The Scott Shaw Blog

Scott Shaw
Welcome to the Scott Shaw Zen Blog.

Here you will find some new thoughts and essays and some of the Greatest Hits from previous blogs. If you want to catch up on previous blogs, you can read one or all of the blog-based books by Scott Shaw. Check them out at: Scott Shaw Blog Books.

Be Positive and Smile. Happy

om mani padme hum

The Casting Couch

Recently, the experiences of actresses and actors experiencing sexual exploitation at the hands of powerful industry professional has been at the forefront of the news. This is a sign of the times and it demonstrates the changing and refining mindset of people and what they are willing and/or not willing to take. And, this is a good thing. But, it is essential to note, that this has been going on forever. Is there anyone out there who doesn’t know what the term, “The casting couch,” implies. Meaning, this is such a prevalent form of industry interaction that it actually has been given a name.

Recently, TMZ found some older, major player in the industry coming out of a restaurant. All he had to say was that this had been going on for a hundred years. It was known and it was accepted.

For all of those A-List players out there claiming that they knew nothing about it, I call bullshit. They are lying! Even Tarantino, in his recently interview on the subject, dodged his responsibility in this issue. At least he said, “Anything I say will only sound like an excuse.” But, think about this, if you watch his films, either the character he plays or another primary character sexually assaults a woman (or man). I have always found this very offensive. Though he is undoubtedly a great auteur, this behavior is just wrong and it should never be glorified in a movie! Plus, virtually all of his films were produced by Harvey Weinstein (the man at the center of this controversy). In fact, when this crisis broke, one of the news networks rightly stated that there has virtually been no Academy Awards Ceremony, in the past twenty years, where someone has not thanked Harvey Weinstein. He is responsible for making some incredible movies. In fact, a couple of his accusers thanked him at these ceremonies. What does this tell us?

Personally, I have known so many actresses who would tell me things like, “I had to fuck him to be in his movie.” Or, “I don’t want to be in anymore of his films because I would have to fuck him first.” And, these are not major A-Films like Weinstein produces. These are crappy low-budget pieces created by ugly, fat, old men. Even my Zen Filmmaking buddy Don Jackson was like this. If an actress wasn’t forthcoming with sexual favors he would take them on what he called, “The Don walk.” I always found that so disgusting. I felt so sorry for the actresses. But, at least, he was not forceful, they could say, “No.”

On the other side of the of the issue, there has been times when an actress, when I was casting a movie, has done things like reach her hand across the desk, take a hold of my hand, and say, “I will do anything to be in this movie.” Though tempting, as these were beautiful women, that is just not who I am. There was only one time when I walk down the road of romance with an actress in one of my films but that was based on mutual attraction. But, unfortunately, due to various circumstances, as is the case with many new relationships, that one never had the opportunity to mature.

#metoo. Women are not the only ones who are sexual exploited in the industry. As has been well documented, men too encountered sexually inappropriate behavior. There are two instances, in my career, that come to mind. The first was with a high-powered casting agent. She was a bit older women, who, in her youth, was probably very attractive. After I had gone to the casting session, I was outside getting on my Harley. She ran out to talk to me. What occurred is that she invited me to go to a coffee house with her. I politely declined as I could see what was on her mind. Her facial expression immediately changed. “You know, I’m your only chance or you’re never going to work in this industry,” was her statement. I smiled and rode off. But, she was right. My budding career in the A-market pretty much ended at that point. Certain people, in Hollywood, have massive power.

The second time occurred with a manager; a woman, who took me on as her client. Again, she was somewhat older and had recently broken up from a relationship with a younger actor who she had guided into starring roles in a few A-films. I quickly came to understand what she was expecting from me but me, being nice and naïve, I thought I could sidestep this industry requirement. At one point, she invited me to watch a Hong Kong Kung Fu movie with her, which were beginning to become cult-mainstream at that point in history. Me, I showed up with my girlfriend. Well… That ended that. No more manager.

The fact is, most people in Hollywood are willing to do whatever it would take to enter into a position where they would be given the chance to star in an A-film. That is why this has gone on for so long. #metoo. Believe me, if one of those women would have said if you have sex with me I will give you a starring role in a major A-film, I would have happily done it. But, the sad thing is, Hollywood is all about the illusion and the power-play. And, like I have long said, “The number one rule of filmmaker is that everybody lies.” So, you can’t trust anybody!

Mostly, the people that have been in the news, on this subject, are the major female A-players who have been blessed enough to climb to the top. Were they in Weinstein productions? Yes, several of them. What they had to do to climb to the top of the ladder, I guess we will never truly know. But, they are there. We can only speculate if it was worth it.

The other people out there talking are those who did not reach any level of known success. Thus, they are trying to grab a moment of PR. God bless ‘em! But, as history has shown us, there is always the powerful at the top and those who desire to be there. From this, some exert their power, while others are willing to do whatever it takes to gain that power. So, what does this teach us? What it teaches us is that the majority of people base their life upon desire. If you do base your life upon desire, then you are going to encounter those people who also base their life upon desire. From this, comes desire attempting to overpower other desire. So, from a Zen perspective we can conclude, remove desire from the equation and you are free.

Are you free enough to be free? Or, do you desire? If you desire, then the result(s) of your life, and those you will encounter, are obvious. Your life, your choice. Desire, and there is a price to pay. No desire, you are free.

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If a person tells you that what you are doing is hurting them or is causing their life damage and you do not stop the action and apologize, that means that you are a person who does not care about the feelings of others. What do you think will be the end result of your life?

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The achievers work towards obtaining their desired achievement. Those who do not achieve talk about those who have achieved. Which do you believe is better?

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If you are not honorable enough to honor another person's wishes that means you have no honor.

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It's easy to say what's wrong with someone else. How willing are you to tell the world what's wrong with you?

Paying for Your Future Sins

What you have done has set a continuity of karma into motion. What you have done has set you up for the next chain of events that you will encounter in your life.

If what you have done has hurt someone, that hurt will continue until you undo that damage.

How much time do you spend thinking about the damage you have caused to someone's life? How much time do you spend making mental excuses for what you have done and why you did it? And, how much time do you spend attempting to correct it?

This is where people completely misunderstand the concept of karma and why they question the powers-that-be when negative events befalls them.

You cannot undo any negative karma you have unleashed onto one person by doing something nice or good for someone else.

If you have hurt someone, you have hurt someone. Until you have repaired the damage with that one specific person; you, your karma, and your destiny will be forever defined by the hurt you have unleashed.

As what you have done defines what will come to you in the future, your present moment can also be impacted by what you will do in the future. Meaning, what you do to one person, and the way you react to what you have done, defines how you will behave in the future. People rarely change. People rarely change in the way that they interact with other people and/or care about other people. If you do not care about the damage that you brought to one person’s life today, the fact is, you will probably not care about the damage that you bring to another person’s life in the future. Thus, your destiny is cast in stone.

So, the next time you encounter something negative in your life—the next time you question, “Why me?” Look to yourself. Look to the damage you have done in the past. Look to the damage you will do in the future. Then, the answer to your question of, “Why me,” will become obvious.

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Why haven't you?

It's a very simple question.

I Didn’t Even Think About That

Each of us, as we pass through life, will encounter a moment when we realize that we made the wrong decision; we went left when we should have gone right. But, the general truth of this realization comes from the fact that, “I didn’t even think about that.” We made our choice based upon what we knew/what we believed was available to us at the time. We made that decision upon what opportunities we believed that we had. But then, it was only later, that we come to understand that we could have lived a better/different life if only we had made a different decision.

The truth of the choices that we make are based upon many factors. Mostly, they are predicated upon what is in front of us—what is on our plate if you will. For it is there, right in front of our eyes, that we believe we see the obvious. But, the obvious is generally full of illusions. And, from this, many a life goes wrong.

The choices that we make, based upon the obvious, are commonly shared by everyone who exists in a specific culture at a precise point in history. They can be the school we choose to attend, the major we choose for our studies, the job we take, how we spend our money, the car or motorcycle we buy, what we eat, drink, and/or if we choose to smoke or ingest mind altering substances, onto the person we choose to be in a relationship with. Whereas some of these choices may turn out to be a benefit to our life; a choice well-made—they each may also totally alter our existence in a negative manner, as well. Yet, we made a choice. We choose to let those things into our lives. Now what?

Once the realization hits you that you made the wrong choice, and it will come to everyone at some point in their life, you are left with the, “What should I do next?” In some cases, the choices you’ve made can be altered. In other cases, they cannot. The younger you have this realization, the easier it is to change your course. But, the truth of choice is that you will never be the same once that choice has been made. Your life will forever be defined by that choice.

Certainly, the personal choices that we make in association with what we do with our bodies, has long term effects. Effects that may not be felt until many years later. This is the same with what we believe are the right things to do with people—for it is with/from people where so much of what we have to justify, (the what we did and why), comes from.

Relationships are forever one of the main factors that comes to define a person’s life, either in a positive or negative way. People meet someone. They choose to be them. But, think about how many of those relationship go wrong. Why do so many relationships go wrong? Because the people who enter into these relationship enter into them based upon an undefined/not clearly refined mental perspective, believing that person is the only choice that is available.

So okay… We’ve all made mistakes, we’ve all made a choice, we have all realized that we probably should have done something else, at some point in our life. From this, some people lament endlessly. They drive themselves deeply into anxiety and depression, constantly thinking about the school they should have gone to, the subject they should have studied, the job they should not have taken, the drink they should not have drank, the cigarette they should not have smoked, the money they should not have spent, the person they should never have been with.

Yes, you can lament. Yes, you can hate your life. Yes, you can beat yourself up for the choices that you made and the things that you did based upon the choices that you made or you can do something else—do something different.

Certainly, the older you get the harder it is to go back to school. The older you get the harder it is to change careers. The older you get finding a relationship with that young, attractive person, that you wish you would have met when you were twenty becomes nearly impossible. But, you can change the, “Who you are.” You can change the way you behave based upon the choices you made: one, ten, or thirty years ago. You can become a new you in the space where you find yourself, based upon the choices you made however many years ago.

And, this is what people don’t do. This is why people never evolve. This is why people never change. This is why people never achieve any of the anything that they wish they could have achieved.

Yes, you made a choice which set a course of direction for your life. But, even if you can’t change that choice, you can change who you are on the inside. You can refine that person you became, due to the choices that you made. You can set your life on a course, defined by where you find yourself in life, that will allow you to be the most perfect example of what you hoped you would be. But, you have to make the choice to do it.

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People are flawed. Thus, no matter what rank, title, or distinction they claim you should never listen to them for, at best, they are only discussing life from their own perspective.

Don’t Do Me Any Favors

It is rather interesting, in this modern day and age, one of the primary key words of internet piracy is, “Fair Use.” Basically, what Fair Use means is, “Let me make money or get famous off of what you created while not paying you, the creator, a red cent.”

I often go back to this subject in this blog, my writings, and my lectures, because of being on the creative end of this equitation—the one who actually creates stuff, I am the one who personally experiences the negative repercussions of so-called Fair Use. Sure, you can sue the people who do this, and I have done this and won, but a lot of what takes place is going on off-shore or by some disposable LLC or someone who, even when you win the lawsuit, there is nothing that you are going to gain because they have no money. So, the creator is the one who is left to deal with the negative repercussions of this larceny and their bank account is lessoned by what someone else chose to do with their creation. Do you not understand the problem in all of this?

Recently, I found that this guy had uploaded a bunch of my music to this website. Of course, the website makes money from every download. They do this while claiming Fair Use. Yet me, the creator, makes nothing. I contacted the guy as it linked to the member who uploaded the music and ask him why did he do it. He said he really liked my music and wanted to help me with publicity. I told him, "Thanks but don’t do me any favors."

Now, I have also encountered companies that are very honest. When they have been broadcasting my movies and I altered them to the fact that I own all Rights, Title, and Interest to the film they either stopped allowing it to be downloaded or set up a deal and paid me. But, that is rare.

Think about this, when you are on the internet and you want to watch or listen to something, maybe you even really love the project or the creator, (as the aforementioned guy did with my music), do you even consider if they, the creator, is getting paid while you are getting their creations for free? And, do you care?

If you like something to even if you love to hate it, shouldn't the person who created it be the only one getting paid for its dissemination? …Not someone who had nothing to do with anything?

Living a good life is based upon morality. Morality is defined by what you do to others.

What do you do to others? And, are you strong enough to not do it and not support the people who are doing it, if what they are doing is taking something away from the person who is responsible for a somethings creation?

Like I always say, all life beings with you. What are you going to do? Are you going to support the creator(s) or are simply going to take their creations for free?

Perceptions of Me

I forever find it curious (and interesting) the way people perceive me. I mean, how many of you who read this blog actually know me? How many of you have actually met me? How many of you have contacted me and/or tried to meet me? Yet, all of you people out there who have never met me, you have a perceived notion about me. Some of you maybe like what I write; maybe you like some of movies, music, or photographs. Maybe it’s just the opposite, you hate me for some undisclosed reason. But, do you ever ask yourself, “Why do I perceive Scott Shaw the way that I do? What am I basing my opinion upon?”

I had an interesting experience that set me to thinking about this yesterday… A young filmmaker, going to film school at USC, contacted me via one of the industry casting websites, inquiring if I would be interested in being in her film. Now, I really don’t know what she was expecting? Did she want me to audition, did she want me to go to rehearsals—I don’t know? But, I told her the same basic thing that I pretty much tell everyone, (and any of you indie filmmakers who have asked me to be in your no-budget film can attest to this fact), I told her, “Thanks, but the only bad movies I’m in are my own…” But, as she was a USC student—meaning she was coming at the film game from a slightly different, more refined, perspective than the person out there trying to make an indie movie that will launch their career and make them a buck… So, I said, if she wanted to send me the script I would check it out and see if I believed that I could do the character justice. But, I also told her, I’m a spontaneous guy so I don’t do rehearsals or anything like that…

But, what did this person expect? Contacting me, they had to know who I was and what my method is all about. Freedom! Zen! Art! I mean, the only other student film I ever did was also for a student at USC. That was back in 1990. But, I never auditioned. He liked my headshot. We talked on the phone. I showed up and we filmed the movie. As the lead of his student film, he even gave me the first, single card credit above a couple of working, name actors that were also in the production. I thought that was nice. This, before I had pretty much done anything else. But, the production was free, it was Zen, it was great!

But let’s get to the point of all this… How you move through life sets the stage for what you will or will not achieve. How you perceive others sets the stage for your possible interaction with people, which then sets the stage for whom and what you will later encounter in life. If you base your life upon a supposed, predetermined perception of other people, then all of the truth and the naturalness of life and the truth of personality is lost. Meaning, you are projecting you onto that person. You are projecting your loves, your hates, your desires, your definitions onto another person. Mostly, what you are doing is basing what you believed, (which may or may not be true), onto the outer world. Thus, you are robbing all of the what could be—based upon undefined, unsubstantiated perceptions.

Yes, I know, no matter where you find yourself in life, a lot of people say a lot of things about other people. Certainly, a lot of people, all of whom have never met me, have said a lot of things about me. Be they positive or negative, many/most of those things are far from the truth. They don’t me! They have never met me! How can what they are saying be considered, on any level, to be the truth? All they were doing was attempting to project their perception of me out to the world. I’m sure people have said things about you, as well.

But, the ultimately truth of life, the ultimate truth of personality, is that if you are projecting your perceptions, all you are doing is robbing the truth from what another person actually is—who they actually are. For this reason, it is far better to simply allow a person to exist in their own truth while you do not attempt to project anything onto that truth.

I’m sure I could never be what that young filmmaker had hoped I would be, as they (apparently) wanted me to do things their way. But, their way is not my way. My way is not their way. Your way, may or may not be my way, but the only way we can ever know is if we personally interact. Then, perceptions/projections are lost and interpersonal truth is revealed.

Turn off perceptions and projections. Let the truth live.

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The mistakes that mess up our lives are usually made by us. But, how often do we blame ourselves?

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If it's just not worth it, it's just not worth it.

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Fixing your negative karma is easy, you just have to try. Do you? If you don't, blame no one but yourself when you experience the repercussions.

The Thing You Will Never See

I was flashing back to this commercial I did early in my career in the film industry. I think it was in ’91. It was for Fanta soda and they had me riding my Harley around Hollywood.

I never saw that commercial, however. Though it was obviously a big production, it was shown in South America and they never gave me a copy. I would have liked to have seen it though.

Early in my career I did a lot of international commercials. I think it was due to my long blonde hair as that is how the world wanted to depict young, modern California at the time.

There were a few other international commercials I did, in that same era, that I also never saw. For Pepsi (Mexico) I was the father, next to my wife, as we picked up our young daughter at the airport. There was one for Budweiser (Europe) where I walked through the stands, during a baseball game, carrying a Bud. One for Vidal Sassoon (Asia) where I was a model having his hair done. One for Coke (Latin America) where I was a biker. One for Burger King (shown somewhere) where I was a dock worker. Some commercial for something, somewhere, where I walked off my private jet, all rock starred out, carrying a guitar… Never saw any of them…

I did a few TV shows like that, as well. Back then, if you didn’t see it when it was on, you didn’t see it. There was no On Demand and if the TV show didn’t grow in fan popularity there was never a VHS or DVD release. So gone, I guess? I will never see my performances. Though I would have liked to.

Now, today, everyone has cameras. It happens all the time, people are taking pictures of me, you, anybody… I’m not really a fan of that style of behavior, but what can I do? So, there are all these pictures of me out there somewhere. Pictures, I will never see. And, think about all of the surveillance footage that is shot in this day and age. Cameras are everywhere, photographing everything. This footage will probably exist forever, somewhere. Somewhere, we will never see…

Maybe a year ago, I wrote a blog about the fact that I was the last person who remembers my father. As he died fifty years ago, and though he had a lot of friends, did his military service during World War II, established a popular restaurant, was the manager of a major concert/sport facility, and so on, all the people who knew him are dead. I’m all that’s left. The only one who remembers him. You will never see him.

This morning, I thought about my uncle. As he was a professional boxer during the 1930s, I looked him up on-line using his boxing name. I had done this a few years ago but found nothing. This time, I did find a site that had scanned a page from the boxing chronicles of that era where it listed his bouts and his knocks out. I thought that was cool. But again, I’m the last person who remembers him. Just like my father, he did his time in military service during the war, he had a lot of friends, but he chose to never get married. He just had girlfriends. So, he never had any children. I’m the last one who even remembers the name he boxed under. He was a good guy but you will never know him.

How much of life is like this? How many of the people that you know, will you end up being the only one that remembers them? How many people will remember you? And, why will they remember you?

Life is this fleeting illusion where the things that matter to you or me, matter only to you or me. The people that we care about; we are the only ones that care.

Do you care about my father? Do you care about my uncle? Do you care about me? Probably not. And, who cares about you? How can you care about a person when you do not even know that person? And here—this is where we find the ultimate illusion of life. It is all simply a photograph that will fade with time—lived and experienced but once it is lived and experienced the memories of those experiences and those emotions fade as time passes—emotions only felt by those who had a reason to feel those emotions.

Most of life is based upon a life lived and then the things you remember but most of things you will never see again.

Writing Reviews About Life

In this blog, it is kind of like me writing reviews about life. For those of you who read this blog you know I discuss my life experiences, my interpretations of life, the way in which I view human consciousness, and the way I hope people will understand they can live their life from a more pure, whole, and enlightened perspective.

Many people question why don’t I charge for this blog or put it on of those sites where they run ads and thereby I would make money from these writings—as there are obviously a lot of them. But, that is far too disingenuous for me. Sure, we all need money to live. And hey, you can give me some money if you want to. Happy But, if you are thinking what you are thinking based upon the perspective of charging money for it all that makes you is a business person not an individual operating from a space of Pure Thought.

I know there are many people out there who do make their money by discoursing about whatever or discussing and reviewing the thoughts and creations of others. But, as I have often stated, that is a person functioning from a basis of ego, believing that they possess the internal intelligence to rightfully evaluate the ideas, philosophies, and artistic creations of others. But, all they are doing is casting their opinion and their thoughts about someone or something, while presenting them as if they are facts. Which they are not.

Do you ever watch the talking heads on the news networks when they are evaluating the actions of politicians? One day they assume one thing, the next day the next. And moreover, how often are the completely wrong about the outcome that out comes? This is what reviews do; speculate. But, speculation is never based in truth or fact. Yet, some of these people make money from what they believe. But, if what they believe is wrong and what they say is false, where does that leave humanity? It leaves humanity stuffed full of a bunch of the key word of the day, “Fake News.” Believing the falsity of one person’s mind.

Thus, and therefore, I steer clear of all that kind of nonsense for all these people do is rationalize what they are saying and why they are saying it, when the real reason they are allowed to be saying it at all is that they are getting paid based upon ego driven evaluations. This is not a karmiclly pure space to operating from. And, what happenes when the tax man comes to call?

At the heart of all true spirituality and at the essence of living a good life is existing in a space where what you do negativity affects no one. If your ideas hurt anyone, for any reason, if they are false by any stretch of the imagination, you have no right to be getting paid for them.

Give freely. Be free.

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If you compliment or support the person who is negative, critical, or judgmental all that does is allow their ego to grow in their own self-righteous superiority. There is nothing superior about negativity, criticalness, or judgement. These are all the signs of the person who is afraid to look at themselves so they cause the focus to be guided elsewhere.

When You’re Secure in Yourself

Each of us, as we pass through life, will undoubtedly encounter a naysayer or two—those who speak badly about us. But, why does someone do this? Why do they behave in this manner? Why? Because they are not secure in themselves. They are not whole, complete, or self-actualized enough to realize that by speaking negatively about someone/anyone, for any reason, all it does is make themselves look weak, bad, and a purveyor of negativity.

Someone who says something bad about you, whether it is true or not, may feel they have all kinds of interpersonal reasons for doing so. They may be angry at you. They may not like you. They may just want to make you look bad so they spread altered truths and/or falsehoods about you. Whatever their logic, it does not dismiss the fact that they are not a complete enough person to step beyond their own ideological characterizations of who or what they think you are. Thus, they want to spread their belief about you out to others. They do this, in order to influence other people’s opinions about you.

Certainly, everywhere we look, we can find people who listens to and embraces this level of character assignation. Why do they do this? Again, just like the naysayer, they are not whole and complete onto themselves to the degree where they have the interpersonal strength to steer away from this style of rhetoric. Thus, they become sucked into the melodrama that was created by one person’s opinion or reaction to who or what they believe that you are.

Do you do this? Do you listen to other people’s definitions and proclamations about a specific person or persons? If you do, do you ever contemplate why you do this? What drags you into this system of belief propagated by one, outspoken, person? Do you ever question, “Why do I listen to other people’s opinions about a person?” Do you ever ask yourself, “Why don’t I investigate, interact with that person, and then form my own opinion?”

Many people’s lives are lived via what they hear and, thus, believe; spoken from the mouths of other people. But, this is not a
whole level of living life. This is simply you, passing through your life, allowing other people to provide you with their interpretations of other people. Thus, you are not living your life at all. You are allowing your life, and the thoughts that make up your life, to be supplied by someone else.

Be more than the person who judges other people. For why does anyone judge anybody? Because they do not want people to look too closely at who, what, or why they are.

If you hear negative words being spoken about someone, either interrupt the person and stop them or walk away. Find your own meaning in life. Define your own definitions. From this, all you live, all you encounter, all you believed will be defined by no one but you. This is how to live a whole and complete, self-actualized life.

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The moment you turn off the flame things start cooling down.

All You Can Do is Never Do it Again

Have you ever had one of those experiences where you go into a restaurant and you pay a lot of money for something and it either makes you sick or it is just not very good? You swear I will never eat that again! I do that a lot with the breakfast sandwiches at Starbucks. As I go to Starbucks most every day, and there they are, an easy way to get my breakfast on. But, they are just not very good! Every time I eat one, I am thinking, “Why am I eating this?”

In terms of the fast food, I used to like to drive through McDonalds in morning, enroute to my road trips, (of which I take a lot), and grab a Sausage McMuffin Combo with Coffee. But, then their prices went through the roof and the way they take your order just got so stupid, that it's just wasn’t worth it anymore.

The thing is, most companies do what they do and there is really nothing you can do about it except not go to them if you don’t like what's going on. They don’t care about what the create, what they sell, or the impact it is having on the greater whole as long as they are making money.

People also do bad things that leave a bad taste in your mouth. And, most people do not care enough to look at themselves, look at the overall impact they are having on others and, thus, on themselves farther down to the line. Thus, they do not even think about changing as long as they are getting along or getting over.

This is where the personal interplay of caring mindfulness comes into the human spectrum as a pathway for evolving human consciousness. What do you do? What do you create? What impact does what you create have on others? What impact will what you do and what you crate do to your life as you pass through your lifetime? Do you ever think about this? If you don’t, all that occurs is that you leave a lot of people with a bad taste in their mouth as you have evoked a negative experience in their life. If you have even done this to one person, you have done it to one too many.

Each of us has done bad things and perhaps created negative events in the life of another person. Some of us have done this way more than others. But, it is what you do after the fact that ultimately defines you as a human being. It is what you fix as oppose to what you break that will be the definition of your life.

So, what do you do when you have dished out that bad meal? Do you keep making the same receipt as long as it is easy and cost-effective? Or, do you care enough to care and change up your game plan? We all make mistakes in life. We all eat that bad meal at a restaurant. But, all you can do is to never do it again.

Reaching Out to Someone

Have you ever reached out to someone via the internet and you were very sorry that you did as the interaction went in totally a different direction than you thought that it might? I don’t know what it is, but at least for me, this has been the case more times than not. I don’t know… I’m a nice, easy going guy. But, everyone else???

This has happened to me several times when I have found a piece of art that I really liked, I bought it, and then found that the artist had a website or something so I contacted them to ask questions about the particular piece. In more than few cases, they were insulted that anyone would even think about selling their art, let alone that maybe I found it in a thrift store, at a flea market, or an estate sale. In a couple of cases they were so unpleasant and belligerent that I offered to give them back their work, minus the cost of shipping, of course. None of them ever took me up on this offer, however.

Today, I had an interesting experience following this same vein of life interaction.

To tell the story… A few days ago someone told me that someone had made a music video using footage from the Roller Blade Seven and live footage from the band Skinny Puppy and put it up on YouTube. I watched it and it was pretty good—interestingly creative. Me… I just assumed that it was done by the band themselves. I mean, who else would do something like that? So, I sent them a short email, via their website, telling them I thought it was pretty cool and I would put a link to it up on my website; which I did.

This was a couple of days ago… Today, I got a marginally rude email from the leader of the band asking me if I was trying to promote my movie by using their music. WHAT! I, of course, was not! Everybody talks about Roller Blade Seven. It needs no publicity. So, I guess the music video was just made by some fan of Skinny Puppy and the Roller Blade Seven who did the mashup.

Anyway… Life is interesting… I guess I should not have heads-up’d the band to the fact that the video was out there. At least that would have saved any hard feelings being born.

I don’t know… Life in this digital age is interesting. In many ways it’s really not too different than sending a letter in the days of the long ago and the far-far away. It’s just a lot quicker and a lot less thought out. Mostly, it just seems that people have become very reactive instead of thinking about all of the goings-on that take place in the mind and the heart of other people.

Maybe I’ve finally learned my lesson about contacting people. Hummm ??? I don’t know. Happy

Making Life Easier

Outside of where I have my computers set up there is a patio. On the patio, I have some succulent cacti. In the mornings, I watch as the humming birds come by and get their breakfast from the flowers that are blooming on the cacti. Sometimes in the afternoon, I watch as a bee or two stops by. Though I, of course, love plants, I really like to provide a service to the world’s creatures in any small way that I can. I want them to know about a place where they can come by and find an easy meal. I want to make their life easier.

How about you? Do you try to make my life easier? Do you try to make anyone’s life easier? Do you ever go out of your way, step outside of yourself, and do something so someone will have an easier road as they walk through life?

If we can step outside of ourselves, if we can take our mind’s away from ourselves long enough to understand that other people are people. And, just like us, they too need a helping hand. From this, we can find the motivation to actually DO. Do something for someone else that will help them. And, from this doing, the world can become better one person’s life at a time.

Many people do not think about anyone but themselves. Others think about people, but only the one’s they directly care about. Maybe they want to make their life easier. But, they dismiss the fact that they can make someone’s life, that they do not personally know, better by doing some small thing, some small gesture so just a bit of the something that person must deal with is partially removed. They are wrong. You can help by doing even the smallest of things.

Really, try it! Try to make the life of some person, some creature, some life form, some something easier. Believe me, from this action, everything, everywhere becomes just a little bit better.

What Do You Consider Art?

As I’ve spent most of my life as an artist of one type or another, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about art. In my earlier years, I did a lot research and reading into the various philosophies behind art and the motivations for and thereof. But, what I have basically concluded is that each person has their own unique interpretation as to what is and what is not art.

In any case, a few weeks ago I was in a thrift store and I came upon this beautiful 8-Track player/recorder from the mid 1970s. I had no idea if it worked or not. But, did I really care? It was beautiful. The only problem was, they were asking $49.99 for it, which is a fairly high price to be asked by a thrift store. I saw the manager walking around. She was a youngish Latina woman, who was quite full of pride due to her position. Her emissive attitude kind of made me smile. Anyway, I asked her if she would be willing to negotiate the price. She firmly said, “Once I price something, that is the price.” Again, I smiled.

The price was high so I walked out of the store and went next-door to the office supply store which is why I was actually in the shopping center in the first place. I got what I needed but I couldn’t get the 8-Track deck out of mind. I went back in and bought it. Yeah, it was a bit expensive for something that may or may not work. Yeah, the manager was less than cordial. But, with the deck in my hand, as I walked towards the cash register, I passed by her and said, “I couldn’t let it go…” She smiled.

As I put the deck in my truck it made me think about art. I mean $50.00 for a piece of art is nothing. …A cheap price to pay. And, to me, here it was, an 8-Track deck from the 70s and a model I had never seen before. Art! It was definitely art!

So, for each of us we define what is or what is not art in our own mind. You may think I’m nuts believing that an 70s 8-Track deck is art. But, to me, it is true beauty. I have it over on my stereo rack next to my TV and whenever I see it, it makes me happy remembering a time gone past.

Art. It is such a personal interpretation.

***

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?

What Are You Giving Me?

People spend much of their life taking. They are happy to receive gifts, they are happy to get what they want, but they spend very little time thinking about what they can give to others. This is especially the case if they do not like, love, or personally know a specific individual.

People also spend a lot of their time thinking about, planning, and devising a method to get what they want. They may work and save their money in order to fulfill their desire of getting some, something. But again, this goes to the sourcepoint of getting and receiving. This action has very little to do with giving.

Think about this… How much of your time do you spend thinking about what you can give a specific somebody? Even if you love them, even if you are in a relationship with them, in most cases you are only thinking about giving them something they may want because by making them happy they give you something in return; i.e.: a relationship, love, a life definition because you
have them in your life. Very little of what you do, for anybody, comes from the pure sense of giving. And, this is sad. This is where many of the world’s problems begin.

There is the other side of the issue, as well. How many times has somebody given you something that they many have thought you wanted but you did not want at all. This happens a lot at Christmas, Hanukkah, and birthdays. People think they must give you a gift. But, if they do not understand the true inner you, they give you something that you may not even want. Yet, you must pretend that you like it. Is this giving at all?

People take and people make from what you have done in your life—from what you have created. Have you ever had the experience of somebody taking credit for something that you did? Have you ever had the experience of somebody making money from one of your creations? Have you ever had the experience of somebody taking a free ride from money you earned or money you spent? Did they appreciate any of those unintentional gifts? Probably not. Again, people take but people do not think about giving.

Whether it is from the music we like to listen to, the books we like to read, the spoken words we find inspiration from, or the movies and the TV shows we like to watch, we owe the creators of those entities the gift of giving them something. Why? Because without them, that music would not exist, that book would not have been written, those words left unspoken, that movie would not have been created, and so on... Do you ever think about this? Do you ever consciously try to give that creator anything? Probably not. Most people don’t. But, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Now, think about this… What do you prefer, getting what you want or giving what someone else wants? I believe if we look around the world, if look to the people we have interacted with as we have passed through our life, if we look to ourselves, the answer to that question is obvious. But, it does not have to the be that way. You can give. You can care enough to give. You can be conscious enough and compassionate enough to be able to step outside of your selfish realm of need and think about someone else and what they may want. You can care enough to go out of your way and actually give.

Try it. Give to those you love. Give to those you like. Give to those who have given something to your life. Give to those people you don’t even know. Believe me when I tell you not only will your life become better, everything will become better.

Blaming Others Before You Blame Yourself

Have you ever encountered the situation where somebody does something really messed up to you and then, instead of owning their responsibility in it, they blame you? I think many of us have encountered this type of behavior as we have passed through life.

Who does this and why do they do it?

