them simply because you can? There’s another whole side to this, but I will get into that in a moment.
 
This memory caused me to remember another time a few years ago. I was at the gas station pumping gas into my car and this other car pulls up. The passenger starts talking to me. He tells me that he is heading to a bar in Redondo and was wondering if I would give him some money so he could be sure to get drunk. I almost laughed in his face. But, I just said, “Sorry, I don’t carry cash.” Which is for the most part true. But, think about it, this guy wanted me to give him money so he could get drunk. Are you kidding me? What kind of help was he asking for?
 
The guy at the airport, what was his true story? I don’t know? But, what I do know is that there are certain people you simply cannot trust and if you cannot trust them, you should never let them anywhere near your life, your family, your possessions, your anything. Because you do not know what they are going to do. There are, and have always been, so many stories of people getting hurt simply because they were reaching out a hand of trust and assistance to someone that they should not have.  If they did not extend that gesture of help, they would not have been hurt. Meaning, you must be very careful who you help. And, that guy, proved by his own story that he was not a trustworthy person. So, who knows what may have happened if I had given him a ride in my van?  
 
Though I say, help everyone you can, whenever you can, I also state, in doing so, you must be careful. Never let that person you are helping, especially if you do not truly know them, be allowed into a position in your life where they could hurt or harm you or the people you love. Because then, your helping them would lead to you needing help. In other words, help, but be careful who you help.

***

If you make a name for yourself by speaking about the misdeeds of others, you are as responsible as they are for unleashing negativity out and onto the world.

Friends for a Price

I believe that if any of us looks at the friendships we have had throughout our life, we will see that they are based on the benefit that the other person receives from that friendship. Few people ever enter into any relationship without receiving something in return for that joining. Most people never ponder any of this truth, but think about who you have chosen to be friends with throughout your existence, wasn’t there always an exchange of something where you gave and received something, and the other person did the same?
 
Many of us, myself included, idealize friendships. We believe the people we are choosing to associate with are good and giving people and by associating with one another some greater good may be given birth to. But, look at the course of your life and the people who were once your friend but are no longer your friend. What caused the split? Was it something you did that they did not like or something that they did that you did not like? As it is no more, what did that friendship actually mean?
 
Even since I was a young child, I have witnessed the frailty of friendships. For example, my father was a very popular guy. He had a lot of so-called friends. But, the moment he died, I never saw any of them again. They never came by to say, “Hi,” and check on my mother or myself. No phone calls, nothing. One may say, that was due to the fact that those people were friends with my father, not friends with my mother or I, but my mother, and to a lesser degree myself, as I was a child, also associated with them. He died and we never heard from any of them ever again. What does that tell us?
 
I also think to my friend Donald G. Jackson, who also was, “Friends,” with a lot of people. Many of them known film actors and established crew members who were constantly calling him looking for a role or a job so they could get paid. As he went into the last stage of his life, except for a couple of other people, no one but me ever visited him at the hospitable. When he passed away, and his wife and his daughter were forced to immediately move from the house they had lived in for over twenty years, no one but me came to help them move along all of the insane amount of horde that Don had collected. His wife would call me, once she had gotten a collection of whatever together, and I would drive out to the Valley a couple of times a week and literally fill my car to the brim just trying to aid in their getting rid of all that STUFF. No one be me came around to help. Again, what does that say about so-called friendships?
 
In my own life, I have witnessed when there were people who came into my life, and I befriended and attempted to help them. In more than one case, the person freaked out over something of their own concoction and not only were they no longer my friend but they got mad and bad mouthed me. What kind of friendship is that?
 
In other cases, people I have considered a friend, completely fucked me over. Obviously, they did that based solely upon operating from a very selfish perspective. But, being so locked in their own mind, they could care less about what they were doing to my or anyone else’s life. Is that friendship?  
 
What I am saying here is that few people ever study the ramification of friendship. Most, simply expect a higher level of good coming from those people they consider a friend. But, the fact of the fact is, this is not always going to prove to be the outcome.
 
This is just something you need to keep in mind. In fact, right now, why don’t you take a few moments and trace down the friends you have, the friends you have had, and the friends you lost via either your doings or theirs. What do/did they mean to you? What do/did you mean to them? If they are still in your life, how does your relationship function? Why does it function? Why are you friends? If they are no longer in your life, what caused your separation? Really think this through…
 
Now, take a moment and isolate a friend you currently have. Why are you friends with them? What does your friendship provide you?  What does your friendship provide to them? And, perhaps most importantly, why are you friends and what would cause you to no longer be friends?
 
Most people never really contemplate any of this which is why they become so shook when a friendship
disintegrates.  You really should think this through, because you probably don’t want to end up facing the cold hard fact that the person you believe to be your friend is not your friend at all.

***

The person who is less will commonly critique or criticize someone who they view as a more in an attempted to gain a foothold to raise themselves up to a position where the individual they are discussing already resides.

***

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.

You Don’t Have to Say Yes

I believe one of the biggest factors that leads to most of the mistakes one makes as they pass through life is saying, “Yes,” when they mean, “No.” This goes from very small things to very large life things. But, think about it—think about your life regrets, I imagine that most of them began by you saying, “Yes,” when you were thinking, “No.”
 
Life is full of all kinds of things that we do not want to do. This goes from very small things to very large things. All you have to do is to scan your memory tapes and I am sure you can come up with an overabundance of times when you were forced into doing some-thing that you did not want to do. Though most of these things are small: talking to someone you don’t like, going to dinner somewhere where you don’t want to eat, meeting someone you don’t wish to encounter, and so on. But, then there are also the big things: getting drafted into the military, having sex with someone you don’t really want to have sex with, being forced to go to a job, day in and day out, that you hate. The list of all of these, “Don’t want to dos,” is long and it is different for each individual.
 
Many of life’s say, “Yes,” when you want to say, “No,” comes to be regretted later. Certainly, through the #metoo movement, and things like that, we saw so many people coming forward with their regrets of saying, “Yes.” Or course, many were coerced into saying, “Yes,” when they meant, “No.” But, isn’t that one of the biggest factors in saying, “Yes,” coercion?

Sex is not the only thing that people regret. Think how many people have ended up in jail when they were persuaded to do something that they knew was wrong but they did it anyway.
 
It is easy to say, “I would have never done that.” Or, “Why did you give in?” And, all kinds of stuff like that. But, in the moment, many a bad decision is made and then later regretted.
 
As we get older, it seems that it becomes more easy to say, “No.” But, this is life, and sometimes we are forced to say, “Yes,” no matter what age we are. That’s just the way it is. I doubt that there is one of us that has not said, “Yes,” and/or agreed to do some-thing that we did not later regret.
 
Okay… So, now what? What do we do with that regret?
 
It seems that we have entered into this current stage of history where many have taken to the path of getting revenge for saying, “Yes,” when they really wanted to say, “No.” But, if you said, “Yes,” no matter what motivated you to do so, isn’t what occurred at least in part your fault? Few people are willing to own this truth.
 
Life is a complicated mess. No one gets through it without receiving a few scars. I do not believe there is one person who does not possess at least one life event that they wish they could erase, not have lived, and not have said, “Yes,” to.
 
As you get older, assuredly you come to be a more self-defined emanation of the inner you. From this, you, more than likely, are more prone to say, “No,” especially for big, long-term, life-defining life decisions. But, this is not always the case. Think about all the adults in bankruptcy court, deep into their years, because they could not say, “No,” to buying that whatever that they could not really afford. So, saying, “Yes,” when you should say, “No,” goes on all over the place, throughout a person’s life, motivated by any number of factors.
 
Okay, so we all have regrets. Some are large and some are small. What should we do with them?
 
Though there is no absolute solution, and certainly, I am no soothsayer who has all the answers, but I will suggest, that as long as you let that whatever moment of saying, “Yes,” haunt you, and reverberated throughout your mind, that mistakes controls you. If you focus on that person that you wish you did not say, “Yes,” to, that person controls not only your past but your future. And, the more revenge you attempt to unleash, the more damned your own karma becomes. The more hurt you instigate, no matter what your motivation to hurt whomever you believe deserves what and why, then the more focused your negativity becomes, which always finds its way back to its point of inception. Thus, it is you that becomes the source point for the regret of other people. Is that right? Is that whom you want to be?
 
All I can suggest is, let it go. Because, if you do, though you may have done something in that past that you regret, you will not allow it to be or to become the defining factor of your future life. Don’t let the mistake you made yesterday by saying, “Yes,” when you should have said, “No,” control your tomorrow.

Remember, no matter what anyone says, you are not required to say, “Yes.”

The Things that Nobody Cares About but You

It’s a warm, sunny, summer’s day here in L.A.
 
…First of all, let me start out by saying, I really do not like L.A. summers. I don’t like the heat. I don’t like the humidity. I don’t like the weird color the sky becomes. Give me a cool, cloudy winter’s day and I’m all about it. The summer, not so much…
 
Anyway, as it is a warm summer day, I decided to go and do my morning things to do on my motorcycle. I was ridding down this long hill that leads up (or away) from where I live, and this thought came to me. The thought was of my uncle’s 1956 Triumph Trophy.
 
As a kid, that motorcycle was an integral part of my life. I mean, my uncle had ridden it from Illinois, where he lived most of the time, all the way to L.A. That, in and of itself, is mindboggling to me. When he went back, he left it here for a while.  My father used to take me for rides on it when I was very young. I loved it. That was long before the helmet laws, the no-kids on a scoot proclamations, and all that. Then, after my father’s passing, my uncle would take me for rides on it. He even taught me how to ride a motorcycle on that bike. So, it really meant a lot to me. I tried to buy it from my uncle, when I got older, but he too really loved it. Even though he had a couple of Harleys and stuff, I guess it held a spot in his heart as he had owned it for so long.
 
Anyway, after my mother’s passing, I kind of lost track of my uncle, though I knew he was living in Bettendorf, Iowa with his girlfriend. But, as there was so much distance between us, and he wasn’t coming out to Cali to visit my mother and me or anything, I didn’t see him in the later years of his life. No one even told me he had passed away a few years after my mother. It was only when someone, who lived in that area, contacted me, asking me if I was the Scott Shaw listed in his obituary, that I knew he was no more.
 
Okay, I know, I know, that’s a lot of backstory… The point being, with his passing, I would have really loved to have come into possession of that motorcycle. I would have been happy to pay his girlfriend or whomever its market price. But, no one contacted me. What became of that motorcycle, I have no idea? I’m guessing, his girlfriend just sold it or maybe gave it to one of her kids or grandkids or something. Whoever got it, however, the one thing I can be sure of is that it did not mean as much to them as it did to me.
 
This is the thing about life, there’s those things you really care about—those things that mean something to you, but they mean nothing to anyone else. I think this is where one of the big problems in life arises, people care about what they care about, but they could care less about what anyone else cares about. Think about it… What do you care about? What is that something that really means something to you? Now, turn this around, do you care about what anyone else cares about? Do you care what that motorcycle meant to me? Probably not.
 
There’s a lot of ways you can/could chart this mindset. There’s a lot of things that you can learn from studying it. But, will you? Will you only spend your time caring about what you care about or will you expand your consciousness and care about what that someone else cares about?
 
Try this, next time when you are in one of those moments when you are witnessing that someone lost something, instead of only caring about what you care about, why don’t you try to understand what that other person is feeling. Even more, why don’t you do something about it to help repair that pain of loss. Why don’t you try to replace that lost something. If nothing else, it will at least prove that you do not only think about yourself.  Think about it…

***

So many people claim they know what they know. They claim they base what they know upon the facts. But was it them who did the research? No. So, at best, all they are doing is believing what someone else is proclaiming. Is that actually the truth?

***

If you ever notice a sketchy person standing across the street, you should never cross that intersection and walk towards them.

The First Thing that You Need to Realize is that There is Nothing to Gain

Whenever anyone enters the spiritual path, they do so for a reason. They hope to gain something. Whether this, “Something,” is to find solace, gain an understanding of the cosmos, get closer to God, or to find enlightenment, they are going after something. Combine this with the fact that the spiritual path promises so much of that, “Something,” and it becomes very obvious that it is very easy to get consumed by the illusion of spiritually rather than its truth.

There are stories told of the vast wisdom of that, “Enlightened,” somebody, or the truth that Spiritual Soothsayer possesses. From this, people are lured into the illusion that being spiritual will provide you with that suchness known only to those who inhabit this corridor.
 
People play the game of spirituality all the time. They dress in the garb that is specific to their sect. A wardrobe that says, “I am spiritual, you are not.” Maybe they chant, maybe the pray, maybe they stand on a street corner yelling that everyone is going to hell. Maybe they even play the role quietly, speaking softly from a church pulpit. In any and all of these cases, what they are exclaiming, via words or symbolism, is that they are spiritual, and by being spiritual, they somehow hold the key to that intangible something.
 
Certainly, since the dawn of time, there have been stories told about that truly spiritual someone. Words spoken and written about the amazing things they could do, the depth of knowledge they possess, and how all those they touched became that something more. But, a story told, is only a story told. No matter how supposedly great the person was proclaimed to be, with time, stories only become more and more exaggerated. Thus, is anyone left with the truth or are we all only left with a tall tale? Who is to know and who is to say?
 
People enter the spiritual path with a goal in mind. Here lies the mistake. For each person that goal may vary, but it is a goal, nonetheless. As it is a goal, it sets a person on a quest to gain that goal—to find that endpoint. But, in this, the entire truth of the spiritual path is lost. It shifts from becoming a pathway of realization and, instead, becomes nothing more than a passageway of desire.
 
There are assuredly so many people who make so many claims about their level of enlightenment and the amount of god’s truth that they hold. And, this has been the case forever. Are these people simply liars? Yes, many of them are. Others are consumed with ego, thinking/believing they are something more and have something worth teaching. But, all a person is, who exists on this level of life, is a person consumed by self-defined, self-worth, hoping to find someone or many people who will agree with their own self-initiated egotism.
 
Does a truly spiritual person claim they are spiritual? No. Does a truly spiritual person claim they are more than you or I? No. Do they assign themselves the role of knower or teacher? No. For if they are truly a spiritual being, they say nothing.
 
So, for those of you who walk the spiritual path, and I understand there are very few of you, keep all of this in mind. Know that there is nothing you will get from being spiritual, because if you believe you will get anything, all you have done is set yourself on the path of egoism, gain verses loss, and not spirituality.

***

How many times have you asked for forgiveness?

How many times should you have asked for forgiveness but did not?

***

The people who feel left behind are the people that were left behind.

That’s What Kids Do

They have recently opened the new 6th Street Bridge here in L.A. The old 6th Street Bridge became this cinematic backdrop where so many movies, TV shows, and commercials were films that the number is uncountable. I even filmed a few scenes on and around that bridge.
 
There’s that great scene where Donald G. Jackson’s character, in Super Hero Central, rolls his wheelchair up to the long stairway that leads down from the bridge and he then throws out a rope and lowers himself down. Great scene! Pure Zen Art! Check it out if you feel like it, the movie is up on YouTube.
 
When I had a loft in the Art’s District back in the ‘80s, one of the off-ramps from that bridge fed right out by my second story window. It all just felt very right.
 
But, before I get too far off track… They built a new bridge and tore down the old one. This bridge is a major transition point between East L.A. and Downtown. The new bridge is a very nice, pure art, architectural masterpiece.
 
Okay, but here’s the thing, once they opened it, people went nuts. They were doing street take overs. Cars were racing, performing burn outs, and doing donuts. One guy totaled his Dodge Challenger by smashing into another car and the wall of the bridge. People were climbing the arches. A couple of barbers even set up their chairs in the middle in the bridge and were doing haircuts. Everyone was trying to get their fifteen minutes of fame on YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, wherever. It was crazy…
 
There are two sides to all of this, as there usually are, however. On one side were the people instigating the craziness. On the other side were the people very upset about what these people were doing. And, there were/are a lot of them.
 
The police had to shut down the bridge a few times and beef up their patrols. The city is going to put up fencing so the climbers will stop climbing the arches and a median will be set up in the middle of the bridge so people will stop doing donuts.
 
Okay… All this being said… I was watching the news the other morning, and they went up to this older man, walking by with a cup of Starbucks in his hand. Obviously, a resident of the area. They asked him, what he thought about what was going, assuredly expecting him to throw a complaint. Instead, a big smile comes on his face. He said, “That’s what kids do.” Just then, a bicycle posse, who had taken over the bridge a couple of times, start to ride by right behind him. His smile continues, “Right on cue.”
 
This is the thing about life, there are always two (and new) ways to look at things. You can look at change and hate it. You can look at the rambunctious actions of others and condemn it. Or, you can appreciate it for the art that it is. Yes, people have done all kinds of crazy stuff on the bridge. Some of it was dangerous and destructive. But, it is just like a child with a new toy, they are exploring it and loving the feeling that the new toy is giving to them.
 
Now, I imagine that you and I would not do anything crazy on a new bridge like what those people are doing. We may like it, we may hate it, we may just see its functionality and use it to get from one place to the next. But, in all that chaos there is also art. You just have to open your eyes and appreciate it. Again, like I always say, you may not like the art of Picasso, but you can’t say that it is not art.
 
Your life is all about how you interpret your reality. You may not like what someone else is doing, but if you step back from your own patterns of definition, you may come to appreciate a new spectrum of reality.
 
Think how much better your life would be, with less anger generated inside of yourself, defined by what you don’t like, if you just let go and let people do what they do. If what they are doings does not directly affect you, why do you care anyway?
 
Give in to new definitions of art and lifestyle and you may come to embrace an entirely new and more enlightened reality. If nothing else, you will be way more relaxed and open to new understandings.

Why Bother Doing That AKA Do You Really Want a Girl Like That?

There’s this tendency in the martial arts, particularly among advanced practitioners, to demonstrate how bad ass they are by breaking things. Whether this is boards, bricks, ice, whatever… Many a martial artist will set up this whole demonstration, pretend to get all mentally ready, and then BAM break the whatever.  Or, maybe not. I have witnessed a lot of people fail at their breaks and break their hand, arm, foot, or whatever instead. But, even for the people who are really good at that level of demonstration, I have always questioned, “Why bother?”
 
It is kind of like when Bob Wall’s character, in probably the greatest marital art movie ever made, Enter the Dragon, takes out a board and breaks it in front of Bruce Lee, just before their match, as an apparent technique of intimidation, and Bruce Lee’s character says, “Boards don’t hit back.”
 
But, more than that… I remember speaking to this one first-generation Korean teacher, decades ago now, who used to break boards and bricks at demonstrations all the time. He told me that he could no longer even hold a pen in his hand and write for more than a few moments due to all the damage he had done to his hand. Was it worth it?
 
Mostly, I have always felt that kind of thing was just Show-Off Stuff. I mean, why bother doing that? What does it really prove? Is it worth it to mess up your body simply to show off?
 
In the afternoons sometimes, if I have a little time on my hands, I will take a walk to this neighborhood park. You know, get out and get some aerobic exercise. Today, I was on my way out of the park, and I noticed this girl who had just arrived. She stood there on this slight hill, overlooking the ocean in the distance, and ceremoniously did the prayer hand thing. She then raised her one leg in yoga posture style, as if she was about to do some kind of asana. This, while wearing her Doc Martin boots. It made me smile.
 
It made me think back to my youth. I had met this girl at the Sufi Dances. I was like sixteen and she was in her early twenties. She didn’t have any place to stay. I don’t know how you show up in a city like L.A., with no money, no car or anything, and not have a place to stay? Anyway, me being the young spiritual neophyte that I was, I invited her to stay at my apartment. She ended up staying there quite a while until my mother finally got fed-up and kicked her out by giving her the money to take the bus back to Canada. Or course, there was all that young infatuation kind of stuff on my part, and I believe hers. But, that’s a whole other story and not the point. I took her to this place out in Chatsworth. It’s this great rock mountain landscape. Charlie Manson and his crew used to hang out there back in the day. Anyway, we get there. I lead her up the mountain. At the summit, she looks out onto the horizon, and does the same thing as that previous, aforementioned girl. She goes into this whole pseudo spiritual, prayer hand ritual thing. …I don’t know, maybe that girl today was her daughter or something. Happy
 
The point being, then as now, all I saw was showmanship. It was Show-Off Stuff. What does it mean? What does it prove?
 
This is the thing about life, so many people want you to look at them. They want you to think that they are a Some-Thing. They want to prove that they know more and are somehow better than you. …That they have something to teach you. But, are they better than you? Do they have anything to teach you? In my mind, if an individual behaves in this fashion, all they are is locked in ego, not truth. From this, no matter what they can do, no matter what a spectacle they make of themselves, are they really the person you want to turn to for knowledge and a direction of Be-ing?
 
If you have to prove to anyone what you are by doing something, then you are never the true essence of what you are attempting to represent.
 
As I was walking home today, all of a sudden, it became very quiet. You know, one of those times when you are on a street but there are no cars around or anything. I began to hear the wind blowing through the leaves on these two very large trees. I’ve walked by those trees a hundred times but never heard that sound. It was just so special. So pure. I stood there for a moment, just appreciating the beautiful music those leaves were making. I could have listened to them for a very long time. Pure meditation. But then, as always seems to be the case in life, I could hear an approaching car. As it got closer I could see it was actually a trash truck. And, even though I do appreciate the great service they provide, they’re loud, it totally killed my moment.
 
