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Be Positive

Scott Shaw: No Butts About It

By Heidi Schlumpf

This is an article about Scott Shaw that appeared in Publishers Weekly on April 30, 1999.


While fitness fanatics sweat it out to Tae-Bo and other Bruce Lee-inspired exercise regiments, Scott Shaw tries to teach people that martial arts is not just about kicking someone butt or firming up one’s own. Through his books, his Web site and workshops, Shaw integrates enlightenment and martial arts. In the Warrior is Silent (inner Traditions, 1998), he explains the spiritual basis of the martial arts. His May release, Samurai Zen (Samuel Weiser) describes how the path of the samurai warrior can lead to enlightenment. His new fall book, however, features no illustrations for swinging a sword or breaking a board. All the exercisers in Zen O’clock: Time to Be (Weiser) are mental with 130 short reflections considering basic Buddhist truths about times, life, death, and desire.

“We’re all pressed up against this wall of time, but does time really exist?” Shaw asks. “It only exists when we’re looking at it.” In the interdiction to Zen O’clock he writes, “Since it is human consensus that this concept of time exists, you must put it into perspective, learn to control it, as opposed to being controlled by it.”

Although many of his beliefs are grounded in Buddhism, Shaw is reluctant to accept any labels. “I’m not formally religious in any regard,” he says. “Religion is a lot like school. The structure keeps people from seeing the truth.” Though his family attended the Methodist church across the street, Shaw was fascinated with all things Asian from an early age. He stared martial art classes at six and, as an adolescent, read the Tao Te Ching. But it was his travels to India, Thailand, Japan and Korea in the 1980s that solidified his passion for martial arts and Eastern spirituality. His martial arts-expertise also landed him on the silver screen. He has produced, directed or starred in 18 martial-arts film not to mention a cameo performance in Robert Altman’s The Player.

Asked how he feels about visiting BEA where he signs today at Samuel Weiser’s booth (1567) 1:30-2:30 p.m. and at table 9, 3-3:00 p.m. Shaw quoted a Zen saying, “Before enlightenment, chop wood carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood carry water.

Copyright © 1999—All Rights Reserved

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