First of all, the person who behaves in this manner does not have a strong definition of Self; i.e., they hide from the truth about themselves and/or they want to be seen as something more than what they truly are. Thus, they lie.

Secondarily, the person who behaves in this manner does not care about anybody but themselves and how they are perceived, because if this were not the case, they would be man (or woman) enough to step up and say, “I’m sorry. What can I do to fix what I have broken?” But, as they are so locked into their misguided sense of Self and entitlement all they think about is themselves. Thus, they do not care about any damage they have evoked.

I think back to this incident that happened to me awhile back when I had this horrible neighbor. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a really bad neighbor. …I hope you haven’t. But, the problem is, when you live in a big city, the chances of it happening are more probable.

Anyway, this guy was loud and rude. He destroyed the whole community. He believed himself to be some sort of pseudo spiritual teacher and he would go online and broadcast his borrowed knowledge to anyone who would pay to listen him while loudly spilling his words outwards to the entire neighborhood. When he wasn’t doing that, he was so emotionally out of control that he would stomp on the floor screaming, “Fuck me, fuck me, fuck me and mine,” over and over and over again. I actually have him on tape doing this. Really a spiritual person, right? It was really hell for everyone around him. I tried to be nice. I tried to be understanding. I tried to be forgiving. I didn’t report him to the police. I didn’t sue him. But, when I finally complained about him to the community management, they showed me a letter of complaint that he had written about me. Me… OMG… I’m the quietest guy in the world. I meditate okay…

Now, years later, when I look back, I know a couple years of my life was damaged by this man. (Moving isn't cheap). He did hurt my life. He did hurt the life of all those people living around him. But, instead of saying, “Sorry,” he wrote a letter of complaint to take the focus off of himself and what he had done. Unbelievable… But, think how many people behave in this manner. Do you?

This is the ideal example of how people, who are based in an altered sense of Self, hurt the lives of others and they do not care. He wanted to blame me instead of looking at all of the damage he had created. He didn’t want anyone else to know the truth about all the damage he created so he tried to deflect his responsibility. Yet, he did it. He made a choice and he hurt the lives of others. What is the karma for that? What is the karma for not taking responsibility for damaging the life or lives of someone else? What is the karma for not apologizing?

I have encountered other situations like this in my life. Where people, based upon whatever misguided sense of direction they possess, have decided to spread falsities and misnomers out to the world about me. For some reason, they felt they had the right to take what I had created or talk about me without even knowing me. Like I always say, “Ask me first…” But, no one ever does.

The fact of life is, if someone wants to go after you, if they don’t like you for whatever reason, there is very little you can say or do that will change their mind. Your words will only give them new inspiration to turn your reality into something negative. And, here lies one of the root causes for all of the problems with the world, people believe they know but they do not know anything…

I talk about myself here because I have substantiated examples. But, I have sadly known people have who have been forced into taking their own life because people have done bad things to them; not only on this physical plane of existence but on places like the internet, as well. Some people are not strong. Some people do not have a good support network. Some people are all alone. Then what? What is the karma for some person hurting someone to that degree?

And, this goes to the bigger issue… Do you ever think about what you do before you do it? Do you ever think or care about what may happen to a specific person because of what you do or say? And, if you are actually trying to hurt someone by what you say or do, what do you think will be the closing definition of your life?

Life is fragile. Some people’s lives are very fragile. If you don’t care about what you are doing to their life—if you don’t think about the bigger implications of your actions, what will be your final karma?

Ultimately, what I am saying here is that, you really should be Whole enough onto yourself to understand that we all make mistakes, we all do things that we should not do, we all (maybe unintentionally) hurt other people. Though you should never perform any of these actions intentionally, if you do, you should fix them and not hide from them.

Moreover, think about other people first. Think about how the words you are saying will affect them. Think about how what you are doing is affecting the next-door neighbor. In other words, care. Care enough to care. Care enough to not allow you ego, your out of control emotions, your lack of Self to drive you to do something that may the hurt the life of someone else.

Always help. Never hurt.

***

If what you are saying, if what you are doing is hurting someone, you are doing the wrong thing.

This is the mistake that many people make. They believe they have the right to say or do whatever they want. They believe they have impunity. They are wrong. All words, all actions have consequences.

The wise person say nothings negative, does nothing negative and simply sits back and studies the reactions to the actions.

***

Somebody said something. You heard it. You believed it. But, what if what they said was wrong? That means you have spend a certain percentage of your life believing a lie.

***

Are you strong enough to stand up against the masses when they are saying or doing something negative to someone or something?

Do you ever do anything differently?

***

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

***

No life is solely defined by what is expected.

***

If you are waiting for someone to approve of what you are doing you will forever be waiting.

If you are doing things hoping someone will like what you are doing you will forever be doing.

As long as you are seeking approval outside of yourself you will never be whole onto yourself—you will never be who you truly are.

We Will All Be Forgotten

Periodically, I mention the fact that in my lifetime I have watched as some of the most influential martial artists have passed away and all but been forgotten. These were people who truly made a contribution to the evolution of the martial arts.

It is important to note that it was not until the twentieth century, with the advent of mass media, that it became possible for a person, in their own time, to readily contribute to the wide-spanning understanding and evolution of the martial arts or anything else for that matter. A few people took up this banner, spread their understanding, but then they were gone and quickly all they had contributed was lost to the hands of time.

This is also the case with spiritual teachers. Perhaps a person came on the scene with a unique message that came to be embraced. They taught what they but they, as we all will do someday, passed away. Then, that person and their message was quickly forgotten.

If you want to look at the more celebrity driven realms, think to that TV show that you really liked as a kid. What happened to the star of that show? In many/most cases, those actors were never seen again.

Many people, as they pass through life, seek a means to get their ideas, their name, or their face out to the public eye. They may do this due to vanity, ego, or the belief that they have something unique and special to offer. Whatever the motivations may be, it is one person stepping to the pulpit, presenting a platform, and in some cases, that person becomes noted for what they do or what they have to say. Though, in that moment, they may find students or followers; perhaps their ego or their bank account gets stroked, but the reality is, a person is only viable when they are alive. With very few exceptions as soon as they die, their teachings die.

Most people do not step to the pulpit. Most people simply live a simple life, going to work, while supporting a family. Thus, they may listen (for a time) to the talkers or the teachers of the world but their focus is on their survival and their family. This is why so few teachers/talkers remain viable after their passing. People have their own life and they only care about you as long as they have a reason to care about you.

For anyone who has ever owned a school of the martial arts, hatha yoga, or any other business for that matter, it is easily witnessed how the clientele come and go. People have an interest and then due to change of time, change of mind, change of heart, change of life focus, or change of financial circumstances they move away. Thus, nothing, in the life of the person at the forefront of the conversation is permeant—nothing last forever.

It is important to keep this in mind as you pass through life: as a student, a follower, or as the teacher. In your life, you may find nourishment from what someone else is giving. In your life, you may find sustenance by what you have to give. But, nothing last longer than your life. When you are dead, you are dead. Don’t fool yourself. We will all be forgotten.

***

You have done something that has hurt someone.

Do you care?

Do you try to repair the damage?

In these answers; here lies the definition of your life.

What Makes You Think That I'm Not a Muslim?

There is this gate in the old city of Jerusalem that I decided to exit via last week. One of the Israeli military guards, that carries an AK47 around their neck—that are everywhere, stopped me and said, “Muslims only.” Now, I knew that this was a fact about this gate—that they only allow Muslims to enter and exit through it. Why I don't really know. I guess I could do some research and figure it out. But, I though I would give it my best shot. But, when he told me that, it struck a strange chord in me. What I wanted to question was, “What makes you think that I'm not a Muslim?”

A little backstory here... When I was seventeen I was initiated into the Sufi Order, which is a sect of the greater Muslim faith. So, the fact is, yes, I am a Muslim. Now, I didn't want to get into a whole debate with the guy, breaking out my Arabic and exclaiming, “La ilaha illallah Muhammadur Rasulullah,” or anything like that. But, I was judged by how I look. And, yeah sure, I get it, I guess I don't look like your average Muslim. But, looks can be deceiving. I'm sure there are a lot of Muslims out there with blonde hair. But, more than that, why does there need to be a definitive definition?

You know, when I was growing up spirituality was clearly one of my primary focuses. When I came up, where I came up, and who I came up with, the acceptance and the merging of the various religions was the norm. In my line of Sufism, Pir-O-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan was the instigating factor and the man who introduced Sufism to the West in the early twentieth century. Though many teachers of my era were exclaiming that all religious should be honored, he said an interesting thing. And, I am paraphrasing... He said, “If a Christian asks you what religion you are, you say I'm a Christian. Is a Jew asks you what religion you are, you say I'm Jewish. If a Muslim asks you what religion you are, you say I'm Muslim, and so on.” Meaning, that in Sufism all religions are respected and embraced. And, that is how I feel. I believe I am a part of all of those religions.

Certainly, in this modern day, with all of the craziness going on around the world, religion has become a very divisive factor. But, that is all personal choice. It doesn't have to be like that. It doesn't have to be the, “I am this, you are that. Mine is better than yours.” It can just be acceptance where no gates are closed to those of other faiths.

The truth is, most people do not wear their religion on their sleeve. I was at the mall a couple of weeks ago, here in the L.A. area, and I noticed that this one guy who was operating one of those kiosks got out his prayer rug, laid it down, and was praying. This is something that the practicing Muslims do. Pray at a specific time each day. I thought that was great. Here is this man, with all of the religious tensions simmering around the world, especially against Muslims but, there he was, owing who and what he was right in the heart of a shopping mall.

I think the big question is, “Why are you what you are and why do you believe what you believe?” Moreover, why do you/why do any of us, have to draw boundaries between us and anyone else just because of what we believe?

So, what makes you think that I'm not a Muslim?

***

We all have to live with the decisions we make.

***

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

The Presidential Suit

I was watching one of those shows on TV last night about people who revamp and remodel houses. The main players were considering redoing this massive mansion. It was one of those places where the owners planned to go in a very gaudy direction. It set me to remembering…

I had flown into Manila in the mid 1980s and I headed for the Hilton where I had booked a room. My plane arrived at night and when I got to the hotel they told me that they were fully occupied but they would promote me to a suite. Okay… The bell man took my suitcase and myself up the elevator to the top floor. The elevator opened exposing the presidential suite which took over the entire top floor. Wow! After the bell man left, I walked around. It was one of those ridiculously opulent places with gold bathroom fixture, mirrors housed in gold frames, gold bed post, gold sheets and bed spreads, and the like. In other words, it was beyond gaudy. I was later informed that it was the place that then President Ferdinand Marcos would take women when he needed a get away. The suit was so massive that I literally found myself getting lost walking around. Sleeping there the first night was a very-very weird experience.

I expected that I was only going to be there one night, but night two and then night three went by and they did not move me out. I thought maybe they forgot about me.

Having that suite definitely set all of those young man fantasies into motion about finding the right girl to take up there and make it look like I was a total player. But, I knew the rules of the game all too well by that point in my life and the kind of girl that I could have easily found in Manila to bring to that suite was probably not the kind of girl that it would have been in my best interest to allow into the presidential suite. So, the offers I had I passed on.

On the forth morning I got a phone call. They wanted to demote me. Thus, the bell man took me down to a regular sized room. Going from the presidential suite to a regular sized hotel room was one of the most demeaning experiences I had ever encountered. As you can imagine, it was such a let down. I sat there on the bed in that room, questioning all of the realities of life, my life, and how people live a certain way and why.

That afternoon I got a telex from my girlfriend in Bangkok. She asked me to catch a flight and come and see her. Thinking of my room, or the lack thereof, I immediately agreed.

Now, this was obviously before the days of the internet and I had to actually go to the airline office and buy a ticket: Manila to Bangkok. The sad/funny part about all this was, while in the office I met this beautiful young lady who obviously liked what she saw in me. We got talking and I joking asked her if she wanted to come to America with me. She, of course, said she did and immediately assumed I was proposing to her. She said she wanted to come to America with me but we should get to know each other a little bit better first so I can make sure that I liked her. This, of course, made me smile… But, I was on my way to Bangkok. A journey that ended in becoming a complete mess. If only I had met that girl from the Philippines a couple of days earlier when I had the presidential suite, you never know what would have occurred… Happy But, I never saw her again.

So, what does this all tell us about life? I don’t know? There are a lot of ways you can read it. I told you the whole story, so you can come to your own conclusions. But, if nothing else it does demonstrate the way some people live, which causes other people to aspire to that gaudy end goal. But, what is the price to get there? What is the motivation to want to be there? And, how do you pay the price to live at that level of physical existence? What is the cost of that ticket? What does living at that level do to your life, your karma, and the lives of those you interacted with while rising to that level of affluence? …History tells us what happened to President Marcos.

Let Your Hair Grow AKA Why Conform to Normality

I remember as I was driving along PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) in Manhattan Beach one evening, right at the end of the 1980s and there was this DJ, Dusty Street, talking to the band, The Cult, on her radio show. This was right before they were to break big. Now, I had known of this band when I was living in the UK as they evolved from the Southern Death Cult to The Death Cult and now to The Cult. She asked them about hair and mentioned how she was telling everyone to cut their long hair. They all totally disagreed. “No! Let your hair grow,” they exclaimed!

Me too! I agreed with this statement. I mean why fall into the norm? Why fall into the easy and the accepted by society? Me, Scott Shaw, I suggest, take the next three years and let your hair grow! See what it brings you.

There is something very freeing and very unleashing about just letting your hair grow.

Now, I imagine that most of you who read this blog do not understand the semblance of a man (or a woman) letting their hair grow. At the time when I grew up, a man with even the smallest appearance of having long hair was not even let into Disneyland. How messed up is that? As it was only a few generations ago when a man, having long hair, was the accepted norm. But, as time evolved, into this modern era, the normal became the accepted and that was that. Hair was gone. But, is the, “That was that,” right? No. It is just, that was that. But, society was so against us… In fact, I remember when I was about thirteen years old waking up to find that all of my long locks had been cut off by my mother as I was sleeping and it was laying there all around me on my pillows. All this, just to remove any form of freedom and self-evolution that I may have been embracing. Thus, just another form of control. …Controlling who you are.

So, this all goes to the bigger picture of who you are and why you are. I suggest that you remove yourself from all this control. Remove yourself from the who you are expected to be. Let yourself be free. Let your hair grow.

What Would You Do for Your God?

I recently watched the Martin Scorsese film, Silence. Now, this film could certainly be deconstructed in many ways but what it breaks down to is seventeenth century priest(s) having gone to Japan to convert the people and in doing so they are captured by the powers-that-be and eventually, at least pretend, to give up their faith. One may initially ask, is it the right thing to do at all to go to a foreign soil and try to covert the people to your religion? But, going far beyond that, people are believers. As people are believers, they believe. From this belief, they believe that other people should believe as they do. Yet, what would you do for your god? If you were held captive in a foreign land, with no hope of return, would you give up your belief? Or, would you die holding onto it?

The fact is, you will probably never be forced to answer that question. And, that is a good thing. In recent times, with the Islamic insurgence in the Middle East, we have witnessed, via the news, how some captives let go of their Christianity and embrace the Islamic faith. Yet, they too were executed. So, what did their belief or the lack there of prove?

Recently, I’ve been in Israel—with most of my time spent in Jerusalem. I really love Jerusalem. I go there wherever I can. It is truly one of the most holy cities on earth. It is a place where people truly embrace their religion. Everywhere you look, people wear their faith. Whether it is the Hasids, the various sects of the Muslim faith, onto the various Christian denomination, the people own what they believe. And, they do it, for the most part, right next door to one another. It is truly an inspirational sight.

But, there you are, in the middle of all of this faith; some people are laughing, some people are praying, most everyone, (at least the men), are smoking. It’s funny, a couple of days ago this Hasid walks up to me after leaving his synagogue and asks me for a light for the cigarette he has hanging out of his mouth. “Sorry, I don’t smoke.” “Damn it,” he exclaims, as he goes in search of another match. This made me smile.

I mean, isn’t the body supposedly the temple of the soul? Yet, there they are, the true believers, destroying their temple.

Most people believe. That’s good. It gives them a purpose and a definition. It may even provide them with a code of conduct that they can follow. But, what would/what do most of these people do for their god. Though most would exclaim, “Anything,” this is probably not actually the case.

So, let’s go back to the original premise of this piece. “What would you do for your god?” Think about it.

***

Prayer is asking for something.

Meditation is asking for nothing.

***

Have you ever noticed that the people who complain the loudest are also the laziest?

***

Is what you are saying a compliment or an insult?

If what you are saying is a compliment, you make friends and help the greater evolution of the world.

If what you are saying is an insult, you create enemies and offset the ongoing betterment of yourself and all things related to yourself.

Morality and the General Order of Things

When I had graduated high school and started my studies at the university level the first field that I choose as a major was philosophy. Having been drawn to Eastern, and to a lesser degree, Western Philosophy for most of my life, I felt this was the obvious choice for my course of study. That was until I found out that in academic philosophy a good portion of it is based upon mathematical equations, statistics, and the like. Only a small percentage of it is given over to the actual study of philosophic teachers and texts.

In any case, one of the first classes I took focused on the definition and the understanding of morality and how it affects the overall approach to and the definition it unleashes onto not only the individual but to society as a whole. For me, as a person who had always spent a lot of time contemplation this type of stuff, the class provided an opportunity to come to a clearer understanding of the why, the wherefore, and they way people approach life.

Do you think about what you do, why you do it, and how what you do affects your life and the life of those around you? I believe that most people do not. They just do. They just do to get what they want. And, they care not about the consequences of their actions to others.

Here lies the basis of morality. Do you have a clearly defined motivational factor for why you do what you do? And, do you care about the effect what you do has on one person or many? Maybe you do. Then you are a moral person. Maybe you don’t. Then, that means that you are not a moral person. It is a very simple equation.

If you take the time to look around yourself and study the people you have known, you can see who bases their life on a moral code of conduct and who does not. If you take the time to study yourself, you can see if you base your own life upon a moral code of conduct or not. But, at the bases of all of this calculation is the question, do you care? Do you care about how what you are doing is affecting your life, the lives of those you know, and the lives of those that you don’t know? And, will you change what you do because of this discovered fact.

So much of this world is defined by the actions of people who hold no true sense of morality. They want. They do. They take. They don’t think. And, they don’t care. But, is that a good place to be operating from?

The fact is, religion is one of the greatest sources of projected morality for this world and it has been this way across time. For it is from religion that people are guided towards becoming a better version of themselves. Certainly, religion has also been the cause of many negative emancipations from time immemorial but it has also been the place where the individual can find guidance on how to become a better person. But, you have to look for this guidance. You have to care about choosing morality over self-serving actions. The fact is, most people do not. Why bother; right? Joe over there does that, why can’t I?

At the heart of your existence is what you choose to do and how you choose to behave. From this choice, you can invoke a legacy of goodness or selfishness. And, you can find people who will tell you that either one of these life choices is the right life choice for you. But, here lies the source of morality and how it shapes the life of the individual. Morality is a choice. Doing the right thing is a choice. Hurting no one by the actions you take is a choice. Helping people instead of being selfish is a choice. Giving is a choice, just as taking is a choice. The choice you make is all based upon the morality you embrace. What do you choose to do? Can you be more than a self-based person? Can you care enough to care about the other person first? Can you be a moral person?

If It’s Not Recorded Did It Ever Happen?

There is this app on the iPhone that records how many steps you take each day. But, it only works when your phone is turned on. At least for me, sometimes I turn my phone off. …Maybe I want to save the battery. Maybe I don’t want to be disturbed. And, so on… The question is, if my steps are not being recorded did they ever happen—did I ever take them at all?

For some, they will say, of course you did. But, without proof, how can that fact be substantiated?

There used to be this chain of gyms around the Los Angeles area that had very nice indoor tracks. I belonged to them and virtually every day of the week I would go there and run three or four miles. And, this went on for twenty years or more. But, this was long before the iPhone so none of those miles were being recorded. Did I ever run those miles? I remember doing it. But, do I remember every step of those runs? Of course not. A few runs are memorable because something specific happened. Most, however, just fade into the blur of my mind. I know I did it. But, it is only me who remembers. Did they ever happen at all?

This is an important thing to contemplate as you pass through life. What, of what you have done, is being recorded? And, are these recordings the only thing that gives your life credibility and meaning?

For most, they pass from birth to death, doing what they do, without the means or the desire to take stock of their actions. They do, but they never think about what they do, why they are doing it, and how will what they are doing affect the overall definition of their life and their lives of those they interact with. How about you? Do you take stock of what you are doing and why you are doing it? Do you have any record of what you have done? And, if you do or if you don’t, how does that calculation define who you are as a person and what contribution you have made to society?

Fame: Paid for by Others

Recently, here in the L.A. area, there was this woman caught on security camera sneaking up behind an elderly lady who was shopping for groceries in one of those motorized carts and stealing her purse when she was not looking. The thief’s face is plastered all over the news. I mean, how uncool is that? Stealing from an old lady. I’m sure the thief has all kinds of justifiable reasons, at least in her own mind, for doing what she did. But, stealing is just wrong. Now, the thief is famous. Famous for all the wrong reasons.

Due to this news story, a local news crew decided to test the honesty of people so they put a purse on top of a car to see what would occur. Within about five minutes these two women snagged the purse, got into their car, and drove away. The news crew had put a GPS tracking devise inside the purse. So, when the women took off the news crew got into their car and followed them. The thieves apparently realizing they were being followed tried to get away but got caught in traffic. The news crew pounced. The thieves had even discovered the GPS device and put it in a drink they had apparently hoping to disable it. The news crew got them on camera making all kinds of excuses about everyone makes mistakes and so on… Now, these women are famous. Famous for all of the wrong reasons.

First of all, if you know what you are doing is wrong, don't do it! Be strong enough—be moral enough to control yourself and don't do it!

Secondarily, these were two incidents that were caught on camera. But, think how much thievery takes place all the time that is not caught on camera. Everybody who steals probably has a reason for doing it. But, stealing is not right. Taking anything from anybody for any reason that you do not own, that does not belong to you, is wrong. But, do you think it is wrong? Do you steal? Do you have a reason that you believe justifies your thievery?

And, here we get to the entire crux of this situation. If you don’t care about other people, then you find reasons to steal from them. They are people too! What will occur to their life because you have stolen something from them? And, do you care?

Most people don’t steal. But, the people who do steal, no matter at what level of larceny, are taking what is not theirs—what they did not earn. They are taking what was not willfully given to them. These people should never be honored at any level.

***

Your life is only as good as the goodness you unleash.

You Sound Like a Very Angry Person

Have you ever had one of those situations where you are passing though life and all of a sudden somebody blows up in your presence for seemingly no reason at all? They totally over react in a manner that in is not only inappropriate but quite surprising to you? Maybe you are the focus of their anger. Maybe you did something or said something that they did not like. Maybe it is somebody else that sent them into a rage. But, they go off. And, when they go off they drag others into their melodrama.

So many of people’s and, on a large scale, the world’s problems, are created by people who are internally angry.

Some people seemingly look for a reason to become angry. The are not sufficiently fascinated with life unless that have some reason to find their anger. Other people are just stewing under the surface. They are mad at some distance memory; a life situation that turned and shaped them into a person based upon rage. From this, the moment something goes in a manner that they do not like, they have a reason to explode. Yes, it may be justifiable in their own mind, but they rage and from this rage they impact not only their own life in a negative fashion but all those within earshot.

It is very uncomfortable to be around people like this for they damage the life and the life experience of all those who they force to encounter their anger. It is very uncomfortable to be the focus of the anger of a person’s who basis their life upon this emotion because they have driven themselves into a rage based upon an altered personally defined sense of misplaced emotion.

What makes you angry? How do you act and how do you react to the emotion of anger?

One of the key factors to your life experience is how you cope with your anger. Anger is a human emotion. Virtually all of us feel it from time to time. But, it is what you do with that emotion that defines you as a person and defines the impact of your life onto others. Do you control your anger or does it control you?

Another key factor of life is how you react to the anger instigated by others. Have you ever been the focus of someone’s misguided anger? What did you do? How did you react? Did you allow that person who was angry to drag you into their melodrama?

Remember, anger is an emotion experienced by one person. But, that one person has the potential to drag others into experiencing a similar emotion.

People who base their lives upon undefined, uncontrolled anger, hope to drag others into their rage. In fact, though for the most part they have no defined understanding of what they are doing or why, they achieve some sort of internal self-satisfaction if they cause others to lose their peace. Thus, that raging person has gained the control over others that they do not have over their own life. They have forced their will onto another. From this, they gain a sense of meaningfulness. Certainly, this emotion is wrongly placed, but none-the-less, due to their lack of a refined sense of their higher self, they enjoy some level of suchness.

So, what does this all tell us? First of all, it tells us that if you are a person prone to bouts of rage, do what it takes and get yourself under control. For not only are you hurting your own life but you are damaging the life of others. And, if you think that it is okay to hurt the lives of others, (on any level for any reason), you are really lost. You really need help! Get it!

For those of you who find yourself being forcefully pulled into the mental wrath of another person, don’t let them control you. You are more than that. Walk away if you can. Tell them to clam down if you can’t. But, never let them control your actions based upon undefined rage.

I Used To Be Better

It’s kind of interesting… I was asked to provide a painting for an upcoming art show. In the processing of deciding which one I was going to give the gallery, I happened on some of my much older works from the early 1980s. I could not help but be surprised. Though they are totally different from the style I evolved into painting, they are really-really good! In fact, some of them are so much better than a lot of my more recent work. I was shocked! I had totally forgotten about that person I used to be and the paintings I used to paint.

Maybe eight or nine years ago I decided to go through my rolls and rolls of painted canvas I had in my storage unit. When I did, I realized that there was a lot of those paintings that I did not like. Though I went against the wished of my lady, (who went through them with me), I destroyed maybe forty-five percent of my past paintings. Sure-sure, I had spent a lot of money on those very large canvases; many of them were as big as six foot by four foot and, in a couple of cases, even bigger. And yeah, the amount of paint that it took to paint those large canvases was not cheap. But, it was so freeing to remove myself from a definition of myself that I did not like. And yes, the art you create does define you as a person—just as what you do in your life: what you do with your life, what you say, and what you create defines you and what your existence means to humanity. Freeing, it was freeing…

But today, it was the total opposite experience. I looked at those painting and wondered what medium did I used, how did I get that style of brush stroke, and how could I go back in time?

I think it is important that, every now and then, we each take a long hard look at our past. Because who were are now is probably very different from who we were then. Sure, the then, and what we do in between, equals our now but sometimes we get sidetracked. Sometimes our vision of our self gets lost in the shuffle of life. Sometimes we need to look back and maybe reformulate our now by reevaluating who we once thought we were and who we once thought that we should become.

I’m Sorry

Have you ever had somebody do something to you that either hurt you, offended you, or damaged your life in some way and then they said, “I’m sorry?” Have you ever done something to someone else that either hurt them, offended them, or damaged their life in some way and then you said, “I’m sorry?” Have you ever had somebody do some bad something to you and they didn’t even care enough to say anything?

“I’m sorry,” always has struck me as a strange concept. Yes, it is the conscious thing to say to someone when you have done something wrong to them. Yes, it makes you feel somewhat better when someone acknowledges the fact that they have done something wrong to you. But, what does that statement actually change? What does it make any better? Does it remove any of the damage that was created by the action that caused someone to say, “I’m sorry?” No.

Now, some people—some very conscious people do something wrong to someone, they realize it, and then they set about on a course to repair the damage. A person who possess that mindset is very rare however. Do you follow that path of redemption? Most do not. At best, if a specific person cares enough to care at all, they think that saying, “I’m sorry,” rights their wrongs. But, it does not.

So, this is something to think about as you pass through life. If you do something wrong to someone, you should acknowledge it—you should care enough to care. But then, you should set about on a course to repair the damage. …Don’t make excuses for your actions, don’t justify your actions, don't try to turn the blame around on the other person, simply acknowledge and repair what you have done.

You can’t make anything better if you don’t try to make it better and, “I’m sorry,” is just meaningless words if you don’t back that statement up with action.

***

If you are looking for something to criticize you can always find something to criticize.

***

So, you have done something that has hurt someone. Now what do you do?

Who You Owe What to and Why

Recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time in-negotiations regarding various film projects and it has once again been vividly brought to light all of the realities of who owns what and why. Very often in this blog I discuss the truth of Intellectually Property Rights and why things like Copyrights and Trade Marks are so important. But, it seems my words are only heard by the creator(s) of said properties. Everybody else wants to dance around the truth of these facts.

Having been formally involved in the film business for just shy of thirty-years, at this point in my life, I have witnessed a lot of things that people outside of the Hollywood game have no idea about. Yet, as the entertainment industry has evolved—primarily at the hands of the internet, people from across the globe have become players. But, players at what level? Most are not creating their own subject matter—their own art if you will. They are simply taking the product someone else envisioned and getting paid. …Getting paid while the actual creators are not. Thus, a lot of negative karma is being created.

I think back to this one individual I met when I was very new to the industry. They had access to a lot of money, via the hands of an investor, and they rose to literally the top of the independent film industry. They said to me, way back when, “If all this ends tomorrow, at least I will have lived what I have lived.” At that time, I thought that was a very profound statement coming from the mouth of a twenty-year-old. As stated, they went on to rise to literally the top of the game. But, they did it by cheating, stealing, deceitfully robbing the vision of other people. What happened to them? Utter destruction. I won’t go into the details, but it was bad. Long ago I had given up on karma in the film industry until I saw it actualize with that person.

More than just that one person, I have seen it happen with others who followed a similar path. They lived high on the hog for a period, but then they feel hard—very hard…

I have told this to people… I have warned people about what is to come if you steal the creations and/or make your living off of the vision of others but no one listens. And, there is a reason for this. …Because they are gaining fame and they are getting paid.

The fact is, we all need money to survive. Most of us have to work at various jobs to achieve that money. Some make their money by being creative. It is rare, but it does happen. Most artists, poets, authors, musicians, and filmmakers are broke most of their life, however. Yet, they are living via their creativity (at all costs). And, to them that is a price worth paying.

Particularly in music, writing, and the film game there is a method to make money off of the creativity of others. Perhaps a person starts a company, takes what someone else has created, and sells it.

Now, selling comes in many forms. As things like books, CDs, and DVDs have fallen away, they do it via various methods on the internet. Some of these methods are considered legal, others are not. But, the key component to this money-making venture is that someone else, other than the creator, is the one making the money.

Via the internet there have been some people who have risen to their own fame via making money off of the conceptions of others. From Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker of Napster onto the people who take footage from people films and critique them online, people get famous, while making money off of the creations of others, but pay the actual creator no money for doing so. Thus, they are making a living off of the vision and toil of someone else. What do you think is the karma for that?

Certainly, the people who make their living in this fashion will argue about their rights to do so to the grave. But, do they have any rights at all? They did not create the product, yet they are getting rich off of it? Do you not see the problem in this equation? They may have all kinds of misguided logic about why they can do it, but central to the calculation is them, one person, either making money or getting famous off of what they had nothing to do with creating.

If you are standing on the outside of this whole situation, it is easy to understand the logic of what I am saying. If you are viewing it from the stance of a creator, you totally understand. If, on the other hand, you are the person making money via what someone else has created, you will, no doubt, be upset by what I have written. But, ask yourself, “Are you not making money and perhaps gaining fame off of the creation(s) of someone else?” Now, ask yourself, "What is the karma for that?"

Moreover, if you are making your way through the world via the vision, the labor, or the creativity of someone else; what do you think you owe them? You owe the everything! Pay your debt!

Falsely Presented Reality

I forever find it curious when somebody takes it upon themselves to explain the life of somebody else to another person. Maybe they are attempting to tell them why a person does what they do, behaves as they behave, or makes the choices that sets their life into motion. They somehow believe that they possess all of the answers for and about that person; their life and their life choices. But, of course, they do not. How could they! They are not that person. They do not know the foundational factors of why the person thinks in the specific manner that they do. Yet, they attempt to explain that person, their motivations, and their life to others.

The fact is, there are a lot of people who possess the know-it-all mentality out there. Whether knowingly or not they feel they have the right to describe the mind(s) of others. Of course they do not, but none-the-less they speak as if they do. And, people listen…

Why do people listen? Because many people are not capable of thinking for themselves. …They choose to not think for themselves. They don’t want to think. They don’t want to do the investigative research into what they are thinking about. They simply want to be told how to think and what to believe as this non-thinking lifestyle/mindset is so much easier. From this, the people who think they know the answers step into the foreground and talk while others listen.

Have you ever had somebody describe you, your life, or the logic behind the choices you have made to someone else? Then, once you heard what they were saying you realized that all of these supposed facts about you were totally wrong. Yet, someone said them. Maybe one person, maybe many people believed what was being spoken. Now what? A lie about you is out there, presented as if it were the truth.

Turn this around… Do you ever present your beliefs about a specific person or persons to other people? Do you ever tell people who, what, and why another person believes, thinks, and/or makes the choices that they do? If you do, why do you do it? What makes you believe you have the insight to present your thoughts as facts?