But, in those moments of silence, when the wind through the trees can be heard, that is the true essence of life. You don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to take any action. You don’t need to get into a stance, break a board, or even make prayer hands. All you have to do is be present in the moment and listen. In those pure places of all-ness, that is where you become a part of the true essence of life. You don’t need to do anything. You just need to be.
 
Don’t seek to be seen as a something. Become nothing. That is where nirvana is found.

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?

Think About Your Addictions

There’s a lot of talk in the news of late about the female basketball player who is being held in a Russian jail due to the fact that she brought some vape cartridges with hash oil in them into the country. She’s not the only one. There are several other Westerners doing time in Russia for similar charges.
 
Most of you probably won’t remember this but Paul McCartney was arrested at the airport in Japan for having marijuana in his suitcase, many years ago, which was a big offense. Due to him being Paul McCartney, they let him go while banning him from returning to Japan for a number of years. But, think how many other people, who were not a former Beatle, were not so lucky. How many people were and are in jail in Japan for a similar offense?
 
I had a friend who did five years in the Arizona prison system because he was caught with what was considered a large amount of marijuana. Plus, I have known so many people who wake and bake and attempt to stay high all day.
 
When we now think of things like weed, at least here in the States, it’s no big deal. It has become legalized in a number of States, and it probably will be legal in all states sooner or later. Yet, think about how many people have done jail time, even Robert Mitchum, for being caught with cannabis in the past.
 
Here’s the thing, whatever it is that you desire, that takes you out of the stratum of accepted reality, and, if that something is not conventional, you are walking down a road that is not sanctioned. Now, of course, everyone who walks down one of those pathways will argue and argue that whatever it is they like should be legal and that it should be accept. But, if it is not, it is not. And, that is the fact.
 
But, more to the point, people do what they do and if they do it on a regular basis it can be classified as an addiction. Sure, everyone likes what they like. But, if what you like takes you from the realms of common reality; i.e.: like weed, or coke, or alcohol, or caffeine, or cigarettes, or whatever; what you are doing is altering your consciousness in an unnatural manner. Yes, yes, people claim that things like marijuana is a natural herb. And, yes it is. But, black widow spiders and rattle snakes are also natural and they can kill you, not to mention all of the plants and herbs that are deadly if you ingest them. So, what does, “Natural,” really mean? Answer: It’s just another excuse.
 
This is the same with so-called Medial Marijuana. It’s not a drug like an antibiotic that may save your life. It is just a way to artificially make you feel the way you want to feel. It is designed and designated for someone who does not want to take the necessary steps to put their mind right, via truly natural methods. Sure, those methods take more personal work. But, if you cannot cure yourself, when you can cure yourself, what does that say about the true definition of your human reality? What does it say about you as a person?    
 
If anything you do, alters the natural pattern of your mind or your life, and if you do it on a regular basis, that means it is an addiction. That’s the fact.
 
Every alcoholic, every drug addict, every dope smoker, every cigarette smoker, at least in the early stages of their disease, will argue that they are not addicted. Dope smokers will argue that it is a spiritual thing they are obtaining. But, an excuse is nothing more than an excuse. If you are ingesting anything that is not necessary for your life survival, you are partaking of an unnecessary something. If you do this regularly, no matter what your reasoning, you are an addict.
 
Most people simply make excuses and give justifications for that they do. This pattern becomes so much easier when something like alcohol, cigarettes, or weed are legal. But, it is an obvious truth, if you are putting anything into your body that does not substantiate your physical survival, what you are doing is unnecessary, thus it is a choice. Remember: it is, “A choice,” that leads to, “An addiction.”
 
Now that you have this fact, what are you going to do with this fact?

Nostalgia is for Those Who Didn’t Live Through Something the First Time

Kinda funny, in that sad sort of way, but a memory popped into my mind this morning about this one film transfer I had done many-many years ago. I wanted to take another look at it, just to see/remember what it was and how it looked. So, I pull out and dug through my tons and tons of video tapes…
 
…Let me go into a sidebar here, just for a second… FYI. As a filmmaker, I have shot movies in so many formats. Plus, the world keeps quickly evolving, so those formats change, leaving me with a lot of stuff shot and stored on (now) archaic technologies. Back to the storyline…
 
So, after digging through and finally finding this one specific video tape, I popped it into my Super VHS deck, as that’s the level of tape the movie was on.  Nothing/nada. The deck jammed the tape. FUCK!!! So now, I’m going to have to tear the whole deck apart, if I hope to save the tape, just to get the tape out as it will not eject.
 
You know, as my years have continued to grow, and a lot of them are under my belt at this stage of my life, I have watched as people continually fade into illusions about the past and how it must have been better way back in the way back when. No, not really…
 
I know there are a few musicians out there who will only record their music on analogue tape. A couple of my friends are like that. And, I get it, music recoded on analogue tape does have the very specific something that digital will just not provide you with. But, the fact of the fact is, most people do not have the developed hearing to know the difference. So, what’s the point as it’s much harder, more time consuming, and way more expensive to record on tape?
 
It’s the same with filmmakers… Yes, there are some filmmakers who refuse to shoot on anything but film. And, of course, film has a much better aesthetics than digital. But, to the film watching public and to the critic, do they care? No, that just want to tear the movie apart. So again, what is the point?
 
I know there has been this, every-now-and-then, resurgence of people who want to listen to music on cassette tapes and to watch movies on video tape. But, for those of us who lived through that era, the first time around, did you ever have your favorite cassette, that you listened to over-and-over again, warp and get all distorted in your hot car? Did your favorite movie ever get jammed in your video deck, like mine did today, killing the tape and the deck?
 
Sure, old times may have been fun. Back then, life was defined by it. But, times change, you really need to adapt to the times. Live what is now. For now is all that you truly have. For later, other people will look back to your now and believe what was going on then/there was somehow better. But, was it?
 
PS: If anyone has a Super VHS deck out there that they want to turn me on to, let me know. Happy

How Wrong is Your Right?

Have you ever really strongly believed something—believed it down to the core of your being but you later found out you were wrong? How did you react when you gained that knowledge?
 
Has someone you know ever truly believed something? Would they argue and argue to prove they were right? Though they believed what they believed, you knew they were wrong. How did you act towards them and how did they respond when you tried to explain their folly?
 
If you have believed something in the past and eventually found yourself to be wrong, then you know the experience. Some people never cross that bridge, however, as they are so locked into the self-righteousness of their own belief system that they never allow themselves to accept facts outside of what they already believe. Thus, they can never come to the enlightened conclusion that they were wrong.
 
In Sanskrit, the word, “Apavada,” is used to describe a wrong understanding. From ancient texts forward, it is has been detailed that certain people define their entire life by their belief but if what they believe is wrong, what does that leave them with? If their entire existence is based upon an irrational concept, all they are left with is to have lived a life defined by the fact that what they believed was wrong. From this, enlightenment can never be had due to the mind being guided down the wrong path defined solely by what is believed in the mind of one individual instead of what is actually the truth, or, “Satya,” is Sanskrit.
 
If we look a bit deeper into this pattern of thought, it is easy to understand that most people define their life by what they believe. That is a natural occurrence. Certainly, where a person gains their knowledge of knowing, and from whom, can truly come to delineate what they do or do not believe. But, belief is much more than that. It is what one person bases their entire life upon.
 
Are you so locked into your system of belief that you do not allow yourself to encounter the experience of being wrong? Are you willing to fight to the end for your beliefs even if you are wrong—whether knowingly or not? If you are that person, you can never find the truth because the truth is beyond belief. Truth lies outside of belief. Belief can be right or wrong, debated, believed or not. Truth, on the other hand, exists outside of the realms of belief.
 
So, what do you believe? Is what you believe simply what you believe or is what you believe the truth? And, how can you actually know?

***

If someone looked into your mind would they like what they saw?

***

What did you do for anyone but yourself today?

What are you planning to do tomorrow for anyone but yourself?

Make tomorrow matter because, you never know, it may be your last day on earth.

You Don’t Have to Look too Far to Find Negativity

It seems I’ve been writing a lot about positivity verses negativity lately. Sorry! But here, let me hit you up one more time. Happy

As I am sure we all understand, you don’t have to look too far to find negativity. I think most people, if they are not the instrument of negativity themselves, simply let it go by with little thought. Maybe they hear someone speaking negatively about life, some person, or some thing. Maybe they see a negative discourse on the internet. They hear it, the see it, they read it, and it is all so common that they simply let it pass by. But should they?
 
If all you have is your negative ideas then your entire life is defined by your negativity. If all you do is say something negative, then all you have set in motion for your future is negativity.
 
You know, every now and then I will see some very negative ideology about a person, place, or thing being spouted out by someone who is a, “Friend,” on-line. Of course, as we all understand, the vast majority of the people who are, “Friends,” on-line we do not personally know. Yet, at least in my case, I attempt to be selective of my, “Friends.” Due to this fact, it truly surprises me when I encounter a really negative statement being made by one of these people. Especially when it is made about someone they do not personally know.
 
Me, when a situation like this occurs, I unfriend them. What else can I do? I want no negativity in my life. Or, at least as little as possible.
 
I think this is one of the big problems in life, (and the unleashing of negativity), is that certain people believe they are on some kind of a mission. …They have some story to tell or some idea to get out there. But, do they? Is their belief a basis for fact or is their belief simply a process of thought based solely in their own mind that was churned up via some internal something that is based upon nothing more than unsubstantiated facts and misdirected understandings?
 
I’ve been pretty lucky in my life in that if someone actually knows me they don’t have too much negative grist to draw upon. Where I have encounter problems with negativity in my life is via people who do not actually know me and have reached conclusions about me based upon their own self-developed falsehoods, founded upon misdirected erroneous beliefs. How about you? Have you encountered negativity unleashed by someone else? If so, what was their motivation for behaving in that manner towards you? Also, have you unleashed negativity directed at some one or some thing else? If you have, why did you do it?  Truly ask yourself this question and come to a very honest conclusion.
 
I believe the thing that most people do not understand, when unleashing negativity, is that it never makes anything any better. Sure, maybe you get something off of your chest. But, why do you have something on your chest in the first place? If your life is defined by thinking, speaking, and maybe even writing about someone else, doesn’t that mean that you have nothing of importance to offer the world based upon your own creation of reality?
 
I read a piece today, written by an individual who was just trashing and saying some very negative things about a celebrity who recently passed away. Obviously, this person did not personally know that celebrity. At best, he heard something spoken via the words of someone else. Is that knowledge? Is that understanding? Is that truth? No. So, by writing what he wrote all he did was to evoke negativity and negativity always spreads outwards and makes things worse. UNFRIEND.
 
Think about what you think about people. Think about what you have spoken about people. Think about what you have written about people. For anyone you have said anything negative about, did you personally know that individual? If you did not, how can you justify your negativity? Moreover, as you instigated negativity, what does that say about you as a person? Doesn’t it simply mean that you are a judgmental individual who bases your conclusions about other people and other things simply on self-contrived speculation? And, what did your self-evoked negativity do to the life of that any-one else. If you hurt them, in any manner, shouldn’t you be the one where the negativity is directed as you are the hurt-unleashing individual?
 
I say this all the time, all life begins with you. If you unleash negativity for any reason, you are not making anything any better. Be more than that. Erase/fix all/any negativity you have created and in doing that, the entire world becomes just a little bit better.
 
Catch yourself before you say or do something negative, especially if it is directed at someone else. Because once you unleash negativity, that negativity has the potential to carry on forever. But, more than that, unleash positivity. Be the source of help, never hurt, truth, never judgement.
 
If your thoughts and your words are not making something better, isn’t it best to be silent?

The Law of Adaptation and How the Homeless Ruin Everything

I am sure that for the biblical scholars this period of time we are living through provides them with all kinds of substance to draw conclusions about the fact that we are in the end of days. I could throw out a bunch of biblical quotes that could be interpreted as to the time we are living through but I don’t want to bore you. I mean, let’s face facts, what the earth has gone through over the past few years is a mess!!! Between the pandemic, Russia invading Ukraine, all the mass shootings taking place, the catastrophic fires, the intense weather conditions, you name it. The world is in disarray!
 
If you think about this, however, all Things Life come down to one element. That one element is the individual. If one person is suffering, they are suffering. If one person has been hurt by someone else, they are in pain. Thus, though the world is obviously going through this time of intense crisis, that pain is or is not felt only on the individual level.
 
Think about your own life. What are you feeling right now? Do you have COVID-19? Has someone you know recently passed away? Has something been stolen from you? Have you recently been attacked by someone? Has your country been invaded by a hostile force? Or maybe, you just feel like shit, because you feel like shit.  If you are hurting, you are hurting. If someone made you hurt, they made you hurt.
 
Perhaps, all is well with your world, and you feel great! I hope that is the case. But, however you feel, that is you feeling how you feel. Yes, others may be experiencing the same or a similar thing, but all feelings comes down to the individual level. Think about it…
 
What changes each of our lives, for the better or for the worse, is most often what someone else does to our life. It is someone doing something. Whether this doing is intentional or unintentional does not change the outcome. What happens is that someone does something and we are left dealing with the consequence of what they have done.
 
These situations can be very small or they can be very large. But, no matter the size or the magnitude, it is the individual who must find a way to make their way through the experience.
 
This morning, I headed off for breakfast. I was driving up this small hill I drive most every day. A driver, very slowly, turns from the far left lane, across traffic, into this parking lot that was on his right. Obviously, this stoped the flow of traffic. Luckily, it did not cause an accident. The driver made his way in the parking lot but the car behind him, who had come to a complete stop, was checking his phone or something, and was still fully stopped in the middle of the street after the car that created the situation was gone. I give him a little honk. You know, just to let him know that there are other people in the world. He moves forward up to the stop light where I could see his passage side window rolling down. I pull up to the intersection and there he is glaring at me. I could not help but break into laughter. I mean, he did something unthinking, he created a situation, and now he is trying to break hard with me, like it was my fault. Are you kidding me!  In my mind I was saying, “Do you know who you’re dealing with. I fight every day.” But, I just laughingly drove on.
 
Here's the thing, a meaningless nothing situation could have been turned into a something situation, all based in one person deciding to do something. This, even though, they were at least partially responsible for setting the situation in motion in the first place.
 
Plus, it was me who was left with deciding with how to best deal with what someone else instigated. I could have got out of my car and stated a brawl. …Now, I wouldn’t do something like that, for that is not the kind of person I am. But, think about it, that stuff goes on all the time. Think about all the road rage you hear about or maybe have encountered.  
 
I drove on to one of my usual breakfast haunts, where I had it all planned out what I was going to order.
 
Outside, on the patio, the only place I like to sit in this day and age of COVID, was this homeless guy camped out. He had his shopping cart full of his belongings central to the patio area. He was standing there, doing what looked to be like giving himself a sponge bath or something but all he had was a couple of paper towels. He was wildly whipping himself from head to toe. Then, he took the paper towel and was (apparently) cleaning the inside of his nose. How he got his finger and that towel so deeply up there I will never know. …He was doing this while this elderly lady, the only person sitting out there, was trying to eat her food and pretend what was going on next to her was not going on.
 
Now, we all feel for the homeless. At least most of us do. But, when they, or anyone else, invade our space, this changes everything. They are no longer simply someone with a problem, they have become our problem. They have made themselves our problem. Thus, our life is changed. The direction of our life is changed. Like my plans were with where I was going to eat. …Not wishing to deal with all of that nonsenses, I just turned and left.
 
Again, this illustrates the fact, that even on the very smallest of levels, it is the individual (in this case me) who’s life became affected by the doings of someone else.
 
But, what can we do about any of this?
 
For example, yesterday, in a nearby park, there was another mass shooting where two people were killed and others were injured. This morning on the TV a man was stating that the police were not doing their job as they did not shut down the impromptu softball game and a car gathering that was taking place at the park. But, turn this around. If the police had gone in a shut it down, they would have been called racists, and blamed for ruining a perfectly good gathering of friends.
 
The police are not allowed to do anything anymore!
 
Or, like about a week or so ago, this former female Olympic Volleyball player was clubbed in the face by this homeless guy for no reason. Luckily, there was this guy on the scene who held the attacker on the ground until the police arrive. There was footage on the news with this guy’s foot holding the attacker down. They were both African-American as was the volleyball player. Can you imagine if I had done that? A white guy!  No matter who I was helping, everyone would have screamed racism!
 
Again, here was a woman, simply going about her day, and she got attacked. Think how often this style of attack goes on all the time, all over the place, by any number of methods. One person living their life and then having their life altered by the actions of another.
 
So yes, we are living through a crazy time in the history of humanity. But, all things felt are only felt on the individual level. Remember this the next time you do anything, as what you say or what you do will cause someone to feel something. It will cause other people to act and react. Do you want to be the source of goodness in the world? Or, do you wish to be selfish, unthinking, and uncaring about the way what you do will cause someone else to feel?
 
Think before you do. Be the better person who does the better things!

***

If someone tells you that you are not spiritual that statement reveals that they are the one who truly is not living a spiritual life.

Negativity is Never the Answer

We obviously are living in a very interesting time in history. There is so much going on and so much is changing every day. Certainly, the pandemic is still ongoing. From that and because of that so many lives were changed on so many levels. …So many people got sick, had their lives turned upside down, and even died. One would think that something like this happening would shock the world society into a grander state of grace where they came to care about one another on a deeper level but this does not seem to be the case. In simply ushered in a new way for people to get over and hurt one another.  
 
I mean, just one example is, think about all of the people who stopped paying their rent during the pandemic, claiming job insecurity. The government, at least here in the U.S., passed laws where people didn’t have to pay their rent, totally destroying the financial life of the landlords. Sure, there was government money being thrown all directions but that did not change the reality of our times. In fact, it just seemed to provide people with a ticket to steal and to expect to get things for free.
 
I remember seeing this story on the news a few months ago, this lady was telling her tale about the tenant she rented her guest house to. The pandemic came and he stopped paying rent. Due to the protective laws that were put in place by the city, she could not evict the man. But, there he was, living for free, while he was taking trips to Europe with the money he was saving by not paying rent and posting pictures of his journeys to his Instagram account. This, while the landlady could not pay her mortgage due to the fact she was not receiving rent from this man. Things like that are just not right. But, look around you, it is going on all the time. Are you doing some-thing like that? Are you doing something, just because you can get away with it? Moreover, who is your doing hurting?
 
This is the thing that I believe most people never consider. This is also the causation factor for much of the pain in the world. People do, while never taking the other person into consideration. They do, without caring. …At least caring for no one but themselves. How about you? Who are you thinking about when you are doing?
 
If you look at life, this goes to all levels of existence, from the people who just speak negativity about someone or something among themselves onto the grander scale of reality provided by platforms like the internet.
 
What are you doing and how is what you are doing affecting the grand scheme of life from the one individual out there in never-never-land to the landlord, the business owner, the anybody?
 
Here’s the fact, if what you are saying or what you are doing is hurtful to anyone, it is hurtful to all as it causes a negative wave to be generated. If you are the point of inception of that wave of negativity, who is to blame but you for all the negativity that is going on around us? If you are creating it, even in part, you are to blame. What responsibly do you hold in the what happens next?
 
If you are being negative, you know what you are doing is wrong. If you are saying negative things, you know what you are saying is not right. If you are taking hurtful action, like taking what is not yours for free, you know you are stealing. You can lie to yourself all you want but the truth is the truth. And, you know that you know the truth.
 
Negativity, on any level is never the answer. You know that.

Do you like negativity being focused at you? Of course not. There lies the truth to the equation.
 
What are you going to do today to undo any negativity you have unleashed? If you do nothing, nothing is done.
 
What are you going to do today to countermand the negativity unleashed by someone else? If you do nothing, nothing is done.
 
What are you going to do today that is really positive and will help others and bring happiness to someone or anyone’s life? If you do nothing, nothing is done.
 
Do something positive today. Watch the reaction.

TMI AKA Finding a Reason to Support Your Point of View

Biden was diagnosed with COVID-19 today. Discussion about it is all over all of the morning news networks. Like me, he is quadruple vaxed, so hopefully he will be fine. Love him or hate him, that’s not the point, nobody should want anyone to die from COVID-19. My mother-in-law did and it is not pretty.
 
I was in the supermarket yesterday grabbing the ingredients for dinner. I got to speaking to this nice and friendly assistant store manager as I was finishing up in the self-checkout line. I inquired how she felt about the new BA-5 COVID variant and how it was so infectious, as she (and other store clerks) are on the frontlines interacting with customers all day. And, about the re-invoked, “Wear a mask,” mandate that is apparently going to hit L.A. County next week. “Are you vaxed,” I asked?
 
Immediately, she went into this whole discourse. She power-talked… She seemed to be very coffee-ed up, if you know what I mean. …Telling me about how she had got one shot of Moderna and that it caused her to have a period for three months. Wow. “TMI,” I thought. She went on to say that now she is anemic. She exclaimed she had read somewhere that everyone said the vaccines were safe but these conditions have happened to a lot of other women who were vaccinated. She immediately went on to exclaim that she didn’t understand why they wanted to vax kids as this is just a virus and viruses never go away… I would have liked to have said, “Yeah, but we were all vaxed as kids for measles and the like and it saved us a lot of childhood trauma.” But, I just let it go. …I believe everyone should be allowed to believe whatever it is they believe as long as it hurts no one else.
 
But, here’s the thing, what do you believe and why do you believe it? Where does you information come from? Like this very nice lady, she is looking for some facts where there are none. Does that make her good, bad, or otherwise? No, that is simply a human condition. Add in the fact that the truth of the known knowledge often changes and what are we left with? Simply a question looking for a honest answer.
 