In life, there is who you are and what you think. Then, there is the way people perceive who you are and what you think. But, the fact is, there is commonly a large dichotomy between the two.

The point of all this being, in life you can only be whole and true onto yourself. If you take the time to study yourself, you can come to intimately know yourself and why you do what you do. Many people don’t do this, however. They don’t study themselves. They just act, react, and talk. But, this is a very shallow place to live your life from.

One of the main things to realize as you pass though life is that you will never truly know another person. This is the case even if you have been in a long-term interpersonal relationship with them. And, this is certainly the case if you are not a part of a person’s inner circle. Understanding this, you can frame your life with two factors of absolute knowledge. One, you can only know yourself. And, you can only do this if you acutely study yourself. Two, you can never truly know another person. If you are presenting facts about that person to the ears of others all you are doing is destroying the truth of reality by believe that you are the possessor of knowledge. You are not. You do not know them. Don’t attempt to define them.

End of an Era: A Tribute to Robert Z'Dar

Here's a piece that I wrote a year or so ago about my Zen Filmmaking buddy Robert Z'Dar when he passed away that I just came across. I thought I would repost it as his presence is still missed.

Sadly, the Jaw of Cinema, Robert Z’Dar passed away at the age of sixty-four.

I first met Z-Man, (as we came to call him), on the set of Samurai Cop. It was a strange meeting in that I knew him from A-films like Tango and Cash but was surprised to find him on this No-Budget set.

Samurai Cop was a film created by Amir Shervan. Shervan operated out of a junky, cluttered house on Beverly Blvd. in East Hollywood. He had called me in on the film, when I was first getting into the industry, because he didn’t like the swordplay in his film and wanted me to make the samurai work look more realistic. He also offered me a roll in the film, as well. The cast was all very nice.

The cinematographer on the film was a man named, Peter Palian. Previously, Palian had been the personal cameraman for the Shah of Iran. But, as history tells us, the Shah was deposed. Peter was one of those interesting people in that he always wore a leather sport coat, a dress shirt with an ascot tie perfectly tucked into his shirt. He had a perfectly trimmed goatee and smoked a pipe. I would periodically bump into him around Hollywood. Nice guy.

On the first day I was on the set, instead of filming we went and had lunch at a burger joint. There is where Z-Man and I sat down and talked. Immediately, I understood he was a great guy!

The problem was, at least in terms of the film, we ate instead of filmed. It was getting late. By the time we got up to steal the hilltop location in Silver Lake, we were losing the light. As the movie was shot on 16mm film, this was problematic. Though I tired to guide Z’Dar in proper samurai sword usage, there wasn’t time. Post that, I realized the film was just too clusterfuck for me to be a part of and I didn’t return.

Soon after that, Z-Man and I worked together on the film, Divine Enforcer. We were the bad guys. We had a big fight scene with a bunch of opponents. It was fun.

After that Z-Man and I would sometimes hang out at places like The Rainbow on the Strip in the late hours of the evening, throwing back a few. He would always ask, “You got any nose candy, Scotty.” The man did like his intoxicants.

Our paths, both as friends and as actors, continued to cross, whether it was on auditions on in films. He, of course, was the lead in Frogtown II. There were a lot of problems with that film. Not the least of which was the director, my Zen Filmmaking buddy, Donald G. Jackson. Sometimes he would get in a mood and treat the actors and crew very badly. This, when the fault was actually always with him. At one point Z-Man took his Texas Rocket Ranger helmet and threw it at Don.

Things also went sideways on my film, The Rock n’ Roll Cops, where Don was the executive producer and the cinematographer. This event is discussed in an article written about the film that made it into my book, Zen Filmmaking. To tell the story, Don was in a mood. He apparently knew he was going to be an asshole and hired a professional bodyguard to go out with us. There we were on the roof of a parking structure in Burbank, stealing the location. We had a lot of people with us, most of us with loaded guns. So, this was no joke and the vibes, due to Don’s behavior, were very tense. He was yelling and screaming at the second cameraman, just treating him like shit. I asked the guy why he didn’t leave. But, he wanted to be the, “Better man,” as he put it. At one point Don starts screaming at Z-Man. “I wish we could get a decent fucking actor on this set.” Z’Dar, always the gentleman, simply replies, “I take exception with that, Donny.”

And, this is the thing, Z-Man was a great actor. I think some people never understood that, all they defined him by was his face. But, he was a really good actor!

He was also the consummate professional. He could have kicked Don’s ass and I would not have stepped in. I doubt that Don’s paid-for bodyguard would have helped either as he got freaked out by all that was going on and eventually bailed. But, Z-man worked with us until the early morning hours of dawn, when he finally got paid his $300.00 and went home.

You can see Don’s obsessional camera work and Z-Man doing and redoing this one scene over and over again in the Zen Documentary, Cinematografia Obsesion, if you want to. Even after all this he remained friends with Don. I remember Z-man calling Don when he was in the last days of his life at U.C.L.A. Medical Center. Don apologized to him. Z-man told him not to worry about it.

Z-Man certainly etched his name into the world of Cult Cinema. I believe had he walked a slightly different path he could have maintained a career in the high budget market. But, he went astray of SAG. I don’t know if he ever resolved that problem. The thing is, SAG, now SAG/Aftra, controls the mainstream industry. If you are not a part of it, you cannot work. As they are a union, they do not let their actors work in nonunion films. Yes, one can follow the path of Financial Core status, but that is only limited SAG membership and there are many detriments to that status. Z’Dar got caught working nonunion. SAG, if they find this out, expect you to pay all the money you earned on any film to them, plus a fine. The last I heard Z-man never paid that. But, he did have a wide spanning career.

Z-Man eventually moved back to his home in the Chicago area. He had inherited his mother’s house. While in L.A., he, as many actors do, spent much of his time near penniless and couch surfing. Surprisingly, it was once he returned to the Midwest that he began to get tons and tons of work. I remember Joe Estevez telling me one time, “He owns that town.”

I believe with the passing of Z’Dar it again signals the ending of an era. I wrote about this maybe a year or so ago when I discussed the fact that no new Scream Queen were moving to center stage to take over for the aging girls of the previous era. This too is the case with Z’Dar. It is a signal. And, I guess that’s life, times and trends move on.

I look to the filmmaking that is going on, and yes there are tons of movies being made. But, few are following the path of true Cult Cinema. Some are imitation of, some are just bad movies, but few illustrate the market that Z-Man was one of the Kings of.

There are so many stories I could tell about Z-Man. But, I will leave it at this. You will be missed, Bobby. You were one of the greatest actors I have ever met and had the pleasure of working with.

***

Embrace the perfection.

***

Some people don't wake up and smell their karma.

***

If somebody says something negative correct them and say something positive. Shift the paradigm and observe the reaction.

Pure Cinema Cinéma Pur

As I have been making movies for a lot of years by this point in my life, I forever find it interesting how people perceptive cinema. We all begin watching a particular movie with a concept of what we are getting into. This definition is based upon what we are told to expect. Then, we base our judgment of that particular cinematic production upon if our personal vision of what we were told to expect was met or not. “I liked it.” “I hated it!” And, so on…

People have the tendency to project their own perspective onto whatever they are viewing. They have come to like a certain type of cinema so they base all of their viewing experience upon that belief. The problem with this formula is, however, (though it is pretty much the only formula in practice), is that by viewing cinema in this manner the viewer can never understand the cinematic philosophy that the actual filmmaker was practicing. From this, something is truly lost.

As the years have gone on and I have gotten progressively more-and-more into embracing the tenets of Pure Cinema (Cinéma Pur); i.e. taking filmmaking to its most elemental core of simply focusing on visually interesting images, movement, and music, I have witnessed how the focus of those who watch my particular brand of cinema (Zen Filmmaking) has not evolved. People are still discussing films I made twenty years ago or more. Why is this? Because, in those films, people find story structure (as minimal as that may be in my films). They find something to talk about. But, in all this talking, again, they have missed the point of what is actually taking place in front of their eyes because they are basing all of their thoughts and discussions upon personal definitions and judgment. This isn’t right or wrong—it is simply the way it is. But, by living your life defined by what you have already come to expect, you miss all of the pure and elemental beauty of what is going on in front of you.

For me, filmmaking has always been a spiritual process. Whether my films have been dialogue driven or simply a vision moving across the screen, what I have attempted to do is to harness an elemental image of life and capture it in its essential perfection that existed for only that moment in time. Most people don’t get. I understand. That’s fine. I am sure that the majority of the people who have watched my films; loving or hating them, have never seen the work of Cinéma Pur filmmakers like Léger, Ray, Richter, Eggeling, Chomette and the list goes on. In fact, if they watched their work they may not even like them as they are so ethereal. But, again, this goes to the elemental nature of cinema and cinema viewing; if you are there expecting something, if you are there judging something, if you are not there in the meditative purity of the moment than your absolute experience is lost—there will be no cinematic satori.

As always in life, let go and be free. See everything as if you are seeing it for the first time and never view anything through the eyes of preconceived judgment. Believe me, if you practice this philosophy, your everything will become better.

Perplexing…

You know, it has always been immensely perplexing to me how people speak about me, maybe discussing my creations, believing they know what I think, how I think, and why I do what I do. But, they never talk to me. I have had articles written about me: my films or my books without the author ever giving me a phone call. I have had academic dissertations written about Zen Filmmaking by people who never asked me anything. I have had documentaries made about me without the filmmaker ever communicating with me on any level. People have talked about me in books, articles, and on the internet without ever confirming their facts. And film reviews; forget about it… Some of them have been so wrong it is not even funny. But, if they would have just asked me, I could have straightened out any misconception.

Some people love me and have done really positive pieces about me. That’s cool! Some have been just the opposite. But, what is missing in all of these equitation is the, “Me,” factor. Nobody talks to me. I’m alive! I’m not dead!

Now, I am not saying this is universally the case. A lot of people, since the dawning of the age of the internet, have reached out to me. If they were cool, I was cool. I have had some great discussions via the internet. If they were not cool, then the dialog ended before it ever began. But, more than that, I’m a person; I am approachable. I’m just a guy who does what he does… No better, no worse than anyone else. But, due to all of these previously detailed factors, where people have spoken about me who do not actually know me or understand why I do what I do, people have all of these misconceptions about me. And, some lies have been perpetuated. But, why? The answer is, they have not reached out a hand to know me. I am knowable! Maybe you will like me, maybe I will like you, maybe it will be just the opposite. But, if you don’t try you will never know.

And, all this goes to the whole reality of life. Why do you spend your time not knowing? Why do you spend your time guessing and maybe perpetuating a lie? Why do you not go to the source? If you do not go to the source you will never know the truth. Do you want to live your life not knowing the truth?

How Much of What You Say is Wrong?

I think we have all encounter the know-it-all. …The person who is always at the forefront of telling people what they think about this or that and presenting their words in a manner as if they were actually the truth. People like this tend to find a lot of followers. Why is that? Because most people don’t want to think for themselves. They want to be told how to think and what to think. Thus, the know-it-all provides them with a service—the ability to not have to think for themselves. …All they have to do is listen and agree.

But, there is a big problem in this entire calculation. That problem is, what a lot of people say is simply flat out not the truth. Though they present their opinions as fact, and maybe they even dig up a few references to make what they are saying seem substantiated. But, if what they say is not true, then it is not true no matter how many misrepresented facts they present in support of their claim.

When I have taught classes at the university level I have encountered this style of behavior quite frequently. Some of these students are very smart or they would not be taking graduate level classes. As they are smart they oftentimes fall prey to their own intellect. Or maybe, they fall prey to their own ego—believing that what they know is what they know and what they believe must be the truth. But, is it?

Certainly, in this tumultuous currently political climate we have here in the United States, you see this all the time with the talking heads on TV. They all are presenting their opinions as if they were facts. And, they present them with such genuineness that it sounds like what they are saying must be the truth. But, when you look at the factual data, what so many of these people are saying is so wrong that it is not even funny. Yet, there they sit in front of the TV camera spreading their gibberish to the world. They are on TV, they must telling the truth; right?

Are these people liars? Well, not really… They are simply impassioned purveyors of falsity. They believe what they speak but what they believe is not based upon the truth only their fervent opinion.

Remember an opinion or a judgment is never the truth even if one claims that it is. All it can ever be is an opinion and/or a judgment no matter how loudly they scream.

Think about yourself and the way you communicate. Is what you say factual or is it opinion posing as fact? And, where does your knowledge come from? Does it come from the sourcepoint of the truth or are you just lazy and listening to and believing what someone else has to say? Moreover, if you find out you are wrong—if someone explains to you that what you are saying is not actually the truth, do you have the inner strength and/or the morality to correct what you have said and stop repeating it?

Life should be based on truth. Is your life based on the truth?

***

How do you un-make a mistake?

***

If you don't believe that you are a sinner does that mean you have not sinned?

If you think that you have not sinned, ask the person you have sinned against what is their opinion of your culpability. Perhaps then you will find the true answer.

How Much of What You Have is Because of Someone Else?

How much of what you have—what you do and what you have become is because of someone else? And, do you ever think about this fact—do you ever give them thanks?

As we pass though life each of us is taught, influenced, and provided things, both physical and mental, by other people. From what we receive, our life is shaped. This certainly goes to both the positive and the negative elements that we receive but whatever the case, none of us are wholly created by ourselves.

Take a look at your life. How did you get to where you are today?

Most of us come from a defined family. How did your family influence who you are at this moment of your life? In most cases, they paid for your upbringing, put a roof over your head when you were a child, perhaps they paid for you to go to school, and so on. As they are your family, as you do see them and think about them on a regular basis, you commonly can easily define what they did for your life that guided you to whom you have become; maybe you even thank them. But, beyond your immediate family what and whom has guided you to becoming who you are at this moment.

We have each had teachers that have encouraged us and guided us on our path. Through these teachers we have become motivated to become whom we have wanted to become. But, one of the key things to study as you analyze whom you owe what to is, understanding the fact that the teacher you learned from also taught others. What did others do with that knowledge? For example, in my early years, there were a few martial arts instructors who truly helped me on my path. But, they also taught other students. Yet, few of those other students continued their progression and evolution in the martial arts as say I did. So, what was the influence of that teacher on those people? This is the same with myself as a teacher—whether this was in the martial arts, filmmaking, or on other subjects, some of my students have moved into their own, while others did not. Thus, this all comes down to the interpersonal emotional make up of the individual and what they do with what they have learned.

What have you done with what you have learned? Who influenced you to become who you are? And, what do you owe that person?

More than simply the people who have taught and influenced us to be guided in a particular life direction, there are also those people who do material things for us. Maybe they are the person who gave you the job you applied for. From their action you were allowed to make a living. Do you ever think about what you owe them and what their action did to touch your life?

As we pass though our existence most people never think to the subtle elements that came to shape their life. Yes, they may love or hate a person based upon emotions but those are not refined elements, they are simply sensations based upon passions.

Who you actually are and what you have actually become has been shaped by particular people. Some you may know and have studied from personally, while others may be distance in time and in space. But, you did not become who you have become wholly by yourself. You need to realize this. Then you need to look to whom gave you what. I would say that you should thank them from what they gave you but that is a personal choice—a choice that few people choose to make. But, at least you should credit them, in your own mind if nothing else, for their helping you find yourself, in the space and the place, where you live today.

***

Just because you don't like somebody does not make them a bad person.

Are you a bad person because somebody does not like you?

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Making things worse never makes anything better.

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You can't undo what you've already done. Now what?

Do you lie about the fact that you did it?

Do you pretend that you didn't do it?

Do you justify why you think it was okay that you did it?

Or, do you attempt to fix any damage you created by doing it?

Surrender to the Obvious

Do you go to church? If you do you surrender to the fact that someone knows something more about the greater understanding of the universe than you do and that god should be the elemental focus of your life.

Do you meditate? If you do you surrender to the fact that your mind is not perfect and you need to learn how to calm it, focus it, and control your emotions.

Do you perform Selfless Service? If you do you surrender to the fact that you are not the center of the universe and that by preforming physical acts to make the life of other people better than you are actually doing something to help humanity.

Most people spend most of their life thinking only about themselves: what they want, what then need, what they hope to become, what they like, and what they dislike. Though these people are in the majority, they are not the best example of humanity. In fact, they are just the opposite. They are the best example of selfishness.

Life become more when you become more. Life becomes more when you remove yourself as the center of the equation and look beyond yourself to the larger scheme of reality.

Surrender to the obvious that life is not just about you. Surrender to the fact that there are millions upon millions of people our there, each with needs, feeling, and emotions, who’s life would become more is you simply stopped thinking about yourself, got up, and did something to actually help them.

Surrender to the obvious.

The Power That You Think You Have

So many people, as they pass through life, strive to hold power. They want to be seen as knowers, doers, the one with the key, the person who is All That. Some people set a conscious course to achieve this level of suchness. They go to medical school, law school, the seminary, they become police officers. Though these people may end up having the credentials, as in all cases in life, it is what you do with what you have the defines you as a human being and what your life will become.

There are others who hold no diploma but, none-the-less, push their ideologies and will in, on, and towards others. They say things, they do things, they force their thoughts and their control onto others. Some even do this with a smile upon their face. But, the reaction to the actions they are unleashing have the same effect. What comes from their mind affects the life of another person or persons whether that person wants to be affected/infected or not.

If what you are doing is helping someone, what you are doing is good. If what you are doing is hurting someone/anyone, what you are doing is bad. It is a very simple life formula, yet so few people adhere to it. All they are driven by is their own desire for power, fame, control, respect, eminence, admiration, and love. Thus, they damage the lives of people. And, this is nothing new, it has been going on forever.

In this world were there are cameras everywhere, where everyone possesses a camera, and even cops are forced to wear body cams, a lot more is documented than what was once brought to light. I use to train a lot of law enforcement professional in the martial arts and the stories they would tell me about some of the things they did was mind blogging. But, they did what they did behind the guise of the badge. I have also watched as people rose to the top of the leap in the entertainment industry, walking all over other people to get there. They lived lavish lifestyles. But, I have also watched as many of these people fell from grace. What was their sin? They hurt people. They didn’t care about people. They thought what they were thinking, what they were saying, and what they were doing was more important than what anyone one else was feeling. And, that is just not right.

So, as you walk your pathway through life, keep this in mind: everything that you do sets your own destiny into motion. What you say to others, what you do to others, what you say about others, how you treat others, all has a defining factor upon the ultimate destiny of your life. And though your desire to be revered may cause you to act in an inappropriate, unthinking, and uncaring manner, it is you who will ultimate pay the price for this behavior if you hurt the life of anyone.

The Things That You Own

Do you ever think about the things that you own?

Looking at the aftermath of the devastation that took place in Texas from Hurricane Harvey, it truly puts a finite perspective onto what people own. As the flood waters have begun receding, in some of the affected communities, you see that the people have returned to their homes to remove all that was destroyed. There are all of these gigantic piles of stuff out in front of the houses. All this stuff that they once possessed, now discarded.

How much of what you own do you really need?

There has been a television series about hoarders on for a number of years now. The storyline is always the same; someone for some reason starts collection and the collection overwhelms them. Why can’t these people stop? Can you?

I have known hoarders that have called themselves collectors. The walls of their house were lines with boxes full of CDs, LPs, VHSs, DVDs, books, and comic books. Though very organized, did they need or use any of that stuff?

I have also known hoarders who were so obsessive that if they bought a book they would photocopy it and keep both copies. Why? Just something in their mind that made them do it. Their life and their home became overwhelmed by stuff.

I have watched some people buy a new car but keep the collection of their old cars in their backyard. Why? Some sort of distorted sentimentality, I guess? But, all it equaled was an eyesore.

I have watched as one of my family members piled up all of his stuff in a garage. It was piled floor to ceiling. When it came time to sell the house he tried to go through all the stuff but couldn’t and decided the only thing to do was call the guys at Got Junk and they took it all away. Decades of collecting gone. But, why? What did it prove?

Some people even think that the amount of stuff they own defines them as affluent. So, they buy and buy. But, to what end? What does it truly prove?

I have watched people go bankrupt due to the possession they have bough, based upon their belief that they were what they needed. But, all that stuff equals nothing if it hampers your life.

I remember the first time that I truly took note of the level of collecting unnecessary items that some people embrace. I had a close friend that I came up with in Hollywood. He and I truly explored the spiritual path together, laying the foundation for my later years. He decided to move to Santa Cruz with his roommate and his roommate’s girlfriend to finish his studies at UC Santa Cruz. He asked and I helped them move. But, the amount of stuff his roommate owned was mindboggling. Usually, in your late teens, early twenties, you don’t own that much stuff. But, this guy’s stuff filled an entire large U-Haul truck. Crazy… It was not an easy moving experience.

Then, you think about all the people who collect until they die and then someone else, having no care for their possession, gives it all to the thrift shop. Gone…

There are things that we each own that we truly use and/or truly like. There are also things that we own, that though we may not actually use anymore, we believe that they define us as who we are. I know I own several books that fall into that category. But, then there is all this other stuff that we buy because we think we like it, want it, need it, and it then surrounds us. Surrounds us until it is no more or we are no more.

What if you were to die right now. What would happen to all of your stuff?

When you move, this is commonly the time when you discard a lot of that unused stuff because you don’t want to go through the labor of moving it. But, there are a lot of people who never move. And, there’s a lot of stuff that people refuse to part with for whatever reason. But, all this comes down to the same question, “Do you ever think about the things that you own?”

Does your stuff define who you are? And, what if, through an event like Hurricane Harvey, your stuff was no more? Then what? Who are you? What are you?

It is very common as we pass though life that we collect things. Some stuff is a reminder of a time and place in our life. But, do you ever look around your life—the life that you have created for yourself and study what you own, why you own it, what it means to your life, and why do you keep it as a part of your life at all?

It is a common understanding that the less we own, the freer we are, and the less bound to the turmoil of the material world we become. Though pretty much everyone comprehends this understanding, it is embraced by very few people. How about you?

Take a moment right now. Look around your life. Think about the things you own. Define each of them. Why do you own it? What does it mean to your life? What would your life be like without it? Now that you have this definition, what are you going to do about it?

If nothing else this will help you come to a clearer understanding of who you are, what you are, why you are doing what you are doing, and why you own what you own.

***

Do you really believe that when you die it will all be explained?

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When you instigate the actions taken by others you are responsible for those actions.

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.

***

Your life is meant to be remembered. You dreams are not. Why is that?

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Your interpretation of another person's life is only your interpretation of another person's life. At best, it is speculation.

The wise person only interprets their own life.


The Knowledge You Possess

The knowledge you possess defines who you are.

The knowledge you possess defines what you can become.

Though these two declarations may be understood to be proclamations of the obvious, there is a much subtler realm to the fact of how the level of your knowledge defines your life.

What is it that you know? Take a look at all levels of your life. Think about what you believe to be true in terms of your life, your religion, your politics, your friends, your family, and all other realms of knowledge that defines your life. Now ask yourself, “Why do you know what you know and where did that knowledge come from?”

For most people they were taught what to believe. Maybe that was in school, maybe that was in church, maybe that information came from family or friends. But, what is to say that any of what you believe is true? All we have to do is to look to how the knowledge of a subject like in the medical sciences has changed vastly over just a couple of decades to understand that knowledge is as fleeting as the time period where it was envisioned. And, this is a concrete science, not something as speculative as say religion or politics.

Another essential question to contemplate is, “Why do you choose to believe what you believe?” The fact is, especially in speculative knowledge, a person chooses to believe something. Yes, they may have been taught that fact, they may have heard that fact spoken by another person, but it is only they who decides whether or not to believe it.

Have you ever had the experience of reading a book and you came away with a completely different interpretation of what was being said than say your friend who read the same book? This is just a very small example but think about the larger subjects like the various factions that exists within defined religious groups. Sure, they may all be Christians, Muslims, or Buddhist, they may source their knowledge from the same religious text, but they believe totally different things. How is that possible? That is based in the fact of varying interpretation; in other words, belief.

So what is knowledge? And, how does knowledge define your life?

Yes, if you have studied a subject and have earned a degree in that subject you may possess the ability to teach that subject. And perhaps, that is the first thing to look for in a person that is proclaiming that what they are saying is, in fact, viable knowledge and not just opinionated judgment. If you want any knowledge to become a viable commodity in your life it must be more than simply belief. It must move past simply the level of personal conviction and transcend into the sphere of a viable, useful medium that becomes a commodity that can actual affect not only your own existence but the life of others, as well.

Far too many people become lost in a space of belief, supposing that it is knowledge. It is not. There is a large difference between belief and knowledge. Belief is something that you know. Knowledge is something that is universally known. Thus, belief is the largest opponent to true knowledge and, as such, it keeps people from becoming all that they could have been.

Do you confuse belief with knowledge? Do your spread your belief as if it were knowledge? If you do, you are doing a disservice to all of humanity. Belief is what has caused all of the problems in the world while knowledge is fact. A fact that can help the universal whole.

Make sure you understand the difference between belief and knowledge. Then, use your knowledge to move your life and the life of everyone else forward.

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If you are defined by defining others what is the definition of your life?

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If you would have been awake you wouldn't have had that nightmare.

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What contribution have you made to the evolution of culture?

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People who are intrinsically angry always look for something to be angry about.

What is the root source of your anger?

You may blame someone outside of yourself for making you angry but it is you who chooses to embrace that negative emotion.

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"it's my fault."

How often do you acknowledge this fact?

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How quickly did you let go of your dream?

For the Last Time

Is there a place that you really like to go or something that you really like to do? Maybe there is this one restaurant that you really enjoy eating at. Now, think about this, what if you were in the last stage of your life, would you have the chance to eat at that restaurant or go to that place one last time and what would that mean to your overall life experience?

As we are living beings we will, one day, live no more. Most people avoid this fact until they are in the final stage of their life. Then, when they are pushed up against the wall of death, they remember all of the things that they once loved and this memory causes them to desire to experience them one more time. In some cases, these dreams are small, so experiencing them is not out of the question. In other cases, these dreams exist thousands of miles away or maybe, that place remembered, no longer exists; then what? How can that moment of happiness or enjoyment be relived?

There is the place in all of us where when we find that special something that touches our inner being and we truly bond with it. Some of these experiences are quite fleeting. In other cases, they are defined by whom we were with or what our state of mind was during that particular point in our life. When and if we ever go back, the experience may be totally different. Yet, in that one moment of time, that one experience of fullness is etched into our being so we wish to relive it.

Have you ever really loved a restaurant but when you go back to it, some time later, everything has changed? Maybe the staff, the food, or the clientele has completely changed and you are left wondering what you ever liked about that place.

As one of the definitive elements of life is that we do not live forever, this too is the definitive element of places. Things change. Moreover, what you felt at one point in your existence is defined by that time period of your existence. What you were then, you may not be now.

It is for this reason that looking to the past to regain a past experience and/or feeling virtually never plays out the way you would have it do so in your mind. Nothing in this life ever stays the same. Just as no two experiences, in one specific place, are ever the same.

So, what does this tell us? It reminds us to love any experience we live while it is happening. Because maybe it will never happen again. It also tells us to keep our eyes on what is in front of us as opposed to being locked into a place of the past.

The past is gone. Hopefully you had some great experiences back there, back when. But, here is all you have. Going back is at best an attempt to cast your mind into a realm of something that can never be as good as it was remember.

***

What did you do to create the moment you are living right now?

Do Onto Others

Do you ever contemplate the biblical quote: Luke 6:31, “Do onto others as you would have the do onto you?” I think we have all heard this statement for most of our lives but how many of us ever think about it? But, maybe we should.

The things you do in life have the potential to affect your everything. What you do to other people not only has the potential to affect the life of the person you are doing it to but your life as well as there are always repercussion to all of your actions, be they positive or negative.

Many people dismiss the concept of, doing onto to others. Think about it, do you? Do you only think about yourself? Do you only think about how what you are doing will affect your existence? Moreover, do you ever take the time to watch and witness what other people are doing and how they are doing what they are doing to other people? If you watch and study this behavior it will give you a very clear insight into the mind of that person—who they are, how they think about themselves, how they treat others and, from this observation, you can chart how they will ultimately treat you.

Doing onto others is not only based upon the doing of big things. It begins at the very small level; as small things are what set the big things into motion. Think about the smallest thing you have done for a person: whether it was removing a piece of lint from their clothing, pouring them a cup of coffee or getting them a beer. All actions have extended reactions. What occurred because of what you did? If you say, “Nothing,” you are wrong, you are not looking to the extended ramifications of your actions.

Now, think about the big things you have done that have affected the life of another person. First of all, would you have wanted that done to you? Would you have wanted to encountered the consequences of that actions? At this point contemplate, what did your doing do to your life? Did what you did make your existence a more positive space or did it cause you to encounter turmoil?

The human race is very selfish breed. But, the human race is also a very thinking breed. We can choose to make the right choice and do the right thing. How often do you do that? How often do you think about the other person first? How often do you, do onto others as you would have the do onto you?

Art and the Forgotten Remembered

There has been a certain romance attached to writers who did not become famous until after their death. People like H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allen Poe, or even Henry David Thoreau, though they each had some of their work published while they were alive, they mostly lived in poverty and died unknown—never knowing the audience their work would eventually find. It was the people who read them after their passing that understood their work and sent them in the direction notoriety. Biographies have been written, discussions have been had, movies have been made about their life, and courses have been taught all based upon the writing of authors such as this. But, what about the writers that have been completely forgotten? Maybe they were published, maybe they were not, but no matter their publishing status, no one remembers their name—no one studies their work. Do we, can we ever think about the contributions of those writers? And, was their vision and/or contribution any the less than that of those that became known?

In many ways, there is something very disingenuous about honoring someone who was shunned during their life but loved after their death. Certainly, whether one found an audience before or after their death does not change the contribution they made. But, what ultimately brought them to the level where their works could be read by the masses, after they died, as opposed to when they were still alive, raises the question of why?

We can also look to the life of someone like Vivian Maier. She was a woman who made her living as a nanny but spent her free time taking beautiful photographs of predominately the urban landscape. In her life, she found no fame in her art. But, upon her passing in 2009, exhibitions began to be held; initially motivated, in no small part, due to the fact that she could no longer afford the rent on her storage unit that held thousands of her negatives and thus it was auctioned off. Think about the TV show, Storage Wars. (Does anyone ever think about the reason those units are being auctioned off as they watch that show?) In any case, a vast amount of her work was brought to the daylight but it was too late. She died two years later before they could figure out who she was.

This whole subject really brings us to the essence of art. Particularly in this day and age of the internet where some people are very loud. But, does loudness mean that they possess the true essence of art or does it simply mean that they scream louder than the true artist? And, this is the thing, when someone is in the forefront of modern consciousness, whether they are alive or dead, they are the one that people think about and perhaps even idolize. But, does being in that position elementally provide them with a voice worth hearing? What about the person out there in the abyss who creates true art but is never seen or heard? Is their art any the less? Or, is it actually a purer portrayal of art for they were silent in the quintessence of its creation?

You can scream loud and people will hear you. But, does screaming loud make you an artist or does it simply make you loud? You can be silence and own the essence of true art, but if you create art that no one ever sees, will you ever be known as an artist?

This is a complex question and a motivation for you to seek out true art wherever you can find it. Known or not, sometimes the unknown leads you to the true soul of art and the artist.

Regretfull Actions

As we pass through life, each of us performs actions that we later regret. In some cases these actions hurt other people and though, at the time, we may have thought that we were doing the right the thing, through further self-examination we realized that what we did was wrong, we hurt someone or something, and we regret it.

Most of us have a conscience. Though we may do something, spurred on by whatever motivation, when we later are either told we did something wrong or we come to realize it on our own, we regret our actions and attempt to repair any damage we created.

Not everyone is like this, however. Some people do not care who or what they injure. They behave in this manner due to a combination of factors: ego, denial, insecurity, support of other people, and various other reasons. But, for the person who behaves in this manner, they walk a life trek of creating damage while existing in a state of self-imposed justifications. Thus, if you look back through their life it is easy to see that they have injured many people and this is never a good thing.

Generally, when we do something that we later regret, it is done to a person. The reason we hurt other people is commonly based upon lack of awareness, selfishness, or a lack of empathy. We feel something and we do it. Many of these actions are lived in the moment. Our emotions are elevated so we act out. From this, a lot of life damage can be instigated.

All you have to do is watch a live action television show like COPS or Live PD and you will see how the interactions of two people, based upon emotions, can elevate to create interpersonal havoc.

This is case with abusive relationships, as well. There is commonly one person instigating either the psychological or the physical abuse. But, the question that is rarely asked is, why are they doing it? In some cases it was due to that person growing up in a very abusive environment and, thus, that type of behavior is all that they know. In other cases, the person who is performing the abuse blames the person they are abusing for forcing them into a relationship that they did not want to be a part of. As we can see, there are two actors and two points of view. The problem with this equation is, however, the people who exist in these relationships are commonly not aware enough to see what is actually going on. Thus, a lot of bad actions can be performed when the best thing that could have happened is that the one person who desires the relationship should have simply walked away, thereby freeing the both of them from further emotional and physical pain, leading to blame and regret.

Do the people who exist in these relationship feel regret based upon their interrelationship actions? I imagine some do and some do not.

Now, this relationship basic goes to business relationships, as well. Commonly, there is one person in a position of control in any business dealings. From this, comes the condition of master and servant. One person works for the other person and they must do what is asked of them if they wish to remain employed. The very big difference between the personal and the work relationship is that in the situation of employment, people are commonly there because they need to make a living to support themselves and their family. Thus, simply walking away is not necessarily all that easy.

I am sure we have all heard about people that were in less that ideal and even abusive relationship brought on by the actions of their employer—some of us have even been in those situations. Now, we can all hope and wish that people exist based upon a space of refined caring and consciousness but unfortunately this is not the case in life. Many people, especially when they are in a position of power, operate from a ego driven mindset. This mindset arises from many factors of causation but not the least of which is one that it is based upon the cheering on of those who surround that person, whether this be other employees, friends, family, or whomever.

I remember an ideal example of this, “Cheered on mentality,” that I witnessed many years ago. I was driving home in the early AM hours of the morning. I noticed this group of people arguing in the parking lot of a 711. One guy was behind the wheel of a car and he apparently had almost hit a guy who was walking as he was backing out of a parking space. This caused an argument. The guy who was almost hit was yelling. The friends of the guy driving the car got out and are taunting the guy who was walking who, at this point, would not get out of the way of the car. The friends are all yelling, “Hit him! Hit him!” Eventually, the guy driving the car, motivated by the cheering of his friends, steps on the gas and plows into the guy. Whatever became of any of those people, I do not know. But, this is an obvious example of what can motive a person to perform a really bad deed. And, it is smothering that you really need to think about when your friends are telling you to do anything that has the potential to hurt anyone.

At the heart of a living a good life is possessing a conscience. We all make mistakes but it is what we do after we make those mistakes that defines us as a human being. What is a mistake that should be regretted? Anything that hurts anyone for any reason.

Ask yourself, have you hurt someone? Has someone told you that you hurt someone or something? After you were told, what did you do? Did you care? You want a definition of your life and what it will ultimately equal, the response to those question will provide you with an answer.

As previously detailed, there may be fault and blame that goes in many directions in any interpersonal interaction that turns out badly. But, no matter who is the instigator or the culprit, it is what each person who is involved in that interaction does with the experience that sets the stage for the rest of their life.

Some people feel no regret and that is sad. Other people deny fault, that is also sad. In fact, I have watched some people as they came up against the wall of death apologizing to people for their bad deeds. I have also literately witnessed one person, who did a lot of bad things, especially to his family, not seek forgiveness at any level. He never said he was sorry. Instead, all he did was to ask the doctor if he could give him a shot to kill him. He just wanted to get off of the bus.

What you do creates who you are. What you do after the fact of doing something defines you as a human being. Do you blame you or do you constantly try to shift the blame outwards onto someone else? If you instigated anything, you are to blame. If you took part in anything, you are to blame.

Taking the blame is one of the highest levels of human consciousness as is shows you care more about someone else than you care about yourself. Who do you care about? The more people you care about, the more forgiveness you seek, the more you and your life becomes a positive example to others.

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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When you judge the impact you are having on the life of another person it is always evaluated from a position of you.

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When what you do affects the life of somebody else, your karma is created. If what you are doing is hurting anyone, what do you think will be the result?

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If you think you've paid your karma for some action that you performed, that generally means that you haven't.

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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.

***

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

***

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

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

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

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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.

***

Is it okay to lie to a liar?

Looking Without Seeing

How much of what you see as you pass through your day do you actual look at—do you actually study?

Life is filled with unique elements everywhere you look. But, how often do you actually take the time to take a look? For most of us, we simply pass through our day, expecting what we expect, knowing what we have seen, but we never take a moment to actually see.

Right now, take a minute. Look around yourself. Find something and focus on it. No matter how many times you have seen it before, take this moment and study it. Look at all of the unique details it visually has to offer. Think about what it took to create it. Study it as if you have never seen it before.

The problem for most people is that they have seen what they have seen so many times that they do not even think about the plethora of visual depth that it holds. From this, so much of life passes by without a thought as nothing is appreciated.

When you look to the sky, every minute of everyday, its visual-scape is changing. Do you ever think about that? Do you ever take the time to watch those changes unfold? This is the same with the fields, the ocean, the desert, or even the city streets. There are millions upon millions of things going on and changes taking place. There is life and visual stimuli everywhere but they are missed because nobody take the time to take a look.

If you want your life to mean something more. If you want to understand life, nature, and the universe from a more profound level. If you want to understand the art of existence all you have to do is open your eyes. Remember this and cause yourself to do it wherever you find yourself. Your life will become so much more.

***

Earlier today I was doing what you do in L.A.; namely driving between one place and the other. I was listening to NPR and within about an hour I heard two interesting statements that pretty much speak for themselves:

If you know better, you should do better.

Why bother it if it don't bother you.

He’s Written Too Many Books, Just Like Me

In the late 1970s and into the early 1980s, the great East Indian Sage, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, used to produce an enormous amont of books. Having spent some time with him in India I can definitely say that he was on the cusp of a spiritual revolution. His approach to turning the tenets of traditional Hinduism and mysticism upside down was truly transformative. But, it was one of those things that you had to be there, you had to meet him there and then, or you just would not understand.

His mistake, if you want to call it that, was that he came to the United States and located his ashram in a less than forward thinking community. But, this being said, he did have a message. A message that was overrun by the press and the upheaval over his Rolls Royce driven lifestyle. Some people just didn’t get it… But, you can find out all about his life and lifestyle online if you want to.

Anyway… Back in that era, I was an undergraduate at Cal State Northridge, teaching the martial arts on a daily basis. I had severed my ties with the Integral Yoga Institute and I was no longer the guy, dressed in yogi garb, collecting the $2.00 at the door for the Sufi Dances every Tuesday night. What Rajneesh had to say, via the written word, helped keep me focused on spirituality. Mostly, what he meant to me was that he provided a look at traditional spirituality in a new and revolutionary way as this was the path I also followed.

I was living in this apartment, not far my university campus, and I remember the boxes full of his beautifully designed hardcover books I would receive—ordered from his ashram. Whenever there were new ones being published, I would get them.

As I have long stated, I was a terrible student with my mind far more focused on other realms of reality than my school work. Instead of reading my textbooks, I remember immediately reading each of the Rajneesh books that arrived, cover-to-cover. They provided me with an ongoing source of inspiration into the abstract realms of spiritual which came to be the focus of my life.

Now, I know… I know… I too have written a lot of a lot of… Some would say way too much. I get it! Like I joking say in the title for this piece, "He’s Written Too Many Books, Just Like Me." But, just like Rajneesh, if you don’t like what I write, you don’t have to read it. The difference between Rajneesh and myself is that I actually type everything I write. For him, his books were all based on his lectures being transcribed. I think that must be a far easier way to write a book.

Later in his life, when he had basically been kicked out of the U.S., he asked to be called, Osho. But, when I knew him this was not the name he used so I will continue to use Rajneesh. Anyway, during his lectures, which became his books, he spoke from a very off-the-cuff perspective. He said what he was thinking at the time and then he may change his mind, and say the complete opposite, a moment later. To me, that was true spirituality—pure Zen. Because, isn’t the truth of spirituality that it is what is lived in the now—what is experienced right here in this moment?

All this being said, the point of this essay is two fold: First of all, we all should find our inspiration where we can find it. As it is really easy to lose our course in life if we do not possess a means to keep it focused. Thus, whatever it is that you truly ARE in life, develop a method to keep that the focus of your life. Don’t lose it! If it means reading books, like I did, going to lectures, yoga classes, martial art classes, church, or the movies, don’t let yourself loose what and who you know you are. Find a way to maintain your focus.

The second point is, once upon a time, there were Rajneesh books everywhere. Virtually every bookstore you went into you could find one. Now, except for a few remaining mass-market paperbacks and the occasional one being labeled as, “Collectable,” and selling for way too much money on eBay, they are all gone. Gone to where? What happened to them as there were so many that were produced? I guess, just like I have witness with so many people in the world of spirituality and the martial arts throughout my life, a once very well known individual, who truly made a contribution, has all but been forgotten. Remembered only by those whose lives they touched. So, what does this tell us? I guess it means that we are all only as temporary as the people who remember us. Good or bad, that is the definition of life.

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Is your life defined by what you said or by what you did?

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As long as you are thinking or saying something negative about someone else you are not doing anything positive with your own life.

In Service to Society

How much of your time do you spend thinking about what you can consciously do for others?

Very few people, as they pass through life, ever think about what they can do for society. There are very few people who make any kind of contribution whatsoever to the life that surrounds them. They may work hard and perhaps even achieve a high standard of living for their family and themselves but they never even consciously look beyond themselves and question what they can do for the greater whole.

There are certain people who make noticeable contributions to society. The doctors, the police officers, the firemen, and the teachers. These contributions are self-evident because without these people, society would be in chaos.

Though there are these obvious contributors, there are numerous other layers of people who make a contribution but what they give is far less definable. Mostly, at this level, it is people who do something to make a living or to make themselves famous but they are claiming, at least in their own mind, that they are providing a service to the greater whole. But, are they? If the individual persona is involved, if the individual is on the stage saying, “Hey, look at me,” is that a contribution at all or is it just a state of egotism? And, how many of these people have hurt the lives of other people while they climbed to their pulpit, thereby erasing any possible good they have done in the first place?

Have you ever gone out of your way; put yourself, your ego, and your own desires aside, and just given? Have you ever done something, that maybe you didn’t even want to do, but the doing of it truly helped someone else? If you have had this experience you will understand that it is very rewarding. And yes, though you may have received a positive emotional response when the doing is completed, you have actually done something that formally helped someone. Their life is better. Thus, society is better. Thus, everything, everywhere is just a little bit better.

Can you put yourself away and actual help? Can you make a contribution to society? If you can, not only do you become better, not only are your better remember throughout time, but that one person that you truly helped will never forget you because you provided a service that changed their life.

How much of your time do you spend thinking about what you can consciously do for others?

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All negative behavior comes from a place of unanswered pain.

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Think how many people are praying to god, asking for something, right at this moment.

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How many of the stories that you tell are one hundred percent true?

How many of the stories that you tell are not influenced by your individual perception or how you wished a situation would have played out?

How many of the stories that you hear, told to you by others, are one hundred present true?

How many of the stories that you hear are actual fact and not influenced by an individual's perception or how a person wished that situation would have turned out?

What does this leave us with? A reality based upon factual inaccuracy.

Look to the Family

There are times in life when you meet somebody and though on the surface they may blend effortlessly into society there is something that, at certain times, takes them off in a completely different direction. This shift in personality is usually heralded by a radical state of mind. Maybe it is intense rudeness, anger, violence, or even exaggerated compassion. Though you may believe you know this person, when these episodes happen, you cannot help but wonder where did this emotion and/or exaggerated reaction come from. If the answer is not obviously, there is always one place to explore; look to the family.

Each person is born with a unique personality. Though they are a unique individual onto themselves, this personality is then shaped by the society they are born into and more demonstratively by their family. For it is at the family level that, from the earliest memories forward, an individual learns how to behave. From this, their actions and reactions to life events are shaped.

In many cases, if you have the ability to know a person and then meet and interact with their family, you will see how the person you know exhibits many of the same traits as their parents and siblings. Though, almost universally, a person will deny this factor as people long to be whole and complete entities onto themselves. And, in many cases, they may not even like their parents so they do not want to appear to be defined by them. But, from the outside looking in, it is commonly much easier to see the correlations than when a person is locked into a specific skin.

Some people are raised in very focused and supportive environment. Though it is almost impossible to get through childhood and adolescences without encountering some conflict with your parents, some people, due to their family upbringing, emerge as very well formed individuals. Commonly, this is not the case, however. Many people, due to an untold number of factors, comes from families that were not an ideal breeding ground for a healthy and radiant life. It is from within these environments that a person is subtlety taught the ways to behave that have the potential to cause them to react in a less than civilized and enlightened manner as they pass through their life.

It is very hard to find a person who does not wish to be happy, successful, and fulfilled in their life. Virtually everyone understands that the way to achieve this is to do good things that make other people happy while damaging or hurting no one in the process. Yet, when we look around ourselves we see selfish, uncaring, anger driven actions taking place all the time. Where was the mindset born that causes people to behave in this negative manner? Again, look to the family.

When we are forced to encounter a person behaving in an unexpected, exaggerated, or negative manner, it can be quite shocking. For generally, we never see it coming. We are just impacted with it and then left to deal with its reverberations. Though many people who reactively behave in this manner will attempt to attach all types of excuses to their behavior—some may even be sorry in the aftermath. But, that never takes away what was done. This negative doing can be small or it may be large but all that anyone is left with is what one person did that left others questioning why.

With all this being said, there is one elemental component to this equation. That component is, the person themselves. Though we can each reach out and find excuses for our behavior when we have done something that is deemed as wrong—something that has hurt someone or something, the ultimately reality is that there is always only one person to blame. The person who performed the action. That one person did something by choice or by instinct and that something hurt someone or something else. The ultimately answer that each person must master, in their own way, is to learn how to take control over their own emotions and never let them be in control.

Wherever negatively expressed emotions may arise from: self, society, family, or otherwise, it is always only the one person who expresses them. Be more than your out of control emotions no matter where you learned them from.

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What have you given anyone lately without receiving something in return?

Blaming the Other Person

Whenever there is an issue between two people there is one person who set that issue into motion. There is one person who did something and from that something conflict was created.

How often have you witnessed when the one person who set that one thing into motion lies, denies, and tries to shift any blame of creating the situation onto the other person. “It was their fault, not mine!”

Is reacting to something bad that a person did to you a negative thing? No, not necessarily. Is lying and attempting to deflect responsibly in a undesirable situation you created a negative thing? Yes. But, think about how often this goes on. Do you do it? Do you rally people to your defense even though it was you who initially did that something that set the everything into motion?

This is how large scale conflicts are created by small events. Somebody does something that hurts someone in someway, they then justify or deny their responsibility in the action, and instead of taking responsibility and perhaps apologizing they rally people to their cause. Then, the other person rallies people to their cause and, thus, a war is born. A war based on a small thing that one person did but refuses to own their responsibility in its creation.

We all make mistakes in life. We all do things that unintentionally hurt someone else. Think how much better the world would be if we all simply owned our actions, apologized, and try to repair any damage we created instead of seeking a reason to blame the other person who was hurt by what we instigated.

Do you ever say you’re sorry?

How You Earn Your Keep

There is this strange belief in the modern world that it does not matter how you earn your money as long as you do earn your money. This concept has lead to all kinds of people doing all kinds of bad things. The people who operate from this mindset never think about the consequences they are unleashing on the life of other people as long as they are getting their bankroll and living as large as possible.

Certainly, in popular culture, the person who sells drugs on the street has been glorified. This is especially the case when that person rises from their unlawful beginnings and becomes a sports or a hip hop star. But, does their rising above what they used to do change the fact of all of the people’s lives they damaged?

In the realms of the sale of drugs, I have known people that actually believe they are providing a service. People want to get high, right? People need to step away from the day-to-day grind, right? But, at what cost? Think of all the lives that have been ruined due to the use of drugs.

The sale of illegal drugs is illegal. I have known people that have been sent to prison for following this course of making their living. Though they were very bitter about what became of the life, they were the one who choose to do something that was and is deemed, “Illegal,” so who was ultimately to blame? So yes, in some cases, they were taken to task for hurting the lives of other people but that does not change the damage they unleashed nor does it repair what happened to the people who ingested the drugs they sold—all based on their wanting to make money.

Though the sale of drugs is an obvious example of one of the things that people do to make money in a less than acceptable manner, there are all kinds of other things that people do while never looking to the larger consequences of their actions. As we all know people abscond with all kinds of commodities on the internet to make money off of the vision, creativity, labor, and finances of other people. Do they care? No. If they did, they wouldn’t do it. In fact, if you present them with the fact that they are stealing someone’s something to make their money, they will fight you tooth and nail in an attempt to make themselves seem right and justified. But, are they right? No. If you take anything from anybody for any reason that is wrong. It is as simple as that. Yet, think how many people play into this society of internet theft and partake of the products these people have stolen. Are these people ever caught and punished? Rarely.

There are lot of people who live in the world of the various realms of creativity and find a way to get money to maintain their lifestyle from the labor of other people. As many people wish they could be in one of the creative fields, especially the film business, many a less than scrupulous individual has gone to these folks with money, asked them for it, promising them the world of return, and then walked away living a good lifestyle based upon someone else’s finances.

There is the other side of the issues, in the creative fields, where people like distributors and publishers take the creative work of others, promising them fame and riches, make a lot of money off of those creations and never share any of the money or accolades with the actual creator of the work. Though I have watched as a few of these people who walk this path of financing their life with other people’s money and creativity has been left bankrupt, many maintain their high level of existence throughout their life. They do this while not caring about what they are doing to the life of other people.

This brings us to the heart of this problem of financial existence. As long as a person is making their cash, they do not care about who they are hurting or what negativity they are unleashing to the world as a whole. If they did—if they were conscious people, they would not be doing what they were doing in the first place. But, they are not.

So, what does this leave us with? It leaves us with the simple reality that most people don’t care unless they are forced to care. They may pretend that they are providing a service but if that service is based upon taking anything from someone else or damaging the life or anybody, it is no service at all.

Ask yourself, “Do you care?” Do you care about what you are ingesting or who you are taking from? Or, do you simply make excuses for your actions? “I don’t have much money.” “I’m a poor student.” “I’m a struggling artist.” “I need to feed my kids.” “I have a drug problem so I need money to stay high.” Whatever the justification, that is all that it is, an excuse. If you make your money by stealing, if you make your money by doing things that hurt the life of other people, all you are creating is a world of hurt. No matter what your justification, if what you are doing to make your living hurts anyone it will eventually hurt you.

Think about what you do to pay your rent. Care about what you do.

***

Is the injustice you see true injustice or is it simply based upon the perspective of what you want to be right?

***

If you were to stop thinking about yourself: what you want, what you need; what would you think about?

***

If what you are doing is hurting anyone what you are doing is wrong.

But, here is the problem with this equation:

When you look to what you are doing and what you have done, do you think about what someone else has done to you or do you think about what you have done to them?

The righteous person always tries to undo and repair the damage they created before they ever look to what any other person has instigated. Because if you don't, the damages do nothing but multiply.

Care enough to fix what you've broken first.

What Happens When You Leave?

I was recently thinking back to my days with Swami Satchidananda and the Integral Yoga Institute. I was very-very involved. It was a different point in history and I believe that this is the thing that many people (who are younger) do not really have the perspective to understand. It was the 1970s and spirituality was everywhere. People really cared about rising consciousness, doing the right thing, making the planet a better place, and helping those in need. Many, like myself, found a home in a spiritual group and this became our focus. The people of the Integral Yoga Institute truly became my extended family.

Throughout my years at Hollywood High School, my focus was far more on this other element of my life than going to school. Whereas most young people, as they pass through their high school years, are focused on the reality of the school atmosphere and what it means to them, this was not the case for me. I was there but I was not there. In fact, in many ways, I am very surprised that I stayed in school at all instead of simply following the dedicated spiritual path. Certainly, as my later years came upon me I am so glad that I did graduate but back then, it really didn’t matter. It didn’t matter so much that I didn’t even take my senior picture which is why you will not see me in the 1976 Hollywood High School yearbook. Happy

For me, I was also able to serve a purpose at the Integral Yoga Institute. I became Swami Satchidanand’s soundman. From that, I truly felt I was making a contribution to the greater whole of this man’s life and his message. I wonder whatever happened to all of those tapes of his talks and lectures that I recorded on reel-to-reel and cassette tape?

The problem with any group, however, is there are those people who are put in a position of authority. Some of them are the nicest people and do their job in a friendly, egoless manner. This is not always the case, however. Some come at it with the, “I am the boss,” attitude. As my years progressed with the IYI, I witnessed as a number of egos come into play. I also saw how this became the downfall of the group in places like Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, where Swami Satchidananda had a beautiful house overlooking the coastline in nearby Montecito.

From my perspective, the entire point of following the spiritual path is to become as egoless as possible and as caring as possible. Though selfless service, (karma yoga), was at the root of this organization, many of the people came at this ideology with less than a highly developed and pure mindset. They were not ready to be handed the power, yet they were. These power-trippers are what caused a lot of people, including myself, to eventually leave the group. I didn’t leave Swami Satchidananda, I left the group.

But, what happens then? What happens when you are no longer a part of what was once one of the elemental parts of your life? In many ways, this situation happens to many of us. We were once a part of the greater whole—we really felt we were on a mission with our compatriots. But then, something occurs, and our mission is over. We are out there in the alone. What do we do then?

This is different for each person. For me, at the time, I would go and spend time with the various others Eastern spiritual teachers that passed through L.A. I also refocused my attention on the martial arts. But, never being far from the Eastern mindset of spirituality, this drive also eventually lead me to India. But, it was there, that I truly came to realize that you can’t go and GET spirituality, it has to come from within.

I think that is probably the answer for anyone who is out there feeling lost—feeling alone. …Maybe you once had something like a person or a group and you no longer possess it. From this, many keep looking out there to find a replacement. But, there is none. At best, all there can be is you coming into your own, charting your own path that is not dominated by anyone else, (power-tripper or not), and simply you creating your own reality that is defined by the way you perceive the world.

For those of us who came of age at a time when caring, giving, and spirituality mattered, and for those of us who focused our lives upon these ideologies, we will always possess an undeniable focus for our lives. But, caring, giving, and spirituality is not wholly defined by a specific period of history. It is everywhere if you care enough to open your mind and your heart and give instead of take.

So, wherever you find yourself in life—a part of a group or a part of the greater whole or not, this can be the root of your reality. Get out there and help. Get out there and give. Get out there and care. And, this can begin in the smallest most interpersonal way onto the greatest arena. From this, not only will you find a new wholeness in your life but the entire world becomes just a little bit better.

Agenda

It is very difficult to interact with most people from a place of consciousness. This is because of the fact that virtually everyone has their own agenda. They never come to a relationship without some form of preconceived notion and/or desire. They see you, they think they know you, they think they know what they want from you, and they set about on a course to obtain it. This is why there is so much interpersonal chaos and pain in the world because people form their definitions of another person based upon what they want from that other person. They may love the person, they may hate the person, they may want something from the person: money, sex, fame, notoriety, position, but what they never do is enter into interaction with that person from a space of spiritual understanding—allowing them to be whole and whom they are; whole and complete onto themselves. Instead, each person wants the other person to be the way they have them defined in their own mind. But, are they? Is another person ever what you expected them to be?

On the other side of the issue, people also form their personas based upon what other people desire. They try to become what someone else wants them to be. Again, this is based upon agenda—they want something from that other person so they strive to be what that other person wants them to be. From this, comes a world of people who base their entire existence upon speculated suchness—upon how they define others and how others define them. Thereby, much of this world is populated by people who are not true onto themselves but are either pretending to be something they are not or are defined by others to be something they are not.

From a spiritual and even psychological perspective this is a very shallow place to live your life from. But, this being said, how many people do it? Do you? Do you define others? Do you allow yourself to be shaped by others? When you interact with people do you pretend to be something you are not so they will like you? And, how do you behave when someone thinks that they know who you are—defines you as a something, but they are totally wrong? Do you play along with the game or do you emphatically state that you are not who they claim that you are?

Life is complex. Very few people care enough about the subtitles of every-rising consciousness to even give it a second thought. They simply exist in a place of believing they are right and, thus, they project that, “Rightness,” to the world. But, are they right at all?

The very term, “Life,” is defined by what is living. From living we each are given the opportunity to be who and what we are. Most, however, lose this opportunity and become something that is defined by others. Thus, there is very little actual interactive consciousness exhibited between people as they move through life. They simply embrace a false definition of self.

Are you who you are? Or, do you pretend? Do you allow others to be who they are? Or, do you define them in your own mind before they have the opportunity to present themselves as a true and whole human being and then do you project what you believe them to be to the world?

Life is what you make of it. What are you making of it? Do you embrace the wholeness of who you are? Do you allow others to embrace the wholeness of who they are? Or, do you set about on your life course with a predefined agenda?

Not on the Menu

There’s this one restaurant I go and have breakfast at sometimes. It is kind of a funny place to observe the goings on. The waitresses are all like the proverbial bartenders in that all these guys come in and sit at the counter pouring their hearts out to these ladies. But, the truth be told, you can see that these guys are all dreaming that they were in a relationship with that one particular one. I often wonder if these waitresses even understand what is taking place because they are totally feeding into the narrative, they are so nice and so attentive to these aging men?

For virtually all of my life I’ve eaten a good portion of my meals in restaurants and I have, occasionally, become friends with some of the staff. In my younger days I even went out with a few of the girls I met in these establishments. At one point in my twenties I was going out with this total Psycho Bitch who got jealous that I was friendly with this one waitress that worked at a restaurant I used to frequent so she got a hold of my credit card and sent her like $500.00 worth of flowers delivered to the café. Embarrassing… There have also been a few very positive things that have happened to me via my interaction with food staff. I met this one girl who was a waitress/actress, gave her a lead role in my Zen Film,
The Hard Edge of Hollywood, and she was great! You should check out her performance.

Now, one of things I have long noticed is than many a man does not go into a restaurant simply to get a meal. They have an entirely different set of expectations. When they go into a restaurant and a waitress is nice to them they immediately build up this entire melodrama of possibilities in their mind.

The truth of life is that people are constantly looking to find that mate. This is especially the case if they are not in a relationship or are in a bad relationship. Somehow, the restaurant becomes the logical single’s bar for some. But, and this is a big but… What these people are seeking is commonly not going to happen—especially when one is deeper into their life, for then people have history with others, are in relationships, have had children, have been formulated by the positive and more particularly the negative relationship they’ve had in their past. So, a man may come into an establishment day-after-day, dreaming of finding love with one of the workers, but that’s not on the menu. It is not going to happen. Again, I wonder if that is why some of these food servers are so nice and so attentive, they want to make that little bit of extra bank in the form of a tip. I don’t know?

In small towns everybody knows everybody. It large work establishments, where there are a lot of people housed in one facility, everybody knows everybody. But, out in the expanses of the big city, the flavors are constantly changing and the dreams once desired, having often times turned bad, are constantly left behind. Some people are forever on a quest, dreaming that next taste will be the perfect flavor. But, is it? Can it ever be? The illusion of the Out There or the what that person has to offer or the I bet they are the perfect one of me, is only a real as the moment it is fantasied within. Most everybody wants to be with somebody but once they are with them, reality sets in. And, for some, the illusion of the waitress who appears to be nice and listens to the aimless ramblings of a customer is the perfect hotbed for fantasy. But, fantasy is never reality. What you do not know you will never know until you know. And then, what are you left with? Just another relationship with another person who has all of the flaws of everyone else. It is far better to find out what is actually on the menu before you try to get the chef to create something that they do not know how to cook.

Catfishing, Stalking, Disinformation, Fake News, Welcome to the World Wide Web

Recently, I’ve been doing several interviews for an upcoming book I’ve written that’s about to be published in Eastern Europe and almost inevitably I am asked questions about what do I think about the internet’s role in publishing and its function in information dissemination. From all these questions, it has made me ponder the role of the internet (again).

Certainly, in this day and age, we are all defined by the internet. Me, I was one of the early participants to utilize all it had to offer when it entered the realm of personal computing in the 1980s. In fact, when I wrote my Ph.D. dissertation, I was surprised to find that I did not have to go to libraries for all of my previously published references as I could access some newspaper and academic databases online. But, the internet grew and has continued to grow. As time has gone on I have found that it has become somewhat stagnate in the way it, (and yes, I do see it as an entity onto itself), has come to demarcate its role. Of course, you can still do academic research on the internet, (if you have the mind to), but it is more delineated by personal opinions, unsubstantiated speculations, aberrant misdirected mental pursuits, and fake news than anything else. Yet, here we all are, defined by it.

Mostly, I see it as being used a means for people to not come to terms with the reality of their own life. And, I think this is not a good thing. As I’ve said a lot of times in a lot of places before, the internet is a realm of fictional reality where no one is truly who they say they are. …People can claim knowledge, can claim title, can present fake personas, can spread lies, can steal, can threaten, can say anything they want to say with little or no consequence as they are nothing in the world of No Thing Ness. As there are no repercussions to many of the actions taken on the internet, people feel no necessity to bear any burden of accuracy, verity, truthfulness, or responsible for the results of their internet-based activities. Thus, people live in an altered reality which has no suchness. As we are at a time in history where many people have lived their entire life knowing nothing but life on the internet, they have been guided down a road of false truths, into a sense of non-being. And, not non-being in the spiritual sense but in the anomalous classification.

Now, some may argue this point. And, that’s fine, that’s your opinion. But, if you are one of those people who tweets, who chats in newsgroups, (that term always amused me because they are anything but), who posts their opinions on the various sites that allow such things, and so on, you are one of the people that has brought the lie into the realms of reality. You are out there in cyberspace stating what you feel and maybe even believing what you say but are you doing any of the actual research that you would have been forced to present in say a required project that you had to turn in for a grade for one of your classes in school? Probably not. You are just rambling your feelings. Which is all fine and good but, again, this goes to the source of my belief that there is currently an elemental problem with the internet. Namely: opinions presented as fact, no true research, and no one being who and what they say they are or taking any responsibility for the karma of their words or actions.

You know, throughout my years on the internet, there have been a lot of people who have cared enough to contact me and we have interacted. Though we may have been continents away from one another, we have developed a positive relationship based upon a common understanding. They ask, I answer. I ask, they answer. Though this is still life defined by the internet, it is interpersonal interaction. From this, (and only from this), truths about thoughts, opinions, philosophies, people, and human understanding can be gained. But, this only occurs via personal communication.

As I have long stated, people who turn to religious figures that they do not and cannot know, truly miss the actual process of spiritual obtainment. If you know your teacher, you can come to understand the flaws of human existence, and from this comprehend that each person, no matter what their spiritual rank, is a human beings with the frailties of human existence. This does not mean we cannot learn from that person once we see their flaws; it simply allows us to witness that each person is a unique (and human) entity onto themselves. This is the same with the internet, if you use it as an abstract construct that allows your emotions to run wild, while you live in a reality based upon falsehoods, lies, and altered personalities, than where will your life ultimately end up? What will be the definition of your life?

So, it is to this end, that when I answer the questions that are posed to me as presented in the beginning of this essay, the internet is a great place for the dissemination of studied truths, as presented in books and via other formats, but it is more defined by the mind of the person who does not care enough to reach out to the source of the knowledge or go to the person who possesses a factual basis about the subjects they are discussing. Thus, if we ever hope to focus the internet we each need to care enough to go to the source, ask the questions, get the answers, and then come to a defined genuineness based in a factual reality not solely defined by emotions and unsubstantiated falsities.

***

Why do the people who have done something wrong fight so hard to make themselves look like they are the one in the right?

Nobody Wants to Hear What the Preacher Has to Say Until They Are On Their Deathbed

If we look around ourselves, everywhere we will find people telling us how we should live. Though the messages vary to a degree, via religious orientation, they basically all say the same thing: be nice, be good, be kind, be forgiving, don’t lie, don’t hurt people, don’t steal, and don’t ingest things that are bad for your body. The words are all the same but nobody listens. That is to say, nobody listens until the are up against the wall of death and then they want answers. They want to know why this is happening to them. They want the bad that is happening to them to stop. They turn to the preacher, to the Bible, to the Koran, to the Dhammapada, to their family and friends; they want an answer. But, the answer is obvious, you did what you did and now you are paying the price.

This occurrence does not only happen when someone is dying. The moment a person encounters any intense invasion of negativity into their life they want to know why. But again, it is the same answer, you did what you did and now you are paying the price.

People never look to themselves when they encounter negativity. They never look to what they have chosen to do and what they have chosen to say as the culprit. Instead, they want to blame someone else out there.

The fact is, most people, with any sense of life responsibility, do not intentionally do bad things and/or hurt other people. They simply live their life to the best of their ability. This is one of the main reasons why an individual who is a faith-based person is far less likely to do things that will hurt others. Why? Because they are taught a code of ethics that they understand they must adhere to. But, a large portion of the world is not like this. In fact, most people are solely driven by a sense of self; only desiring what they desire. Thus, their actions give birth to an entire life of negative karma, yet they are too blind to see this and will deny it to their dying day. Then, at their dying day, they turn to the preacher, asking why and begging for his forgiveness. …They are not begging for forgiveness from those they hurt, they are begging forgiveness from the great beyond. But, how does that help anyone they hurt? How does that erase any negative karma?