Here lies the problem, are you guiding your basis of knowledge formulated upon opinion and an erroneous set of facts, directed simply by what you already believe or what you may want to believe? Or, are you truly peering into the essence of the truth and finding out what lies beneath all of the rhetoric?
 
You can believe whatever it is that you want to believe. You may even be able to find some data that supports your system of belief. But, you’ve got to know, that does not make it the truth. And, if what you are believing is not the truth, what are you left with in your life?

***

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?

***

If opinions are all you have to offer then you've created and presented the world with nothing uniquely your own.

***

If you are telling someone who you are, your truth is not obvious.

If you are telling someone else who they are not, you are attempting to hide the truth of who they truly are.

When an Authority Speaks AKA The Truth of the Circumstance

Kinda interesting… I was watching Sid and Nancy on TCM last night. …Nothing else was really on that called to me and I had nothing more important to do…. And, as I have not sat down and watched the entire film since it was released in ’86—back when I saw it in a theatre on the silver screen, I thought I would give it another look. Anyway…  As TCM tends to do, they sometimes have, “An Authority,” speaking about a film just before and just after it is shown. In this case, they had this supposed, “Authority,” on Rock n’ Roll and Music Orientated Cinema. He made this statement, that I found quite annoying. He said, in essence, that The Sex Pistols didn’t have much of an impact on music and particularly Punk Rock, at least not at the time when they came onto the scene. Hun?
 
Now, I would guess this guy to be about my age. But, I imagine he was listening to bands like The Police and Blondie, at the time, believing that they were Punk.
 
In terms of history, the first wave of true Punk rose out of New York, spearheaded by groups like The Ramones and Patti Smith. But, when The Sex Pistols came on the scene, they helped to ushered in the era of Hardcore. If you were there, living the scene, like I was, believe me, The Sex Pistols gave a shot in the arm to a quickly fading musical landscape. They were a large part of the impetus that shifted the genera.
 
Now, of course, one can argue about the impetus of the foundations of The Sex Pistols; Malcolm McClaren and all that. And sure, each member of the band has their own perspective on the birth and the life of the band. Steve Jones’ autobiographical book was recently the foundations of a new theatrical TV series about the band.
 
…I won’t go into where Steve Jones has breakfast most days of the week. That’s an entirely different issue. Plus, though Johnny Rotten lives in Venice, I have only bumped into him once or twice. I guess that’s due to the fact that I don’t hang out in Venice very much anymore, ever since my friend moved. But, no matter how you slice it, The Sex Pistols helped to define an era, and for someone to say otherwise shows how little they know.
 
This all goes to the fabric and the fabrication of an, “Authority.” Think how many people are out there telling you how it is. …Telling you the, “Truth.” Presenting, “Facts.” But, if their truth and their facts are wrong, and you or someone/anyone else believes them, what are we left with? Just a bunch of lies based on referencing a person who was wrong in the first place.
 
In ’86 as now, I was not a fan of the movie. Though, of course, Gary Oldman did a great performance. I found Chloe Webb to be a bit too much over the top, however. But, that’s just me.
 
Historically accurate or not, that can be debated. Just like the movie, The Doors, (and any other movie of this style and category), the creator(s) takes artistic license in telling the story of the band and the band members. But, to diminish the contribution of the band, via the words of a supposed, “Authority,” truly reduces the truth of the circumstance.
 
This is an important thing to think about next time you are listening to an, “Authority,” on any subject. Most, “Authorities,” simply try to shift a pattern of belief and make other people believe what they believe, whether what they believe is based in truth, fact, or simply individual supposition. So, you’ve got to be careful who you listen to and why.
 
Remember, when somebody tells you something, question it. Question their words. Question their facts. And mostly, question their reason for telling you anything. Because in many cases all they are telling you is a lie based on the way they want to believe their own conjuring of a false narrative founded in their own suppositions about something that they did not personally live and cannot ever truly understand.

***

If you don't do anything then you've done nothing but the moment you do something karma is created. What are your options?

Meditation and the Lack of Lacking

I realize that for most people meditation is not a part of their life. Yes, they know what meditation is supposed to be, but they do not make it a daily practice as they are far more concerned with the other, more pressing, aspects of their life. I believe this very essential focus of mindset is what sets the meditator apart from those who do not meditate. It is that desire to obtain what meditation is promised to provide. In saying this, however, this is also where one may find the illusion of meditation as it is here where one may lose the true focus of the practice.
 
As we all understand, meditation is a place where the practitioner quiets their mind to the degree where a deeper state of understanding may be experienced. Certainly, the calming of the mind is arguably the hardest part to meditation as it is not easy to silence the mind.
 
In the modern era, and I imagine from the early days of the development of meditation forward, it has been spoken and written about how one may calm their mind, as it is the essential element in meditation, but it is so hard to do. Simply sit down and close your eyes right now, attempt to enter into a state of meditation, and you can almost count the moments until the first thought enters your mind. Thus, the proof of the difficulty of meditation become instantly self-evident.
 
I know in my early years of walking the spiritual path, I was taught to rise early, do a few hatha yogic stretches, a few basic pranayamic exercises, and then immediately enter into meditation. Brahmamuhurtha which occurs about an hour and half before sunrise is taught, in the yogic traditions, as the ideal time to meditate. But, if you think about this, try setting an alarm clock or developing your circadian rhythms to the degree that you wake up at this time, get out of bed, and go directly into meditation. This is not easy, nor is it ideal.
 
The other side of the issue is, say you spend your days doing what you do, and then you sit down in the afternoon or the evening hoping to meditate. By this point, your mind has encountered all of the life things that it has encountered during your day, and once you sit down, you are confronted with all of the emotions developed during that day. Thus, thought(s), based in that day, race through your mind. It becomes very hard to truly realize meditation.
 
As time has gone on, the various spiritual traditions have developed ways for their practitioners to supposedly find a doorway to meditation via differing methods. For example, in the twentieth center, the Sufi Dances, later known as the Dances of Universal Peace, were developed. I was highly involved with these from the early 1970s until the early 1980s. From the moment I entered my first session, I was enthralled. It was great! All of these people dancing hand-in-hand, singing spiritual songs, doing these choreographed dance moves. Exceptional! But, was this meditation or was this fun?
 
This is the same with the Dynamic Meditation developed by Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, which I practiced in India. Yes, it was this grand cathartic release, supposedly leading the practitioner to meditation. But, did it? Or, was it simply a way for the practitioner to take the internal drug of screaming away all their childhood traumas? Blame and release rather than focus and meditation?
 
Certainly, the Zen Buddhist traditions were one of the first to truly formalize new and unique ways to find a pathway to meditation. From the martial arts, to walking meditation, onto tea making, and other highly focused physical activities. But, are these true techniques of meditation or are they simply a means to distract the mind, causing it to focus on something else rather than the Self?
 
Here lies the problem with all aberrant forms of meditation and with meditation in general. A person is taught that they are not enough. That they must become something more. And, to do that, they must meditate. Once they enter the path of meditation, they come to believe that they have not meditated long enough or that they cannot do it at all. Thus, the paradox of meditation is born. …That you are not good enough or you are not doing it good enough. Yes, as stated, most people do not care about meditation at all, but for those who do, there are all of these supposed techniques and defined ideologies that tells someone they are not enough. That they must become something more than they already are through a specific style of meditation. And, if they lose their mediative mind too soon then they are somehow lacking. But, if meditation is a THING, then isn’t the entire point of meditations lost?  Hasn’t it become something that it is
not supposed to be? A thing rather than a no-thing.
 
Many of the people who do focus their mind upon meditation become lost in the aberrant mindset that they are not enough in the meditation practices. …That they should be able to meditate longer. …That they should do it better and find that ultimate meditative goal—whatever they defined that ultimate goal to be. But, in simply believing this, one can never experience true meditation because then it becomes a thing.
 
A thing is not meditation. True meditation is simply you releasing all of the stuff that is within you and experiencing the freedom of no thought.
 
So, next time you meditate, by whatever method you define that meditation, just let go, feel the nothing. If that last for a second or longer, that is great! Meditation should never become a competition about what you are not or what you cannot do, it should only be allowed to be a moment of what you truly are in the silence of all that you can release.
 
Try it. Let go. Be who you are in the what you are as isn’t that the essence of true meditation.

Provocation

I guess it was yesterday, but this troll of a jerk-off said some really rude things to a congress woman as she walked past him, invoking her sexuality and her race. The guy is a total loser! You may not agree with a person’s politics or their political stance, (or anything else you may not like about a person), but that does not give you the right to treat any individual (especially a woman) with anything less than total respect. What happened to being a gentleman?
 
As we all know, this style of behavior goes on all over the place. From one perspective, it is based in one or more people simply being a rude, low-level jerk. From another perspective, this style of behavior is based upon provocation. I mean, the guy and his actions were obviously being recorded so he could gage and document the congress woman’s behavior. Think if she would have gone off at the guy, which she had every right to do. But if she had, all of the focus of the news: on-line and elsewhere, would have been on her behavior, not on the causation factor that was implemented by the rude things that guy said.
 
Though TMZ has now become somewhat of a go-to news source, what many of you may not know or remember is that prior to TMZ, the forces behind the network, previously did a show where they followed paparazzi around and recorded the very rude things they would say to celebrities just to get them to freak out, throw a punch, or whatever. I mean, certain people understand that by provoking a person, well-known or not, that it can equal them doing damage to that person’s life and reputation or equal them getting money via a lawsuit. It is really a very low-level of human consciousness. But, it goes on all the time.
 
There is a lot we can learn from this occurrence, however. One, don’t be that person! Don’t be the rude jerk. Not only does it ultimately make you look bad, but it diminishes the whole human experience immensely. I mean, people who have accomplished something should be treated with respected, not only due to the fact that they did accomplish something, but, and moreover, they are in a position to move society and human consciousness further along. The people who attack these individuals are simply trying to ride on their coattails for fame, money, or whatever.
 
The second thing to learn is that all people deserve to be treated with respect. First of all, all women should be held in the highest of regard. That is just what a gentleman does. But, female or male, if everyone is treated with respect, that not only makes their life experience better, which will cause them to move forward in a more refined and successful manner, possibly doing good things for the world, but, via observation, all people can learn that by being nice, being kind, being caring, being helpful the all and the everyone of life enter into a more joyful, caring, happy, and righteous consciousness.
 
Always be more than less. Never hurt. Never attack. Never not care.

***

Your life is not defined by who you like, you life is defined by who likes you.

Fighting the Powers That Be When There is No Fight Worth Fighting

Wow, that’s a long title…
 
Over the past years or so I’ve uploading more and more of Donald G. Jackson and my full-length feature films to YouTube. You know, we have reached a complex time in the distribution of films. Sure, there’s still theatrical presentations for the big dollar films. Kinda. And, there are the streaming services, of which I have a deal with Amazon Prime. But, those streaming services always have had a lot of restrictions. Plus, if you don’t have an established relationship with them, they don’t want your content.
 
Film distribution has always been this strange arena. Way back in the way back when a distribution company would give you a big chuck of change (and I mean big) just to rep your film. Then came the video age and everyone became a filmmaker. As there was so much product being pushed onto the market, the prices went down and down and down until now I don’t know any indie filmmakers who are making any real money. Sure, the distribution companies make money, but not the filmmaker. That’s why Don and I set up our own film distribution company back in the day. But, that company followed the rules of the long time ago. And, times have changed.
 
I used to have a great DVD deal with Amazon. They distributed any film I gave them. But, that too changed. A bit over a year ago they stopped distributing the DVDs from indie companies like mine. I get it… It was a lot of work on their end. But, it did put an end to a clear method for people to view the films of abstract filmmakers like myself.
 
But, the fact of the fact is, mediums like DVDs are a dead art form. It used to be dying, now it’s all but dead. Most of the people I know don’t even own DVD players anymore. It’s all about the Streaming.
 
Which brings me to the subject of YouTube. YouTube is a strange beast. One of the main problems I think is that you can’t really communicate with them anymore. They are this omnipresent godlike source that you may be able to pray to but will god answer? No. Can you ask god a direct question? No. Can you communicate your feelings and your position and get a direct and thoughtful response? No.
 
I’ve been on that platform for well over a decade and they always surprise me at some of the things they do. For example, as stated, I’ve been uploading some more of my films to them over the past year or so. The thing is, they have very specific rules about content: i.e. nudity, love making, violence, etc.  In fact, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, they took down Big Sister 2000, after like ten thousand people viewed it in a one or two day period, and I got the message that if I ever upload anything like that again I would have my account suspended. Though I don’t really like that film, as it went in a different direction than I would have liked to follow, but there is no pornography in it as they claim. It’s just an expression of a specific set of cinematic standards that have been portrayed forever. Anyway, that’s not the point…
 
For my films that step over YouTube’s lines, I have always removed or blurred that specific content before I upload the film to them. For the films that do pass their test, but have nudity and stuff, I have always listed them for the over eighteen crowd. Just trying to follow the rules…
 
Anyway, I had uploaded Armageddon Blvd. a little while back as the YouTube version. I had cut the scene where Julie Strain is shaving her private parts, (something that she just decided to do via complete and unexpected improv), and a couple of other things, though those scenes are still on the DVD. I get this notice last night from YouTube that the powers-that-be have decided that the movie is now listed as, “Age restricted,” content. Wait a minute! Didn’t I already do that?
 
The only way I could send back a question/statement to them was to put it via their appeal process. Of course, I almost immediately got one of their form letters of response, “Sorry. But…,” sent back my direction. I must ask here, as I did in my note to them, didn’t I already do that?
 
Here’s the question, what is life if you cannot communicate with the gods of our world? And, who is running the god shop? Obviously, it is just someone who is playing the game of taking an action—an action that was already taken. They are just doing to do when they have nothing better to do. But, what does that doing equal when the doing need not be done?
 
I mean, I think this goes to all levels of life. People have this abstract sense of control over us. They are making the choices as to what we are allowed to do. But, who are they and why are they allowed to do that? They’re just some-one who got hired to a position but if their position does not serve the actual betterment of the Whole and the All then why does that position deserve to exist?  Moreover, who is the judge and why are they allowed to judge? Did you give them that right? No. Did I? No. They just decided to do what they decide to do. And this leaves us with the quandary of life, what choice do we have in the relinquishing of our control? Do we have any? Or, simply because of the fact that we wish to play in the playground of someone else, must we be dominate by anything that they choose to choose?
 
I remember back to when I was a kid, maybe in fourth grade, and this other kid did something wrong, but I was blamed for it, (as he sat there smiling). Due to his action, I was banned from my grammar school’s afterschool playground activities. That was really a shot because that was my whole fun at the time. I realized then, as I have stated many times in many places, you can only play in your own playground. If you don’t, you are dominated by the rules of the someone else.
 
But, for us filmmaker’s what can we do with our films in this every-changing world of viewing?     
 
Now, I know most of you out there are not filmmakers. I also know that most of you out there don’t watch or even care about the style of cinema I create. Most of you only watch YouTube when you need to learn how to fix something or do something like that. But, this goes to the truth of the truth of all levels of our life. Who is in control? Why do we allow them to be in control? Why do we allow ourselves to be under their control? And, how can we control or compete with anything when vast powers like YouTube and their abstract godlikeness dominate us and we cannot even ask them a question?
 
Like god, you can pray. The bible tells you so. Some even believe they receive an answer to their prayers. But, when you live your life dominated by a force that cannot be seen, how can you know that any answer you receive is an actual answer and not just a projection of your own mind?

You’re happy when you get what you want, you’re sad when you don’t. But, when you are not the one who is in control, how can any element of your life be under your control?

***

If you do not consciously and continually try to evolve you can never become the best version of yourself.

Thievery in Your Heart

How many times have you bought something, used it, and then retuned it to the store for a full refund? How many times have you purchased a book, read it, and then returned it to the bookstore? How many times have you downloaded a song, a movie, a game, or a program from some file sharing site (or wherever) on the internet and did not pay the expected compensation to the creator? How many times have you knowingly taken an excess amount of change when a cashier made a mistake and gave you back too much money? How many times have you complained about the service at some establishment so you could get your meal or your whatever for free? In all of these cases, and in all cases like this, you are stealing. You may not want to hear this truth, but a thief is what you are. How does that make you feel? What karma do you believe is coming your direction for choosing to make/take those life actions?
 
Most people are not like this. They do not do those type of things. They understand the laws of universal exchange, that reverberates around the cosmos, and they choose to be honest, pay their fair share, pay the expected price, and move through their existence in a karmically clear fashion. Not everyone is like that, however. Some people seek to get all they can get for free. But, is that fair and is that right?
 
So, here’s the question, what things have you gotten in a less than honest manner? Truly explore this question in your mind. Go back as far as you can, from your childhood until now. What did you swindle from some-one or some-thing? Make a mental or a written list.
 
Now, ask yourself, why did you do it? What motivated you to behave in that manner? Who told you that this style of life-action was okay? Moreover, were you trying to impress someone by doing something wrong or did you simply feel you wanted something and deserved it for free?
 
Most thievery in life is not done on a large scale. On a large scale, when caught, that person will go to jail. Much of this style of aberrant behavior occurs almost hidden. …Hidden by the person who is enacting the action or hidden due to the fact that the individual can get away with it; i.e. someone buying something, using it, and then returning it or someone illegally downloading something from the internet. But, no matter at what level it is done, stealing is stealing. Just because you tell yourself it is not stealing, does not, in fact, not make it a crime; even if you can’t get arrested for it.
 
Have you ever had anything stolen from you? If you have then you know it doesn’t feel good, does it? So, why should you do it?
 
Most of us are elated when we get a good deal or something like that. But, that is not stealing. That is paying whatever price is asked from the person proving us with what we want. That is an honest exchange. That is not someone sneaking their way around the system to get something for free or next to free.
 
A lot of people make excuses for why they do what they do. But, an excuse, by its very nature, is nothing more than just that; an excuse. It is not the truth. It is simply someone attempting to sugarcoat and provide a justification for what they have done. Is that you? Is that how you behave?
 
If you have taken something in some dishonest manner in the past, why don’t you take a few moments out of your life and try to repay what you got in an unjust fashion. Seriously, you made a list just a few moments ago. Why don’t you attempt to pay back the person or the persons that you stole that something from?
 
You can do it silently. You don’t have to announce that you were a thief.
 
In doing this not only will you solve some of your own negative karma, but you may make that person, (or whatever), have a little bit of a better day, which may lead to them, (possibly), having a little bit of a better life. Wouldn’t that be a good thing? Wouldn’t that be a better thing?
 
Giving is always better than taking. Stealing, no matter how you do it, is nothing more than the pathway to negativity and bad karma.

Be the giver, not the taker. Never be the thief. If you have stolen, become a bigger person and undo the damage you created. Believe me, it will make everybody’s everything just a little bit better.

***

What if you introduced yourself with a different name to every person you met. Would you still be the same person?

***

When will you have everything that you need?

Flash Back

Years ago, I used to post links to songs I was thinking about, or thought other people would maybe like, here on this blog. For those of you who’ve been with me through the years, I’m sure you will remember. I don’t really know why, but I stopped doing that. Things change, I guess???
 
Anyway, I was driving home this morning and the Neil Young Song,
On the Beach, came on the radio. I had not thought about that song in years. The DJ said that it came out forty-eight years ago this month. Wow! Time flies… I remember when the LP came out and I made a B-Line to the record shop to pick it up.
 
I was always a fan of Neil Young. Hell, I wanted to grow up and be him. Well… Now really be him, but live his lifestyle, revolving my life around making music and such. That never came to pass, however, but I remember my youthful dream very well.
 
Anyway, click on the title if you feel like it and it will link you to the song on YouTube. I think it’s an interesting variant in the overall Neil Young library.
 
I was just checking out the AM News, it hit a commercial, so I popped over to TCM to see what they were showing today. It’s always a great surprise with them. Today, at 6:45 PM, they are going to show, Alice’s Restaurant. Great movie! It provides such an excellent view into a time and a place in U.S. history: artistic, lifestyle, and otherwise. If you read this in time, and if you feel like it, check it out. I know I’m going to be rewatching it. Or hey, you can invite me over and we can watch it together. Get the popcorn ready. Happy
 
Anyway… Sometimes life just reminds you of the past. That’s why I love the arts. …Whatever that artform may be. It provides you with an opportunity to not only remember, if you lived it on the first go-round, or to turn back the clock and experience what life was like, from the perspective of someone else, way back in the way back when.

The Happiness Calculation

Most people spend their days in a state of relative mediocrity. They are not driven by, nor do they experience, intense emotion. They are simply passing through their existence doing what they are doing.   
 
There are those times, however, when one does feel strong emotion: intense joy, passionate love, debilitating sadness, sever fear, concentrated anxiety, or impassioned anger. These are the times that are remembered because those moments are experienced from such at state of exaltation. That does not necessarily mean that these are moments better lived, it simply means that they are moments where emotion is the driving factor of your life.
 
Try this experiment. Take a moment and write down a note about how many times you predict you will be happy, in love, sad, fearful, angry, or whatever other emotion you commonly experience over the next seven days. Obviously, you cannot actually know what is to occur, but try your best to predict how you will feel based upon your previous life experiences.
 
Put this list away for a week. Do not try to bring those predicated emotions into reality simply so that you can meet your predicted quota. Simply let your life happen.
 
In a week, take a moment and write down what noticeable or intense emotions you felt over the previous week. How many times where you happy, sad, fearful, full of anxiety, or angry?
 
Now, compare your two lists. How close were you to living the number of emotions you predicted?
 
What this experiment will provide you with is an understanding of not only how well you know yourself, but it will also guide you in understanding what emotions dominate your existence. If you are following a life path where negative emotions are the commonality of your life experience, this exercise will possibly provide you with a means to chart your emotions, where and why they occur, and from this you may be able to change your life pattern and not drive yourself down the road where sadness, fear, anger, or other negative emotions are allowed to breed.

***

You are one of the reasons the world is as it is.

What are you going to do with your piece of the puzzle?

Why Do You Support Negativity?

Recently, a lot of people have become up-in-arms over the fact of all of the mass shootings taking place in the U.S. and (really) across the globe. Others say, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” But, if these killers didn’t possess a gun, they more than likely would not have set about on a killing spree.  
 
Do you think that scrawny little mass murderer would have gone face-to-face, toe-to-toe with his victims in Highland Park, Illinois a couple of days ago? No. He did what he did because he was a coward, and he had a gun. He could kill them from afar and not have to actually fight his victims.
 
That guy in Uvalde, Texas last month, he walked in a killed a bunch of kids with his assault rifle. Coward!
 
That guy, he even had followers online. Which means, there were people who were supportive of his actions. They are just a karmically responsible as him.
 
Though most people do not go and kill unsuspecting civilians, look around you, this style of hurtful negativity takes place all the time. It happens when the big burly guy or the trained fighter, who knows he holds the advantage, goes up to the smaller, more meek individual, and slaps him. e.g. Will Smith to Chris Rock at the Academy Awards. Coward! It occurs with the person who shows up to a fight with a gang to back them up. Coward!
 
On-line this goes on all the time. Think about it, all the cowards who attack people via the internet. Think how many people support their words, deeds, and actions. Do you?
 
I was watching one of the cable news services yesterday and this guy, probably a psychologist, was discussing how the Highland Park killer had some sort of obsession with the number forty-seven. He even had it tattooed onto his face. The talking head said something very important, in essence he stated, that to these mentally deranged people that number, (or whatever else it is they are obsessed with), means something very important to them—it possesses some strong symbolic meaning. Though it is a driving force in their life, it means nothing to anyone else. Think about it, each of these people, these cowards, all have something locked in their mind that the believe to be some guiding force. But, it only means something to them. It means nothing to anyone else.
 
How about you? What matters to you? What means something to you that perhaps means nothing to anyone else?  This is an important thing to ponder as this is that some-thing that will guide you down the Life Road you walk upon. What is in your mind that makes you do what you do? And, why do you allow it to guide your actions? …If you don’t know the answer to these questions, then you don’t know the answer and you can become controlled by this self-absorbent obsession.
 
Like I say over and over again, you need to meet any negativity with positivity: with-in you and with-out you. If you see negativity occurring, be the force that changes the conversation and the actions. Say or do something positive. If it isn’t you doing it, if you’re not the one changing the course of what is taking place, then that negativity will continue to fester.
 
And, for you people who have unleashed negativity, if you have not corrected it, what does that say about your character? If you’ve hurt, you need to unhurt. If you’ve broken, you need to repair or replace.
 
The is a lot of negativity going on around us all the time. But, if it isn’t you who embraces positivity and at least tries to change the direction of the event, who else will do it? If you wait for someone else to do it, that negativity may go on forever and ever.
 
Think about it, if you’re positive, if you meet negativity with positivity, it can be you who sets a course of events into motion that may make this entire world just a little bit better.  Be the force of positivity.

When Your Light Grow Dim

The one reality of life is that you will come into existence and then you will be no more. It has been debated since the dawn of time, the origin and the reason for human existence, but all any conclusion that has been concluded is based upon nothing more than faith and speculation. Life is life. That is all any of us know, until we know it no more.
 
In life, while you are alive, this is the place where people strive for a fulfilled existence. Some have it much easier than others. That’s the truth. Again, since the dawn of human evolution it has been discussed and debated what is the reason for this, but the fact of the fact is, there is no absolute answer.
 
An untold number of people have made their living, some even becoming very wealthy, by promising a road to Life Happiness. But, when their method fails in any one person’s life, it is the person themselves who are blamed for the failure, not the proclaimer. Thus, this process, in and of itself, is substantially flawed.
 
If you look to life, you will see that some people rise to the top of their game and succeed. When they are at the top of their game, that is when you take notice and know who they are. If you follow their entire life path, however, most will fall from your and the world’s field of vision. They will fade into the abstract of the unknown and the unremembered. Again, that is just the way it is.  
 
It is easy to follow this pattern, particularly in this time of rapid and ongoing change. Think to a TV actor on a TV show you once liked, look to a writer who caught your attention and you liked to read their words, remember a musician you were once drawn to and listened to their music over and over again, even remember an internet star who you sought out their posts, more likely than not, they have faded from public view. Not all, but most. And, if not today, tomorrow.
 
This is just the obvious example of life, ideally illustrated by someone who has risen into your field of vision that you would not have otherwise known. If they are here and then gone, why would you and your life be any different?
 
People seek out belief systems and life-promises that tell them they may live on forever. This is why religion is so prominent in all societies. Is there any formalized and highly-embraced religion that does not promise eternity in some manner? No. Thus, there are always those who seek out the teachers and the teachings of something that promises that you will live forever, that you will be here tomorrow in some way, shape, or form. But, will you? If you look to the obviousness of life, it is proven this will not be the case.
 
Seeking is an obvious part of human nature. It is a trait that has been highly cultivated throughout the millenniums and it is constantly taught that it is a good thing. “Seek and ye shall find.” Or, more precisely, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Mathew 7:7. But, all of this is based in the promise of obtaining what you want and working towards what you desire. But, what happens with desire? It sets you on a course of a constant state of lack of fulfillment. A place that where you are and what you have is never enough. This is the state of mind where you turn to teachers and teachings that promise you a pathway to forever. But, there is no forever. All that is, all that can ever be, is a system of belief that is not based in reality, only the promises motived by the hopes of the vast majority of the world’s population that desire to live, be loved, and be successful forever. But, if there was a guaranteed pathway for this, wouldn’t it be recognized and practiced by everyone?
 
In life, you will live. If you are here reading this, you are alive. But, that is all you are guaranteed in this moment. Think about all of your desires: fulfilled and unfulfilled. Envision all of the things you hope to obtain. Look to your life a year, ten years, or at the doorway to your death, who is there and who will be there? Will you arrive in a state of emancipated grace or will you be there looking for the promise of something more, promised to you by someone who has no control over anything?
 
The light in everyone’s life shines and then it fades. Everyone is drawn to a shining light. But, if you cannot embrace the peace that arises in the dimness, all you will have done is to force yourself to live in the constant state of seeking a lie that promises you a forever—a falsehood that can never come to be.

Apology Not Accepted

When was the last time you apologized to someone? Truly, when was the last time you realized you did something wrong and cared enough to own your responsibility in the situation and apologize?
 
The fact is, most people rarely, if ever, apologize. If they do something wrong, that hurts or damages somebody’s something, they either don’t care, lie about their responsibility in the doing, or take pride in their power to get over on someone. Wrong! But, that’s the way it is. Think about it…
 
So again, when was the last time you apologized to someone?
 
Even more important, when was the last time that you did not apologize to someone when you should have?
 
By tracking these two elements of your life, you can truly learn a lot about yourself. By doing this, it can also cause you to bring about a change in your life, if you even possess the mindset to care enough about the humanity of the all and the everything and hope to make this Life Place any better.
 
I was in this coffee house I sometimes go to yesterday morning. I had ordered up a couple of lattes and croissants for my lady and myself and walked over to the side of the counter where you pick those things up. There were these two older white ladies, (British, I believe), who ordered just after me. The one, pushed right past me and stands right there, front and center, to the window where the orders are put out. A latte comes up, she grabs it without even thinking. The next one comes up, she grabs it, and is handing it to her friend, who first looks at it, then looks at me, “I didn’t order this. Is this yours?” My response, “Yes, as was that one (pointing to the latte held by her friend). I was here first.” “I know… I know…” Exclaims the lady.  The other lady looks at me and realizes her folly. She tries to pass me the second drink that she is holding and has been breathing on.
 
“I’m not going to take that,” I tell the barista. “You need to remake my drinks.” I mean, we are still locked in the age of COVID-19 and who knows who is infected with what?  
 
The barista gives my second latte to the lady’s friend. She just got a free drink!  And, they walk outside to enjoy their lattes, ahead of the person who was in line in front of them, and had ordered before both of them.
 
Now, of course, this is a really small innocent. But, it does illustrate how some people are so focused on themselves that they do not ever consider that there are other people in the world. From this, damage is created. And, what people like this do may affect the life of other people in a very negative manner.
 
Think about this… Contemplate, the last time that you apologized to someone… Why did you apologize? Was it because you truly cared that you had done something wrong and had hurt someone or was it because it was some sort or requirement? Or, was it to protect you from some oncoming reprisal? Even more important, did you apologize so that you could get something in return for your apology?
 
As I was leaving the coffee house, that lady was once again up there at the counter, front and center, having pushed her way past several other people who were waiting for their drinks. She grabbed another latte and was walking towards the door. Was it hers?
 
Me, I was standing by the doorway, waiting for my lady, and as that lady, latte in hand, passes me, she said, “Sorry, I didn’t know that was your drink.” But, what does that mean? It means nothing! All you are saying is that you didn’t care enough to take into consideration that anyone else exists in this Life Space.  She made that statement, standing way too close to me. I need my Personal Space, okay! Plus, she did it with those bedroom eyes. …Like she would even have a chance… Please!
 
Anyway, apology not accepted.
 
If you care enough about caring about the someone else, these type of small things would never happen. You would never be the CREATOR of such incidents. But, more to the point, most people don’t care. They are so lost into the space of selfish thought that if they do something wrong to someone, do they apologize or do they double down?
 
How do you behave? When do you apologize? Who do you apologize to and why? If you’ve hurt someone, even in the smallest of way, don’t you owe them an apology? And, if you don’t apologize, then nothing is ever fixed and the hurt you enacted will remain an active element in your life forever.

***

Just because you claim someone is your guardian angel does not mean that they have actually taken on that role.

***

The problem with interpreting someone else's meaning is that is all you will ever have, not their truth, just your interpretation of their understanding.

The People That Control Your Life

I believe that we each have had people that have entered our life and have come to control various elements of our life. In some cases, this was by choice. In most cases, however, it was not.
 
Certainly, when you are young, your parents and other members of your immediate family hold sway over you.  As you progress through life there are teachers and employers who tell you how to behave. In many/most cases, these are acceptable relationships that are simply a condition of life. But, then there are the other people who come into your sphere of existence, who you truly wish were not there, but you have to deal with them nonetheless.
 
In some cases, these are small, fast-moving elements that come and go in your life and are soon forgotten. In other cases, there are bad neighbors, bad ex’s, and other people that never seem to go away. Or, people who just haunt your existence. In any and all of these cases, it is what you do and how you deal with these people, that will define the next step in your life.
 
For example, I had gotten an oil change in my car this morning and I was driving home. I live along the coast and the way I was taking home has only one lane in each direction.  So, if you have a bad driver in front of you, it can really mess up your drive.
 
I had noticed that the car in front of me was driving somewhat erratically as I turned right onto this street. But, there was little I could do. What could I do? As we proceeded he would speed up, slow down, veer to the left or to the right. At times, all of sudden, he would drive very slowly. I mean there is a forty-five mile an hour speed limit on this street and, periodically, he was driving less than twenty.
 
Now, I don’t know if this guy was drunk, high, crazy, or just not giving a fuck that anyone else was on the road behind him as he was looking at the scenery, but at one point, I looked in my mirror and I counted a trail of thirty cars that he was holding up. Then, he came to an almost complete stop. Pissed, I honked my horn to let him know that he was not the only person in the world, as did the car behind me. He then immediately slammed on his breaks and came to a complete stop on this sharp hill and began to flail his arm out the window, with a fist, in an enraged circle. I guess he was telling me (and the others) to pass him, but it was a blind hill and to do that would be suicide. You get the picture.
 
Like they calculate on the news, and certainly I have witnessed and realized, that since the re-opening of the pandemic, a lot of people drive like shit. It seems that people think they are the only person on the road.
 
You know, when the guy did that, it touched that spot of anger in me. It was like, maybe you can remember when Jack Nicholson got out of his car and started beating on that other guy’s car with one of his golf clubs. It was all over the news many years back.
 
They also say that road rage has really risen in recent times. But, here’s the thing, yes, it was that guy driving completely inconsiderately that set the situation into motion, but it is you/I who must decide to do what we do as a reaction that sets the stage for the rest of our life. Now days, you just can’t go and kick someone’s ass, not only will you get arrested but you will get sued. So, you really must hold back. Their fault, but it is you who must be more.
 
Like I have long said, a second changes the whole game. Think about it, if I had left the auto repair shop just a few moments sooner, I would have never encountered that guy and his inconsiderate driving. But, that’s life, sometimes people come into your sphere of existence and though you don’t want them there, you must deal with them.
 
In closing, don’t be that inconsiderate person. But, you know that. I’m sure the people who read this blog would never behave like that. This being said, you have to be careful in your choice of responses to situations like this, create by people you don’t want in your life, because sometimes they are doing that something simply to cause a confrontation, which ends in who knows what?
 
Finally, the guy proceeded. A bit farther up, the road breaks off into two lanes. Of course, he rode in the fast last. Me, I passed in the slow lane, and drove home. This was no big deal, just something that will be forgotten. But, it could have gone a much different way had I allowed anger to guide my actions.
 
The main thing to keep in mind is to never let those people that force their way into your life, and you don’t want in your life, control you. Be focused on the Better You. Be more than they will ever be.

***

Does religion quiet your mind? Most likely it does not. It makes you ponder, contemplate, think, and pray for what you desire. It makes you ask for forgiveness.
 
Without a silent mind, deeper spiritual knowledge is impossible.
 
You must leave religion behind if you hope to embrace the silence, find your true inner self, and truly know God.

Questions Never Asked

Think about a question that you wish you would have asked someone. Maybe the person is still alive or maybe they have passed on—which makes this process so much more complicated. Why didn’t you ask them that question?  There are a million answer for why you didn’t ask, but it all comes down to the fact of the fact that the question was not asked and now you do not have an answer.
 
Many times, once someone has passed away, questions come to mind that you realize that you should have asked but you did not. In these cases, it may be next to impossible to get the answer. But, that does not take away the question.
 
There is the whole subtext to all of this, in that sometimes people simply refuse to answer a questioned asked of them or they will lie. Then, thought the question was asked, the answer was never given—at least not a truthful one. But, when this occurs, in some ways an answer is received in that you can take solace in knowing that the question pushed a spot in that person—a place that they did not wish to discuss or at least not tell the truth about.
 
Here's the other side to this issue… The place where a question becomes a weapon. Some people ask questions in order to get some dirt on a person so that they can use their answer against them. As we all can agree, this is not right. Don’t be that person. But, if your questions comes from a from a space of purity, and the answer will benefit the all and the everything, then asking it may make everything just a little bit better.  
 
So, here’s the thing, and this is something that you must forever ponder whenever a question comes to your mind, if you don’t ask you will never know.
 
Take a moment and think about a question that has resounded in your mind. What was/is the question? Why didn’t you ask the question? Can you still ask that someone the question? If you can, why don’t you?
 
A question never asked is a question never answered.
 
If you have a question, ask the question, for if not, you may never receive an answer and you will forever be left questioning.

***

What happens when you are forgotten?

Do You Want to Help People?

What is the focus of your life? Truly, ask yourself that question, “What is the focus of my life?”
 
For each person the answer to that question is different. And, there is no right or wrong answer. But, the question still remains, what is the focus of your life?
 
For some, it is to make money and live a good lifestyle. For others, it is to take care of their family and give them a healthy, happy, and fulfilled life. Some wish to move themselves forward, climb up their career ladder, and rise to the top of their game in fame and name. Some don’t even think about this. They think about nothing but simply letting their life unfold as it will. Of all these cases, however, few people ever set themselves on a conscious course of focusing on helping others. Even if they claim they are doing what they do to help others: by being a teacher, a medical professional, or a comedian, what they are actually doing is guiding themselves into a position where they can gain accolades, money, fame, and respect.  Who is that helping?
 
Anyone can help anybody if they want to. But, do you want to?  Truly, do you ever contemplate this? Moreover, if you do contemplate this/if you do think about helping someone/anyone else, where does the concept of, “I,” come into this quotation?
 
Why do you want to help someone else? Why do you wish to help a specific person or a particular cause? What do you get out of it?
 
The fact is, everyone can choose to help someone else. But, as long as the central focus of the helping equation is YOU, who is getting what and why?
 
As long as YOU are the central focus of your helping, all you are doing is helping yourself, while telling the lie (to others and to yourself) that you are doing something for the greater good.
 
Helping someone is the greatest gift that can be given. That gift is commonly diminished, however, by why the helping is being unleashed.
 
You really should study your motivations. Not just for helping someone or something else but for why you do whatever it is that you do. Because if you don’t, all your life becomes is a selfish illustration, defined by a lie.

***

Can you fault a meat eater for eating meat?

Hate is Hate

Certainly, we have all seen rising cases of Asian hate on the news. …Where some coward comes up behind a person and sucker punches them, knocks them down, shoves them in front of a subway, and stuff like that. That is just wrong!
 
In India, there are rising cases of hate against Muslims, propagated by the Hindu majority. Wrong!
 
In Israel, there is all of the hate and life changing actions that goes on against the Palestinians. Wrong!
 
Just the other day, the Supreme Court, here in the United States, overturned Roe verses Wade. On one hand, that decision will stop the killing of unborn life. On the other hand, it takes the choice away from women as to whether or not they are ready or willing to have a child, which will cause more children to be born into this world that may be raised in horrible circumstances, thus leading to a possibly tragically lived life and the dissemination of bad deeds actualized by that initially unwanted individual. This Supreme Court decision has equaled all kinds of protesting; some violent.
 
These are just a couple of examples of all the hurt orientated conflict that is going on across the globe but in each of these cases an individual person takes a side and does what they do based upon what they believe is right. But, if what you believe equals hate, hurt, destruction, and damage, on any level, how can that be right?  Yet, look into your own mind, don’t you believe what you believe to be right? How often do you even consider the other individual’s point of view?
 
Each protest is made up of people taking to the streets (or wherever) believing what they believe is right and who or what they are protesting against is wrong. But, there would be no protest if someone else did not believe the exact opposite. So, who is right? Who is wrong? Do you believe that simply by believing what you believe, that makes you right? If you do believe this, don’t you think that signals that you are a fairly ego-driven, self-absorbed individual?
 
The thing in life is, you grow a belief—based upon whatever… From this, you choose a side. If you choose a side, you have chosen a side. If you form an opinion, you have set yourself up to be in conflict with someone else.
 
No matter how much you believe you are right, and that someone else is wrong, based upon whatever source of reference you may claim, all you are doing is believing and stating something, based upon the belief that you are right and they are wrong. From this, you
personally have set competition into motion and from competition there will always be a winner and loser. How does one get to the position of winning or losing? By competing. From this is born the need to try to win and within this mentality arises the mindset where some people take their opinion to the level of hurt, violence, and destruction. The people who do this, most commonly, believe that what they are doing is okay and possibly even right. But, how can it be? They are hurting another human being. And, no matter what that person’s race, religion, or belief system is, they too are a human being. How can hurting them bring any good?
 
One can say that opinions, in and of themselves, are bad as they cause conflict.  But, how many people are mindful enough to allow their opinions to simply reside in their own mind and be their opinions and not attempt to spread their opinion to the world or congregate with those who hold similar opinions?  
 
How about you? What do you do based upon your opinions? Do your opinions cause you to enter into conflict? Do your opinions cause you to hurt other people? Face facts, if they do, then that means you are walking down the road of conflict. What does conflict lead to? Hurt.
 
People can be more. People can hold an opinion and not attempt to spread that opinion in a destructive manner. People can understand that other people believe differently than they do and from this knowledge accept all people for who they are. But, ego always seems to come into play. Especially via those who believe their opinions matters more than someone else’s.
 
The truth of life is, there is no absolute right or wrong. There only is belief. If your belief causes you to hurt anyone or anything then what you are doing, by its very nature, is wrong. Hurt only equals retribution. Though you may win a battle, if you create a war, you will eventually be consumed by it.
 
Allowing people to be what they are, to believe what they believe, think how much less hurt there would be spreading across the world. If everyone could just turn off their opinions, or at least just keep them to themselves, don’t you think that peace would reign supreme?

You Have Control Over Your Life, Just Most People Don’t Choose to Use it

I noticed around my neighbor that this person had put up flyers asking for everyone to check their door-cams for sightings of their cat as it has gone missing. That’s sad, I thought. I know how it feels to love a furry friend.
 
In the past, I have seen the cat walking around. Then, as now, I questioned why someone would let such a pretty cat just wander the neighbor?
 
The owner put a new flyer up, stating that someone must have taken the cat’s collar off which was equipment with an Apple Air Tag. …You know, one of those things that everyone is now putting on other people’s something so that they can illegally track them.
 
I have no idea what happened to the cat or the cat’s Apple Air Tag. I wish I did, as I would love to help them find their missing friend. But, in their current flyer, they are blaming some thief or some something for taking their cat’s collar off and then throwing it over some wall.