If we look around ourselves, we can quickly identify the people we know who are self-serving individuals and do not care about the impact they are having on others. Just look at the people you know, which of them takes from another person, which of them says bad things about other people, which of them are judgmental, which of them smokes a cigarette and then throws it on the ground, when they are done, polluting our world? Good is obviously good. Bad is obviously bad.

The work environment is always a good place to study the way other people behave. This is due to the fact that workers are generally put into a space where they interact with people that they would not normally encounter in their day-to-day life. As these people are brought together into one enclosed environment, personalities quickly come into play.

Who have you encountered in your life that you have studied and consciously observed what became of their life due to the way they have interacted with people and with life?

If you watch, you will see. If you watch, you can learn.

From a personal perspective, I have been involved with the film industry for the better part of thirty years. This is one of the most ego-driven, cut throat businesses in the world. I have watched as a few people climbed to the top of the game. Some have done this by walking all over other people—by stealing their ideas, their creations, and making tons-and-tons of money off of the vision of another. I have also watched as some of these people were destroyed; financially and otherwise. Did they learn their lesson and seek forgiveness and invoke recompense? Some did. Some did not. A few, the moment they had the chance, climbed right back on the wagon of thoughtlessness and set about taking from and hurting others once again.

But, this is life. You cannot make another person understand what they are doing is wrong if they do not care. You cannot make another person care about other people if all they think about is themselves. And, this goes to the whole point of this discourse. People are going to live their life the way they are going to live it. They are not going to care until they are forced to care. And then, most likely, they will only care about themselves. So, you can talk to these people; tell them they are doing something wrong. You can preach at these people; tell them they should repent. But, most likely, they are not going to listen. They are not going to listen until they are on their deathbed. Then, instead of caring about anybody else, asking for forgiveness for the sins they committed against other people, they are simply going to think about themselves, wishing their own pain would go away.

So, how are you going to encounter life? If you take from other people, if you make money on the ideas and the creations of others, you owe them everything. Are you going to pay your bill?

If you hurt others, via words or deeds, do you think you will never have a price to pay?

Nobody owes you anything. You do not have the right to hurt or steal from others. Your life and ultimately your death is all based upon what you choose to do each moment of your existence. Where you will end up at the final moments of your life is defined what you did to people; who you hurt, who you helped, and how you behaved in this life place. I can suggest you do good things. I can advise you to help not hurt. I can advocate that you make anything you can better not worse. But, it is you who will have to make the final choice about what you do or do not do, just as it is you who will pay the final price. Think about it…

I Want to Give Somebody a Lucky Day

I was kicking back having a Macchiato on Saturday afternoon on the patio at one of my local Starbucks. My lady and I were talking about the things that people talk about. As I was sitting there a family of four walks by: two parents, a son and a daughter. The young boy, maybe around nine or ten, takes some change out of his pocket and throws it on the ground, then he continues to walk. The mother hearing this, turns around and tells him to pick it up, probably thinking that the change hitting the ground was an accident. It was not. A stranger walking by begins to pick up the change and hands it to the boy. The young boy exclaims, “I want to give somebody a lucky day.”

What a nice thought. There he is, this young boy, possessing a vague understanding of life that when you find a penny (or whatever) on the ground that it means good luck. And, he wanted to instigate that good luck in somebody’s life.

How much of your time do you spend trying to give somebody a, “Lucky day?” Really… How much of your life time do you spend trying to give anybody anything—especially somebody you don’t know? Think about it, this really defines who you are as a human beings and the effect you are having on the world.

Sadly, most people never think about anybody but themselves and maybe the ones they care about. But, who you care about quite often changes over time. Who cares about you changes over time. But, there is the greater ALL to this equation. If you can give somebody something, somebody that you do not even know—if you can make them feel just a little bit better, if even for a moment, doesn’t that make the All better? If you make somebody’s life just a slight bit happier, the world becomes a happier/better place.

Try it. The results may amaze you.

***

Everybody has their expectations but think how free your life would become if you had none.

***

The memories of your life only matter to you.

***

Have you ever put your friendships to the test?

Making the Same Mistake Twice

I forever find it curious how people do the same thing over and over and over again. They do something and they realize it is wrong or someone tells them it is wrong but they do it again. Why can’t people learn from their mistakes?

From a psychological perspective there are a million reasons for this but what they all come down to is two primary elements:

1. a person is simply unconscious of their life, the effect they are having on others or they consciously do not care—they want to hurt themselves and/or other people.

2. a person is trapped into a mindset that may best be described as, “Stubbornness.” They believe that they have the right to do anything they want to do and when they don’t get their way in doing it they get angry and their rage boils under the surface until they again perform the same action and everyone else be damned.

But, at the root of any, “Mistake,” is that the doer either hurts themselves or they hurt someone else. If they hurt themselves, the lesson is generally quickly learned. “It hurts! I don’t want to feel that again.” If they hurt someone else, however, they may not even see it as a mistake. Instead, it may make them gain a sense of empowerment. That is a wrong frame of mind to be operating from of course, yet it is how many people encounter life.

But, let’s look at this a little deeper… Why does anyone want to hurt themselves? The simple answer is they get something out of the experience. Whether it is getting high, getting drunk, getting fat, getting laid, getting in a fight, getting a tattoo, spending money they don’t have, or smoking, there is an experience that they consider enjoyable associated with the act. It is only at the point when what they have done has equaled something negative in their own life and has caused them to understand that what they did was a, “Mistake,” that they take the time to study their actions but then it is too late. The damage has been done.

This same mindset goes to why people invade the life of another person causing damage in their life. They like the experience and perhaps the attention they get from doing what they do. But, isn’t it wrong to hurt someone else? No matter what the logic, hurting is hurting. And, if you or someone else does not care about the fact that you are hurting someone what does that say about you and what type of energy do you think that action will bring into your life?

Here lies the ultimate definition of the concept of a, “Mistake.” A mistake brings a negative reaction to your life and/or to the life of other people.

There is also a certain, “Victim mentality,” that exists in the mind of some individuals who perform the action of making mistakes. People do something that is wrong, but when they are called out on it they become the victim. “Why can’t I do what I want to do when I want to do it?” Now, this goes to all levels of life. From one person who wants to be in a relationship with someone else when the other person does not want the coupling to take place, onto taking, stealing, breaking, making false statements, telling lies, altering the truth, speaking out of turn, and hurting just for the sake of hurting. These can all be called mistakes but, in fact, theses are simply actions that people take without taking the other person (any person) into consideration. In fact, the term, "Mistake," is highly overused. It is simply used when a person does something that hurts themselves or someone else and then that person does not want to take responsibility for their actions.

But, what does this all boil down to as, so-called, mistakes are made all of the time? A mistake is you not existing in a world of caring consciousness. For if you were living in a world defined by focused consciousness you would not be hurting your self and you would not be hurting others. Thus, there would be no mistakes. This is why the person who renounces the world to embrace true spirituality lets go of as many aspects of the world, desire, and personality as possible. From this, they eliminate many of the life-elements that would cause them to make mistakes in the first place.

For those of us living in the world, what can we do to not make so-called mistakes and to not make the same mistake twice. The answer is care—think about the all, the everything, the everyone. Turn yourself off long enough to see that you matter, that other people matter and that if you hurt them, if you hurt anyone, you hurt yourself because it sets a never ending pattern of doing to undo the original doing into motion.

Become conscious. Focus. Care. Don’t make mistakes. And, never make the same mistake twice.

***

Say something nice and say it loud. See what it will invoke.

***

Sometimes the best answer is to shut your mouth, close your eyes, and go to sleep.

***

Can you become more than you were yesterday?

Everybody Thinks They’re Right

When was the last time that you changed your mind about a subject? When was the last time that you believed something about someone or something, actually took the time to researched the subject further, and then came to a new conclusion? How about the people you know, do any of them ever change their mind?

As we pass through life most people come to conclusions based upon very erroneous foundations. They see something, they hear something, they read something, and from this they believe. That’s that. Their mind is never changed. Though they may rarely think about the subject, they know what they know. How about you?

Life is a pathway of realization. Some people enter this pathway willingly and are constantly in a state of reevaluating the truth as they believe they know it. The people who encounter life in this manner are few, however. Most people don’t even care what the facts are. They just want to believe and once they believe they know they are right and they will fight for what they believe to the end.

The furthermost of the issue takes place when someone believe that they are right, someone questions their genuineness, so that person goes out and finds specious facts to substantiate their storyline. This doesn’t make their belief a truth it simply makes it a collaborated falsehood.

Opinion is a condition of humanhood. But, opinion is never fact. You should not allow yourself to become lost in it.

If you are open minded, if you don’t bind yourself to what you believe, think about the new experience of realization you can have everyday.

The Contribution You Didn’t Make

Do you ever observe the life of a person who had hoped to achieve a specific something in their life but did not? They are always the ones who are the most critical of those who have achieved the dream they desired. Whether this dream was big or small they wanted to make it theirs. When they did not, all they are left with is demeaning criticism.

As is obviously the case, critiquing what someone else has done is far easier than doing something yourself. Criticizing someone for the way they have done what they have done takes very little effort. Even those who make a living out of reviewing the creations of others also fall prey to the reality of the fact that they are not the actual doer and, as such, they are simply the talker about those people who have done what they have achieved. Thus, they have branded themselves simply someone who talks about others as they are not focused enough to make the dream their own.

When we are young we each hope to achieve a certain something in our lives. Generally, when we are young, these dreams are grandiose. From this, comes idol worship—loving the rock star, the movie star, the sports star, or the guru. Some of us, as we pass through life, work very hard to achieve the dream of becoming something like the person we admire. This is how those who rise to the pinnacle of their craft get there—they see it, they envision it, and then they work at making it happen. But, the fact is, nobody achieves all of their dreams. Even for those who appear to have actualized their dream, the dream lived is never that which was imagined. None-the-less, through effort and hard work, making one’s dream a reality did occur in the lives of some people.

For those who have not achieved the life of success they had hoped, do they ever look at themselves as being the cause? Do they ever question why they did not make their dream a reality? I suppose in each case this is different. But, what most never realize or never want to admit to themselves is that it was they, themselves, and their lack of focused concentration that kept from achieving, at least at a small level, what they aspired to. From this, some are driven to the world of being dominated by a critical mind.

From a psychological and metaphysical perspective, it is commonly understood that what you focus upon, you bring into your life. You manifest what is in your mind. If all you do is focus on what others have achieved and how you do or do not like it, then all you have done is cast your own mind to a never ending cycle of debate that never equals you actually achieving what you hope to achieve. From this, at best, all you do is cause more attention to be brought to the life and the achievements of the person you are criticizing.

So, what is the answer? The answer is simple, ask yourself, “What do you want to achieve?” Be realistic about this question. Now, ask yourself, “What can I do to make it happen?” Once you have defined this, stop getting in your own way by focusing on the life of someone else—especially via negativity. Get out there, draw up a precise game plan, and everyday work towards making your dream a reality.

***

Why do so many people embrace negativity? Because they are dissatisfied with their life.

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Why does no one blame god?

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How much of what you do is based upon what was done to you?

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Just because your next door neighbor is quiet that does not mean that you are not loud.

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Can you become more than the people you worship?

***

Do you ever blame other people for the sins you've committed?

The Melodrama and the Nothing

Has anyone ever done something bad to you and then when they were presented with this fact that attempted to play the victim? They instigated it, they did it, yet now, somehow, you are the one at fault.

Have you ever tried to help someone—you really went out of your way to do something nice for them and then they turned the whole situation around and somehow, at least in their mind, you came out the bad guy? They told the world you did something wrong.

Life is dominated by interpersonal perceptions. Life is dominated by how people want to be perceived by others. Life is dominated by how one person feels about another person—whether what they are feeling is based upon fact or fiction.

How do you encounter life? Is it a peaceful process of transitioning from one life experience to the next? Or, do you create melodrama at each juncture?

How you perceive yourself preceding through reality is what you project to the world. Many people are so lost in their definition of self that they cannot take others into consideration as they encounter life, live their life, and interact with other people. If you are locked into a world based only upon you then your world is a very selfish place. From this, all it becomes is a world defined by how you feel about a specific person or a specific situation and how you want others to perceive you in association with that other specific person or situation.

People who operate from this mindset have a desired outcome for each situation and interpersonal interaction they encounter as they pass through life. They want it to be the way they want it to be. When things are altered, to whatever degree, they then lash out. But, what they rarely or ever do is to take the other person into consideration. They only think about themselves, what they wanted, what they are receiving, and how they can alter the narrative to their own point of view.

Do most people really care what another person is experiencing in life? If you personally know them, maybe you do. If you care about them, maybe you do. If you think or fantasize you can get something from them, maybe you do. But, what about the person next door who is dying from cancer? What about the person across town who has just been attacked by an assailant? What about the person that you do not like what they did to you—no matter what the reason is they did it? Do you care?

How do you feel when someone shifts the storyline and creates melodrama in your life? How do you feel when someone hurts you? How do you feel when someone did not take you into consideration when they did what they did? Now, how do other people feel when you do this to them?

If you want to be whole in life, you must care about other people. You must be willing to turn down your own desires long enough to take the other person, who they are and why they are doing what they are doing, into consideration. Why must you do this? Because it makes everything in everyone’s life better.

Make things better not worse.

***

Say something positive when someone else is saying something negative.

***

If you don't know what you're looking for you can never find it.

***

When you reach judgement day how will you be judged by, those you helped or by those you hurt?

All It Costs is Money

In life, a good percentage of what we all want is based upon money. Maybe you want a specific car, home, camera, guitar, bicycle, suit, dress, purse, pair of shoes, vacation, you name it—all based upon if you do or do not have the money to buy it.

Some people base their life upon credit cards. Don’t do it! Not only do you pay insane rates of interest—meaning everything you buy costs you way more than its actual price but having unsecured debt is life debilitating—it holds your everything back from becoming.

Same with student loans… Every person I have ever known who has taken one out was all happy about it, believing they found a way to get over on the system and climb to the top of the heap via a college degree but all they did was bind themselves to a seemingly endless/never ending payment at the end of every month.

But then, there are those people with money. Again, it takes money to get what you want to make things happen. You can’t be a filmmaker without a camera can you? I have watched as many people I have known, by whatever method, purchased their camera, computer, and filmmaking equipment, all with the dreams of making a movie but then nothing… They did not make a film. …Even though they had the money to buy the necessary items, they did not posses the focus and the drive to actually get out there and make it happen.

I think back to a funny story… When I was teaching a course at U.C.L.A. this one young lady student of mine bought the top of the line DV camera of the time. We got to be friends and as I was putting together a new film I asked her if she wanted to be the DP (Director of Photography). I thought it would be fun to have my movie filmed from a new and different perspective; that of a woman. She accepted my offer. On the night before the shoot was to begin she contacted me and wanted to have a sit down. Sure, that was normal. I thought we are going to discuss some of the shooting style. When I arrived we sat down and began our conversation. She said, “I have one question, how do you focus the camera?” What! Obviously, I had to push back the production and find another DP. It’s funny now. But, it's things like that can really mess up the scheduling of the cast and the crew and make the filmmaker lose credibility.

But, here we are… She had the money but not the determination to learn the craft. For example, me, when I get a new camera I immediately drop everything and learn all about it. But, not all people operate from that perspective.

And, this goes to the point of all this… Have you ever really wanted something, found a way to buy it, and then never used it or it did not equal the pathway to your fulfillment as you had intended? I believe that most of us have had that experience to varying degrees. So, what does this tell us about desire and the price of that desire?

Desire costs money. More than just money, desire costs you Life Time. Meaning, you must find a way to buy your desire, pay for the ongoing costs of your desire, and then pay for the consequences of your desire.

Most of us what to do something in life. Many of us what to create something in life. Almost universally these things cost money. You should really calculate the long term cost(s) of your desires before you set about on the course of purchasing that desire. Desires are never free.

The Evolution of Innocence

As we pass through life we are continually adding to our resume. From the moment we are born we experience new things everyday. The more we experience, the more we want to experience. From this, the mind of many becomes addicted to experiencing. Also, from this, people develop the emotion of boredom when they are not experiencing. They want to see, feel, and experience something new.

Our life is set forward by what we experience. From what we experience we develop the illusion of opinions. But, opinions are not fact—they are not even a stationary form of understanding because with each new experience opinions evolve and change. Yet, people come to base their life experiences upon their opinions as those opinions cause them to pursue curtain avenues in their life.

Think back to when you were young. Remember the amazement of all that was new. Watching the clouds in the sky. Studying the waves as they hit the shore. Experiencing the rain falling onto your head. Jumping into a swimming pool. Flying a kite. Today, do you find wonderment by looking at the clouds in the sky? Is it an amazing feeling to jump in a pool? Do you ever even think about flying a kite?

From time and experience comes the loss of the innocence of experiencing. Things become known and expected. Some experiences become loved and sought after while other experiences are forcefully forgotten and avoided at all costs. Though this is the common course of the experiential life of most people; the innocence of the pure, the good, and the wonderful does not have to be lost. It can be consciously reembraced.

Step beyond your thinking mind. Step beyond what you know you know. Forget all you believe that you like and dislike and take a walk back into your innocence. Experience things new and for the first time. Look up to the sky and embrace the wonderment of watching the cloud move through the sky as their forms constantly change.

***

Happiness is a choice. Forgiveness is a choice. Acceptance, anger, desire, love...all choices. Your time. Your choice.

From Zen O'clock: Time to Be.

***

Find peace in the moments of waiting and you will witness life can be perfectly beautiful.

From Zen O'clock: Time to Be.

***

Instead of simply believing everything you see, read, or hear, why don't you actually look for the truth?

Losing Someone

Have you ever lost someone you truly cared about? Meaning, has anyone you truly loved died?

If you have lost someone you truly care about, then the rest of your life has been changed forever. If you have not, you remain in a state of sterilized emotions.

As we pass through life there are some people that we truly love. They become a part of who we truly are.

Many of us find love in the form of people. This is the accepted standard for love. Someone comes into our life and, for whatever reason, we come to love them. With them, we are better people. Without them, we are less.

Some of us additionally find love in the form of pets. For anyone who has never had a pet, they truly do not understand how they are a personality driven human being hiding in a furry form. Thus, they cannot understand. But, for anyone who has partnered with a pet, you understand how they become an essential part of your life. They love you unconditionally.

Sadly, the life of most furry friends is not as long as that of a human. Thus, they will most likely pass away before you. If you truly loved them, this can be devastation; leaving any person far less than when that friend was alive.

If you have not experienced this loss of loved-life, human or otherwise, then you do not understand existence. This is why so many people walk though their younger years very cavalier. They have not lost anyone they truly loved. But, as is the case with most of our lives, we will encounter a time when we lose someone we truly care about. Then, our life will be forever altered. We will see things from a totally different point of view. From this, whenever we think of that life or are reminded of that life, a sadness over takes us.

Some people never have family that they truly love. This is sad. Some people never find relationships where they truly love the other person. Again, sad. Some people never find the love of a pet. Sad… For once you have truly loved, your entire being is changed. You no longer only think about yourself but you are allowed to embrace the understanding that there is a greater substance to human existence and that substance is the love of another.

If you understand what I am speaking of, then you understand. And, if you have lost someone, you know the never-ending pain of that loss. If you do not, some would say you are lucky. But, I would say that you have not touched the essence of life as you have not understood the depths of death.

Life is a finite timespan defined only by what we feel and what we do while we are alive in the body that we have. Look around you. Do you love? Do you love totally? Now, look outside yourself. Look to the people you know—study how they behave. Do they love? Do they love totally?

Love is the basis for the true understanding of life. If you love, if you have loved, then you know what I mean. If you have lost someone you love than you have a profound understanding of existence and this knowledge causes you to behave in a defined manner.

Seek love. Know love. Seek out those who understand and embrace love. And, your everything becomes better.

***

You never know a person's true nature until they have failed at what they hoped to achieve.

***

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

***

Mañana será siempre un nuevo día. Conviértelo en un nuevo dia; no lleves contigo Experiencias negativas del pasado.

Freaks, Freak Out

There is something very magical about the inner-city. Especially the inner-city on the wrong side of the tracks. Yeah, yeah, it’s dangerous. You never know who your friends are or aren’t. But, there is magic.

Today, I was over there doing as I do. And, I hear the song, “Le Freak,” by Chic in the not too far off distance. The sound of the song kept getting closer.

Soon, I see this guy riding one of those three-wheeled bicycles. In the basket in the center of the two rear wheels he had a gigantic boom box. Now, keep in mind, this is not the late 1970s or the early 1980s. This is 2017. But, there he was peddling along with his boom box blasting.

The man had a large black afro and a totally grey goatee. Quite a sight.

That’s a great song, as he got closer I could not help but dance a little bit.

As he rode by, I gave him a nod and we smiled at each other. Inspiring…

You know, it is those abstract moments in life that truly give you a reason to be inspired.

When I got back into my car I had to call up that song and dance in my seat as I drove along.

It is Easy to Criticize When You Haven’t Lived the Life

Having been involved in the film industry for almost three decades at this point in my life I can say with certainty that most people who are not here in Hollywood (and I use Hollywood as a generic term) have no idea what is actually taking place. They have not tried to get an agent, they have not paid a lot of money to get their headshots photographed and run, they have not been to a casting session, they have not paid a lot of money to take acting classes, they have not had people lie to them; promising them the world. They have not even cared enough to move to Hollywood and actually give the industry a try. Yet, they have all of these ideas and opinions about what is taking place. But, they have no idea! They have no basis for their thoughts. What is taking place in the Midwest in a film class at a college campus is not what goes on out here.

Some people want to believe that their opinions matter. And, maybe to them and their friends it does. But, as in all areas of life, if you have not lived it, you do not know what you are taking about.

Having grown up in Hollywood (literally) I saw a lot of what the industry did to people. That’s why I steered my life away from it initially. But, when I did get involved, I jumped in head first. And, just like all the others, who come from all across the globe, I too fell prey to a lot of the illusion Hollywood has to offer. But, that’s why I can comment on the subject. I have been here. I have lived it. Have you?

When I evolved into being a filmmaker this is also why I developed Zen Filmmaking. As I state over-and-over again, I did it to simplify the filmmaking process so people could actual get their films made. Again, as I state over-and-over again, this is also why I generally cast unknown actors and actresses in my films, I want to give them the chance to actually be in a film—a chance that no one else will offer them. To all the critics, what are you offering them but words?

Hollywood is all about the promises. It is about the, “I will do this for you.” But, this very rarely ever happens. What Hollywood is really all about is the lie. Most people come out here believing the dream and eventually leave to go back home very disappointed. I say this, as someone who actually knows. And, I say this to make people understand the reality.

Now, you can criticize me all you want. You can love or hate my Zen Films, I don’t care. But, if you have not been here, if you have not lived the life, you
do not, you cannot understand what I base my words upon. So, before you start throwing shots, live the life. Then, you will have a basis for what you say. If not, you are just like every other armchair quarterback who believes they have all of the answers to the game but has never even been on the field.

Anger as a Tool

Many people believe that by becoming angry and expressing that anger in a boisterous manner that action will cause them to get what they want. Generally, they do this to another person as a show of power, force, and might. They may yell, they may scream, they may break things all to make a situation turn out the way they want it to turn out. But, is this the action of a conscious person?

Most people who express their anger in a less than ideal manner are dominated by their anger. Somebody has done something that they don’t like which causes them to go into a rage. From this, all kinds of inappropriate actions are unleashed. But, what is the motivating factor for any of this? The answer is that one person wants something to be done in a different manner than it is being performed and they are willing to go to any lengths to make that thing happen the way they want it to happen.

Anger is expressed in all realms of life. Certainly, interpersonal relationships are at the forefront of the expression of anger. This is due to the fact that when two (or more) people possess a very close interactive association they become hyper aware of how the other person is behaving and whether or not they approve of that behavior. Thus, this is where a lot of relationship fights are born.

The workplace is also a hotbed for the expression of anger. One person who believes they are in control wants one of their subordinates to do something in the way they want it to be done. When it is not, this may cause an explosion of anger.

But, what does an explosion of anger actually equal? Generally, all it does is to damage the life of both the angered person and especially the life of the person who this anger is focused upon. Yes, perhaps the person who goes into a rage may get the other person to do things the way they want those things to be done but in the process that have hurt the life of that other individual and caused a lot of resentment.

When anger is enacted it proves that the person who is raging cares more about themselves than the person they are mad at. They care more about what they are feeling and what they want than what is going on with the other person. In fact, when someone is mad at someone else they generally are not even considering that other person’s point of view. All they want is what they want and they are willing to explode to get it.

A person who embraces explosive anger possess a mind that they are not in control of. They allow their emotions to control them instead of being the master of themselves. The sourcepoint for most people who embrace explosive anger can be traced back to their childhood where they learned that if the scream long and hard enough they will get what they want. But, whatever the cause, outwardly expressed anger delineates a person who is not in control of themselves and does not care about the other person.

In life, each of us experiences anger. Certainly, people do bad things to other people. They hurt them, they steal from them, they don’t consider how their actions are affecting them, they invade their life, they break their heart, and the list goes on. All of these thing may cause the average person to become angry. But, it is what we do with that anger that defines us as a human being.

For some of us, due to our psychological programing in the early stages of our life, we must learn how to gain control over our anger and not let it become a dominating, expressive force in our life. But, even if this is the case, it is the person themselves who is the source of their anger and how they express it.

Each person decides what to like and what to hate. Each person decides what makes them happy and what makes them sad. Each person decides what gives them a sense of elation and what makes them angry. Think about this, is you didn’t care about a particular subject or the way a particular person was behaving, would you have any reason to become anger? Probably not. Thus, if you can be whole enough in yourself to not care about what another person is doing or how they are behaving you will never have a reason to become angry. From this, you will not hurt the life of the person you are angry at and you will not hurt your own evolution by unleashing negative deeds based upon your anger.

When the Art Has Been Discarded

It always surprises me when I find works of art that have been discarded. Whether this is in a thrift store or a garbage pile, I always wonder why it was created, why it was loved or hated, and then why no one cared about it anymore to the degree that it was simply thrown away.

Over the past weekend I was a that this one shop that sells unique pieces of everything that people can use to create works of art. As I was walking into the shop I noticed that there was a large pile of paintings created on paper. They were mostly faces and bodies painted in what could best be described as the abstract impressionistic style. They were really good. I really liked them.

Then, I began to question, why would anybody discard all of these paintings? They were obviously all done by the same artist. I looked but there was no signature so I could not track the artist down. Did the person die? Had they given them to a lover and the relationship went bad so the person gave them all away? Did the artist, them self, no longer want them? Maybe they had some deep realization about something and they had moved along? I will never know. But, there they all sat in an unloved pile.

I thought to buy one or two of my favorites but as they were all together in a stack of maybe one-hundred I realized that would not be right as they were all so perfectly linked in a discord of harmony. Then I thought to buy them all. But, I realized I have collected so much art over the years that I do not have the space to display most of it and that would not be right to just hide it away. So, I took a few photographs and I left all of those works of art for a better person than me. I hope they all find a home because they were very-very good. And, for the artist, I hope all is well with their life and they are still painting as they have a great talent that should not simply be lost to the discarded pile of art in life.

Every Creator Says the Same Thing

It always strikes me that whenever I see or hear a musician, a filmmaker, or an author being interviewed they each discuss the same issue. That issue is how they are frustrated with the way people believe they have the right to take their creations, utilize them as they see fit, and even, in some cases, redistribute them and make money off of that item without ever paying for that service. They each believe the same thing, (as do I), that if the people who are taking the creations of others, for free, actually were they ones who created them they would have a very different perspective as to what was taking place.

This phenomenon of, “Digital Stealing,” began very recently when one looks to the overall view of human history. I mean, just a couple of decades ago it was far too expensive to do any of that. People could not make a copy of a film, even duping large scale copies of video tapes was far to expensive. To rerecord and then repress a music album cost far too much money to make it a viable commodity. Books… Forget about it. To actually copy, type set, and then print a book was very expensive so it wasn’t done. But, in the digital age this has all changed.

When I taught classes on filmmaking in the late 1990s and even into the early 2000s I used to warn my students about placing their screen credits in white on black cards at the beginning and at the end of their production. As what used to happen, particularly in the Asian market place, was that unscrupulous distributors would take the film, remove the screen credits and add their own. It happened to me. This is why I told them, if they could afford it, to put the credits over picture as this was a way of assuring that even if the movie was stolen the true credits would remain intact.

But now, here you and I sit at our computers. The world is our oyster. And many, if not most, people do not even care about what they are doing to the creative works of others as long as they can do it for free. Some have even found a way of making money off of the creations of others. Do you ever think about this as you walk through your pathway of life and you take advantage of what others have created? Do you ever stand up for the rights of the creator?

I believe that each of us who walks the path of creativity wants to get our creations out to the masses. If we didn’t, we would be creating them in the first place. Nobody writes a book with the hopes that no one will read it. But, throughout history there has always been an exchange for goods and services rendered. This hasn’t always been via money. But, this system has always been in place. It has always been in place until now—in this current time frame we are living within.

It has always been the youth of society that has pushed the levels and understanding of human consciousness forward. This is because when you are young you have the time and the freedom to explore new realms of possibilities as you are not yet burdened by many of the responsibilities of latter life. But, this is also the time period when many people make the biggest mistakes in their life. They set themselves into a course of action that will come to define the rest of their life. Good or bad, this is just the way it is. But, also good or bad, in youth few people have the ability to look at the big picture and see or care how what they are doing is setting the stage for not only their own life but the lives of others.

If all of the people who are actually the, “Creators,” of things have the same problem with what is taking place, doesn’t that tell you something? Doesn’t that make you think?

The fact is, not everyone takes what is out there in cyber space for free. Some people are very honest. How about you? Do you take for free and feel that you have the right to do it? Do you take for free and feel that just because this other person you know is doing it, that it’s okay? Or, do you actually make money off of the creations of other people? If you do, don’t you feel you own that person something? Wouldn’t it be the right thing to do to pay them, in some shape or form, for what you have taken?

I always go back to the point that all of life begins with you. What you do has the potential to affect the entire world. The small things you do can progress and equal the big things. So, what do you do? Do you take for free and not even care about the consequences? Think about this, if you care enough about the person who created that thing you are stealing to make them the focus of your actions, don’t you think that you should care enough about that person to not steal from them in the first place?

Think about what you do. Care about the creators.

Changing the Focus

Have you ever noticed how some people are always taking about someone else? Why do they do this? Whether they are doing this knowingly or not, they do this to take the focus off of themselves. As they continually change the focus of the conversation to make the minds of the people they are speaking with focus on the life, words, and actions of someone else, the focus is never turned to them. From this, they are allowed to pass through life without encountering negative criticism. Attack others before they have the chance to attack you.

Have you ever noticed how some people believe that what they are doing is good or holy but what other people are doing is wrong and sinful? “I don’t drink. That is bad. The world is full of drunks. I don’t smoke. That is bad. People are killing the body that god gave them. I don’t watch adult movies. That is bad. Lust is not how god would want us to behave. I don’t listen to that style of music. It is bad. Rock n’ Roll is the devil’s music.” And, the list of what they disapprove of goes on—from the large to the small. But, when you confront them about something that they are doing that may be hurting their own body or be damaging the life of someone else they always have an excuse ready to justify their actions. Again, by taking the focus off of themselves and placing the blame elsewhere many people listen to and believe their words.

In professional magic, (not elemental magic), one of the key factors is that you take the focus of the viewer off of what they are seeing. From this, the magician is allowed to invoke an illusion and perform a magic feat. This is what some people do throughout their life. They make you look over there, instead of looking directly at them. From this, they become the person who guides the conversation. This is also the technique by which many a cult or world leader has risen to prominence.

All of these actions are based in the concept of making other people believe what one person believes. This one person gains followers yet most of these leaders will claim that they are not attempting to do that at all. In fact, some of these people may not even be self-aware enough to realize what is going on. But, most people are not mentally wily enough to see what is happening to them as they begin this path to discipleship. They have fallen into the troop, they have become a disciple, and they did not even realize this was happening to them. Though, just like the teacher, they will most likely claim this is not the case. But, denial is only denial, it is never based in truth.

Why does this process take place in life? Why do people become unknowing disciples of people? They do this because they seek acceptance from someone, out there. They want to become a part of something, out there. And, they do this without even a conscious understanding of their actions. By allowing someone who is bold enough to step to the forefront and guide the conversation all anyone has done is to accept and participate in the direction of a conversation that was instigated by another person. From this, they become part of the greater whole of whatever group they are involved in and they do not have to think for themselves.

Do you think for yourself? Or, do you follow the words instigated by another?

***

Just because you are saying what you are saying with a smile on your face does not mean that what you are saying is nice.

What You Are Looking For

Each of us comes at life defined by what we expect. Expectations are what drives us to quest for what we desire. From a humanistic and/or spiritual perspective, one will say that you should never enter into any situation with a predetermined judgment but instead allow all things to be as they are—new and fresh. From this, each of these things are allowed to be perfect in their own essence. I would say this too. But, the fact is, most people do not have a highly develop mind. In fact, they don’t want to develop their mind. They don’t want to, because their mind is already made up.

With a made up mind everything a person enters into is defined by what has taken place in the before. Everything they see, everything they witness, and everything they choose to do is defined by the experiences they previously possessed going into any of these activities. Not good, but this is the way most people encounter their life. Do you?

The problem that exists, when you live your life from this perspective, is that nothing is new or fresh. It is not free. And, as such, you will never enter into one of those peak experience moments where Satori is allowed to overtake you. Thus, your life becomes stagnate and the same.

Think about the last time you went to a movie. What were your expectations? Were you expecting it to be as good as that great movie you saw last week or last year? Or, were you going into it knowing that it could never be as great as that movie. In either situation, you entered the movie theater defined by what you had previously viewed. Thus, unless something truly shook you to your core, you were doing nothing more than comparing that experience to a previously lived experience. Thus, you brought all of your mental baggage along with you. From this, any perfection of the moment was lost. How often do you do this?

I used the example of a movie, but this same predefined judgmental mindset can go to all areas of your life. From surfing, to bowling, to going to the supermarket, to going out to dinner, to reading a book.

…Speaking of reading a book, I can tell you a couple of funny stories…

Recently, in this blog, I discussed how a person made a very opinionated documentary about me about five years ago and recently re-released it causing me to receive undeserved hate mail and stuff like that. In that documentary, the documentarian quoted from two of my books on filmmaking. I guess the person 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, altered me to it, and I own the aforementioned books. I just relooked at them and it was very enlightening to me in that I could see what passages this person had highlighted in yellow. As I stated in a previous blog, those books were designed to help the independent filmmaker but what this person 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 this person’s highlights I could totally see what they were doing. They were 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 their preconceived notions about me a reality and to make me look bad. Not cool! But, it was/is truly interesting to witness how this person’s mind works.

The fact is, this is how many people’s minds work. They go into a subject with a preconceived notion about what is presented and they never step out of their own opinions to the degree where they can find a new and perhaps better way of thinking.

Another revealing story, in regard to me, is that when I was in my later thirties I had decided to go back to grad school and earn another Master’s Degree. I was taking a course on Comparative Religion as Presented in Literature and one of my assignments was to write a paper about this one teacher/author. Going into the assignment I had never really like the method of this man’s presentations as he took a little bit of this religion here and a bit of that philosophy there and then intermingled them in his writings. I read the assigned books and, complete with footnotes, I detailed my appraisal of this man’s writings. My instructor rejected the paper, however, and told me to rewrite it as what I had written was far too opinionated and at the graduate level this style of writing was unacceptable. Thus, I had to reset my mind and prepare another twenty-page paper. What happened during this process, however, was I turned off my previously decided upon opinions. When I did, I found that the man had a lot of interesting principals to present. Thus, through my being force to rethink my original beliefs about the man and his writing style I was allowed to come to a new and deeper understanding about life, philosophy, and the way in which we each interpret our lives and the lives of others. It was very enlightening and I am so thankful my instructor forced me to rewrite that paper. If I can find it, perhaps I will present it here somewhere on scottshaw.com.

The point being, if you go into any subject—anything in life with a preconceived notion then you rob yourself of all that situation has to teach you and the sheer beauty and the newness of that experience is lost. This is what I teach in Zen Filmmaking and this is what I suggest in all levels of life. Allow yourself to be free. Allow your mind to not already be made up. From this, a whole world of NEW is allowed to be given birth to. Check it out. You may like it. Happy

***

It is almost impossible to make someone understand the truth when they don't care about the truth.

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When you've created nothing no one can criticize you.

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Do you want to know the definition of your life?

Question: Do you think about you first or do you think about the other person first?

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Do you wake up when the dream is over?

Tell Me Who You Are. Tell Me What You’re About.

Who I am/what I am is very obvious. Read the books I have written, read my bio, my blog, and you will know a lot about me and the way I think. But, who are you?

We are overrun with a world of people basing their entire life upon a screen name. In some cases, people use an actual name as their screen name but who knows if that name is even real?

People spout all of these self-conceived notions and judgments on the world of the internet but are they even anywhere close to real? If you don’t know who the person actually is who is writing them, what their background is, why the are saying what they are saying, you don’t know anything about them so do they have any possibility of being real and true? Stop lying and stop hiding!

In the world of real there is real. You sit down and you tell a person who you are, how you feel, and why you think the way you think. That is reality. That is truth. You did not hide behind the guise of the world wide web. You sat down and actually communicated.

In life, there is only one real and that real is reality. It is face-to-face. It is not hidden by excuses or promises that you say you are who you are when there is no way of proving it.

If you are not real, you are not known, then your life and all you say is nothing more than illusion. From illusion all you say has no meaning or validity for it is all based in a lie.

Do you like to be lied to? If not, enter the world of reality and tell the world who you truly are.

Your Made Me Mentally Ill

The majority of the world’s populous is born into this world with an accepted level of intelligence and they possess the skillset to move through their life in an acceptable manner. Though a small subset or people are born with various levels of mental illness such as schizophrenia and others are born with differing levels of autism these people are in the minority. As such, there exists an established level of what may be considered normal behavior.

Though the exact definition of normal behavior has been debated since the dawn of human consciousness and certain people, in all eras, have pushed the boundaries of accepted normality causing it to evolve. None-the-less, humanity is still defined by a clear sense of what is right and what is wrong and the parameters for how one should behave are clearly delineated.

All this being said, look at how many people are suffering in the world from psychological illnesses. These disorders come in all shapes and sizes from anxiety, to panic attacks, paranoia, phobias, onto personal choices in human behavior like rudeness, grumpiness, promiscuity, and interpersonal violence. But, what is the commonality of all of these psychological conditions? That commonality is that the people who are afflicted with these conditions were not born with them. They were introduced to them at the hands of their family, their friends, their teachers, their religious leaders, their lovers, or society. Thus, someone out there hurt them to the degree that they were shifted from living a normal mental existence. Thus, their mental illness was created by someone out there.

Each person is a unique vessel. Each person processes a personal reality with their own unique criteria for understanding. This is why some people handle things like stress far better than others. What will destroy one person will simply make the next person grow angry. This is humanity. This is life. This is human consciousness.

Again, this brings us back to the point, that no matter how a person personally reacts to a traumatic even that takes place in their life, that initial event was not introduced by themselves. That event was brought on by someone else, someone out there.

Certainly, once an individual has been indoctrinated into a specific aberrant frame of mind they may then act out on that mindset. It has been well documented that once an individual has been damaged by a specific negative event in their life that they may then go out and invoke a similar event onto the life of others. But, the sourcepoint for this is the same. Somebody did something to someone that made them move into a state of mental crisis where they are no longer behaving in an acceptable manner.

Look around you. How many people do you know that behave in an unacceptable manner? How many people do you know that are psychologically damaged and are forced to go to a mental health professional and/or take medication to make them feel okay? How about you? How well have you been adapted into life? Do you have any lingering psychological issues? If you do, then you will understand that they were brought to you by the actions of others. From this, how do you treat others? Do you do things that will cause disharmony and perhaps mental illness in the life of another person? If you do, shame on you!

All of the life we live is a projection of what we have experienced. If we have experienced a good and caring, nurturing existence we are far more likely to be a well-balanced individual. If, on the other hand, we have encountered a lot of trauma, brought to us by the hands of others, then we may have well been introduced to a life defined by psychological abnormality.

At the heart of all life is how you react to what has been done to you. If you have been hurt or damaged by the actions of others, as many of us have, first you need to recognize what is going on with your life and why you are feeling what you are feeling and doing what you are doing. You will then most likely need to get some help to bring your betterment into a clear focus. But then, it all comes down to you. How do you treat others? Do you do things that will create mental trauma in the life of other people? If you do; stop it! If someone says that what you are doing is hurting them or damaging their life be human enough to stop doing it! Understand that the primary cause of why people suffer psychologically is due to the fact of what others have done to them and from this use it as tool to make sure that you never hurt anyone.

***

Sometimes you have to do something that is wrong to learn what is right.

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All bad things that take place in the world begins with one person thinking one bad thought and then expressing that thought to someone else.

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Your life is defined by whom you have hurt.

Self Sacrifice

How much do you focus your life upon Self Sacrifice? Meaning, how much of your Life Time do you spend helping and giving to others?

Very few people spend any amount of their Life Time giving to others. There are some who donate their old clothing or furniture to clarities—some occasionally help out a friend move or paint their house but none of this is Self Sacrifice, none of this is Selfless Service. This is simply taking care of you while you help out someone you care about. Giving to charities equals a tax deduction. Helping a friend is doing something that keeps your relationship solid as they will later help you. But, Self Sacrifice involves an entirely different set of parameters. It involves giving to others and helping others when there is nothing in it for you.

The first thing many, if not most, people will ask is, “Why should I help anybody to the degree that I am doing something that I do not really want to do—why should I help them when I receive no benefit from the giving?” This is selfishness! There is no other way to spell it out. But, this is how the majority of the world operates. They only do when the doing benefits themselves.

The problem with living your life from this level of consciousness is that no one is ever truly helped. The people that need help are not extended that helping hand and you gain nothing, physically, emotionally, or karmically as all you have done is think about yourself.

Think to your life; how many times have you actually done something for someone when there was no benefit it that deed for you? How many times have you cared more about someone else other than yourself—someone that you did have an interpersonal relationship with? How many times have you cared enough to care enough to turn off your desires, your emotions, what you feel you want and/or deserve and actually do for another person? Have you ever done anything like that?

I believe in most people lives they will conclude that they have never put themselves on hold and given all that it took to make another person’s life actually better. Thus, they have never truly helped anybody. And, this is just sad! This is why so many people are suffering in the world. This is why so many people are hurt.

Now, think about this… How many times have you done something that hurt someone else? And, you did it knowing the ultimate consequences, yet you did not care because that doing made you feel better or made your life better? I believe you will be able to remember several times when you have acted in this manner—helped yourself while it hurt someone else.

I realize these words are for the most part falling to deaf ears. Because nobody cares enough to care about the other person. Instead, they find reasons to justify their selfish actions.

I can also point to the times when you have been hurt, when somebody did not care about how you were feeling or did not come to your aid when you needed help. But, instead of using this as a motivating factor to do good, most people simply see this as a reason to travel along the path that they are on only doing for themselves and/or those they care about.

Have you ever wondered why so many people suffer for a long time before they die and ultimately die a very painful death? Karma. As they did not pay for their bad or selfish deeds in life, that toll is taken upon them as they pass towards death.

Life is your choice. Everything that you do is done because you have made a choice to do the something that you set up in that moment where you currently find yourself. What you did yesterday sets your today in motion.

What did you do yesterday? Did you help anybody? Did you care about anybody?

Now, here is an important thing to keep in mind as you pounder these thoughts… Many people think and say that they have scarified for their family or their children. That doesn’t count. That is expected—especially in the case of children. You chose to have a child. As you did choose to have that child you then took on the responsibility of giving that child the best life possible. This is also the same with husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, and lovers. You chose them, they chose you. Thus, whatever you do for them is expected.

What Self Sacrifice and Selfless Service is all about is doing for that person out there who needs your help. It is about turning yourself off and caring more about that other person than you getting what you want. It is about helping. It is about giving.

You can go through your life any way you want. Your life is your choice. But, though what you are doing for yourself may feel good today, it may destroy you tomorrow. Words have reactions. Actions have reactions.

What are you doing? Are you only caring about you and yours or are you caring about that person out there, whom you do not even know?

Care enough to care. Act selflessly.

***

If you are not basing what you say on saying something positive your words destroy everything.

From your words your life is born.

***

Everyday you could do something about it but everyday you don't.

Positive Words of Negativity

When you pick up a book to read have you already decided how you are going to feel about the writing? Though this is a very unenlightened perspective to possess at the outset of any read, some people are like this. This predetermined mindset goes to both sides of the spectrum. There are those who love an author so they believe they will love any book that author composes. Then, on the other side of the coin, there are those who look for a reason to hate a book they have decided to read. They begin their reading experience seeking out a reason to dislike what is written.

But, why is this? Why do people choose to do something with a predetermined perspective? To answer, this really goes to the mindset of the individual. This goes to their psychological makeup. And, it goes to the person they choose to present to the world—even if that person is only presented to family members, close friends, and/or themselves. They want to be seen as a something; a knower.

To ask the question of most people, “How often have you decided to do something like read a book knowing that you have already made up your mind as to whether or not you will love or hate it?” For most, the answer would be never. You may end up loving or hating the book but you do not go into the experience of reading it with a mind already made up. It is important to know in life, however, that there are other people out there that want to make something someone else created, “A something.” “A something,” that they want it to be.

I believe we all remember when we had to write a, “Book report,” for a book we were assigned to read in school. In many cases, we were assigned a book that we probably would never have picked up on our own accord. None-the-less, we were given an assignment and we were forced to complete it to the best of our ability. From this, we can all discuss some of the classic works of literature as we were all forced to read and report on a very common list of writings.

Some people, enter into reading a book in this manner. They go at it like they are doing a book report. They read it, but instead of allowing it to stand on its own merits to the mind of each individual, they hope to pick it apart and thereby present their personal take on that work as its ultimate authority. Again, why do people do this? The answer to this question is twofold. First of all, this mindset is based in a misplaced sense of being all-knowing. Somehow, someway this person as emerged in their life believing that they possess a deeper sense of understanding than does the average individual and, as such, they tell themselves they have the right to evaluate all things/anything so others will be forced to base their opinion on what they have detailed. The second part of the answer to this equation goes to the individual’s level of personal understand of Self in association with the reality of, “Out there.” Most of these people have found themselves, to whatever degree, shunned by society in the early stages of their life. From this, they have developed a deep sense of insecurity. Though they most likely will never present this insecurity to the world, in fact just the opposite, they live a life of perpetuated judgment based on early life experiences. As they want to overcome this early shunning they step to the forefront of life and present themselves as, “The knower.” From this, they present what, “They believe,” to the world.

The thing about life is that many people do not have a strong, highly developed sense of Self. They want to be part of the crowd. Thus, the people who put themselves at the apex of knowledge easily find followers.

It is very important in life that each of us studies what we are doing, our motivations for what we are doing, and what effect what we are doing is having upon the world. If you enter into anything with predetermined notions, then you are robbing yourself of a true and natural experience for what you are doing in life. If you attach your judgment to what you have previously chosen to encountering than you are taking, “Choice,” away from the person listening to what you have to say. If you do this, not only do you become karmiclly responsibly for what happens next in the life of that person who listens to you, but you rob the freedom of choice that the greater whole of the world should be allowed to posses.

Allow yourself to enter each new experiences with a sense of undefined wonderment and lack of judgment. When you have passed through that experience don’t attempt to make others feel the same way as you feel about it. Allow each person to experience life from their own personal perspective. Then, we are each allowed to be who we can ultimately become and each person is allowed to feel the way they want to feel.

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Just because it is hidden does not mean that it doesn't exist.

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Do you consciously try to become a better person?

Fight the Good Fight

There is the age old statement, “Fight the good fight.” As all statements can be, this statement can be interpreted in several different ways. But, at its heart, most interpret it as, fighting for what is good and what is right. But, what is good and right? Is good and right a whole thing onto itself or is simply what you believe is good and right?

If you look around at the world, your society, your group of friends, or even at yourself, what do people believe is good? If you study this, you will see that each person, each group, each society, defines good as something different. Yes, there may be large groups of people who come together under one banner to fight for a cause they believe is good and right but look across the street and there will be another group fighting for just the opposite cause. From this, we can understand that, “Fighting the good fight,” is a concept based upon personal interpretation and it is not a universal truth.

Think about the things you are passionate about—the things that you believe are right and the things that you believe are wrong. Is there a commonality of those things? That commonality is most likely that they get your juices flowing. This or that makes you angry so first it causes a mental reaction in you which then possibly leads to a physical reaction.

Now, think about the last time you watched on TV as a large group of people destroyed things on a college campus, rioted in a city, beat someone up on the street because someone believed something different than they did, possessed a differing ethnic makeup, or killed people in war. Did all of these people believe that they were fighting the good fight? Probably. But, what that thought did was to cause them do something very negative which can and should never be defined by the word, “Good,” on any level. They were fighting their fight but the minute they entered the world of causing harm, all goodness of their deed was lost.

Look around yourself and the people you interact with on the personal level: at your school, place of employment, at the gym, or on the internet. Is there a commonality of cause that exists between you? What is that commonality? Is it based on someone or something you love or someone or something you hate? If it is based on that ladder what are you are invoking, due to your cause, is negativity. And negativity is always universally based upon personal judgment being cast out the to the world. From this, nothing positive is ever born.

Moreover, is there one person, one personality who draws you and your group together. If so, what you have entered into is a cult of personality. And, a cult of personality has been the sourcepoint for all of the bad things that have happened in the world due to people falling in with a cult.

To define whether or not you are falling in with a cult of personality, take a look at what you say and what you do within the confines of your group. Are you praising one person? Are you saying things that you hope will find you favor with that one person or with your group because you said that positive thing about that one person? If so, you are in a cult of personality and you may be karmically falling prey to any negative deeds that are being unleashed onto individual people and/or the world emanating from that cult.

Fighting the good fight should never be based solely on an emotion filled reaction unleashed onto people or the world. The good fight should be based upon a universally positive reaction to all things in the sphere of life.

We all know, we have all witnessed what saying or doing negative things does to a person, a formulated group, or to a society. If you become part of that negative experience, though it may get your juices flowing, what does it do to the whole of your life? What will it do to you and your ultimate evolution?

Look at your life. Look at what you say and what you do. Look at why you say what you say and do what you do. Look at how you behave towards other people based upon what you feel.

Why do you feel what you feel? Is it a natural realization on your own part? Or, did someone guide you in the direction of feeling what you feel? And, are you feeling what you are feeling to make someone else happy?

At the heart of the, “Good fight,” is always the word, “Good.” Good is always good. There is never anything negative attached to that definition. Do good.

***

If you've judge somebody, you've judge somebody.

If you've said something negative about somebody, you've said something negative about somebody.

What are the consequence both seen and unseen?

If you've accept a person for who and what they are, you've accepted a person for who and what they are.

If you've said something positive about about somebody, you've said something positive about somebody.

What are the consequence both seen and unseen?

How would you be judged if you reveled the true you?

What would people say about you if they knew the true you?

The Things That Make You Upset

For each of us there are situations that occur in our lives that make us upset. For most people, these situations are motivated by something some person has done. …They did something, we didn’t like what they did, thus we are upset. But, this is not always the case, some people look outside of themselves and their own life situation to find a reason to be upset. This is not based upon interpersonal relationships, however, it is, in fact, a psychological abnormality. But, no matter what the cause, when an individual is upset this is the time when they are most likely to do something that not only negatively affects the life of the person that has made them upset but their own life, as well.

Look at yourself. Who or what upsets you? Think about a time when you were upset at a person. What was the reason? Most likely, it was due to the fact that they did something that you did not like. But, now look deeper into the situation. Why did they do it? What element of you, your desires, your life, what you previously had done to them, caused them to do what they did to you that ultimately upset you?

If we actually take the time to study our life we will find that, in many cases, the reason we have become upset at a person is actually based in something we instigated. Certainly, most people are not self-aware enough to acknowledge this fact. They forever want to shift the blame onto anyone but themselves. But, the truth be told, in many cases the reason you are upset at a person is because of a situation that was brought into existence by you.

If you can own this fact, not only will you pass through life being far less upset but you will also come to understand human consciousness from a much more refined perspective.

It is not only people that upset us. Sometimes we are mad at the world around us. Maybe you don’t like the current political condition of the country where you live, maybe you are mad at the powers-that-be who dominate your life, or maybe you are just frustrated with where you find yourself in life. No matter what the cause, when you are upset at something outside of yourself, that is anger based in a choice. You have decided that you don’t like that something. Thus, it causes you to be upset.

The problem with focusing your anger on something, “Out There,” is, “Out There,” is not, “In Here.” It is not something that you are. It is something that is pulling you away from yourself and your own personal inner-development.

As I often discuss, anger is an addictive emotion. It is also an extremely negative emotion as it has the potential to make people do some very-very bad things. If you are allowing yourself to have your anger motived by the, “Out There,” it takes away from what you are doing towards your own personal development. In fact, that is why so many people focus their mind on the, “Out There.” They do that so they do not have to look inside themselves, perhaps resolve their own inner issues, and, thereby, come to a new and deeper understanding of their own human consciousness.

We each get dragged into the mindset of being upset from time-to-time. This is simply part of the human condition. This, “Being upset,” is generally brought about by the actions of another. Again, this is part of the human condition as most people do not take the time to think about what effect they are having on another person or another person’s person life by the words they are speaking or the actions they are unleashing. …People are a selfish breed… This being said, each time you find yourself being upset you can choose to control this emotion as opposed to letting it control you. The fact is, the more times you allow yourself to become upset, at people and situations, as you pass thorough life, the deeper you will allow that emotion to carve its way into your psyche. This is where the addition to being upset is born.

Think about it, do you like to be upset? If you do, you are following a path of aberrant reality. If you don’t, teach yourself to not let it control your life.

In closing, I can tell you a funny/interesting story about being upset. Many people believe that spiritual communities, especially those following an Eastern path to realization, are never burdened by people who are angry or upset. This, however, is not universally the case.

When I first found my way to Swami Satchidanand’s Integral Yoga Institute, when I was a teenager, I knocked on the door and they invited me in. The female Swami who opened the door had been sitting on the floor putting together a newsletter. With my young mind focused on Karma Yoga (Selfless Service) I happily sat down and began to help her. A few minutes later another female Swami came in and said something to her. The Swami I was initially sitting with got up and walked into the other room where the pair began a big argument. Me, I awkwardly sat there finishing up the newsletter as the two argued in the other room upset at one another about something. There I was, a person they did not yet even know, and there they were, two Swamis, arguing in the other room. I finished up the newsletter and waited for my new friend to return. Happy

You see, people get upset everywhere. But, it is always what you choose to do with that emotion that defines you as a human being.

Killed By Death

If I can reference the great Motorhead song, “Killed By Death,” I think it is very sad that recently it seems there have been a number of seminal artists taking their own life. It was just revealed that Chester Bennington took his own life today. Just a few weeks ago, Chris Cornell also hanged himself. I mean both of these guys had phenomenal voices. And, Chris Cornell truly helped to usher in a new genre of music, Grunge. Sad…

I just heard on TMZ Live that the two were close friends and today would have been Chris Cornell's birthday. So, Bennington was sending some sort of message. He hanged himself at his home very close to where I live. Sad!

Certainly, suicide is nothing new. It has been going on since the dawn of humanity. And, from a philosophic perspective, people should have the right to end their own life if they no longer wish to live. I mean, we do not have a choice about being born but, if we wish, we should have a choice in our death. Though this is usually not the case… Most people when they come up against the door of death, they do not want to enter. Yet, they are pushed through. But, that is getting off the subject.

I think it was probably brought clearly home when Robin Williams took his own life in 2014. In all of these three cases, it appeared as if these people had the world by the tail. …Chris Cornell had just gotten off stage… But, they each chose to get off of the ride.

There is always the discussion after a person takes their own life as to why. Many reference depression, the wrong medications, bullying, a bad breakup, financial crisis, no hope on the horizon, and the list goes on… But, what occurred, for whatever reason, is a person decided they no longer wished to live.

Now, the three aforementioned people were each very famous in their own right. They seemed to be living a very good life. …A life that many of us can only dream of. But, think about all of the people whom you never heard of, who were never famous, and they took their own life, as well. As you didn’t know them, never heard of them, do you even care? And, do the fans of these famous people, who take their lives, truly care? Does anyone care about anybody that they do not personally know? And, maybe this goes to the source of the problem… Most people don’t care unless they have a reason to care. Maybe that reason is bloodline, maybe it is love, maybe it is money, but if you only posses the ability to care about someone who does something for you, that is doing business that is not a true, deep, interpersonal relationship. Maybe that was what was lacking from their lives of these people—all the people who take their own life. In most cases, we will never know.

But, the one thing to think about as you pass through your life is that you really need to take the full-on focus of your mind off of yourself: what you want, what you think you need, what you think you deserve. You really need think about other people—not just the people you love or those who pay your rent, you need to think about the everybody—the person out there who needs your help—the person who's life that would become so much better if you simply said a kind word to them or did a good deed for them. Think about them. Stop thinking only about yourself. You never know, maybe by behaving in this manner, you will save a person from suicide.

***

There is no way to live in the dirt and not get dirty.

***

I understand that everyone wants everything for free these day. But, if you were the creator of those things you would have a different perspective.

Do you get paid for what you do? Would you do what you do for free?

If You Want Me to Be in the Conversation Let Me Be in the Conversation

Whenever I create a narrative-driven film I allow my actors to speak the way they would naturally speak—say what they would naturally say. From this, I believe it provides their character with a sense of realism.

In times gone past, Donald G. Jackson and I would feed our characters their lines in our Zen Films. But, I left that ideology behind long ago, as it is not as real as real.

In my Zen Films what I do is allow the actors to say whatever they want. I give them a bit of framework for their character at the outset and then I let them run with it. The only time I interrupt is if they are going totally off storyline. Then, I leave it to the editing room to find the best of the best. That’s the great thing about cinema, you have time. It’s not like TV that has to be cut down to a very precise period of time. The filmmaker has freedom, if they allow themselves to embrace it. Thus, I want my actors to be a part of this process of cinematic freedom.

When it comes to life, I also think this is the best practice—let people say what they will say. From this, you are allowed to see into their psychic; as what they say and the way they say it can provide you with deep insight into how they truly feel about you, life, and themselves. What a person chooses to say and how they choose to say it is very revealing about who they truly are on the inside.

As an actor, on the sets of other director’s films, in many cases, I have been given a script with lines to memorizes. That’s fine but is that person me? No, it is a person I am pretending to be. In some cases, in small parts in A-Films, I have been given an on-set line or two to speak. But, I always find those words are forced and predictable. How often do you only say one line? I always felt if they wanted me to speak, they should let me speak. Then, like in the case of Zen Filmmaking, a natural conversation would evolve. From this, the audience would be treated to a condition of naturalness.

The one exception to this was the film I did directed by Robert Altman, The Player. I arrived on the set to play the role of, “White Guy.” Yes, in all truth that is what my character’s name was given in the actual script. I still have the original script so I can prove it! In that case, as we begin to shoot second part for my character on the stairwell of the Rialto Theater in Pasadena, I didn’t like the line that had been written for me. I told this to Bob. He said, say whatever you want. “You got the wrong guy, man.” From this, it caused a moment of reflection in the film. I remember being at the premier of, The Player. With great cinema creation and story development, the filmmaking team had built my charterer up to the degree that after my character’s set up in the movie theater, watching the movie the Bicycle Thief, the audience all gasp when I said that simple line. And, as the person who created it, that was a really good feeling!

Most of the time on the set, the actors don’t have that freedom, however. They are forced to speak words that have been memorized from a script. This is just like in life; you are trapped in an environment where you must be defined by what you are defined by. Thus, you are not allowed to say what you actually feel. This is why the internet has taken off to the degree that it has—anyone can say anything thing. And, hidden by a screen name, no one knows who you truly are, so they can’t confront you face-to-face about what you have said—thus there is a veil of protection.

Yeah, yeah… This is the coward’s way out. I agree! But, for all those with no voice, here they have a voice.

But, more to the point, think about when you speak to people… Do the people you know, (the people you actually associate with in real life), allow you to speak in the manner you truly desire? Moreover, do they hear you? Do they listen to what you have to say, consider your point of view, and perhaps change their mind to give your point of view room to grow in life?

Truthfully, most people’s lives are not like that. Most people do not want you to speak. If you do speak, most people do not want to listen to what you have to say. At best, they pay you lip service and then continue on their path of self-induced righteous.

Life is a complicated pathway. As I bought up the internet, I can say, there is no true dialogue out here. No one says they’re sorry, because no one care about the consequences. At least they don’t care about the consequences to others—only themselves. But, this is a shallow place to live your life from for at the end of the day what will it equal? Only you saying what you said, somebody else saying what they said, but no interaction and growing of the minds of multiple people. Thus, evolution is halted. There is only you and no one else.

So, back to the original point, if you want me to be in the conversation, let me be in the conversation. Just like an actor in a film, let me speak in a natural way. Then, you will know me, I will know you, and we can create a new evolution of life and understanding.

No New Converts

How many people have you known in your life that have changed? How many people have you actually known that have perhaps heard some inspirational words, read an inspiring book, or maybe had a realization, and then have changed? …Have stopped living their life from a selfish perspective, thinking only about themselves, and set about on a course of doing and saying only good things, actually helping people, and consciously attempting to make the world a better more spiritual place? My guess would be none.

The people who consciously walk the path of consciousness are few. Most who do acquire this inclination when they are very young. But, there have been others who have had their life shaken up, generally by some tragedy, and then have changed—they are forced into a new understanding of life awareness and from that realization they move forward with a conscious inclination to do good things, to help people, and to attempt to make all things better. But, these people are few.

Look around yourself—look at the people you know, how many of them care? Some may be nice, some may be funny, some may even be religious; but how many of them actually make the conscious choice to get out there and make the world a better place?

Certainly, it can be argued that the people who are on the forefront of helping others do so to gain a sense of accomplishment. From a psychological perspective, this may well be the case. But, think about the effect they are having on the world compared to that of the person who thinks about nothing but themselves: what they like, what they dislike, what they want, and whom they wish to become. Which person do you believe makes the greater contribution to the world and to human society?

When you wake up in the morning what do you think about? Here, is the ideal place to chart where your consciousness lies. For parents, many wake up thinking about their children. This is a good and natural first-thought. For young lovers, they may wake up thinking about the person lying next to them. Again, that is natural. But, to the greater whole, when you wake up in the morning what is your first thought? Is your first thought about you or is it about what you can do for the betterment of all? Is it you thinking, “I need a cup of coffee?” Or, is it you thinking, “Today I am going to do this particular something to try to make that person’s life a little better?”

The truth be told, no matter what you say to the person who only thinks about themselves, they are not going to change their mind. This is why there are no new converts. This is why so much of the world’s populous goes around hurting each other. People only think about themselves.

This is being said, it can be you who actually chooses to make the change—chooses to be more and do more. You
personally; you can make the world a better place. How do you do this? By caring about others instead of only caring about yourself.

The Last Laugh

I just had a chance to check out the first preview for James Franco’s upcoming movie, The Disaster Artist. The movie is based on the making of Tommy Wiseau’s film, The Room. I have never met Tommy nor have I seen his film, The Room. But I have, of course, heard about him and the film. I have to say it must feel pretty good for Tommy to have the last laugh. I mean all of those people who have talked shit about him, particularly on the internet, and now Big-Dollar Hollywood is making a Bio Pic about him with a cast made up of A-List talent. That must feel pretty good!

I had a very small example of that happen to me about ten years ago when a group of students at Grand Valley State University in Michigan made a ten-part mockumentary goofing on me, Don, and Zen Filmmaking. I just found it one day on YouTube. I have mentioned this here in this blog before but you can get to it by going to my YouTube channel or by searching Zen Filmmaking on YouTube. It was a great piece of true Zen Filmmaking. I never met any of those people. If you are out there you should get in touch with me and we can make a Zen Film together. I’ll bring the camera. Happy

But, that was a small budget project. Nothing like, Wiseau. He gets the big bank behind him. That’s great! It’s a true testament to indie filmmakers who make less than mainstream presentations.

It must have been an interesting experience for him to work with those people on that level. I know whenever I’m called up to The Bigs it is a trip. I mean the amount of people and the amount of money they spend on those big productions. It is scary. I think I’ve mentioned this before, in some previous blog (somewhere), but on the last A-Market film I did they had this stand-in for my character. It was funny. He was the much younger, better looking, version of me. I told him, he should be the one in front the camera. Though most of my part ended up on the cutting room floor—but that’s okay, it’s not all that unusual as the big films shoot so much footage that is never used it is scary. Like I tell my actor friends when they complain about that kind of thing happening to them, “You should be really thankful! They treat you like a king (or queen), you get paid stupid amounts of money, and you don’t have to do anything to earn it.”

I checked Tommy’s IMDB.com page and it doesn’t look like he has made a full fledged movie like, The Room, since 2003. But, I guess that’s all he needed to do. It was enough to get the attention of Hollywood and have James Franco play him in a film. Congratulations to all concerned!

Right Thought and What You Do Today Equals Your Tomorrow

As I often discuss in this blog, the world is created by you. What you do today sets your tomorrow into motion. What you say or do spreads from you and has the potential to affect the entire world. Thus, you must be very focused on what you say and what you do if you hope for not only your own life to be lived as a good life but for all you encounter to have a positive experience. This is why one of the key concepts to Buddhist philosophy is the understanding of, “Right Thought.”