Here’s my question/statement, if you did not let your cat roam around aimlessly outside in the first place, none of this would have happened. Yes, it may be the fault of someone else for absconding with your furry friend, but the true blame lies wholly with you for letting your cat go outside unsupervised.
 
This is the thing about life, everybody has control. They have a choice to make at each juncture of their life about what they are going to do next. They make that choice, but if they don’t like the outcome, then they look for someone else to blame. But, it’s no one else’s fault! They made a choice. They took an action, which led to a result. Their fault!
 
Of course, I feel for these people. I am sure they love their cat. But, as a cat owner myself, I would never let my cats just go roaming as I have seen far too often what happens to those pets that are let out into the merciless world where they are hurt, injured, stolen, or killed.
 
If you care for something, keep it close. Particularly, a furry friend that does not possess the capacity to battle human or animal kind.
 
You have a choice to make at every intersection of your life. But, no matter the outcome, good or bad, that choice was and is your choice. You made it. If your choice goes wrong, blame no one but yourself.

Name Dropper AKA A Life Based on Who You Know

Have you ever met one of those people who, when they are trying to impress you, they talk about the fact that they know this person or that? They want to make themselves some kind of something more based upon whom they have met and/or know.
 
At the very basic level of this style of behavior, what that person is doing is saying that they are not good enough in and of themselves. They are broadcasting to the world that by them having met that other person, that by knowing that other individual, that makes them something more than who they are as a unique creature onto their own self.
 
On some levels, it is obvious that a person who behaves in this manner possesses a low level of self-esteem as they are defining themselves by that other individual. You see this all the time in people that do interviews or write tell-all books. They are not basing that disseminated information on who and what they truly are, instead they are simply defining their life by what that other person gave to them or did to them. Think about how many people have become marginally famous simply by speaking about that someone else who actually is famous and has accomplished something.
 
There are those people who seek out that person who is the center of attention. They try to meet and cozy up to those people. They do this in order to make themselves something more. At the most basic and primordial level of this is the groupie to the rock star. But, it goes onto all different levels from that.
 
I know back in the days when I was a young single man, (and being from L.A. where fleeting fame is rampant), I would sometimes meet girls who would try to impress me by telling me about a famous person they had sex with. Men don’t want to hear that kind of nonsense! In fact, simply by knowing that this girl apparently did have sex with that someone, completely turned me off, and I was out the door.  And, that is just one small example…
 
Think about all the people who speak about someone else. They want to tell you who they met, who they studied from, who they worked for, who they went on a date with, who they had sex with, and the list goes on and on… What they are doing is defining themselves and attempting to make themselves something more than you or I or anybody by them knowing that someone that the everyone else does not. But, what does that make them? From this, they are stating they are not important enough to be the central subject of the conversation.
 
I know here in Hollywood, this style of nonsense goes on all over the place. People think by knowing someone it will get them something that they do not have. And, maybe it will. But, by living life at this level all a person does is to diminish the what they could become by placing their entire life focus on someone and something they are not and will never be.
 
You can never become your own person if you define yourself by having known or interacted with anyone else. Remember that.
 
Become your own person. Do not become someone who defines themselves simply by whom they have known. For then, at best, all you are is a shadow of that other individual—and most possibly someone that person will not even acknowledge having known. You will never become what you actually could have become if you look to anyone else to make you what you are.

Julia Strain: Photos In the Wake of Yesterday

I was kicking around a few antique stores over the weekend. I was in one and I noticed a poster of Julie Strain. It is one of those more-or-less common posters that was created by Olivia. Once upon a time, in the long ago and the far-far away, you would see a lot of that art piece in the comic book shops and art orientated stores. Now, times have changed, you don’t see it very often. Plus and As Such, they were charging quite a lot for it. I believe I have a signed one somewhere???
 
The first thought in my mind was, it’s kind of funny, Julie in an antique store. I guess they say that something becomes an antique when it is over fifty years old. So, by that standard, I guess Julie was an antique. Me too.
 
Sadly, Julie passed away a couple of years ago. Though she had retired from the game several years before, it was a loss as she was certainly a figure to be reckoned with.
 
Seeing the poster, got me to thinking… I had taken so many photographs of Julie Strain back in the days when we were making films together and just hanging out. Some, I’ve put out there on this website, on Instagram, and others I sent to mags in association with articles, but most have never been seen.
 
I remember, every now and then, I would give some of the photos to Julie and she was so impressed by their clarity. She would ask, was it the lens? And yes, that was part of it. The lens on the camera I was using back then cost like $6,000.00. But, more than that, it was the film. These photos were taken before the age of digital. And, the aesthetic of film is just so much better than that of digital. Digital just tries to mimic film, but it is not film.
 
Anyway… I started to think that maybe I should release a book of all of the photos I have of Julie. She would probably like that. The problem is, super high-quality photo books are really expensive to put out there. And, if it was not super high-quality, I could just see all the criticism, unleashed by the un-knowing masses. …Or hell, maybe even do an art show release. But, doing large-scale, high-quality prints of all those photos would be super expensive. I guess I should have hit Kevin (Eastman) up with this idea back in the day when he was married to and financing Julie’s career in association with his magazine and book publishing company. Oh well….
 
I guess on a philosophic level, this is all a lot like life. Think about all of the photographs that have been taken. …Taken back in the day of film, and now the millions-upon-millions of photos that are shot every day on smart phones; nobody sees them. Yes, the photographer and maybe the model see them. But, then what happens to them? Answer: Nothing. They are lost.
 
Think about it… Think about all the photos you have taken… Think about all the photos that were taken of you… What became of them? Only seen by you and maybe a few close family members or friends.  A lot of great photographic art has been lost to the hands of times and the lack of ability for anyone to put it out there for the world to see. Thus, the art is gone.
 
As far as all my photos of Julie??? I guess they will just remain hidden, lost to the hands of time. Sad really… Julie was such a photogenetic individual. She really knew how to play to the camera.

The Night Turns into Day

I turned off the TV tonight and I immediately began to hear these night bird chirping their song into the sky. It was really quite refreshing, as I so rarely hear the song of the night birds where I live. It is going on right now.
 
I was re-watching Part II of that series that charts the music that rose out of Laurel Canyon in the later sixties and early seventies on epix. I was just popping channels and it came up. It has been a year or so deep since I saw it last. …You know how it is, times goes by and it all becomes kinda new. Good doc!
 
I guess I should be sleeping, but I just don’t do that very well. I remember back in the days when I lived in Hermosa… Yeah, I would come home late, after a long night of clubbing or whatever, and when I went to bed, I would sleep so silently. Those days are long-long gone. Now, I sleep very little. Kinda sad, I believe. I like to sleep. Dreams are, so often, so much better than life.
 
You know, watching that doc, and having grown up in that era, in nearby Hollywood, it brings back all of these memories. Though I didn’t live in Laurel Canyon, I understand the message of the times. I did have a friend who lived next to Frank Zappa in Laurel Canyon, however. Zappa was definitely an influence on my life.  And yeah, years later, I was friends with Tipsy LaFabula, who had this great house right on Laurel Canyon Boulevard, where we filmed parts of Samurai Vampire Bikers from Hell. But, anyway…
 
Whenever I have watched that doc, memories are churned. One of the main narrators of the piece is this, one time, very famous L.A. DJ. Now dead, I believe. I remember back when I was still in Hollywood High, my crew and I, we were out doing what 1970s teens did: driving the streets of Hollywood, looking for a deeper meaning to life, smoking dope, and the like. We ended up at the home of this one girl in Laurel Canyon. She was the stepdaughter of that DJ. I remember going inside her house for the first time and I was just stunned by the amount of LPs her father had lining all the walls of his home. It never occurred to me then, but he got all of those LPs for free. But, it just seemed like all of that music must promise some level of some sort of enlightenment.
 
I don’t know whatever happened to that girl. I wish I did. She was there and then she was gone.  She was one of those people who was just killing time in high school until she found her whatever else. She simply faded away. Plus, she lived in a different world than I. She was one of the chosen. …Those who lived in vast mansions up in the hills. While the others, like I, lived down in gutters of Hollywood in apartments off of Hollywood Boulevard.
 
But, all this being said, (and meaning very little), the doc, the first time and the second time and the subsequent times I saw it, it reminds me that, yes, back then, there was a ambiance. A hidden essence. A place in the time where all things were as they are, making all life mean something. Driven by music, life was promised to equal something more. Not unlike those of us who rode the first was of Punk, where reality was changing, and it appeared that, through music, life and reality was going to change. But, of course, it did not.
 
Maybe that is the reality of the truth of life. Sometimes there are those people who take us to a new plane of existence, via music or otherwise. A place where everything feels like it is going to get better.
 
I mean really, there is some good music out there. There is some really bad music out there, as well. All defined by what we like. But, that music guides us. It makes us feel a certain kind of way. And, from that music, we are promised a new vision. But, walk down the road, look back on that road a day, a week, a year, or a decade later, and what has really changed?
 
So… Is it all an illusion? I don’t know??? But, every now and then, there is a song and/or a place in music history, where it all just makes you feel okay.
 
I think that we really need to embrace those moments. Because they don’t come around all that often. They are here, then they are gone, and all that is left is people who make documentaries about those moments.
 
Now, is it late… Very late… I should undoubtedly go to sleep. But, I most probably won’t. I wish I could but I would rather be one of those people who inspires the world by one of their songs, or one of their whatever’s… So, I guess all I can do is stay up and create with the hopes of making that happen.
 
I guess late is too late but why?

The Zen of Pong

This may be a bit of a generational thing, but if you came up when I did, the first video game that hit the realms of suchness was a game called, “Pong.” Basically, one or two people could play this game and it witnessed the player bouncing this ball thing back and forth on the screen.  At the time, it was really revolutionary. By today’s gaming standards, it is archaic.
 
I remember, back in the day, when my bud, Saturday Jim and I, would climb in my van and head up to Canada quite frequently. It was one of those wanderlust things when you’re a teenager and you could actually drink when you were eighteen up there, compared to here in Cali where the drinking age was twenty-one. You know, as a kid, that all seems so much fun.
 
I remember it was so exciting when we discovered that they actually had a Pong game on the ferry between Vancouver and Victoria, over on Vancouver Island. It was all kinds of fun to sit there playing as we cruised across the ocean.
 
Of course, that was decades ago. But, Pong is a found memory.
 
I have a couple of cats. One of them, all of sudden, decided that she likes to play this game with balls. What she does is that she will bat the ball it in my direction, and I will kick it back towards her. She’s really good at it. If she misses the ball, she goes and gets it and restarts the game. She even sometimes banks the ball against the cabinet walls in the kitchen, as she sends it my direction.
 
I was playing it with her last night, for a few minutes, and I realized it was totally like Pong. One ball, back and forth, over and over again.
 
I don’t know??? Maybe this cat was reincarnated from a tennis player, a soccer goalie, or something like that??? I mean, each cat is so different. They each have their own personality and they each chart out what makes them happy and what games they like to play.
 
I used to have this cat who loved to play with rubber bands. Whenever he would decide it was time to play chase the rubber band, he would walk over with one in his mouth and drop it down in front of my lady or me.

It’s just fun to come, at least in part, to understanding the mind of someone you love so much and someone that brings you so much happiness. It is really great to be able to repay that happiness at least in some small way by playing the game they want to play.
 
The Pong cat, I imagine she could play Pong forever. I mean, it is always me who stops the game.
 
I try to see it like a meditation. …A moment that makes someone else happy, while I emerge myself in doing something that is a little bit unnatural but takes a sense of concentration to actualize.
 
We each like what we like. We each like to do what we like to do. I don’t know if that is mediation, however. That’s just doing something that makes us feel the way we want to feel. But, every now and then, when we can find something that not only brings someone else happiness but causes us to focus our mind, isn’t that the ultimate meditation?

Simplicity

At the heart of an easy, well-lived life, is simplicity.
 
People always question when they are going through some life trauma, “What got me here?” They may even blame others for their predicament. At the root of all life complications is having lived a life not based upon simplicity.
 
The more you bring into your life, the more complicated your life becomes.
 
Many people define their life by what they own, who they know, and how they present themselves to the world. Though these things seem to be at the core of human nature, all of these things take one away from simplicity. Thus, life complications are born.
 
In a mechanical world, there are mechanical problems. It is as simple as that. The more you do, the more you must undo. For everything you buy, there is a price to be paid. For every outward image you attempt to project, there is something that must be put into that assembly. All things that are not simple, lead you away from peace.
 
People will argue about what they believe they want or need and why they must have it to the end. But, each of these people live an unfulfilled life that is not defined by peace.

The more you own, the larger the space you must find to house those possessions. But, if you let go, just think about it, wouldn’t everything be easier? In ease, there is peace.
 
Embracing simplicity is not hard. If fact, it is the easiest of all life activities. Just let go of all those outside wants and you are free.
 
Try it. You may find an entirely new reality where you can simple live in a state of unencumbered tranquility.

Award of Reward

Back in the day, in the long ago and the far-far away—probably many of you won’t even remember this, but websites used to get awards for just being in existence. If some-somebody liked what you were putting out there or you applied to the, “Webmaster,” of that Award’s Issuing Site, and they liked your Site, they would give you a little badge to put on your website. This site had a number of them.  In fact, at one point, this site had so many there was an entire page titled and devolved to, “Awards.” It all seems kind of stupid now. But hey, scottshaw.com was Celebrity Link Certified and all that. Happy
 
Anyway, I was a member of this martial art organization back then and the webmaster of the organization’s site, seeing I was doing a site, asked me to be part of their Web Award’s Team. They gave out bronze, silver, and gold stars banners for MA sites. So, whenever a site was submitted the, “Team,” would look it over, pass on our recommendations to the Team Leader, and he may issue one of the award banners. All fine and good…
 
Sometimes, someone would get a bronze star when they thought they should have gold one and stuff like that. This one Hapkido teacher, that I knew down in Australia, wondered why he didn’t get a higher ranking. The reason was, there was a set of prescribed standards so it was not like we could just like a person or a site and award them a gold banner. The reason he received a lower ranking is coming right now…
 
Another thing that many of you, of this time and space, may not remember, is that a lot of sites would have a page or pages listed as, “Under Construction,” on them. As far as our award’s team went, this was a No-No.
 
One of the very profound things that the webmaster said to me, and I took it to heart, was that all websites are constantly under construction. They are continually evolving and changing, at least they should be. Thus stating, “Under Construction,” was a given and should never be used. A page would be there, or it was not. That was that. No, “Under Construction,” allowed. I totally agreed. I know this website has forever been in a state of ongoing evolution. But, sometimes, when someone puts something into words, it just makes that realization come in all that much clearer. It’s like Satori.
 
Anyway, I always hated giving people, or at least being part of the team, that gave people the bad news. Plus, I just do not believe that people (or websites) should be judged. Even back when I was teaching classes at the universities, I never gave my students tests. I never felt that testing was a good gage of acquired knowledge. In any case, by hook or by crook, I left all that website awards stuff behind.
 
All those banners, on all those sites, are no more. Though I imagine somewhere, on some floppy disk, I have their images embedded on a scottshaw.com from a time gone past. Or maybe not?
 
In any case, this is the thing about life, you are in a constant state of evolution. Sometimes, at some stages of your life, what you are doing is judged and like by someone else. You may even be given an award. But, does that judgement, does that award, define who you are? No. It is simply someone telling you that they like who you are and/or what you’re doing. But, that does not change who you are, that does not make you a better person. It does not really do anything.
 
Your life is constantly evolving. Some choose to make this evolution a conscious practice to become a more, better something. Others just skate their way through life, doing whatever it is they do, with little thought or forethought. Whatever the case, evolution is a constant. You will evolve. You will change. Hopefully, you will at least attempt to make yourself that better something.
 
The days of the Awarded Websites are long gone. Does that make the websites that were, “Awarded,” any less? Does that make the websites that were never, “Awarded,” any more? No. You can allow yourself to be judged or you can allow yourself to be defined solely by your own standards. But, evolution is a constant, you are forever, “Under Construction.” So, you and everyone else just needs to embrace this truth, you do not need to state this predetermined fact.

Life Isn’t Always Going to Be the Way You Want it to Be

I think most of us have a routine when we wake up in the morning. For me, I get up and do the Zen of Coffee Making thing, sit down with a cup, and do the things that need to be done on the computer each morning. Then, when the morning has moved along a little bit, I will get dressed and get ready to go out onto my day.
 
My next step is, normally, I will then do a mobile order and pick up a latte or a Flat White and a bagel or something for breakfast to eat at Starbucks. Today, I guess the Starbucks system was down as a notice came up on my phone that I could not do their mobile order thing. I checked around to all the local Starbucks, and the message was the same. …And, I just refuse to stand in line, place the order, and then wait for the baristas to cook up my order anymore…  Thus, my day was not turning out the way I wanted.
 
Now, of course, this is no big deal. I didn’t get my latte and my bagel for breakfast, oh well… I mean, there’s a lot bigger things going on in the world, and even in my life, than that. But, it does illustrate how sometimes in life, things, small or large, do not turn out the way that we want them to be.
 
But, think about it, what if you just didn’t care? I mean, I’m sure you don’t care that I didn’t my bagel and latte. You have your own Life Stuff going on. But, moreover, what if I didn’t care?
 
Here’s the thing, you make the choice to care, just as you can make the choice not to care. Sure, you want things to be the way you want things to be, but you can turn off that caring if situations are not turning out the way you originally hoped.  
 
This is one of the philosophies I have embraced throughout my life. I can choose not to care. I may want something to be a certain way, but if it is not turning out the way I hoped, it does not have to take control over my emotions and my life and drive me into anger or despair. I can just let it go.
 
Try it. Next time something is not going the way you wished, take control over your thought process, and choose not to care. You may be amazed at how much better that simple action will make you feel.

Ants

I don’t know if this has ever happened to you, but it seems like it happens to a lot of people I know, and even to myself every now and then…
 
Your life in your home is all going along fine and then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, a crew of ants finds their way in, and they are crawling in masses. Maybe they are hitting your pet’s food or something like that or maybe that are just invading, following their long trail to somewhere they know why they are going to, but you have no idea.
 
It’s really upsetting, because then you have to deal with them. You must get out the bug spray and get dosed with all that chemical that you are spraying. Then, you have to clean up the mess of all those dead ants. Plus, once this occurs, you have to keep your eyes open, hoping they will not return.
 
That little creature, so small, it can really mess up your life. At least for a little while.
 
Aren’t those ants a lot like some people in life. I mean, your life is going along just fine, everything is okay, then, out of nowhere, this person, that you may not even know, comes in and messes everything up. It’s really upsetting.
 
I mean, you hear about people all the time getting stalked by someone. Someone, who for some reason, feels they have the right to invade someone else’s life. That stalked individual’s life was fine, then this person forces their way in and messes everything up. Not good!
 
Certainly, there are all kind of these invasions on the internet, all the time. Whether it is something big like identity theft, onto people stealing other people’s creations, onto seemingly smaller things like a person attacking another individual on social media, or someone talking smack and spreading false facts about a person. It is all bad! It is all something that no one wants to have happen to them! But, as there are so few checks and balances in this world, especially in the on-line world, all kinds of crazy stuff goes on. …All brough on by that very small someone that comes out of nowhere.
 
I mean, I really hate it when stuff like that happens to me. I’m sure we all do.  And, I think that’s the point of empowerment, some people have such a small view of reality that they actually feel invigorated by bursting into someone else’s life and messing things up. It gives them some sort of distorted sense of control. This is especially the case when they can make a name for themselves or some money via this attack.
 
I don’t know??? I guess, like the old saying goes, “Small people have small minds.” But, tell them this and they just get mad and fight harder to mess things up in that other person’s life.
 
For the people who read this blog, I am certain you would never go after a person in this manner. You leave people alone and work on making yourself the best vehicle for life that you can become. So, no thoughts need to be passed on in your direction. But, not everyone is like you. Some people want to invade the life of someone else and they may even believe they are doing themselves or someone else a favor. It’s nuts!
 
The fact of the fact is, there is really no cure for the ants of the world. There are so few checks and balances. I guess you just need to keep your life and your life-place as clean as possible and hope they do not find you. If they do find you, you just gotta do what you can. But, in the abstract reality of this current world, sometimes the bug spray just does not work. So, then what? Then, I guess the only thing is to be strong enough—stronger than them, and not engage in the battle. Because who can win in a fight you did not instigate, especially with a person who has nothing to lose? They are coming at you for a reason. Yes, that reason is most likely only in their own mind. But, they want something from you: money, to hurt you, to get love from you, whatever… But, it is they who want it, not you. All I can suggest is just deflect as best as you can and not care as much as is possible.
 
They say ants are everywhere. I suppose they serve some function, or they would not still exist. But, the ants that invade your life can be so annoying. Don’t be ant. Become something more pure that is the creative source of the inspiration and the creations of this world, not someone who simply forces their way into the life of that someone who does not want anything they have to offer.

***

Instead of being like everybody else, why don't you become yourself?

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There is no requirement that you mimic the badness unleashed by other people. You can, instead, enact goodness and countermand what they are doing.

***

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

Embracing the Zen

Life is about what you live, feel, experience, and relay to others.
 
Life is about what you think, what you do based upon what you think, and how others interpret what you do based upon what you think. Think about it…
 
Somebody asked me this morning if I would like to have a movie made about my life as a filmmaker and my filmmaking process. This is not the first time I have been asked that question. I explained, as I have done in the past, that has already been done. A group of people from Grand Valley State University, in Michigan, did a multi-part parody about Zen Filmmaking and myself well over a decade ago. It’s pretty funny. It’s been up on YouTube forever. Check it out. It truly embraces the essence of Zen Filmmaking.
 