Take a moment and look at your life. Think about a time when you were angry, jealous, mad, envious, greedy, or lust driven. How did that make you feel? Now, look deeper into that time in your life—more than simply how you felt what did that emotion cause you to say or do? And, what was the result of what you said or did?

If we look outside of ourselves, we can easily see how anger has caused many people to do very-very bad things. Even if they did not actually intend to do something bad, they were emotion driven and bad results occurred.

In many ways, it is easy to critique the life of someone else, it is much harder for you to look at yourself and to truly view what a negative emotion has caused you to do and what were its wide spanning consequences. The reason for this is simple, most people believe that what they are feeling is right and they have a reason for feeling the way they are feeling. Thus, any outburst or action they unleash they feel is justified. But, is it? Is what you think and feel more important than what another person thinks and feels? Some will immediately answer, “Yes, it is.” But, that is a selfish mindset speaking. A True Person always considers another person before they speak and/or act.

Let’s look at the source of emotional action a little bit further. Remember a time when you were feeling a certain way and that emotion caused you act. You acted, you did what you did, you affected the life of another person the way you affected the life of another person but what was the ultimate benefit to you? Did it all of a sudden make your entire life better? Maybe you felt good for a moment for getting over on another person that you were angry at or did not like, but did that action truly make your overall life any better? Moreover, what were the long term ramifications of your action? If you hurt somebody, now they are probably angry at you. Now what? Do you need to look over your shoulder?

The problem with Self-Though and only thinking about yourself—only being driven by what you are feeling in a particular moment is that it does not lead to a better ALL in your life. Plus, basing your life on the temporality of emotion is that you create a lot of karma for yourself. And, though in one moment you may be flush with friends cheering you on, in the long term any negative action based upon any negative thought or emotions comes back to take its toll on your life. Thus, this is why the Buddhist practices, “Right Thought.”

What is Right Thought? Just as the combination of words imply, it is thinking righteous thoughts. It is controlling your thoughts so your thoughts do not control you. It is causing yourself to not be controlled by your emotions so that you do not do bad things that hurt other people which will ultimately hurt you.

Right Thought is not necessarily easy if you have lived a life defined by uncontrolled emotions. Though it is not necessarily easy, it is the easiest thing to do. Just get control of yourself! Just get control over your mind! Don’t let your emotions dominate your every thought causing you to unleash selfish, uncaring actions.

By taking control, you are in control. By being in control, that will give you a thousands times more internal pleasure than you would gain from constantly being in a state of disharmony brought about by your own lack of self-projected fulfillment.

And, this is the main point… Why are you ever angry, jealous, or greedy? Because you are unfulfilled. Why are you unfulfilled? Because you want more and/or you want control. You want all that you want when you want it. But think about this… What if you just let go of that anger? What if you just let go of that jealousy? What if you just let go of that desire? Think how free you would be. Think how happy you would become. And, from this, no negative action would be born based upon you doing negative things based upon a negative emotion.

Be free. Think Right Thoughts.

Never the Same

In everyone’s life things happen that change everything forever. Some of these events are very small while others are very large, most fall somewhere in between. The one thing they all have in common is that they are memorable and life altering enough that your life is never the same once they occur.

Yesterday, a guy ran into my lady’s car as we were driving home from celebrating National Ice Cream Day at a local ice cream shop. All was well with the world but the guy, looking at his phone, didn’t see that we were stopped at a light and smashed into her car and the impact then shoved it into the SUV in front of us. Her car is totaled. Though it was fairly old but it ran well and she liked it, so what more can you ask. But, it’s gone… Now, we have to deal with all of the nonsense of getting her another car. The paramedics showed up and wanted to take me to the hospitable but I, of course, turned that down. My neck’s a little tweaked but hopefully it will get better. So, there it is, an example of a relatively small event that changes everything forever.

Certainly, I’ve had far worse accidents, like when a girl, driving her Mercedes, ran into my motorcycle when I was twenty-one almost killing me. Nothing about my life was ever the same… But, does she even remember or care about what she did?

This goes to the point of what you do, why you do it, and how you do it. There are enough accidents in life that can change your everything forever, why should you set about on a course and consciously do anything that will alter anybody’s life? What makes you think you have the right?

Some people are very conscious of other people. They truly care about adding to the greater good. They are good people and try to only do good things. On the other hand, some people are flat-out bad. They live a life course that hurts others. But, look at their lives over time. Where do they end up? You will see that behaving in that manner will catch up to them.

Most people, however, do not try to be good. They do not try to make the world a better place. Just as most people are not bad, they do not try to hurt or take from others. It is the people in the middle who either live their life from a space of uncaring unconsciousness or possess a misplaced sense of entitlement that causes many of the Never-the-Same crisis to occur in the lives of other people.

I talk about this kind of stuff all the time. I really hope people will think about what they are doing before they do it, chart what effect it may have: whom it will help and whom it will hurt. I believe most of the people who reads this blog are like that. They do not want to be the cause of creating Never-the-Same moments in people’s lives unless it is based on the case of making someone’s life better. But, there are all those others out there who do not care enough to care. They only think about themselves: they justify their actions and surround themselves with people who are telling them they are okay. But, hurting anyone is never okay. Don't support people who live their life from that frame of mind. This is why you really must become WHOLE enough in yourself to study what you are doing before you do it. Care enough to care! If it is going to hurt someone/anyone don’t do it. If you do hurt someone, at least be like they guy who ran into my lady’s car yesterday and be adult enough to apologize like he did, be calm, and try to make things better. As better is always better!

There are enough uncharitable accidents in this world that will cause people to be Never-the-Same. Don’t consciously do anything that causes that catastrophe in anyone’s life.

The Harsh Realms of Reality

I always find it curious the way people focus on so much outside of themselves. They think and talk about all the things in life that do not truly affect them. Yet, they form opinions and discuss what they think about this person or that, that organization or this, what they would do if and when they could, they discuss how someone else should live and what others should do. But, none of this adds up to anything but the sheer rambling meaninglessness of life. It does not equal anything! Yet, how many people focus their entire life upon this style of banter.

I should say, that people behave in this manner only when they are allowed to do so. …Only when they are living a life of safety and wholeness; where they have enough to eat, a safe place to live, and do not have to fight a war every time that they walk out the front door.

Think about it, there are a lot of people who must live their life at that level. I imagine if you are reading this blog you do not… And, that is a good thing… But, on the other side of the issue, do you live your life based on the concept of privilege? And, do you ever consider what you are doing, how you are living your life, and why? Do you ever consider the big picture before you say what you say and/or do what you do? Do you ever view the reality of your life, what you are creating with your life, based upon where you find yourself in life? If you don’t you should.

***

When you do not know the facts your opinion has no validity.

Loving the Melodrama

Some people love melodrama in their life. They are constantly looking for something to make them excited, angry, dissatisfied—all in order to get that rush that comes from that burst of adrenaline based upon an intense emotion. For these people, if they cannot automatically find something to stir their juices they create it. I have known several people who live their life based upon this mindset.

Personally, I don’t like that feeling. I don’t like to feel angry, nervous, paranoid, or enraged. So me, I don’t look for things to stir those emotions. When they have come to my life it is usually by the hands of one of those people who likes that kind of stuff and as they use whatever method necessary to get their emotional fix they oftentimes drag others into their melodrama.

Has that as that ever happened to you? Has anyone ever created a situation where you were dragged into a melodramatic situation by the words or the action of another person? How did you feel about that? And, have you ever done that to another person? Have you ever done something that brought disruption and chaos to the life of another person? Why did you do it?

Certainly, in the real realms of life is where these emotions take hold but online I always find it an interesting place to observe human behavior. It is quite easy to view how people behave in life by the websites they visit, by the screen names they choose, by the words they choose to write on those sites, and especially by the way they describe and interact with others. I mean look around the various sites online where they allow people to express their opinions and you will easily be able to see how some people are positive, passive, nice, and understanding, while others are like attack dogs—what they say and do is based upon a defined sense of personal judgment and anger being expressed from the mindset of I am right, you are wrong; I hate you.

Each person’s life is made up by the experiences they experience as they pass through life. Each person’s life is also defined by the experiences they create in their own life and the ones they instigate in the lives of other people. This is where karma is born.

How many people do you know who live their life on the level of existence where they draw others into their realm of emotion-driven consciousness and do so from a place of caring or understanding? Almost universally you will find that people who create melodrama, (and draw others into it), do so from a very personally undefined since of reality where they are not in touch with themselves, they do not truly care about anyone but themselves, and they do not care what effect they are having on the lives of others—they only care about seeking their emotional rush.

We each have a choice how we encounter life. We also have a choice of what we bring to the lives of others by what we say and what we do. How is what you are saying and doing affecting your life and, in may ways more importantly, how is what you are saying and doing affecting the lives of other people? And, do you care about any of this? If you don’t, that is the perfect description of you as a human being. Do you like that person?

In life, unless we hide from the world, we each are going to encounter undesired melodrama in life—even if we are one of the people who does not seek it out. Almost universally this will be brought to our life by another person who is either questing this type of mental stimulation, (via either a conscious or unconscious method), or by someone who simply is unconscious of their actions or does not even care enough to care. But, it is what you do with that energy when it attacks you that defines you as a human being. We can allow ourselves to be dragged into the negativity of it or we we can sidestep the attack, remain conscious, and hold tight to our Best Self while the turbulent energy surges around us.

We are all here in life together. Some hope to make each person’s life better while others only think about themselves. This has been the definition of life since the beginning of time. All you can do is make the best, most positive decisions available to you when you are confronted by the random mind games of another.

Be strong. Be positive. Care about others. Think about the effect of what you are doing will have on others. Live a good life. Create a good life for other people.

***

Do you ever watch the news or the online news feeds and see all of the bad things that are taking place in the world?

What is the common denominator of these bad deeds?

It is people doing things that hurt other people.

Do you participate in any of those bad deeds?

Do you make excuses or provide justifications for your words or your actions?

Small things grow to equal big things.

If anyone is hurt by what you say or what you do you are performing a negative action that leads to a bad deed being performed.

As you are the sourcepoint, you are responsible for all that happens in the world.

Study what you say and what you do. See where your words and your actions lead and what they lead to.

Make the world a safer, better place.


Old Enough to Be Your Grandfather

I had kind of a funny/interesting experience the other day. I got talking to one of my barista buddies at Starbucks. I was surprised to find out that, for some reason, he though I was around the same age as him, mid thirties. He didn’t believe me when I told him how old I am. “You want to see my ID,” I joking exclaimed. “I’m old enough to be your father!”

I guess I am lucky in that I haven’t gone very grey as of yet. But, I am sure it will catch up with me sooner rather than later. And yes, the functionality of my body has been destroyed by my five plus decades of doing the martial arts. But, overall I feel pretty good.

That being said, I would imagine that most of the people who read this blog are of the age that they could be my children or even grandchildren. Inside, that makes me laugh. I’m old! Even though I feel very young.

Aging as never bothered me. Some people run away from it, lie about their age, get plastic surgery, dye their hair, and do all that kind of stuff. Not me. I embrace it.

And, this brings us to the point of all this rambling…

From age, it gives you the time to watch things change and to observe the trends and the patterns of people. For lack of a better phrase, yes, it does give you wisdom if you are aware enough to observe life.

When you were growing up maybe you were told to, “Respect your elders.” I know I was. Certainly, as I have been highly interactive with Asian culture throughout most of my life I have observed how, even if a person does not like one of their older family or group members they pay them respect. But here, in the Western world, everyone is so self-empowered they pay no tribute to anything, they show no respect to anyone for any reason. They don’t care about the fact that maybe they are wrong, just if they can scream the loudest to make themselves seem right. They do this to anyone, everyone, no matter what their age or what their status in life. But, I believe that something is lost for those who embrace this mindset.

I watched in the 1960s how it became taboo to be old. “Don’t trust anyone over thirty,” was one of the mottos. The 60s, of course, was a time of rapid cultural change. This change was seemingly orchestrated by the thoughts and actions of the young. Thus, age became a detriment.

The thing about youth verse age, however, is think about those youth from the 1960s, how old are the now? Or, are they even still alive?

Time is the master of us all. We all pass through life. If we live long enough we all become old. But, it is what you with your time here in life, as you pass from youth to old, that is what defines you as a person and, in fact, defines your lasting effect on this Life-Place.

The thing about our current time is that so many people, (especially the young), live their life on the internet, staring at a screen. Though this is certainly the name of the game of the current era, there is something very false and disingenuous about this. No one is anybody. They are a screen name which is something that is non-existent. They rarely, if ever, bridge that gap between cyber space and reality with the people they communicate with or talk about. Thus, their reality is not real—meaning they are not real. In the Hindu and Buddhist concept of Maya, (that life is illusion), this is the ultimate example.

The thing is, via personal interaction and personal communication, a person comes to truly understand another individual. I believe we have all had the experience where we have emailed somebody something, that we have written, and the other person took it totally the wrong way. The written words didn’t truly convey our intended meaning. This is the perfect example because if the personal communication had been face-to-face then the intent of the words would have been correctly understood. …As you can read the facial and body language of a person and hear the way their words are spoken.

But, more to the point… From personal interaction you have the opportunity to come to understand a person on a much more subtle level. If you are of the same age group, you may have common life experiences. If someone is younger, you can witness that you may have encountered certain life experiences that this person is yet to meet. And, if you personally speak with someone who is older, you may realize that they have gone through life events that you have not. From this, you may be able to learn something from them and avoid some of the life obstacles they have encountered.

Youth to age is the established pattern of life. There is no way around it. What I believe people need to do is to come to a deeper understanding of this process, instead of demeaning or running away from it, and take the time to listen to those who have walked the path before you as they probably have a lot to teach. I know I have done this throughout my life and even if I did not ultimately agree with the person, I was always able to learn something about life from them.

Tick Tock. You’re getting old!

Not A Chinaman’s Chance

I spend a lot of my free time watching and studying old movies. My perference lies to late 1930s and 1940s cinema but in reality I love cinema from all eras. In fact, I’ve been asked to write a book on midcentury cinema a couple of times. But, I have, at least so-far, turned all those offers down. Having read far too many poorly researched and/or written books, I just have not wanted to add to that literary concoction.

The one thing I find in older cinema is how it truly depicts the mindset of the era. The way people speak, especially when they speak in slang, truly allows one to reference and understand how people understood and transmitted the culture of that time period. Certainly, what is allowed to be said verse what is not allowed to be said, lets one peer into the culture of the period. Whereas cussing in all shapes and sizes is simply thought to be the norm in current cinema, that was not the case it times gone past where there was virtually no, “Bad language,” used in films.

On the other side of the coin, what has become the modern culture of, “Political correctness,” in today’s film marketplace, was not at all the case in times gone past. I was watching a movie from the 1930s today and they used the expression, “Not a Chinaman’s Chance,” meaning that there was little or no chance of it happening. Can you imagine the uproar if someone made that statement in a modern film? It would be called racist. Again, this goes to the mindset of the era.

In today’s society, what one says and how they say it must be highly calculated so no one, of any specific ethnic group, will be offended. But, looking back, this was not even a thought. Look to the war era films where it was commonplace to refer to Germans as, “Krauts,” or the Japanese as, “Nips.”

We, as a universal people on this planet have evolved, and that evolution is revealed in the way we speak in films. In fact, this can be seen represented throughout human history. If you look back, just a couple of centuries, virtually no one travelled anywhere. Travel was very-very limited. From this came a homogenous culture where everyone saw anyone, even if from just a few miles away, as a stranger to be feared. As we as humans have moved from the industrial to the technological age, travel has become more and more common. From this, people have witnessed and embraced the traits of other cultures. Though obviously sometimes this intercultural mixation is and has not been an easy one. None-the-less, it is happening. So much so that soon there will be one race.

With cinema as a representation of cultural, we can witness this in the ways racially sensitive terms that were once used in abundances have diminished drastically. This observable quality in itself, is another clue to how cinema portrays the culture of when it was created.

Cinema has certainly overtaken novels as a means of fictionally portraying culture and spreading it from generation to generation. With the widespread dissemination of cinema, from all eras, now on the internet, this will continue to be the case. All this being said, if you take the time to study the words used and the way the actors spoke them, in each era of cinema, you can truly peer back into your culture and define the point in time where actual cultural transformation took place.

Who Do the Gods Pray To?

I go to this Hindu temple sometimes. It is really a very elaborate, beautiful place. It is highly ornamented.

In India, it is not unusual to find temples of this caliber. But, here in the States, there are only a very-very few. This one being one of the nicest.

When I go there, I am generally the only non-South Asian person inside its walls. I guess not too many Caucasian find their spiritual sustenance in this religion. Though all of those in attendance are of South Asian decent, I never feel anything but welcomed.

The last time I was there, I was taking my shoes off at the base of the stairs to the entrance. For those of you who may not know, you never wear your shoes inside a Hindu temple. Generally, first you take your shoes off, then you wash your feet before you go inside. I won’t go into all of the hygienic and symbolic reasons for that practice, but it is what is done. As I was taking my shoes off, I got into a small conversation with another devotee. He was a medical doctor still wearing his scrubs. Nice, friend guy.

Eventually, I made my way inside and spent a few moments, as I like to do, just absorbing the spiritual energy before I do anything else. As I stood there, I notice that the aforementioned doctor was in full prostration, (laying completely down on the ground, face first). To Westerners, this practice may seem strange. But, to the truly devoted Hindu, it is not uncommon at all.

What I was seeing caused me to think… As I am in close association with several people in the medical profession and a few medical doctors, I have come to know how their brains works. In some cases, these people feel all-empowered. I have heard them described, (especially the surgeons), as possessing the god complex. Yet, here he was, a man that held the key to life and death in his hands in full prostration to the gods.

I think few people possess that devotion. And, I believe that is sad, for so much of the world’s problems are caused by people who think they have the right to do anything they want to do, yet, they possess none of the skillset of this doctor who was completely devoted to his god. More people should be like him.

***

If you want to say something negative you can always find someone to listen to you.

If you are saying something positive, that is a different story.

Caring About People

Have you ever been sitting in a restaurant or some public place like that and you look around and take a conscious notice of the people around you? Do you ever study them? Do you ever wonder how they got to where they are in life and why? And, do you care? Do you/can you care about them? Can you care about that person as a human being?

Think about this, there you are in a restaurant… Maybe you’re sitting there by yourself. What are you thinking about? Are you thinking about how you can help that person at the next table—how you can make their life better? Probably not.

Most people spend all of their lifetime thinking only of themselves and perhaps those they love. This is the human condition. But, it is also a choice. At each moment of your life, you have the opportunity to care enough to care about someone else, their well-being, and perhaps making their life a little bit better, even if it takes effort on your part to do it. Or, you can think only about yourself, what you want, and what will make your life better.

People pursue what they desire in life. Some people are very driven and go after what they want until they get it. In this pursuit, the driven do not care who they hurt or who’s life they damage in the process as a long as they get what they want. From this mindset, that person sitting at the table next to you may have been held back from becoming all they could have become in life due to the desire-filled actions of another.

Some people think of others. Perhaps they donate to charities maybe they even do some volunteer work. From this, they may be having a positive effect on the greater whole of what they have given to. And, that is a good thing. But, the question is, do they care about the person sitting at the table next to them?

When you are face-to-face with somebody, that is reality. If you like the way they look, the way they speak, or the way they behave, caring about them is easy. But, what if it is just the opposite? What if you don’t like the way they look or the way they act, can you care about them?

This goes to the concept of judgment. …How each person views another person and places a categorical definition upon them. The problem is, there are so many things that goes into what a person has become in their life and what image they project to the world, that any definition you may place on them is a completely biased appraisal of their life which may or may not be correct.

This brings us back to the question… Like them, dislike them, love them, hate them, can you care about them?

It is a truly holy quality when a person can put their own desires and self-thoughts aside, if even for a moment, and care enough to care about the person sitting next to them. Care, no matter what definition they put on their life.

Caring is a choice. It is a choice you can or cannot make at any moment of your life. You can decide to care about a person: what they are feeling and what they are needing or you can decide to only think about yourself.

Most people will say, caring about others is the greater choice. But, most people do not make that choice. They are driven by what they are feeling and what they are wanting and they do not care about anyone else. But, you can. You can care enough to care. You can make the choice to care. You can make the choice to turn off your desires and do what you can to make the life of the person sitting next to you better.

Caring is a choice. Is it a choice you choose to make?

The Scott Shaw and 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…

It’s funny, 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 knows me. Happy

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 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. I am smiling…

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 even 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. 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. 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 independent filmmakers has she hurt by turning them off to what I have to teach?

3. I never had a problem with her review of Max Hell Frog Warrior, (which she has also uploaded the reedited version of to YouTube). Though as my lawyer documented, her review did damage 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 added her created images to her presentation I thought it was actually more interesting than when she was using the film's footage that was protected under U.S. Copyright Law. The fact is, it was the combination of the two previously detailed elements; namely: her stealing my music and the FU Scott Shaw Zen Filmmaking documentary, that I had a problem with. Plus, keep in mind, 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. But, did Allison thank me for that? Nope… 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. Yet, here she is again, re-releasing the documentary and creating all this negative energy being sent my direction.

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!

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.

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, altered 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 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? 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.

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.

Be Positive and Smile! Happy


PS: 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.

You can also check this blog out at:
The Scott Shaw and Zen Filmmaking Documentary: The Truth Be Told.

Life Philosophy in a Nutshell

Life Philosophy in a Nutshell:

Say only good things. Do only good things. Help everyone you can.

Never judge anyone—their accomplishments or their creations.

Don't tell lies.

Never intentionally hurt anyone for any reason.

If you do hurt someone apologize and do all that you can to repair any damage that you've inflicted.

***

When is it too late to turn around?

***

A saint in one faith is a sinner in another.

***

You are responsible for all things that you incite.

***

The only reason you think about the past is because you are not content in your present.

***

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

***

If you expect nothing you will never be disappointed.

Doesn’t It Make You Feel Stupid When You Are Wrong?

Recently, it was brought to my attention that Google is currently using a photograph of one the other Scott Shaw’s in association with their main link to my information on their website. They are using a photo of the cartoonist, Scott Shaw! A good guy, but he and I are two very different people. Yet, there it is, out there on the number one search engine in the world. But, they are wrong. That’s not me. I don't know why they changed the photograph, they had the right one up there forever? But, Goggle being Google there is no way you can readily get in touch with them and tell them they are wrong. And, would they even care? In fact, on Scott Shaw!'s main page they have him listed as winning the Pulitzer Prize for News Photography. But, he didn't win the Pulitzer Prize. That's the photographer Scott Shaw. There's a lot of us Scott Shaw's out there. Happy

The thing is, many people believe everything that they see and/or read on the internet. First of all, I always question this mindset. Why do people do that? Why do they take everything at face value? Moreover, I wonder why people post stuff when they have no factual basis for their opinions posing as facts? But, the big question is, “Doesn’t it make you feel stupid when you are wrong?” I mean, how much of what you say is wrong? Where did you get your facts? Why are you speaking what you think you know? What karma does that create in your life when you say something that isn’t true? And, what are you going to do about it?

I think back to a girl I was speaking with one time and somehow/somewhere/someway she came to believe that Adolph Hitler was from Australia. When she exclaimed her fact, I smiled and explained to her that she simple didn’t hear correctly as he was from Austria. But, she wouldn’t believe me. She knew her facts and that was that. But, her facts were wrong. Yet, she fought like crazy to make me believe her.

I wonder how many people she spoke that bogus fact to listened to her and, at least for a moment, believed her? Moreover, I wonder how did she feel when and if she ever discovered that she was wrong?

…Speaking of Scott Shaw! Just a funny side note here… When we created the movie
Lingerie Kickboxer Kevin Eastman had a great poster drawn by the famed artist Simon Bizley. He then had a thousand copies of the poster run. At that point we still planned to release the movie and the poster was a predecessor to its release. Anyway, one day I walked into Golden Apple back when it was in its original location in the main section of Melrose Ave. in West Hollywood. I noticed the Lingerie Kickboxer poster hanging on the wall over the cash register. It was signed by Kevin and Julie Strain. I asked the guy at the cash register if he wanted me to sign it, as well, as I’m Scott Shaw one of the directors. Hey, my name was on the poster. He said, “You’re not Scott Shaw.” As Golden Apple is a comic book based store the guy assumed it was the other Scott Shaw! who was the co-director. But hey, the title and the original concept for the movie was my idea! Anyway, I laughed it off and told him to check his facts. So, this isn’t the first time something like this Scott Shaw thing has happened. Happy

Ask yourself, “How much of what you think and believe is based upon proven fact verse how much of what you think and believe is based upon something you heard somewhere from someone speaking something that they simply believed, based based upon personal bias or being told a lie by someone who didn’t know what they were talking about in the first place?”

As yourself, “What do you do—how do you behave once you learn that what you believed was false?” Do you move to rectify your incorrect knowledge and what you have broadcast to the world or do you fight like the aforementioned person to make your false knowledge fact?

As we pass through life, each of us evolves in knowledge and understanding. Some of us seek the truth. Others, simply want to believe what they want to believe and speak all of their words as if they were fact when, at best, they are misplaced speculations.

As we each evolve we each learn at every moment of our life. If you lock yourself into the mindset of believing that you already know, then you can never become the MORE that you could have become. If you do not have the mental aptitude and the caring nature to cancel out any false, opinionated, deceptive knowledge that you have broadcast to others how does that create the projection of you to the world? If you cannot turn off your ego long enough to simply say, “I was wrong,” and not attach all kinds of reasonings and justifications to that statement then your new truth will forever be burdened with your pervious lie.

“Doesn’t it make you feel stupid when you are wrong?"

Just Another Reason to Make People Look at You

There is a certain feeling that comes over each of us when we look in the mirror and we like what we are wearing, maybe we like the way our hair is looking, and so we feel pretty good about ourselves. There is the opposite feeling when we have gone outside and we discover that we hate what we are wearing—maybe we have spilled something on our shirt or we catch a glance of our self in a window and we realize we look terrible. These are normal emotions based on the perception of ourselves in association with how we perceive reality.

This is why monks only wear very basic, one colored clothing and either shave their head or do not shave or cut their hair at all. But, the fact is, this too is a perceived projection of reality and a source of ego gratification for once they have donned their monk garb, they have become a, “Something.” Thus, they are projecting that, “Something,” to the world. And, they like what that projection brings to them.

Most people want to be seen as something. They want to project an image of themselves to the world. There are those who love the way they look. There are also those who hate the way they look. In each case, each person works with what they have and either falls prey to their love or their hatred for themselves. We are all defined by what we are given but it is us who decided to do what we do with what we were given.

More than simply a physical issue, people want to project an image of who and what they are to the world via their thoughts and their words. Some people are very loud. They scream to the world, “Here I am! Look at me! This is what I do! This is what I think!” Others, are silent.

At the heart of all of this
doing is the individual’s perception of themselves. No matter what they truly are deep down inside, each person has an idea of who they want to be and how they want to be viewed by others. From this is born a cornucopia of lies, false tales, altered truths, individualized perceptions, projected realities, hopes, and dreams. The words people speak are more often based in how they hope to be perceived by others than any other element in life. Thus, for most, all inner truth is lost and it is replaced by how a person hopes another person will view them.

Think about yourself. How do you dress? You do you wear your hair? Do you care about what you wear? Do you care about how your hair is styled?

What do you do in life? Do you tell people the truth about what you do?

How do you live? Do you tell people the truth about how you live and what you do to give yourself the ability to live?

Do you hide or alter any facts about yourself when you discuss yourself with others?

Taking the focus away from yourself, think about your interactions with other people. Throughout your life have you watched what other people wear, how they style their hair, what they say, how they say it, what they do and how they do it? How has that affected you becoming you?

Moreover, as you have passed through your life, have you ever encountered a person who has deceived you about who and what they truly are? Has anyone lied to you? What effect did that have on your life?

If you do not chart what you are doing and how what you are doing is affecting your life, your life is a life lost to uncalculated occurrences. If you do not analyze what you are doing, why you are doing it, and what affect what you are doing will have on others, your life is lost to a never ending array of karmic reactions motivated by your own lack of self-awareness.

If you only care about yourself and do not consider how what you are doing and why you are doing it will effect one person or the whole world you are living in a space of defined selfishness.

Look at you your life. Look at the people who have lied to you, deceived you, stolen from you, hurt you. Why have they done this? The answer is, selfishness. Is that how you want to behave?

If you want to live a whole life, you need to study and come to a deep understanding of the whole you. You are the source of all you will encounter in your life. Understand this and your life becomes a calculated pathway as opposed to undefined rambling interaction of life shaking events.

Surrounding Yourself with What You Hate

Most people wish to live a simple, happy life. They hope to be surrounded by people they love and people who love them. They hope to pass through life doing things they like to do. Some even hope to make the world a better place. There is the other side of this mindset, however. There are those of the mind who wish to find things in life that makes them angry. Though they are most likely not aware enough to realize it, they do this seeking to gain the adrenalin rush associated with this emotion based upon the negative emotion of anger.

The problem with pursuing this mindset is, whatever you focus your life upon comes to define your life. It comes to define you. From this, all that you do, based upon this life definition, emanates from you, surrounds you, and ultimately causes you to attract those of like mind. From this, if you live a life focused upon things that you hate, all of your life and lifetime becomes a negative experience defined by negative emotions.

It is easy to see the people who live their life based upon what they hate. They are the ones who are the most judgmental—though they may hate a particular life genre they place themselves in that field of vision and sit there in a state of disgust as they engulf themselves in a mindset of hate. They look for reason to be mad and people to be mad at. They are the ones who drive down the road yelling at anyone who drives their car in a manner that they do not feel is appropriate. They are the ones who look for fights. And, the list goes on.

Though there are certainly all kinds of developmental and psychologically based reasons why each of us does anything that we do, the ultimate truth of life is, we are the
one who has the potential to create who and what we ultimately are and who and what we ultimately become based upon what we choose to do. Thus, how you behave in life, what you say and what you do, is ultimately your choice. But, do you have the mental control to choose to remove yourself from the mentally addicting mindset of adrenalin filled hatred and accept a world of peace? Do you have the mental control to turn off your judgments and your interpersonal beliefs and allow each person to exist in their own state of perfection?

Emotions are what drives most of our lives. But, if we allow negative emotions to cause us to do what we do, then what does our life become? It becomes a selfish landscape driven by desire and the desire for other things and other people to be something that they are not.

Free yourself of hate. Free yourself of judgment. Let yourself embrace the peace and everything becomes better—maybe not as emotionally adrenalized, but better.

Do You Own the Copyright?

It’s kind of funny… I was driving past this building today that used to house this business that I went to all of the time back in the mid 1990s. It was a place called Kinko’s and they were one of the first business chains to offer easy self-access to color copy and printing options plus, for those people who did not own one, (and many people didn’t back then), you could rent a computer in their computer room by the hour. As they were open twenty-fours hours a day, I used to go there in the late night to make Production Packages and PR Kits for my movies and/or me.

Anyway, at some point in time the company became very aware of copyright law. So, anything that was being copied by them you had to show proof that you were the legal copyright holder.

Today, nobody gives two shits about the legality of copyright law and they, in fact, attempt to find all kinds of reasons and justifications to skirt this law. I say this all the time, but if you didn’t envision it, if you didn’t create it, if you didn’t pay for it’s creation, you should have the self-respect not to use it for any other purpose than it was intended unless you receive permission from the owner. But, I am sure that point of law (and moral decency) falls to deaf ears so back to the point…

Anyway, I would go in there and hand them a poster for one of my films or a magazine cover I was on or something like that… In some cases, they would ask, “Are you the copyright holder?” My answer was, “That’s me!”

Now, by this point of my life I was in my mid thirties and to have a very young graveyard shifter giving me grief when I was giving them business really sent me in the wrong direction. In some cases, the people who worked there came to know me as the, “B-movie guy,” and I would have no problem. In other cases, some over zealous staff member would give me serious shit. “Do you own the copyright?” “That’s me!” “Well, what about company name on the bottom with the copyright tag?” “I own that company!” “Can you prove it?” “Where’s your manager?” “We have no manager at night.” Sometimes they would just not copy my stuff and I would walk out of there substantially pissed. But, that’s life. That’s copyright law. Now, I can laugh about it. But, back then…

About a week ago I had an interesting copyright orientated situation occur. Someone from a printing house contacted one of the people that works with me and let them know someone had come into their shop with the intention of pressing a bunch of posters based on one of my films. They asked if we had designed the poster and/or had approved it. We did not. They did send us a copy of the poster and it was very well designed but it was not from us. This print shop did the right thing and turned the job down. But, I am sure the next print shop down the block was not be so vigilant, will take the job, and there will be a poster out there based on one of my films, created for what reason I don’t know???