The only time any one of those people ever contacted me was, however, when someone emailed me a question about where we got the Chupacabra monster. I told them that it costs tons of money to have it made and that was that, I never heard from any of them ever again. Yet, they moved forward making that parody. I have no idea what ever became of any of those people. I hope they are still making movies.
 
Interpreting what someone does, is a slippery slope. Because all interpretations are simply that, an interpretation.
 
Believing you know what someone thinks, why they think it, and how that leads them to what they do, is also a slippery slope. Because how can anyone truly understand anyone else, particularly if you do not know that person on an intimate level? Yet, everyone does this all the time. How about you?
 
Most interpret other people solely in their own mind. They do it without speaking a word. Yet, they think they know what they know—they believe they know what that other individual thinks and why they think it. Some, in fact, proclaim they know what someone else knows. They scream it to the world, never claiming that it is simply their interpretation. From this, a lack of truth is given birth to. I’ve had that happen to me. A few even make movies about someone else. A biopic if you will. Like the one they did about me. At least those are fun and funny. But, how many people have seen that multi-part piece? Not many, I believe. I haven’t even watched it all the way through. I did skim through it a bit, all those years ago, when it first came out. But, I’m me, I already know how I think and feel and why I do what I do. Why would I need to watch a movie about me?
 
I believe taking the time to make Art Films like that is an interesting utilization of time. But, is that me? No. I’m me. Did any of those people ever meet me—or were they on the set of any of my films? No. So, interpretation is all they were left with. Thus, by its very nature what they present it false.  
 
What does interpretation mean?  Analysis leading to understanding. But, what is understanding if it is not based in the authenticity of a person’s own lived-reality?  
 
Is your interpretation of me my reality and the truth or is it only what you have concluded based upon the limited set of facts that you possess about me? Is my interpretation of your reality the truth or is it only what I have concluded based upon the limited set of facts that I possess about you?
 
Interpretation can be made into an Art Form, like in the case of the aforementioned film on Zen Filmmaking. Most never take it to that level, however. All they do is to think what they think, based upon their own set of preconceived notions, which has its foundations in their own predeveloped personality and psychological reality. How about you? What do you think about me? Why do you think what you think about me? What makes you believe what you think you know about me is the truth? And, more importantly, why do you think about me at all?
 
I am just using me as an example. Why do you interpret—why do you think what you think about anyone? Why do you think about them at all if you do not personally know them? How and why can you relay a true knowledge about them if you have never met them?
 
Think about this the next time you begin to spread your opinion about anyone. How can you know those you don’t know? How can what you be speaking be the truth if your supposed truth is nothing more than your interpretation?
 
Knowing that you know that you don’t know is the place where true realization may be born. When you stop thinking that you know, this is the place where true Zen is embraced. It is also the place where an individual is allowed to be who and what they truly are, defined only by themselves. Doesn’t that just instantly make everything better? Isn’t that the essence of Zen?

What You’ve Done Can’t Be Undone

Pretty much every movie you see, every TV show you watch, every book you read, and every story that is told to you is based, at least in part, on the fact that someone did something wrong to someone else. This is the reality of life.
 
Right now, take a moment and think about something someone did to you that was not right, that hurt you, hurt your life, hindered your life evolution, and/or caused you to feel pain. Really think through this. Did they do what they did on purpose? Or, was it an accident? Once it was done, what did they do after the fact? Did they deny what they had done? Did they lie to cover up the fact of what they had done? Did they justify their actions? Did they run and hide from you? Did they just not care that they had hurt you and maybe even took pride in what they had done?  Or, did they try to fix it? Again, really think your way through this life event.
 
Now, and more importantly, think about a time when you did something that hurt someone else. Maybe it was something you said, maybe it was some action you took, maybe it was an accident. Whatever it was, bring that life event clearly into focus in your mind—something that
you did that hurt someone else. Why did that event occur? Was it you trying to hurt them? Was it you being mad at someone and you reacted in a hurtful manner? Was it you not paying attention to the feelings of anyone else, thinking only about yourself, and you did what you did with no foresight?  Go through this. Really chart this out. Find and articulate the reason why you hurt someone.
 
Once this action that you did was taken, what did you do next? Did you deny that you did it? Did you lie to protect yourself from the repercussions? Did you take pride in the fact that you possessed the ability to hurt someone else? Or, did you attempt to fix it?
 
The aftermath of all thing’s life is what defines a person’s life. What a person does after the fact is what comes to define them, their life, and their life legacy.
 
What is your life legacy? Are you still reeling from the pain someone else caused you? Is someone else still reeling from the pain you caused them?
 
Here’s a fact, as long as the pain that was unleashed is not deal with, it will hurt forever. This goes to the receiver of the pain and it, more importantly, goes to the giver of the pain.
 
What have you done about the pain you have received? Really, what have you done to make it better?
 
More importantly, what have you done about the pain you have unleashed? If you have done nothing, nothing has been done. Thus, that pain remains in play forever and ever. If that pain is in play for ever and ever, it will forever be the definition of your life, as that is how you will be remembered. And, no bad deed ever goes unpunished.
 
The person who denies or lies or takes pride in any pain they have unleashed is a bad person. It is as simple as that. Are you a bad person? Do you take pride in the pain you have unleashed? Do you lie to others and to yourself about the hurt you have instigated? If you do, what do you believe will be the end-result of that?
 
Pain travels to where pain was instigated. Hurt finds its way back to its source. Look at your life. Look at your life and how it has been lived. What pain have you encountered? What pain have you instigated? What is the next wave that will impact your life based upon the pain that is being encountered or unleashed from your mind right at this moment?
 
At the end of your days, the pain you have felt and, particularly, the pain you have unleashed will be found to be one of the primary factors of your life’s definition. What is your life definition?
 
Unrectified pain is the source of what is to come next. With this as an essential understanding, what will happen next in your life?
 
Make a choice and solve the predicament of pain.

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How many things do you own that you do not remember owning?

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Does what you are doing really matter?

If You Have to Ask

There’s the old saying, “If you have to ask how much something is you can’t afford it.” Though this is a snarky little saying, it is one that is used quite a lot as a joke. I know I use it every now and then, “If you have to ask…”
 
A bit early today, I was running my Facebook feed and I noticed that one guy had just received the price list for black belt rank advancement from the Korea Hapkido Federation and he was wondering why the man who had advanced his rank and got him certified within the organization had charged him so much more than the required price. This set me to thinking…
 
First of all, I need to preface all of this by stating that I too am certified by the Korea Hapkido Federation. As is well documented, I was the first non-Korean to be certified by the KHF as a 7
th Degree Black Belt.  And, that was back in 1996—a long-long time ago. I am a bit of an outlier in the martial art community, however. As my years of martial art involvement have progressed, I have come to see rank as more of an ego-driven hindrance to the enlightenment that can be found in the martial arts than as a means of a valid depiction about who and what a practitioner truly is. I’ve written a bunch of stuff about all of that, so I am not going to rehash it here.
 
But, to the point, and what struck me about this man’s question is, there’s nothing new in any of this. And, maybe that’s the problem.
 
I know when I was coming up, I paid my Korean-born instructors a lot of money when things like the Korea Hapkido Association and the World Taekwondo Federation were formed and Westerners began to be able to get certificates issued in Korea. Though the actual issuing price for the certificate was less than one-hundred dollars, the students were charged a lot more. Also, I cannot tell you about how many early practitioners I knew who were tested, paid the fees to their instructors, and then were never given their promised Korean issued certificates. This happened to me, as well, on more than one occasion.
 
To digress, many years after this fact, this one Korean-born instructor decided to do me a solid and he got me the Taekwondo certificate I had tested for, earned, and paid for maybe twenty-years the previous. I thought that was a nice gesture, but by then, I had come to see the ridiculousness in the whole process. Did my not having the certificate make me any less of the practitioner? No. But, in the eyes of some people it may have. But what is a certificate? It is just a piece of paper.
 
This is in part why, over the past twenty years or so, whenever someone has offered me rank advancement, I have declined. The problem is, there is always a price attached and why, if you are believed to have become something, you are known to possess some sort of knowledge and skillset, should a price be leveled against you to receive it? And, if you don’t pay it, you don’t get it. Is that right? Is that the way it should be?
 
Don’t get me wrong, I have no contempt for anyone. The system is as the system is. People, even martial arts instructors, need to make money. How they do that is to charge for teaching classes and charge for rank testing. That’s just the way it is. That is just the way it has always been, at least in terms of the modern marital arts.
 
If in the mind of the instructor they feel they have the right to up the price a bit for their trouble of getting someone certified, that’s what they do. Maybe it’s not right, but again, that is just the way it is.

As for the purchaser of a rank certificate, you must ask yourself, if that person did not offer you the rank advancement, how else would you get it? …Unless, of course, you traveled to South Korea and tested there? But, that would probably be a lot more expensive. So???
 
My belief is that teaching the martial arts should be done for free. Instructors, make your money somewhere else. My belief is, if you practice rank advancement in your system, it should be awarded for free. Did they charge you a fee when you earned your high school diploma? No.
 
Think about it, if rank in the martial arts did not matter—if an individual could just be as good as they can be without the need for a diploma hanging on their wall, stating who is more and who is less, think how much better the entire system of training would become. People could just be. They could come into a school and learn and never be judged by the color of the belt they wore. Wouldn’t that just make everything better? Then, a person would not have to question the price they paid for the piece of paper they received.

Misadventure AKA You Can No Longer Do What I Have Done

I was watching the Netflix series, Dark Tourist. It’s kind of one of those shows that’s not all that interesting, though via its title, it should be. You know, one of those times when you just need a little brain wipe, so you sit around watching bad TV.
 
Anyway, on one segment the guy travels to Myanmar, formerly Burma. Though he had his guide he was followed around with a state employee who was GoPro videoing his every move. I could not help to think back to my time in Burma. And, I’ve written about it. But, I was free to travel wherever I wanted. And, I did. I had some, for lack of a better term, very interesting experiences in that country. But, you can’t do that anymore.
 
Of course, there is this whole subtext going on here. I mean, once upon a time, even on this site, I had a Free Burma banner. I was totally in support of Aung San Suu Kyi being released from her years of home detention. And, she was. She got a Nobel Peace Prize and she was even elected president. But, then as it turns out, she seemed to become just as bad as her predecessors, especially against the Rohingya Muslims. It’s sad, really. Myanmar is sad, really. All the protests, all the militarization, and the all the… Even when I was there the first time, there was a coup, and all the currency became worthless. I remember sitting in the airport, in a million-degree heat, hoping to get out of the country, as I was the only American on the scene, with all of these Russian Aeroflot aircraft flying in. Scary… But, I finally got out and back to Bangkok.
 
But, that’s not really the point. Apparently, you can go to Myanmar, but you can’t do what I did. You can’t Just Do.
 
I’ve spoken about my travels to Egypt in the past. Back in the early ‘80s, when I first traveled there, I literally was the only person in the King’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid. I could just walk in, walk up that horribly long, small pathway to the chamber. And, I could just BE. Again, as I have said before, for all those people who believe and seek the cosmic energy of the pyramids, if it once was there, it ain’t there no more. I could just GO. I could walk and climb on the pyramid and all was the way it was. You can’t do any of that anymore.
 
Or course, as I write this, we are still in the remnants of the COVID-19 pandemic. There are still all kinds of worldwide restriction on travel in general. That, of course, is a major hindrance. But, the point being, in all that the world has become, it has become so much less. No longer can you just DO. What you can DO is so monitored and restricted. Even everything everyone says, is so judged. Though the world has become so much smaller, with the ease of travel, it has also become so much less.
 
In Zen, less is more. But, in life, should that also be the case?

Free Mind

In Zen Buddhism, the state of Mushin is the sought after plateau of No Mind. It is the place where an individual encounters the divine state of pure thought and pure action while embracing the essence of non-action. Though few people ever focus their intentions upon achieving this state of grace, its simple concept and understanding is an ideal that could be used to help define anyone’s life who wishes to live in a state of a less problematic existence.
 
Look around your life right now. Consciously take in all of the things that you see in front of you. Calculate all of the items that you own. Take a moment right now and isolate one of those objects. Ask yourself, “What did it take me to obtain that something?”
 
This is the thing that very few people ever do. Yes, they want. Yes, they desire. Yes, they set about on a path of getting what they want but they never consciously look at the impact of obtaining that something that they want. They never think about how what they do to get that something does to the life of anyone else.
 
Again, right now, focus on something that you own and truly chart out all of the things that needed to occur for you to get that something.
 
Once you do this, an entirely new world of understanding will open up for you as you will come to understand that no quest is locked into itself. That each desire, whether acquired or not, spreads out from your mind and affects so many other things in your life and the life of others.
 
Now, that you have isolated that one items, spread outwards. What other things do you own? What actions have you taken to get them? What have you done to fulfill your desires? For most, once they begin to see the truth of their reality, they will come to understand that it is almost unfathomable about how much was done to get all that they own and all that defines their life.
 
Most, never question any of this. All they see is what they have, what they want, and what they do not have. But, think about it… Now, that you realize all that it took for you to obtain that one item you initially focused upon, think what all your GETTING has done to your Life Space and the Life Space of others.
 
The truth be told, most people don’t care. This is why there is so much chaos in the world. Most people only think about themselves on the road to getting what they want. But, think to a time when someone was pursuing something that they wanted and it negatively affected your life. That was most likely not a good thing; at least for you. Maybe they got what they wanted, maybe they did not, but their quest came to be defined by them hurting you. How many times have you unleashed hurt in your own quests onto the life of someone else? Is that right?
 
Again, look around at your Life Space. View all of your acquisitions. Assess all of the things that you possess that you once truly wanted and now you no longer care about. What did getting those things do to you and your life and to the life of others?
 
If you do not contemplate these things, you are living in a very unconscious and selfish place of existence. This is the birthplace of all life problems, discontentment, unhappiness, and the hurt and the destruction of the life of anyone else affected by your quest for your desires.
 
If you wish to live a better, more peaceful life, you need to let go of your quests for desired objects and personal, ego-driven, life accomplishments. Seek Mushin and all becomes better. Not only your life but the life of all of those who your life impacts.

A Free Mind is Free. It is free from turmoil, it is free from emotional anguish, it is free from the pain of not obtaining a desired desire. It is also free from negatively impacting the life of others instigated by the desire to fulfill an individualized desire. Pure Mind, Mental Freedom is Grace. It is Nirvana.

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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?

Guns of El Chupacabra. A Love Ode to Cheap Class B Cinema

Every now and then I find, (by one way or the other), a review of one of my films that really grabs the essence of the movie. I have read that some people have said that I don’t like reviews of my films. This is not true. I just don’t like negativity on any level. But, love it or hate it, if a review is well written, it is interesting and even inspiring to me to come to view the film via the interpretations of someone else’s ideas.
 
In any case, I was just pointed to this review of Guns of El Chupacabra, written by
Marta Górna, on a site named, Upper Watches. The review of Guns of El Chupacabra and the entire website is composed in Polish. I’ve provided a link to the original article below. I questioned what is the best way to present the review to you, as it is in Polish, I concluded I would put the Google English translation of it up here in this blog. Hope you enjoy it. And, thanks Marta!

„Guns of El Chupacabra”. Oda miłosna do taniego kina klasy B
 
Guns of El Chupacabra. A Love Ode to Cheap Class B Cinema
By Marta Górna 1 year ago

I delayed the launch of 1997's Guns of El Chupacabra for a long time and eventually this production became part of my marathon in honor of Julie Strain - the queen of B movies and erotic thrillers who died on January 10th.

Although Strain only appears in a few not very long scenes, the whole movie begins with her. Dressed in a skimpy, seemingly plastic armor, she fights (with her iconic black curls) with the Chupacabra, the legendary Latin American beast. With a sword in her hand, she looks like an amazon, and her duel with a monster gives hope for an unleavened fantasy movie with a female heroine playing the first fiddle.

Hopes will soon prove to be in vain. Fighting a monster is just a dream of a beautiful Queen who, dreaming nightmares, throws herself in bed sheets with naked breasts. At her side, her beloved husband, Król (Strain's husband, Kevin B. Eastman, creator of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles") wakes up and together they decide to summon the cosmic sheriff Jack B. Quick because only he can save the planet from Chupacabra, whose bloody reign is heralded by the Queen's dream.

Then the space hero enters the stage - dark glasses on his nose, pistols in his hand, and a tight ponytail bouncing on his back. He is played by Scott Shaw, a cult figure for fans of cheap cinema and a master of martial arts, director of over 150 films, star of over a hundred productions and a great idol of Adam Sandler, who has repeatedly invited Scott to guest appearances in his films and programs - most recently in "Sandy Wexler" .

Shaw is a regular collaborator of Donald G. Jackson, director and screenplay writer of "Guns of El Chupacabra" and director of more than 40 B-movies, many of which - such as "The City of Frogs" with Roddy Piper and "The Brigade of the Seven Swords" - became cult productions. Strain and Eastman often collaborated with Jackson, whose work is the quintessence of cheap class B cinema of the 90s - unleavened, not entirely serious and chaotic. These adjectives best describe "Guns of El Chupacabra", the film was made according to Shaw's philosophy of "Zen", which involves making films without a script or film sets, but with a large dose of improvisation. Well, it shows in "Guns of El Chupacabra," but it's not a pinch at all. The movie is utterly stupid, the dialogues are grotesque, there are many scenes that do not make the slightest sense, and a lot of shaving on the screen. But it does not bother the reception of the film at all. Especially that at some point it turns out to be in fact the story of a film crew making a film about Chupacabra. Exactly, because there are many twists and turns after the first scene with Julie Strain. One of the protagonists is a journalist who reports on the Chupacabra murders, and there will also be an action actor played by B-class action actor David Heavener. The legendary Joe Estevez, Martin's brother and Jackson's regular associate, will also flit the screen, and the main villain will be the wonderful, endowed with an impressive jaw and Robert Z'Dar, who died in 2015.

"Guns of El Chupacabra" has a slack that is often missing from B movies. You can see that everyone involved in the production has known each other for years and have a great time together. This makes the movie enjoyable to watch. Anyway, the production has been adored by fans for the last 24 years, and there were also several sequels of the film, the last one a few years ago. Scott Shaw runs a blog about the film, shares reviews, excerpts from the script, and memories and recordings from the film set. This is valuable because it allows you to see what an eternal struggle in the 1990s independent filmmakers waged with the cinema industry, how they had to struggle with the system by almost every millimeter of film. And it's all for the love of cinema. Because that is what "Guns of El Chupacabra" is - a love ode to the magic of the movie story. But you watch at your own risk anyway.

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.

The Hare Krishna Punk

I got the chance to watch the documentary about Poly Styrene yesterday. I was just flipping channels and came upon it when it was just starting on Showtime. I didn’t even know that they had made a documentary about her.
 
I think you would have really have had to have been a part of the early Punk and New Wave scene to know who she is. But, she was the singer for the first-wave band, X-Ray Spex. The band, based out of London, gave a truly unique flavor to the rising Punk scene.
 
The documentary is good in that it covers a lot of ground, not just her contribution to music, but it also details how, due to the fact that she was biracial, she encountered a lot of racism in her youth, being labeled by the derogatory term, “Half Caste.”
 
She was just about a year older than me, so we grew up in the same era, though her in London and me in L.A. Though there were some biracial people in the sphere of my youth, I never saw them as being demeaned for that fact. Though I did see and encounter a lot of racism. It was really everywhere back then, on all sides of the spectrum. Just watch movies from that era and it can easily be witnessed in blatant and subtle forms. And, I think that’s the problem, people, especially young people, look to find a way to pounce. They look for any weakness they can find as means for attack. Not good. But, that’s reality. Apparently, Poly Styrene encountered this.
 
Now, biracial is so common it is hard to look anywhere and not find it. Like I long ago realized, the human race is destined to become one race.
 
It also detailed her decent into mental illness. I thought that was an important segment because this is a subject that is so often hidden or sweep under the rug, as it is still such a taboo subject. Something that no one wants known about themselves and those on the outside wish to deny and not hear about.
 
The doc also went into her emersion into Krishna Consciousness, under the direction of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. It seems that this was brought about, at least in part, due to her mental illness and her seeking that help and/or that Something More that particularity Eastern Spirituality promises.
 
I know I have met a number of people, throughout my years, who suffered from various levels of mental illness who desired to come into the fold of spirituality in hopes of finding help for their condition. Though I’m sure practices like meditation can help, but it is more the medically prescribed drugs that can lead to a more functional life.
 
Again, like Punk, if you weren’t there at that stage of history you probably will not understand the promise that walking down the road of Eastern Spirituality promised. Back then, spirituality was everywhere. It was constantly spoken about, especially in large urban centers. Of course, not everyone desired to follow that path, but if you had the inkling, you could defiantly find a guru.
 
Narrated by her daughter, who went through a lot of her own life-forming trauma, due to her mother’s antics, the doc really shows the life evolution and the consequences Poly Styrene instigated by what she chose to do based on the reality she was dealt.
 
Wow, I just realized this sounds like a movie review, which it is not. I don’t do that! Happy
 
I think the important take away from this doc is that each of us lives our life. We create what we create. Yes, some of us may gain some notoriety from what we do, but we all do what we do. In our doing, we affect the life of other people. Some even create the life of other people. What we choose to do affects the all and the everything of anyone who comes into contact with any of our doing. Thus, what we do not only affects us, (which is the only thing most people think about), but is also affects the all and the everything of the all out there.
 
You really need to think about this as you do what you do. Because what you do, whether knowingly thought out or not, has the potential to affect the lives of so many others; in either a positive or negative manner.
 
Most people don’t care what their doing does to others. They never think about the effect that they are unleashing. They only consider themselves and their own feelings. How about you? What are you thinking about right now? What did you think about yesterday? What are you going to think about later today? Are you only going to focus on you or how what you do will hurt or make everything in someone else’s life better?

We are all defined by our reality. We are all shaped by where we find ourselves in life. We are all created by the choices we make defined by the opportunities we are presented with. But, if all you think about is you, all you think about it is you. If all you think about is you, you do not care about anyone else. If you do not care about anyone else, all you will leave in the wake of your life is destruction based upon your self-involved selfishness. Is that who you are? Is that who you choose to be? Or, can you, at least for a moment, take the focus off of yourself and place it on the Out There where, by caring, you have the potential to help and make someone else’s something somewhat better?

What’s None of My Business is None of My Business

Well, the verdict is in, and the jury sided in the direction of Johnny Depp. I had just come home and flipped on the TV, as I was about to have some lunch, and CNN was all about it. So, I watched the verdict and the goings-on.
 
Now, what went on in Johnny’s marriage is none of my business. From this six-week trial, and all the news coverage it has received, I’ve drawn some conclusions about the credibility of testimony, but that’s just in my mind. Who knows if what I believe is true or not? Only the two of them really know. Yet, everyone gets involved in everyone else’s business. They want a reason to think about someone else. They want a reason to speak about someone else. I think this is where many of the problems of the world begin, people want to speak about what they think and feel about someone else, whether it is right or wrong. Thus, defamation is born, which is what that trial was all about.
 
I look to my life and there have been people who have defamed, slandered, and libeled me, on-line and other wise. Could I have sued them, absolutely. But, suing anyone costs a lot of money. You win and then what? Try collecting. Good luck.
 
As it is so expensive to sue someone for defamation, thus so few people do it. I think particularly in the world of the on-line, that is why so many people have gotten away with it. And, of course, everyone claims it is their First Amendment Right to say whatever it is they feel like saying about anybody. But, is it? Hate speech is not free speech.
 
I mean the world of marital arts is riddled with defamation. Every teenager or adult, with the mind of a teenager, wants to put that other practitioner down. It’s just foolish. I have witnessed and lived through so much of it.
 
Aside from the fact that I could have sued a number of people, I think to a couple of times people have threatened to sue me. One guy lied to a U.S. based martial art organization, that I had been asked to join, maybe twenty-five years ago, about my credentials; claiming they were not valid. I could have sued him but I, instead, contacted the headquarters of the organization, based in South Korea, and presented proof. In fact, I also received a letter from the organization stating that they did not even know who that man was. Thus, how could he have claimed I was not an active member? I passed all that on to the U.S. organization and the guy threatened to sue me. Okay… Shortly thereafter, however, this man’s mentor, who was actually a member of the organization, was kicked out for selling fake certificates. I’ll let you decide who was telling the truth.
 
Then, there was the case of the time when I did years of historical research on the biographical foundations of one of the elemental modern Korean marital art founders. My work was published. In fact, I was the only person, up to that point, who had ever published the facts I found on this subject. A new book, by another author, came out, stating my conclusions, without mentioning me in the references. I thought that was wrong, so I contacted the publisher. I immediately get a response that they were going bring the entire weigh of their legal team down on me if I ever mentioned this to anyone. Wow! Somebody does something wrong and with the right powers behind them, they can get away with anything. I believe that is the problem with all of this. Who’s got the money wins?
 
I imagine that we have all been hurt by the deeds, actions, and words of other people. I know there have been times in my life when I have really been fucked over by the doings and the sayings of someone else. Did they care? Obviously not. In some cases, I’ve told these stories. Is that defamation? How can it be when it is the truth?
 
I’ve always been very careful with my words, as hurting anyone else, even those who have hurt me, is not my intention, because what does that prove? Hurt only equals hurt. I just tell my story. But, here lies the problem, those who do consciously defame others, are doing it on purpose. They hope to hurt that someone else. But, why? How does that make their life any better? How does that make anything any better? It simply illustrates a very low level of human consciousness.
 
So, here we are, Johnny won, more or less. But, did all of the truths (or lies) spoken in that trial remove the damage of the defamation done? No. And, that’s the problem when you say something negative about someone else. Your words can be devastation to the life of that person. Is that what you want? If it is, you really need to take a long hard look at yourself and your internal motivations.
 
For all you defamer’s out there, I say, “Stop it!” Someone else’s life is none of your business!
 
If you have defamed someone, fix it! Because what goes around comes around and if you watch the life of those who say negative things about other people, over a long period of time, you will see that their own words eventually equal their ultimate destruction.

Side Note:
I was actually cast to be in the Tom Petty music video that featured Johnny Depp, Into the Great Wide Open. They wanted to use me and my Harley. Sadly, a car had just run into my Harley, totaling it, the week before. But, without my bike, the Casting Director did not want me. I always felt that could have been a turning point in my career. A crossroads that never came to be.

The Conflict of I and the Spiritual Path

I’ve been going through some of my older writings of late and I found another article that you may find interesting. This one is unique in that I feel this article illustrates the point when I moved away from solely research-based writings onto blog-style compositions; circa 2006.


I remember the first time that I sought out the Integral Yoga Institute. This was the center for the teaching of Sri Swami Satchidananda. I was very young, and I showed up at their door in the early afternoon. A very nice female Swami greeted me. She invited me in.
 
She returned to her position of sitting on the floor, folding, and stapling flyers to be sent out regarding an upcoming Yoga retreat. I asked, “Do you need some help?” She said, “Sure.” So, we sat there talking, folding, and stapling.
 
It wasn’t long before another female Swami entered the room. The two soon left the room, as I continued folding and stapling the flyers. From the other room I could hear their conversation going from discussion to yelling. They begin to scream at each other. I sat there, continuing to fold the flyers.
 
Now this verbal confrontation went on for quite a while. As a young adolescent, walking the spiritual path, I could not help but question the relationship between these two Swamis and to ponder the question, “Was their behavior spiritual?” And, “Was this a place of spirituality?”
 
Eventually, I finished all the flyers. I sat there contemplating leaving as the argument continued. But, soon the first Swami reemerged, all smiles.
 
As the years went on, and my relationship with the Integral Yoga Institute grew, I became very close to this Swami. She was a truly nice and very spiritual person. Occasionally, we would joke about that early event and how she and the other Swami just could not get along.
 
We Are Who We Are
I began to realize early on my spiritual path that there is conflict. We are who we are. We like what we like, dislike what we dislike. This is not to say that what we like and what we dislike is not based in desire. Because it is. These two female Swamis could have been ‘Big Enough’ to leave their difference behind. But, at that point in their evolution, they were not. This does not make them bad or unholy—simply controlled by what they like and what they don’t like.
 
“Likes and “Don’t Likes” are the human condition. This is why the Buddha said, “The cause of suffering is desire.” Because we are all based in desire. And, desire is a subtle and virtually invincible enemy to spirituality—especially when we walked down the roads of the world.
 
Rank
The ironic fact that I realized through my years of close involvement with the Integral Yoga Institute and the Martial Arts is that, with rank comes power. With power comes ego. And, ego leads one away from the spiritual path. The ego of others is what eventually caused me to leave the Integral Yoga Institute.
 
Now, hand-in-hand with the Westerners who became Swamis in the Saraswati Order of Sri Swami Satchidananda, was an ongoing debate of power and control. The term, “Swami Power Trip,” was often unleashed.
 
This was due to the fact that for the most part, most of those who entered the order came from an emotional position of, “Lacking.” Once at the IYI they were immediately handed purpose and position. With this, not only was the roots of spirituality given birth to, but so was spiritual ego—which is perhaps the worst kind of ego, because it is so cleverly hiding under the guise of, “But, I’m Spiritual!”
 
Advancement
Advancement is part of this human condition we call life. At every level, accomplished is dangled in front of our noses. “If you are not this, you are unworthy.” “If you have not accomplished that, and been given a title, then you are just not up there with the big-boys.” Or, “I am this, I hold this title, this means you are lower than me.”
 
This is one of the primary problems I have with monkhood and the various levels of definition associated with the spiritual path. I mean, people aspire to be Gurus, Priests, Swamis, and Nuns. They do this so that they will be “Something.” Something other than Nothing.
 
I remember how later in our friendship, the female Swami detailed that before she found Swami Satchidananda and become one of his monks, she used to be a “Complete liar.” She joking stated, “I used to lie about everything.”
 
Now, I think we all have known people like this—people who simply lie to lie. To each person they tell a different story.
 
What is this psychological condition based upon? It is based in the desire to be something, to be more. So, when this lady became a Swami, she “Became.” Thus, she was “Something” and no longer had the need to lie.
 
The problem with this whole mindset is that it sets a world of competition in motion and continues the process of conflict. Which is why great souls like J. Krishnamurti left behind many of the trappings of spirituality. Yes, he was a spiritual teacher. That was his job. But, he did not define himself with robes and titles.
 
The Downside of Achievement
One of the big problems with this world of achievement is that the moment a person achieves something, there will be others who try to tear them down.
 
Modern society, particularly those who inhabit the non-spiritual world, love to witness the demise of people of stature. So, here is perhaps one of the most important points of the spiritual path, “If you do not desire position, if you do not claim position, if you are not teaching a doctrine, then who can come at you and attack you for doing anything?”
 
Ultimately, why can a person be brought down or criticized? Because they claim titles, position, or knowledge. If they did not, then what could be taken away?
 
Now, this is one of the subtle elements of life. Life is about doing. You cannot—NOT DO. Energy permeates this universe and our bodies. It is the energy of constant movement. So, NOT DOING, is not an option. But, how you DO is the essence to spiritual LIFE.
 
Doing
In my world of DOING, I have commonly followed a path of artistic creativity. This has taken many forms, but perhaps most notably is that of writing and filmmaking. Now, writing is pretty much a solitary craft but though my filmmaking, I have met many people—some nice, most not. Though filmmaking I have also come to have many revelatory experiences—particularly those that involve the individual and the concept of “I.” In fact, in many of my films, I either have the character I am playing or another character make the statement, “So, what’s in it for me?”
 
This statement is a joking reference to the world of acting and filmmaking in general. That world is so ego based and most of the people involved in it are so self-absorbed, that all they can do is think about it themselves.
 
Now, in Hindu Yoga ideology there is the philosophic concept that YOU are the center of the universe. In fact, it is believed that there is no external people, places, or universe at all. It is simply a project of your Thinking Mind. The Thinking Mind, is, of course, the root of “I.”
 
Whether or not you accept this concept is not really important. But, what it does demonstrate is how people, even those who walk the spiritual path, are so “I” based that they cannot get out of their own way long enough to witness the true perfection of this place we call LIFE.
 
Most people are so “I” orientated that they believe that everything that is going on in the world has something to do with them. I mean, I get e-mails and letters all the time from people who have read something I have written and believe that it was directed, directly at them. When I read what they have to say all I can do is smile, because not only do I not know who they are, but what I wrote had nothing to do with them.
 
Now, this is a LIFE PROBLEM in general in that most people are so lost in their own “I” consciousness, that they project all kinds of thoughts and opinions onto other people. They start THINKING and then draw conclusions about what another person must be thinking and feeling about them and their specific actions. The reality is, what a person thinks or does not think is simply a MIND THING. It is not a defining factor for life. In fact, the only reason anyone cares at all about what another person is thinking is because they want to be perceived in a specific fashion by the individual they are projecting these thoughts upon. This is the ultimate reflection of “I” consciousness. But, “I” consciousness is not Self-Awareness or Self-Realization.
 
Giving
This “I” ideology also goes to the source point of giving. People continually turn to other people for gifts, guidance, and help. It is so common that a person goes to someone they think is better, richer, or more holy and asks them for THINGS—be they material or ethereal. Even in my life, people are continually coming into it and asking me for something: to put them in movies, to add them to the crew of one of my films, to put them in photos in books or magazines, to write a blurb for the back cover of their book, or to just help them out and give them LIFE PURPOSE. But, the reality is, no one ever comes and offers me a helping hand or asks me what I want or need.
 
Here, again, this fact gives reference to the root problem with the outside perception of accomplishment. The way people perceive my life is through their own eyes. Whether or not their perception is accurate goes to individual circumstances. But, the reality is, I have not accomplished anything that others have not done better or that anyone else cannot do if they try. Yet, by having accomplished what I have accomplished no one ever offers me anything, but they ask me for a lot.
 
This is the problem with the “I” mentality. People see externals. They witness the OUTSIDE. But, they do not seek the INSIDE. And, this is the problem with those driven by the “I” consciousness.
 
“I” consciousness is a curse and leads to all kinds of problems and conflicts. This is because of the fact that what people’s “I” believes and causes them to do has a direct effect on the lives of others.
 
The Bird & The Dog
Maybe six months I was about to enter a shop on Pacific Coast Highway and I looked to the intersection and there was a small bird which had apparently broken its wing and was fluttering around in the street. Though I didn’t know if I could save it or not, I impatiently waited for the light to change so I could run in the street and at least get the bird out of the street. But, the moment the light changed, this aging Latin man in his beat up pickup truck intentionally ran over the bird. I stood there holding back the tears over the needless loss of life, as he drove off laughing to his friend. I mean, how much life has been killed in this world based in this same needless Power Mentality?
 
Yesterday, I was driving South on the 101 between Hollywood and Downtown when this little brown dog darted out of nowhere and began running next to my car down the freeway. He ran out onto the freeway. I stopped. I jumped out of my car attempting to save him. My actions luckily caused him to run back onto the shoulder of the freeway. This while other drivers were honking and yelling, “Fuck you,” at me.
 
I mean where does someone have to be that is more important that the saving of a life?
 
In reality, there was a part of me, the inner-city street kid who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, who was very willing to stare down these people and tell them, “Fuck you,” right back. But, this is where spiritual discretion comes into play. And, this is the most necessary element to understanding the spiritual life, while stepping away from the control hands of “I.”
 
Just as the great East Indian Sage, Sri Shankaracharya detailed in his work, Vivekachudamani, “The Crest Jewel of Discrimination,” refined spiritual discretion is one of the most key elements to elevating one away from the “I” consciousness. Thus, guiding them towards enlightenment.
 
Criticism & Compliments
Those people who were honking and yelling, “Fuck you” at me is the same point of manipulation where people try to control others through criticism. They hold the belief that if they speak negatively about a person, discredit their thoughts or their ideas, then maybe they will come around to their way of thinking. But, who are they to extend judgment over anybody else’s life? And, just as occurred with my two Swami friends, commonly all criticism equals is conflict.
 
In essence, criticism and compliments are the same tool of manipulation. The reason people pay compliments to another person is also to gain a source point of control over them in order to manipulate their actions. But, it is only a person who is so locked into the deceptive elements of the “I” ego that they let themselves fall prey to these levels of emotional deception.
 
People Don’t Care
Now, this is one of the primary problems with life—PEOPLE DON’T CARE. That is to say, they don’t care about anything but themselves. All they care about is their own momentary reality and how they feel or how cool and in control they look in that particular moment.
 
And, the sad reality is, you cannot make people CARE. You cannot make people THINK. You cannot make people accept a spiritual sense of reality. Because, PEOPLE DON’T CARE about anything but themselves, their things, and what they want.
 
Bishop, California
As I seem to be telling some stories about my life here, I guess I can tell one more...
 
Maybe fifteen or twenty years ago, the person I considered my closest friend in the world invited me to watch the bicycle race of his stepson in Mammoth, California. The first leg of the race began in Bishop, California. Now, I didn’t really want to go, but he and his wife insisted. So, I gave in. I packed up my girlfriend. We jumped into her car. And, away we went. But, by the time we were outside of Bishop, which is a small town in shadows of the Eastern Sierras, something was very wrong with her transmission. The car died on highway 395. We had it towed into town. But, as we soon found out, Bishop was a small town, there was no one who could work on her transmission.
 
I told my friend of the condition. Now, here is the funny point about “I” consciousness. Instead of saying, “Well, I have to go to this race but let’s leave your car here, get a tow bar, and pick it up on the way back to L.A.,” or anything like that, his response was, “Sorry man, this is my only vacation of the year. There’s nothing I can do.” This, after twenty years of friendship. He left me stranded.
 
So, there we were, my girlfriend and I, stuck in Bishop, California. We had to stay in a small roadside motel for a few days, waiting for a tow truck driver willing to take us back to L.A. And, I had to pay the tow truck driver the last six hundred dollars I had to my name to get the car back to where it could be repaired.
 
Though I was in disbelief about my long-time friend’s actions and choices, it was not that I did not understand. He had a new wife and a new family, and his priorities had changed. But, his choice of noninvolvement was not the “I” choice that I would have made.
 
But, that is the story of life and “I” consciousness. Unless a person is willing to put aside their own opinions and desires, “I” consciousness becomes the control hands of everything. With “I” as the defining element, then power and control become the delineating factor of life. At this level the world is set into a pattern of unresolved conflict and everybody’s life that it touches becomes worse not better.
 
This is why the individual who walks the spiritual path embraces Karma Yoga. Karma Yoga witnesses you doing all that you can do for the betterment of life, society, and the world. And, making the world a better place never involves control, death, or destruction—that’s politics and power, not conscious action.
 
Karma Yoga is also never based in a personal concept of giving a person or persons what you think they want or need in a specific moment in time. Because that type of thought process is only based upon the controlling hands of personal opinion. And, personal opinion is never formed from an enlightenment mind.
 
Instead, Karma Yoga is based in the understanding of ‘Surrender to Betterment.’ Karma Yoga involves stepping beyond “I” consciousness. This means that you may have to give up what you personally think or want in any specific moment of time—because ultimately you come to understand that what you think or want in this moment will not be what you think or want in the next.
 
By surrendering what you want, and by giving, instead of taking, you donate to the overall ‘Betterment’ of LIFE.
 
Where do you live?
Where do you live your life? Are you giving or are you taking? Are you arguing or are you accepting? Are you destroying or are you creating? Are you helping or are you hurting? Are you daydreaming about what things and accomplishments you want to make in your life or are you surrendering your desires and giving back to the world? Are you making your space better or are you making the world better?
 
Who are you?

Available Light

Back when I was teaching a lot of college and university courses on filmmaking, I would always tell my students that if you can’t shoot a film with no external lighting sources you do not understand the craft. I would, in fact, pass out assignments that would cause them to go out and shoot a short using nothing but available light. Most would just go and shoot their piece outside. But, I was always so impressed when someone would do that something unique and bring back a film created with that abstract something of unexpected available lighting.  
 
I remember this one time when a friend of mine, who was a high school teacher up in the bay area, asked me to come and give a talk to her students about filmmaking. I did what I often did in my classes on filmmaking, I would have a camera set up through the classroom TV and I would focus on one of the student’s faces. Then, I would have another student partially turn off the lights in the classroom and everyone would be so amazed at just how different whole lights verse half lights make the person appear. Something so simple but it can change the entire mood of the scene.
 
Really, it is all so easy; no lights verse controlled lights. It can change everything!  
 
Personally, and for those of you who know my films can attest to, I’m really into colored lighting gels. I love that lighting technique in film. Let’s make life look like something different in the film than in common reality.
 
I was at one of those outdoor art festival things over this past weekend. You know, where sellers come to hock their wares be it art, jewelry, interesting trinkets, and the like. I really don’t like those events. But, that’s just me. I go for the sake of my lady, who loves that kind of stuff.
 
I got taking to this one guy I know who makes his living via creating jewelry. Good stuff, really. My lady owns tons of it. He’s also one of those rare people who’s into low and no budget cinema. When I first met him, years back now, he had actually seen Roller Blade Seven. Amazing! He always likes to talk to me about that kind of trash cinema. All good…
 
Out of the blue, the other day, he asked me about lighting; questioning didn’t I shoot most of my films outdoors. A Savvy viewer, he understood that the reason a lot of no budget films occur outdoors is due to the fact that no lighting is needed. He appeared quite surprised when I told him I own a lot of lighting equipment.
 
Since I’ve shifted my focused from the narrative to the non-narrative Zen Film, well over a decade ago now, I have become more and more in love with embracing the natural; whatever that natural may be. When there is the need or the opportunity to take control over the light, however, I most happily do so.
 
This is the thing about life and the thing that very few people ever take into consideration; lighting. They just turn on the lights or they just turn off the lights. In fact, most filmmakers, including many I have worked with, are so lost into making the images so well seen that they have no level of abstract continuity making the film ART as opposed to simply a lighted panorama of the seen it all before. That’s a mistake, I believe.
 
I mean, think about it, just like in my classes, taught in a classroom, it is so easy to change the entire mood and the feeling of everything, simply by turning off half of the lights. It makes everything that much more interesting Something.
 
My suggestion, for all of you is, give it a try. Your life, the lighting of your life, does not have to be the bright and the expected. It can be tailored to the uniqueness of each situation.
 
Try it. Get some colored lights, slap a colored gel on the lighting you have. Or, just turn off some of the lights that surround you. Even available light is controllable. The elements of the darkness can be way more interesting than the known and the expected bright lights.

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Think about someone you don't remember.

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Does it cost you any more to be nice?

Content in the Obscure

I don’t know the why or the wherefore of the reason, but over the last couple of years I have been contacted by a lot of people who want to reissue the movies I own the rights to via their distribution companies. I’ve talked a bit about this of late, in this blog, as it seems to be happening more and more. Again, why? I have no idea. I see DVD, Blu-ray, and VHS as dead art forms—a forgotten language. Yet, people keep coming at me. My answer is always, “No.”
 
Yesterday, I noticed that someone was selling these, “Bootleg,” copies of Roller Blade Seven, and a two DVD set of Roller Blade and Roller Blade Warriors on eBay. I use the term, “Bootleg,” because that is what they actually had displayed on their DVD cases. They had even retitled RB7 as Roller Blade Warriors 3. Okay???
 
Anyway, I contacted the seller asking about their quality and about a package price for both, as I had never seen these, “Bootlegs,” before and, as such, I thought about adding them to the Zen Filmmaking collection. But BAM, no answer and they were gone. I don’t know if eBay took them down due to their No-Bootleg policy or if the guy pulled them down as he was freaked out by being contacted by me??? But, they are on there no more.  
 
But, now I know that they do exist. Some one/some company out there, in the ethos, had taken the time to dup those movies, create box art and the like, and put them up for sale. Of course, they didn’t ask my permission, give me any money from their sales, send me a copy or anything… But, there they are, out there for the world to see.
 
Now, I obviously have my problems with this. …Being on the creative end and all… You know, intellectual property rights and all that… But, I can appreciate someone taking the time to care enough about those two movies, to dup and package them for sale. Though I have no idea who would buy them? And, since it is was all already done, I wouldn’t mind owning a copy.
 
….I guess this is in the PS department, but if you’ve got a copy, hook me up…
 
On another note: I got sent an email, via one of my on-line whatever’s… I’m surprised it even made it to me or that I read it. But, I did.  Anyway… The guy, (I’m guessing it was a guy), wanted to know if I had any better-quality reproductions of this one movie.
 
I really rarely read the e-mails that I get. I just skim them at best and then delete. Nothing personal, but I virtually never response. So, if you do get a response from me, that’s fairly unique.
 
Anyway, I think he was also trying to sell me his services to clean up the film. You know, they have those programs that upgrade the overall broadcast quality of older, stolen, or bootlegged films. I’ve got a couple of those programs myself, so I don’t need any help in that area. But, more to the point, and I guess to the purpose of this ditty.. I don’t use them! I don’t like them! I love the grainy ambiguity of a film shot some time in the past.  And, even more to the point, and one of the main reasons I turn down all the provocateurs of this next wave of re-released cult movies, my films deserve to remain in the realms of the obscure. They have earned their status as, “Lost,” in the land of the known unknown. So, all the promises these people make to me do just the opposite of what they were intended. You are not offering me enough money to change my life to any vast degree and, besides the fact that I don’t believe anyone really cares about these films, (which is a good thing), they are all very content in the abode of the obscure. Just let them Rest in Peace.

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What do you think about when you have nothing to think about?

The Dynamics of Transition

I came upon this article I wrote for a magazine back in 2000. It may give you some food for thought…
 
The Dynamics of Transition is one of the most crucial elements of conscious human existence. Transition can be defined as passing from one stage or moment of your life onto the next. Transition can be a very conscious process. Or, as is most often the case, it can become a forced passageway which is not calculated, hoped, or planned for.
 
The Witness
The Buddhist is trained to develop the ability to consciously step back from themselves and view all factors of their life. This process is called differing things by different schools of thought. Perhaps it is best defined as developing, “The Witness.”
 
The Witness is you stepping back from you and observing what you are doing, why you are doing it, what you are feeling, and why you are feeling it. The techniques for the development of this level of consciousness are not some advanced form of meditation which you must be initiated into for it to become fully actualized. It is simply you becoming very conscious of you.
 
The is a very necessary step on the Spiritual Path. Particularly in this fast paced material world, where life changes in an instant, driven by any number of undefined reasons.
 
If you do not possess the ability to consciously witness yourself, you will not be able to make the changes or transitions which constantly occur in life from a perspective of consciousness. Instead, you will simply be thrown from one life melodrama onto the next and the next and the next.
How do you develop The Witness? Stop, Look, Listen. Don't make excuses for your actions. Don't judge your thoughts. Simply witness their existence. From this, you will define the basis of you.
 
Transition, Good or Bad
For those individuals who do not choose to refined their consciousness, each transition in life is defined only in its most elemental emotions: good or bad. Thus, the experiences of transition become only animalistic determinants which one either ultimately loves or hates.
 
Life proves, to everyone who lives it, that it cannot be wholly calculated. Situations are going to occur that you did not anticipate or expect. Though many have attempted to live a shelter life to the degree that many of these random occurrences are eliminated, no doubt, sooner or later each person, no matter how protected, will encounter an unexpected rapid transition. This can occur from sickness, a physical accident, the oncoming death of a loved one, or even falling in love. From these, and so many other occurrences, one's life is set out of balance as all things are rapidly changed.
 
There are those who live their lives defined by such chaos that virtually every moment of their existence is delineated by unexpected occurrences, rapid, and unexpected transitions—both joyous and traumatic. These are the people who express their existence on a very rudimentary level and continually seek out arguments, confrontations, intoxication, lust, and even infatuation. To this type of individual, the constant roller coaster of experience comes to be an addiction—where they are constantly searching for the next adrenaline rush of experience.
 
No particular lifestyle, including the spiritual, is absent from this type of individual. Some “Spiritual” individuals love to believe and, in fact, argue that their religion, their spiritual teacher, their form of meditation, is superior to all others. This is done simply to cause the controversy necessary for them to get their next adrenaline rush.
 
What occurs from a life lived at this level is that one is thrust into the world of winning and losing. Loss and gain equals emotional disruption. Emotional disruption is the pathway to a life void of enlightenment.
 
On the other side of the coin, there are those who are so sedentary in their ways that the moment even the slightest change occurs they are thrust into a world of not knowing what to do. Thus, the world of (even mild) transition becomes chaos to them.
 
From the perspective of Zen we understand that life is a pathway. On any pathway there will be hills and valleys. How you climb the hill and descend into the valleys will delineate how conscious your pathway is towards enlightenment.
 
At the basis of your conscious transition is your ability to witness yourself. From this, you gained personal understand. From personal understanding, you can transcend the selfish wants and desires of your human form and move to a more refined space of consciousness where you are not solely driven by what you want, what you desire. Instead, you become sensitive and interactive with the needs of others and the universe around you.
 
How does this effect transition? By giving you the ability not to struggle. But, to accept the ever-changing nature of life.
 
The Acts of Others
Often times, transitions are brought on by the acts of others. Though we may not like another person's actions. In Zen we understand that, "Life is perfect." And that, the only thing which makes us lose this understanding of perfection, is personal desire—the desires for things to be different than they are.
 
Thus, by knowing yourself, accepting other, accepting that life is perfect, your path through transitional change becomes a natural process, possessing no boundaries.
 
Daily Transitions
Every day we each experience numerous transitions in our life. Most of these are must less traumatic than the aforementioned life altering occurrence. Waking up is a transition. This process takes us from the ethereal world of dreams, to this place we call reality. Leaving your house to go to work, go shopping, or to visit a friend is a transition. What occurs is that you move from the enclosed safety of your abode to an external world where anything can happen.
 
Coming home from an outing is a transition. You move from the seeming chaos of the external world and reenter your realm of relative safety.
 
Sitting to meditate is a transition. You sit down, stop your random thoughts, and begin to focus your mind.
 
Standing up from a seated position is also a transition. Your body was at rest, now it must support itself with muscle strength.
 
All of these actions are transitions. Most people, however, never give them any thought. This is where the person of consciousness differs from the person of the world - they take the time to realize that each of these simply acts effects the passageway of life.
 
If you wake up, jump out of bed in a groggy, half-asleep state, your physical and mental actions will not be performed with any sense of excellence. If you run out of your front door, giving your passageway no thought, you may run into the rain, be wearing winter clothing in the midst of summer, or smash into another individual who is approaching your home. If you rush in from your outdoor adventure, you may forget things in your car, step on your cat, or forget to close your front door. If you sit to meditate without proper preparation, you thoughts will run rapid and they will drive you to fantasies and the reliving of past situations and hopes for future events. If you jump up from a seated position, you may injure your knees or cause blood to rush from your head which will make you see stars.
 
All of these things can be avoided. Simply move slowly and experience the transition. Take your time to change from one state of mind to the next, one physical location to another. Do this no matter how seemingly mundane your physical or mental action may appear.
 
Experience
Experience the space you are in now. Experience as you move to your next space. Experience the new space once you get there. And, don't rush.

Conscious transition is the pathway to Nirvana.

The Perfect World Ain’t Gonna Happen

There is so much craziness going on in the world right now. The pandemic is still on going and people are still getting sick and dying from the virus born in China. Think about it, and I’ve said it before, China took control over the world with this plague. And, it is still going on. There is all that carnage, instigated by Putin, taking place in Ukraine right now. People are dying, being maimed, and entire cities are being destroyed. It’s horrible! Imagine one day living a normal life and then that invasion. It’s hard to believe. The other day some crazed eighteen-year-old kills his grandmother and then goes to a grammar school and kills a bunch of kids. Like I always say, “Leave the kids alone!” They have a hard enough road ahead of them. I mean it’s crazy! And, that was like the two-hundred and thirteenth mass shooting in the U.S. so far, just this year. It’s nuts! But, this is nothing new.
 
By the time I was in junior high school, now known as middle school, we already had a plain clothed, armed officer on campus. That was in the early 1970s. There was so much violence around me. It was nuts back then just like now.
 
I know this man, a Hapkido associate, and after doing his duty as a L.A. County Sheriff for twenty years, he became an L.A. City School Cop for another twenty. They have a whole division devoted to those officers here in L.A. Not only was he a highly-trained martial artist, but he also carried a gun. The world should not be like this, but it is.
 
India has long been touted as this place where all this spirituality abounds. On some level, I guess that is true. But, like I always explain, India is one of the most violent countries I have ever encountered. The negative stuff that I have witnessed there is really stunning. I’ve even had rocks thrown at me, in very holy places, simply because I was white.
 
Everybody has all of these solutions like, get rid of the guns and stuff like that. But, it’s not going to happen. Outlaw guns and it will only be the criminals who possess them like in several countries across the globe. It is not like they are all going to disappear and never be manufactures.
 
People exclaim, help the homeless, get the mentally ill in treatment, stop the gangs, remedy the financial inequity of racism by getting people better employment, and the list goes on and on. It does not work! None of it works! Help one homeless person and a thousand more find themselves in that situation. Mentally illness is what drives some people to do bad things. But, most slip through the cracks and do what they do before they can be treated. Gangs, forget about it. They’ve always gone on and always will. In a world where one must fear for their safely, there is strength in numbers. And, in a world where we are all reminded of the insane wealth of people like the Kardashian on TV every day, do you really think anyone is content with a menial, minimum wage, job?
 
Now, I’m not saying you can’t make your own life better. You can work towards a greater end and become that something more. But, it is not easy, especially if you come from a formative heritage, life, and lifestyle that is not defined by abundance.  
 
So, what can we do? The answer is this all comes down to the Self. It comes down to what you do with what is available to you. I mean, I grew up in a world of hell. And, the sad thing about my case was, it did not need to be that way because I was not poor. I just had parents that were oblivious to the goings on in the life of their child. But, what I had to do, as soon as I could do something, was to guide my life in a direction where I was not defined by my less than ideal formative circumstances. This is what we all must do. We must focus and fight to raise our life above any of the negativity that comes our direction and move forward to making not only our own existence, but any other life we can help, better. It all comes down to trying. And, this is what most people don’t do. They do not try. Or, they try in the most minuscule way and then give up. Don’t give up!
 
You can protest all you want about making gun laws more stringent, but the criminal will not listen or care about these laws. You can do all you can to help those in needs, but doing means doing, it does not mean talking and complaining. What are you planning to do today to help any person of lessor means?
 
If we hope to help the world, if we hope to change the world for the better, we all must become a beacon of goodness. Because if it does not begin with you, where else will it begin?

When You’ve Said Too Much

I think we’ve all had those experiences when we’ve told somebody something: we thought we could trust them, we thought they may like to know, we thought what we said may help them and then it all turns around and we wish we didn’t say anything at all.
 
As far as I am concerned, I tend to be a very conversative person. If someone asks me a question, I’m happy to answer. If they give me their opinion, I am happy to give them mine. I am also very truthful. I believe I make my statements in the most honest manner possible.
 
Everyone is not like that, however. A lot of people want you to say something so they can use what you say against you. Have you ever had someone ask you something, then they turn your words or your intentions around to make it sound like you are jerk or a bad person? That has happened to me. And, it’s just not right.
 
All truth begins with each of us. It begins with how we listen, how we speak, what we say, why we say it, and who we say it to.
 
Take a moment and think about a time when someone took something you said and did something bad, negative, or untrue with your words. Why did that happen?
 
Now, you can sit around and ponder the why of what somebody else does forever. Maybe you will come up with a conclusion, maybe you will not. But, though you can speculate about why someone else did what they did, the one thing you can be certain of is, if you take the time to investigate, you can figure out why you did what you did. Why did you say what you said to that person?
 
The one thing that most people never do is to investigate, within themselves, why they say what they say. They just say it. For the most part, that is fine—let the words fall where they may. But, then there are those times when your words are used against you. Is it the person’s fault for taking your meaning out of context and shaping it to their own ends, or is it your fault for speaking what you spoke in the first place?
 
Now, turn this around. Have you ever taken the words someone else spoke and used those words to give yourself an advantage in whatever it is you hoped to accomplish in a given moment?  If you have, then you are culprit in the situation. You are the sinner. Because by taking the words of someone else and forming them to create your own desired narrative, you have removed the truth of what that other person has spoken. Thus, you have destroyed the truth in all you are trying to actualize.   
 
So, what can we do about this? Well… I guess we could be silent. But, for most of us, that is not going to happen. The thing you must try to do is, however, be careful who you speak to. You don’t have to speak to everyone. You don’t have to answer everybody’s questions? I know, I know… That is very hard. I know it is for me. Because, like I said, I tend to be a conversative individual. Moreover, I tend to trust people—trust them when I should not. I give everybody the benefit of the doubt. But, all that has to happen is one person taking your words out of context or shifting them to their own redefined meaning and all kinds of chaos can be unleashed.
 
Number one, don’t be that person. Don’t be someone who uses someone else’s words to your own advantage.
 
Number two, decide to speak words whose meaning cannot be alter. That’s a hard one though… People twist and turn things all the time. But, you gotta stay conscience and try.
 
Ultimately, you just have to be strong enough, in yourself, that even if someone turns your words around and stretches them to their own definition, you will not let that hurt you. Because, you cannot control the mind of anyone else. Particularly, a person who descends to the level where they feel it is okay to remake the words of another individual. Sure, that’s messed up. Sure, that illustrated what a low level of human consciousness they possess. But, you can’t fight everyone. You can’t change the mind of a person who does not want to change their mind or their modus operandi.
 
So… Say what you mean. Be clear. Be precise. Because if someone can turn your words around, they possible will do just that.

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Once it is done it is done. It cannot be undone.

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Why does anyone trust anybody?

When Less is More

There is the great antique store in Long Beach. I mean, this place has more STUFF than I have ever seen located in one location. When I say a lot, I mean a lot. I go there every now and then just to be amazed at the pure artistic calamity that exists within it walls and in its outdoors space. I don’t think I’ve ever purchased anything there, though I have taken a lot of photographs. It’s truly a beautiful chaotic scene.
 
I was in there the other day, doing what I do: walking around and taking it all in. As always, it just amazes me at how much stuff people collect and how what meant so much to someone once upon a time, means nothing to them anymore. Or, maybe they died and their inheritors did not care what they cared about so they tossed their items into the wind.
 
…People collect a lot of stuff.  Each item is perhaps important to them but most likely to no one else.
 
When I was there, I glanced over at some old 78 records. I thought how the music on those records probably brought someone happiness and pleasure once upon a time. Now, most turntables won’t even play 78s. At least not this new generation of turntables designed for those people who want to feel oh so cool as they trip back to a time gone past.
 
I remember when I was young, maybe in 6
th or 7th grade, I was already a bit of an audiophile. Like most kids, I loved the music of my generation and when I had some money, I would purchase a record I liked and play it over and over again on this cheap little plastic record player I had.
 
There was this record store over on 3
rd Street that my friends and I would go into sometimes. They used to have a poster of John and Yoko naked hanging on their wall. As a kid, and part of the counter-culture generation, I found that poster all kinds of rebellious.
 
We were in there with this one friend one day. A friend that was tied to me via the martial arts. He didn’t hold the musical obsession that I and my other friends possessed, however. That day, he expressed his feelings in one short, very Zen, sentence. He said, “The radio is good enough.”
 
Back then, all my being fought against that statement as I wanted to possess the essence and the feeling that was provided by whatever record I hoped to own. It was a something that gave me a something.
 
Throughout the years, since that point, I’ve possessed a lot of music in a lot of formats. I’ve written a lot about how each specific way the music is captured and presented provides the listener with a very unique perspective of sound. I’ve propagated the need to listen for the subtilties.
 
…Anyway, before I get too far off target… Looking at those records in the antique mall, in combination with the massive amount of all the other stuff, and realizing how on my way to that business I was listening to music in my car that came to me via some super eternal substation, calculated and collected via Amazon, to my iPhone, then to my car radio, and finally out through my car speakers. …It just was this weird realization of how all things have become so simple. No longer do you need to own a thing: not a record, not a record player, not a tape, or a tape deck, not a CD, or a CD player. You can get your music via that external space in the sky that no one really understands. You can gain that feeling that music provides and not have to buy anything to get it. You can listen to that song that makes you feel that certain kind of way over and over and over again and it’s all free from the buying or owning anything. Well, at least mostly free from the anything, you do need a smart phone or something similar.     
 
So, if you think about it, the world is moving closer to Zen. A place where less is needed to gain and to do more.
 
Think about this the next time you plan to collect some piece of something that no one cares about but you. …Some something that will end up in some antique mall or trash can in the future. Something that only lives to make you and those around you more burdened.
 
Freedom, that is whole and complete onto itself, has become so much easier. Think about it… Maybe it’s time to embrace that Zen of Everything where Less is Actually More.

External Influences

We are all affected by external influences. There are those influences that are close to us, be they family, friends, and the why and the way of where we live and how. Those are the obvious ones. Then, there is the society and the all of that kind of stuff: the places we choose to place ourselves within that wide spanning spectrum. Finally, and perhaps mostly, there are all of those people who come at us and force their way into our lives. We don’t really want them there, but they come at us and our life, nonetheless. From this, and from those, we are forced to do—do what we may not want to do. Yet, we must deal with what they have brought into our life, even though we never asked for it and never want to know that person in the first place.
 
Who are you on the spectrum of life? Are you one of the people dealing with those who have entered your realm of existence when you did not need or want them to? Or, are you one of the people who tries to force your way into the life of someone else? If you are one of those people, do you ever question before you make contact with that person, do they want you to make contact? If you don’t, all you are is a self-thinking individual who considers only themselves, as truly, does anyone who does not want you there, want you in their life? Answer: No.
 
The problem with most life situations is someone comes into the life of someone else but the person who is doing the coming never contemplates, does that person want me there? As they only think of themselves, they only think of themselves. As their self is the only one who is thought of, the other person is never taken into consideration.
 
The problem with this style of life behavior is that, as the life-invader thinks that are the only one that is right in any given situation, they then become angered when they are rejected. But, the person didn’t want you in their life in the first place. Who is at fault?
 
The true person, the good person, the real person, never tries to enter the life of anyone else unless there is an agreed upon mutual desire and equal benefit to both the people involved. If they want you there, they invite you in. You knocking on their door only creates a situation that they do not wish to encounter.
 
Have you ever had a religious fanatic or a salesman come knocking at your door? You’re doing what you’re doing, and they are interrupting that doing. How is you contacting someone who does not wish to be contacted, no manner what your logic or reasoning, any different? You weren’t there before, and all was fine with that other person’s life. You come a knocking and at best they are annoyed, at worse their life is negatively affected. But, you did it! You made a choice to force your way into their life. How is anything right about any of that?
 
Don’t knock on the door of someone who does not want you in their life. Don’t believe you have something to offer them because if you did, they would be contacting you. In other words, leave people alone, you have nothing to offer any of them.

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Sometimes you have to pay the price before you learn your lesson.

Ghost of the Lost Buddha

Ghost of the Lost Buddha
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,
Ghost of the Lost Buddha.

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

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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

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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 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.” 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?

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

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

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ถ้าคุณไม่คาดหวังเกินไปคุณก็จะไม่รู้สึดผิดหวัง

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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.

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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!

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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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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All negative behavior comes from a place of unanswered pain.

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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!

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A saint in one faith is a sinner in another.

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

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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.

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

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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. 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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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What happens if no one believed in God?

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

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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 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 I 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 affect or effect 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.

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 don’t like has occurred and they are all encompassed with being upset.

This is a condition of life. Most people do.

In fact, when these sources 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.

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 get that adrenal rush. From this, the two or more of them can keep escalating their feelings be they positive or negative 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, one person. Therefore they are the one in control. And, if they are in control, they are the one to set 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 mod 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 will 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 in 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 down 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.

Now, 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.


Now, 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?