I think back further to a vaguely similar incident that took place a bit deeper in time. There was this one guy that I had given a part in one of my early Zen Films, Samurai Vampire Bikers from Hell. Though the guy was a supporting character he decided he wanted to have a poster made in association with the film with him as the central focus. Now, keep in mind, this was at a point in time when you didn’t just make your poster(s) on your Mac at home or in your office. You had to take it to a big production house where it cost big bank to get them produced. But, the guy contacted me so he could go to my photographer, pay him, get the shot of himself that he needed, and then get the poster designed by a professional and created. The funny thing was, he never asked me if this was okay. He just did it. Anyway, he paid a lot of money to get a poster of himself, based on my film, created. Why? I have no idea. But, as it didn’t damage anything, (no harm no foul), I just looked the other way.

You know, life is a funny thing… We all create. Some build houses, some stock shelves, some run numbers, some paint paintings, some make babies… Some people will love what you create while others will find a reason to hate you for what you create. Some of us create things that other people want to profit from; either financially or in other more non-descript ways. Though there are a lot of ways to come at it, I can only feel that there needs to be that space of respect given to the creations of others; somewhere between where Kinko’s would not let me make copies of my own movie posters and the place where people just steal the creations of others, for whatever reason and motivation that they find it necessary to do that.

Somewhere, if you find it within yourself to create, that is the place where you have actually given back, given to the great whole and the greater good and actually done something. I think that is the best space to focus upon. Make your own creations don’t find a reason to focus your life upon the creations of others.

The Problem with Being Fourteen

There is a problem when you are fourteen years ago. You have begun to feel like an adult but you have no true sense of what it takes to actually be an adult. Most likely, you are still living under the roof that your parents are paying for, you are getting money from your parents to buy your clothes and your objects of desire, yet you feel you have a voice and an opinion worth hearing. You make all kinds of statements about all of things that you will do. But, they are all off somewhere in the distance. Something you will do someday.

Some people never mentally grow past the age of fourteen. They are locked in the mindset of they
are something, yet they do nothing. They scream their ideas and opinions to the world via the internet but they do nothing to make the world a better place or bring their dreams into reality. They just talk...

The fact is, opinions hurt an individual’s life more than they help it. Why? Because they are not necessarily based in fact. They are based in personal speculation. Thus, though they may make a person act and/or feel a certain way, they do not contribute to the greater truth of reality. In fact, opinions, (whether based in truth or fiction), make people say and do all kinds of crazy things. In the long run of one’s life, many of these things may come to define a person and do so in a very negative manner. Thus, the fourteen-year-old is never allowed to mature.

How many people do you know that are actually paying the bills and raising a family that have the time to become lost in youthful verbal masturbation? …Talking of what they think, what they will do someday, whom they love and whom they hate? What you will find is that they are too busy making a living so that their fourteen-year-old child can relax in that luxury, at least for a little while.

Even when you are young, you need to chart your life. Instead of talking, (and becoming lost in what your think and why you think it), you need to begin doing. For doing, is the essence of living a productive life.

If you are old and still locked in the mindset of the fourteen-year-old you once were, you need to wake up. What is what you are saying, based upon what you are thinking, motivated by who knows what, actually equaling in your life and the lives of all those you know? You need to stop being a fourteen-year-old, take responsibility, stop being lost in what you think, and go out there and contribute to life.

Calculating Consciousness and the Illusion of Personality

It has happened to me more than a few times that I meet someone after they have seen my movies and they say, “You are totally different from what I expected.” As some of them have continued, this is because they expected a very serious, intense person like I portray in my characters. But, I’m not like that at all. I’m all about the happiness and the laughter.

I explain this, and I use myself as an example, because people commonly perceive people via a method of expected judgment. They see something, they read something, they hear something, and they believe they know a person. But, they do not. You can only know a person when you know them one-on-one. And then, you can only truly know them after personally interacting with them for an extended period of time because each of us have many hidden layers of personality that are only revealed through time.

People commonly fall into the wrongful ideology that they have the ability, and some even believe that they have the right, to judge other people. But, if your judgment is faulty and incorrect, what does that say about your ability to read and, in fact, understand a person? As long as you put your personal judgment at the beginning of the equation you can never truly understand anyone.

There is the perceived perception of a person. Then there is who they truly are. For some, in certain circumstances, they project an element of their personality to fit the environment they find themselves within. From this, others decide if they will or will not like that person. The problem with this type of calculation is, as only a certain aspect of that person’s personality is being revealed in that particular situation, the relationship may be begun or ended before a full presentation is available.

In other cases, some people are deceivers. They pretend to be something they are not. They may even be manipulators. What they do is nothing more than an elaborate ruse. Thus, it is very important to step beyond the realms of initial, first glance, judgment if you ever hope to truly understand anyone.

In other words, don’t judge a person, come to understand a person.

***

If it happens one time it is an accident.

If it happens two times it is a coincidence.

If it happens three times it is a warning.

If it happens four times it is a choice.

Start calculating the behavior of those you encounter.

Stand Up for the Rights of the Creator

I was teaching one of my classes on filmmaking earlier today. As the class only meets once a week I try to keep the student very active in actual film creation so I generally give them an assignment to make a short film for each class session. This week’s assignment was to do a visual biographical piece. One of my students did, what so many people have done before, was to intermingle footage of his life with footage from very famous films. The short had him talking to various characters from various films. This is always a fun presentation as you get to peer into the mind of the person and view how they see themselves in association with life. It was a good piece.

After his presentation he asked if I thought he should upload it to his YouTube page. I said he could but he may run into copyright problems.

Now, for anyone who knows me understands, I am an avid proponent of Intellectual Property Rights. If somebody made something they are the only one who owns it and other people can only use it if they are given permission.

But, more than that… Each person should have the moral dignity to ask the creator of a, “Something,” if they can use all or part of it. Maybe the creator will say, “Yes.” Maybe the creator will say, “No.” But, every person who wants to tap into the creation of another person’s creativity should have the
honor to ask if they can use it. That is just the right moral code of life. And, that is what I explained to my students.

Now, not everyone who infringes on another person's copyright gets sued. It's expensive and it's time consuming. Not every copyright infraction is reported to the FBI. So, some people get away with it. But, should they?

Have you ever asked the creator of a project, that you have stolen all are part of or have downloaded it for free from an illegal offshore website, how they feel about what you have done? If you haven’t, what does that say about you? And, as I always state, if you were the one creating the something that is being stolen I am certain you would have a very different opinion about what is taking place than you being the thief.

Many people do not personally create books, movies, music, or art. But, they like it. So, they want to view it. But, have you ever had somebody steal your bike, your car, your wallet, or break into your house. If you have experienced that feeling then you will know what the artist goes through when their creation has been stolen.

Okay… Okay… I won’t go off here… Happy But, as you can plainly see, I am really against people stealing other people’s creations.

What I always suggest (like I did to my class) is be more than the thieves. Stand up for the rights of the creator. Understand that it took their creative vision, their time, their money, their mental focus, and their undaunted dedication to make that piece of art. Don’t steal it!

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Believing that you know what another person is thinking is the sourcepoint for many of the world's biggest problems.

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What contribution are you making to society?

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When you say something negative about a person, what does that equal?

Does it make you a better person or does it simply make you look like the lessor person?

The Basketball Syndrome

When you were a kid playing basketball did you ever dream of becoming a professional basketball player? And, I use basketball as an example. It could be baseball, football, soccer, hockey, you name it… But, when you were a kid playing a sport did you ever envision yourself becoming one of the sport’s elite? What did you do about it? Did you only dream or did you actually try?

In life, most people dream about becoming something but few people ever pursue the pathway to its achievement. For example in sports, perhaps you really loved one specific game and you played it all the time. When you got to school did you pursue your dream of playing the game within the confines of the more defined realms of sports; i.e.; training the way a coach wanted you to train, following the rules of the game, and become a true part of a team?

Most people let go of the formal realms of their dream very quickly when the achievement of that dream requires discipline and focus. And, one of the primary elements of discipline is being told what you are suppose to be doing—especially in the early days of training. Many, refuse to listening, believing that they know more than the trainer—the person who has already proven their worth.

Some people do follow the formalized pathway, however. Did you? Did you play high school ball? Did you still dream of advanced achievement in the sport? Were you good enough to play college ball?

In all aspects of life there are those who are naturally good enough and there are those who may not possess the innate ability of some but, none-the-less, they practice to the degree that they rise up above their own limitations. It’s hard work but it is doable. Did you do this?

At each level of life there are those who hold the dream and there are those who pursue the dream. If you look around yourself, you will quickly see the ones who did what it took to do what they truly dreamed of doing in life. And, this goes to all levels of life, not just sports. It extends to the world of business, the arts, the humanities, and the service of others.

Dreaming is easy. It takes no effort. Taking about your dreams is easy as all you have to do is talk. But, doing is very difficult. It takes focused energy, training, and defined achievement.

Who are you? Do you follow the path of working-hard to achieve your dreams or do you just dream?

What you do, how you do it, becomes the definition of your life. What will be the definition of your life?

Seeking Forgiveness

In this blog and in my talks and other writings I often discuss the interplay of human interaction. I do this because most people never even think about this subject. They go through life doing whatever it is they want to do and they care not about the consequences. They care not unless something negative happens to them. Then, at that point, it is all that they think about.

I believe that the people who read this blog are not like that, however. But, people who actually consciously consider the impact they are having on this Life Space and on the lives of other people are few and far between. They are on the peripheries of human society. Most people are driven by very self-serving motivations. And, that is sad. A lot of lives and Life Times are damaged by this style of behavior.

As we pass through life, each of us is going to do something that hurts someone else. But, it is what we do after that point that defines us as human beings.

Think about this, have you hurt someone? Did you inflict that injury with conscious intent? If you did, that makes you a very bad person. If you justified your actions in your own mind and/or to other people that makes you a worse person.

On the other hand, have you, like most of us have, hurt someone but did not set out to do so? Once you realized that you have hurt someone, what were your actions? Did you care enough to set about on a course of action to correct what you had done or did you simply say, “Sorry.”

Here lies the definition of who you truly are as a human being and what will be your overall impact on the life of others. Most of us, as we pass through life, do something that injures another person either physically or psychologically. Some people actually acknowledge what they have done and ask for forgiveness. But saying, “Sorry,” means nothing if you do not set out to right your wrong.

As stated, the majority of people in this world are very self-serving. They care not about others. They do not care about the damage they cause, nor do they seek forgiveness. Plus, many feel that they have the right to say or do anything they want as long as that action does not negatively affect their own life. It’s sad, but that is how most people operate. But, it doesn’t have to be like that. You can care, if you care enough to care. For what does injuring the life of another person truly equal? And, how does that injury make you or your life any better?

Many people, as they damage the life of another person, do so believing that they are right in doing so. Maybe they are judging a person which causes harm to that person’s life or livelihood. Maybe they are treating a person unfairly; not taking who they truly are into consideration. Perhaps they are even physically injuring them. All of things, if they are consciously set about in their doing, have no great benefit to this overall Life Space. Judgment is never fact; it is only opinion. How you treat a person sets a whole, never-ending, course of events into motion and if you are the sourcepoint of those events it will be you who ultimate encounters the consequences. If you actually physically hurt someone, you may have won the battle but it will be you, due to your negative actions, who will ultimately lose the war in life.

At best, all a person who lives a life of judgment and unthinking behavior is doing is claiming I am right and you are wrong. But, who is ultimately to say? If you live your life from this space of external judgment, all you do is create damage; you help no one. As no one is helped, all that is happening is that people are injured. From this, no good is born in your life or the life of the world around you. Thus, as you are the sourcepoint of the negativity you will ultimately be the one who pays the price for unleashing it.

This brings us back to the point of, do you actually care about the actions that you are unleashing. Can you step outside of yourself long enough to realize that you have done something wrong, ask for forgiveness from the person or persons you have injured, and then set about on a course of repairing what you have broken? As most people are ego driven, this rarely happens. This is why the world is in the condition it is in. People only care about themselves but they don’t care about you and they don’t about me.

Ask yourself, how do you interact with life? Do you cause damage with your thoughts, words, or actions? If and when you do, are you Man-Enough (or Woman-Enough) to own your actions, actually understand that what you have done is wrong and has hurt somebody and then set about on a course to erase what you have done? If you are, that is great! You make the world a better place! If you are not, that is bad! You make the world a worse place! And, as you have hurt someone, you too will be hurt. That is just the law of the universe…

Any damage that you have created and not repaired not only damages the life of the person your inflicted the damage upon but it defines you as a person as you were not conscious and/or caring enough to set about on a course of repairing that damage.

What do you believe becomes of a person who hurts other people? Don’t justify your reasons. Don’t make excuses. Don’t try to turn the blame around on someone else. Just answer the question.

The Arts Should Have No Judgment

Most people do not create art. And, I use the term, “Art,” to define all aspects of creativity whether it is drawing, painting, sculpting, taking photographs, making music, dancing, doing the martial arts, making films, you name it…

Think back to when you were a child. I’m sure most of us can remember a time when we were busy drawing with crayons or maybe painting with watercolors. What we were doing was whole and perfect onto itself. We loved what we were doing. We didn’t judge it. It just made us happy to create. Our parents loved it. It was done by their child and they loved it simply because of that fact—they didn’t judge it. Maybe that art work was put away somewhere and you saw it many years later. “This is what I did!” Maybe you were a little embarrassed as it was so childlike. But, what happened between the time you drew that crayon drawing and now? What happened is that you decided that you know how art should or should not be. In other words, you became judgmental.

As stated, most people do not create art. Yes, as a child we all did what we did but as adulthood came on, any art development and expression was left behind. Sure, maybe you like a particular brand of music, style of painting, or a certain type of film, but that is what you like—you judged your way to get there. I am sure you have discussed what you like and why you like it with other people. You have probably also put the label of, “Bad,” on what you don’t like.

All this is fine. It is your right to like what you like and not like what you don’t like. But, if you base your life upon a mindset of judgment you are really missing the point. What you are missing is the whole and entire source of and for creativity.

Art is founded in the mind of freedom—of pure expression. It comes from that same place that you embraced as a child when you were drawing with crayons. Free expression; that is the place where all new forms of art are created. That is where contribution and evolution is given birth to in the arts.

So, if all you do is sit around and judge (love or hate) the art created by others, all you are doing is placing a blockade on the road to a better, more whole, freer, and more creative world.

Negative is only negative; it never leads to anything positive. Judgment is only judgment. It is only you actualizing negativity from your mind and sending it into the real world. It never equals anything positive.

So, the next time you find yourself casting judgment, they next time you find yourself being engulfed in the judgment cast by someone else, take control over your mind and remember back to your childhood when art was just art for the sake of art—when you drew or painted or created shapes with Play Doh—remember the purity and the innocence of artistic freedom. Embrace that artistic freedom, put away the judgment, and let art thrive.

The Victim of a Crime

Have you ever been the victim of a crime? Have you ever had something stolen from your life? Have you ever been hurt by somebody wanting what what you had and then forcefully taking it from you? Have you ever had somebody do something really bad to your life simply because they were only thinking about themselves and not even considering anyone or anything else but themselves?

Have you ever been the perpetrator of a crime? Have you ever stolen something from someone—have you ever hurt somebody? If you have done this, what was your reasoning and what was your justification? Did you think about the person you committed the crime against and what would happen to them in the aftermath of your crime? Did your conscience ever come into play? Did you ever realize you did something wrong and then try to repair the damage you unleashed or did you only continue thinking about yourself? Did you get caught and then make excuses and give justifications for why you did what you did?

Being a victim is painful. Being the perpetrator of a crime may be empowering but if you are walking down that road, if you have committed a crime against someone, what does that say about your moral character?

There are a lot of ways people become the victim of a crime. Certainly, there is personal violence and there is having something stolen from you. These are two of the most obvious forms of crimes.

From a personal level, in my early years I experienced bring on the wrong side of crime. One of the big ones of my early years occurred when a gang descended upon me in a park, stabbed me and took my bike. I still have the scar though it has faded with time. Sure, I had been training in the martial arts for a several years by that point in time but they cut me before I could get off of my bike. Smart street strategy. All that for a bike. That is very sad. But, things like this happen all the time. Then, I got a shot a year or so later. Luckily, it was a small caliber gun, aimed at me from a distance, and it didn’t do much damage but I still hold that scar, as well.

During my teenage years I had several radios, 8-Track players, cassette decks, and CBs (remember those?) stolen from my car. It was so upsetting having saved up the money to buy them and then to go down to my car in the morning on my way to school and see I had been robbed. Again, very sad. Small money stolen by a small person.

I’ve had friends killed. Shot in the head. And, the list goes on… Probably a lot of you out there have similar stories and some may, in fact, have far worse examples. Crime is just sad!

As a creator of things: movies, music, and the like, I have also experienced the crime of the internet. I guess the subtitles of internet crime all came into focus with the whole Napster thing a decade or so back when that, then, start-up company started taking the music created by bands and, “Sharing it,” without playing for it. Lars Ulrich of Metallica became the voice of that fight and became highly criticized for his position. But, think about it, if you made your living making music and someone was stealing your livelihood, how would you feel? A crime is a crime!

On the other side of the issue, at this same time period, I remember somebody asked Dave Grohl what he thought. His answer was great, “I’m already rich, why should I care.” Unfortunately, most of us are not in that financial position so stealing from us on the internet or otherwise does affect our lives.

Perhaps the primary source for crime, whatever that crime may be, is that people do not think about their victims. Especially, if the crime is as easy as freely downloading something from the internet. But, stealing is still stealing. And, someway, someday, somebody will pay.

I get it… I know… Everybody wants everything for free. But, that is just not how the world works!

Moreover, you have to ask yourself, why would you want to steal anybodies creative anything anyway? Why can't you create your own some-thing.

Currently, there is this whole false belief about, “Fair Use,” out there in the realms of cyberspace right now. I’ve even seen a few things written about the subject on-line. But, who ever wrote those pieces is writing for a captive audience—they are telling people what they want to hear. For someone who has personally walked down that road in court, I can tell you, without a doubt, there is no such things as Fair Use. The moment a person makes one penny based upon something someone else created they are in violation of the law. If they hurt a person’s existence, even in the smallest of ways, by stealing something someone else created they are in violation of the law.

That’s what a copyright is, somebody created something, they own that something, and you can’t use that something unless they allow you to use it. If you take it from them without asking that is stealing. Don’t believe me, ask an attorney who practices copyright law.

But, what is the law? Did the law ever catch the people who stabbed me in order to steal my bike way back when? No. Did the guy who shot me ever get caught for that? No. Did I ever get any of my radios back? No. So, I was the one left without do to somebody taking something from me.

If you have ever had a crime happen to you, did the person get caught and go to jail? I hope so. But… In many cases, that is not what happens.

Now, I am certain that the people who live the lifestyle of committing crimes do eventually end up in jail because sooner or later they will get caught. But, what they did to me and to all the other people they victimized was not healed in that process as we were simply the ones left without.

And, I think this all goes to the basis and the motivation for crime—people do things because they do not think about anyone else but themselves. They do things because they do not care about anyone else but themselves. If they are caught, they try to turn the blame onto the person they were victimizing and/or onto someone or anyone but themselves.

But, they committed a crime! They took something from someone that damaged that someone’s life! And, that is just wrong!

So, do you ever commit crimes? Do you ever steal things in the real world or in cyberspace? If you do, you are a criminal and you are doing something wrong that is hurting someone. Maybe you will get away with it, at least for the moment. But, what you are doing is not right. Can you open your eyes? Can you care enough about the greater good of the world to stop it? Can you care enough to stop justifying your actions? Can you care enough about the person you are stealing from or hurting to stop what you are doing? And, if you have committed a crime against someone can you care enough to go back and fix what you have broken?

If you have even been the victim of a crime, and I hope you have not, but then you know how it feels. Let that be your motivating factor for you not being a criminal.

Most of us are good people. We think about what will be the impact of what we are doing on the lives of other people before we do anything? Do you? Or, do you not care?

There is nothing anyone can do to anyone to make a person care. But, you can choose to care. From the small things to the big things, you do not have to be a criminal.

Zen Filmmaking: The Good, The Bad, and The People That Don’t Know What the Fuck They’re Talking About

Ever since the inception of Zen Filmmaking, that was heralded with the release of The Roller Blade Seven, people have contacted me about my method of filmmaking. In the early days, it was largely via letters but soon after that everybody climbed onto the internet and then everybody had a lot to say.

There have been a lot of people, over the years, who have actually contacted me and questioned, how do I do what I do. Those are the people I respect. Love my films or hate my films, they are the ones who cared enough to ask me what was actually going on. They came to the source and inquired. And, going to the source is the only way to gain true knowledge.

Some of these people contacted me because they wanted to follow the path of Zen Filmmaking. That’s great! Make it your own…

Early in my filmmaking career, (which you have to keep in mind did not begin until I was thirty-two years old so I had a lot of life-experience prior to that), I also began to see people coming to conclusions about what I did, how I did it, and why I did it. These discourses where then mostly entered into magazines that discussed the low budget, no budget, and cult level of filmmaking. In some cases, they got it right. But, in many, (in fact most), cases they were simply wrong. Yet, these people had a pulpit and from that pulpit they broadcasted their thoughts about Zen Filmmaking, Zen Films, and me out to the world.

As a professional researcher, I always found this method to be suspect, as these people were simply discussing their feelings that were
not based in fact. Yet, they were presenting their opinions, observations, and speculations as if they were fact. This is truly the wrong way to put forward information to the world and this mindset is what has given birth to the whole culture of, “Fake News,” we are currently living within—as from these inaccurate depictions further counterfactual statements and misunderstandings are given birth to. People heard, “This,” and, thus, they believed, “That.” But, it is all based on bullshit. It is all based on somebody putting what they think they know out there but they do not have the true facts as they have not done any actual research. I know… I get it… Research is hard to do. It is time-consuming and it often costs money. It is so much easier to just read or hear something and then believe what you want to believe. But, the fact is, if you want to know the truth about a subject, (any subject), research is the only way to arrive at a factual and valid conclusion. And, you must enter into any research gathering with an open mind and not use it as simply a way to justify what you think you already know.

Personally, in virtually all of the aforementioned cases, I found the discourses to be amusing. But, that’s just who I am. I easily poke fun at myself. If they weren’t flat out defamatory lies or someone making money off of one of my creations when they had no responsibility for its actualization, I was good.

On the larger scale, I have always wondered why do people do this? Why do people want to spread their feelings about something or someone and, moreover, why do they want to transmit something out to the world when what they are saying is not based in fact but is solely based upon personal opinion, second-hand knowledge, and/or speculation? Sure, I understand, most people like something or someone for some nondescript reason but that reason is generally based upon them not possessing a true understanding about anything. Thus, what does that reason for like or dislike truly mean? Do you ever think about that when you form your opinions and from your opinions make your judgments which leads to your statements?

As Zen Filmmaking is a defined form of filmmaking, many people have also taken aim at the craft. They have taken aim at it but all they know about it is that in Zen Filmmaking we do not use a script. But, there is a lot more to it than that. And no, Zen Filmmaking is not just about showing up somewhere and seeing what happens next. So, if you’ve heard that, if you’ve believed that, if you’ve rebroadcast that, YOU ARE WRONG!

Also, there have been a lot of people who have seen Roller Blade Seven or some clips from it and decided that was the epitome of Zen Filmmaking and all of my films are just like RB7. The fact is, a lot of people don’t get what Donald G. Jackson and I were trying to do with The Roller Blade Seven and they hate it. I get it! That movie is weird! If you don’t like weird movies you probably will hate it. But, think about this, we made that movie over twenty-five years ago—whatever you think about it: love it or hate; we did something right because people are still discussing it.

On a more personal note, occasionally I have seen some people say, “Scott Shaw makes shitty movies,” and stuff like that. Okay… That’s what you think… But, how many of my movies have you actually seen? Many people make this comment after only seeing maybe Roller Blade Seven or Max Hell Frog Warrior. I have made a lot of movies! Honestly, how many of them have you seen? Have you seen any of my documentaries? Have you seen any of my music videos? Have you followed my filmmaking evolution and watched any of my Non-Narrative Zen Films, my Zen Film Art Captures, my Zen Film Movies in the Moment, or my Zen Film Mind Rides? If you haven’t, then you have no idea what I’m doing. Moreover, if you have not read my written words on the subject of filmmaking, if you have not seen my interviews, if you have not met me, again, you are basing your opinion on a preconceived notion that you have no factual bases to possess. Love my movies, hate my movies, I get it… But, if you haven’t seen my films, if you don’t know my philosophy about filmmaking, if you have not actually spoken to me, then how can you judge anything?

And, this goes to the whole point of this piece… Sure, you’re just a screen name out there in the nowhere of cyberspace. You will never have to pay for your cyber crimes. But, no matter what moniker you use, you should be whole enough to know the facts about what you’re talking about before you ever spew your misunderstandings out to the world. In other words, BE MORE. For me, that is the key to life. That is how the people who have truly excelled and made a contribution to the world have done it. Care enough to care. Learn the true facts. Go to the source and ask before you speak. Be more than someone who talks about someone else, go out there and create your own something.

Empathy: Self Awareness Through Caring

I was just going to begin writing a piece about empathy for a journal, detailing how it is a refined level of human consciousness and how some people never actually mentally mature to the degree where they actually care about another person and embrace this ideology. Then, last night, I was flipping channels and I came upon a documentary, Burn Motherfucker Burn, defining the riots that took place in Los Angeles in 1965 and 1992; what lead up to them, and their aftermath. It was a very good documentary that truly provided insight into the mindset of the people and what was their motivations for doing what they did.

To give a little bit of a backstory here, for those of you who do not know about my personal history, I was part and parcel to both of the riots. In 1965 I was a young boy living in Southcentral L.A. In the documentary they discuss how it was a locked community, virtually wholly African-American, as the people either could not or did not feel comfortable moving outwards from their neighborhood. Within this community there was a lot of inequality and frustration. I totally witnessed that. I was literally the only Caucasian any-body at my grammar school. In the documentary you also see how much of the black populous of the area hated whites and were out to get them at any opportunity. I too experienced that. I mean there was one time when nine or ten teenagers descended upon me when I was eight years old. And, that was not the only time I encountered this style of behavior. I think most of us would ask, “What kind of person would do something like that?” But, in the documentary you can listen and see the rage of the people of the area.

Now, this is not a, “Oh Boo Hoo,” moment on my part. But, what it does is provide an initial glimpse into peering into the mind of a person who does not possess empathy. They are locked into a mindset of, “Me against them,” “Kill or be killed.” From this, no level of higher consciousness can ever be found. And, in fact, if you were to mention this to a person who embraces this mindset they would not even care. From this, we can instantly see how some people have the capacity to develop empathy where others, for whatever reason, do not.

When the riots broke out in 1965 it was a scary time. People in the documentary describe it as such. Tanks and troop carriers drove up and down the streets, along with a lot of highly armed National Guard and police. Think about being a white person living in that environment. As was documented, many people of the community went out stealing and destroying the buildings using Molotov cocktails. That was the first time I heard the expression, “Burn Baby Burn.” But, what did these people achieve? Ultimately, all they did was to destroyed their own community.

Again, we see a mindset guided by adrenalin and motivated anger. But, what is the ultimate outcome of living a life based upon those emotions. Perhaps a half a century later the people who took part in this event can look back with pride at the actions that took but how does any of that help the greater good? How does it make anything better? How does any of that help anyone?

The documentary then went into discussing the aftermath of the 1965 L.A. riots and how what came to be known as, “Bussing,” later came into practice in Los Angeles as a method to integrate the communities. What, “Bussing,” meant was that they randomly chose school-aged children from areas like Southcentral L.A., Watts, and Compton, put them on busses, and drove them to schools in other areas of the city. At the time, I was living in what is now known as Koreatown. There came to be a number of students bussed to the junior high school, (now middle school), I was attending. In some cases, I made fast friends with those who arrived on the bus. As I had spent my early years growing up in a neighborhood not different from their own, we had a basis for interaction. In other case, I witnessed how some of the people were simply in the early stages of becoming a hardened thug and they brought violence along with them. Some of these people hurt a lot of the local residence. Eventually, this program was scrapped.

Viewing the two levels of interactive consciousness, possessed by these people who were brought into a new community, we can see the different pathways of personal evolution. Some people are nice, they want a better world for themselves and others, while others harbor hatred and embrace the negative. From this, all that is given birth to is external and personal destruction.

A person shapes their mind and who they are to become at two critical stages of their life. The first is early childhood. At this stage, one is guided towards who they are to become primarily by family and cultural interactions. The second stage occurs during adolescence. At this stage a person begins to shape who they are to become by social interactions and choices made about how they want to be seen by the world and what they hope to achieve, defined by what opportunities are available to them. If a person is wholly embraced with a mindset of only thinking about self and about their own perceived personal tragedy, they can never move beyond that mindset. From this, no empathy will ever be found within that individual.

The second riot that was discussed in the documentary was the 1992 L.A. riot and what lead up to it. As discussed in the documentary, the images of Rodney Kind being beaten by the police will forever be remembered. Then, these officers initially being found innocent of their crime set the community ablaze.

I personally had a curious interaction with this riot. I was filming Samurai Vampire Bikers from Hell. We were scheduled to do a night shoot in West Hollywood and Chinatown the evening the riot began. I live in the South Bay area of L.A. and as I left for the shoot during traffic time I decided to take the streets to L.A. Having grown up in Southcentral I often drive through the area as kind of a remembrance. I actually drove right through the intersection where the riot began. In the news reports I later watched there was a short time between the initial inception and when everything actually broke off when the participants had dispersed. For some cosmic reason that is when I passed through the area. I though there had just been an accident or something. But, I was lucky, if you see the documentary there were a lot of people screaming that they were going to kill white people and we all saw what happened to the unsuspecting white truck driver Reginald Denny. That was very sad.

Me, I drove on, completely unaware of how the city was erupting, to the location. If you’ve seen the movie, that’s the night we filmed the escalator scene at the Beverly Center, the point when the character McGavin stakes Lord Toronomo outside in DTLA, and when we filmed some of the stuff in Chinatown.

We were on our way to another location but I kept getting paged by my lady. 911! Pagers, remember those? Anyway, I stopped at a pay phone (remember those?) and called her. “There’s a riot going on,” she exclaimed. With that we ended the shoot for the evening.

I listened to the news on the radio as I began to drive home and as there were snipers shooting at cars along the 110, (the freeway I would normally take home from Hollywood), I went out and around taking the 101 North out to the valley and then the 405 South home. As I came down over the hill, I could see the city was burning.

In the documentary, they interview people like singer Perry Farrell (Jane’s Addiction). He spoke about how he had just bought a house in Venice but had no furniture. With the riot going on and everybody looting, he went out, and his house became fully furnished. He said he had a great time. How pathetic is that! A white guy who can afford to
buy a house in Venice stealing. That is just wrong.

Again, all this goes to the mindset of empathy and higher consciousness.

You can destroy. You can steal. You can blame it on whatever you want to blame it on—whatever you’ve gone through but whatever
you do is whatever you do. You are doing it! You are making a choice to do it! And, this is where the definition of a person of conscience and/or consciousness comes into play.

Do you do what you do knowing it is wrong? Do you do what you do not even caring if it is right or wrong? Do you do what you do not caring who it may negativity affect? If you do injure someone or something, do you care or do you only present yourself as the victim? Here lies the question of empathy. Are you more than what you personally are feeling?

Empathy means understanding and caring about another/other people. Empathy means becoming consciously interactive with another person. Empathy means that you are self-aware enough to actually embrace, understand, and consciously feel what someone else is experiencing. But, to do this you have to be whole enough onto yourself to care enough to care—you have understand that you are not the only person who feels. You have to be completely enough, in yourself, to not base your entire existence upon what you want, how you want to feel, how you sense that you are perceived by the other, and how you can get back at those you feel have wronged you.

Empathy is a refined level of human consciousness. Some people naturally embrace it. Some people do not. Whatever the case is with you, you can choose to care. You can choose to allow yourself to be less and allow someone else to be more. You can seek to understand instead of casting judgment. You can rise from the lower levels of your inner self and embrace humanity and give back instead of simply unleashing destruction and either taking pride in your actions or denying them.

Empathy is you turning you off and you becoming interactive with the larger, greater, better all.

Don’t hurt. Don’t destroy. Care enough to care. It begins with you.

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The truth is never a lie.

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When you do something bad and there is no one there to witness it do you think that makes it okay?

All actions have consequences.

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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 should really stop dreaming about the dreams that will never come true.

***

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

***

If you have to lie about who you are, you are no one.

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.

***

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.

Liar 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.

Second Hand Fame

It has always stuck me as curious how certain people climb on the coattails of the creative and find their way to fame via using the name, production, and/or the method created by someone else. In some cases, I believe this is a very conscious decision to bask in the glory, (whatever that glory may be), of what some other person has created. In other cases, it is actually to hurt a specific person by saying negative, untrue, self-serving, or straight out bad things. But, whatever the motivation may be, whether it be conscious or not, what occurs is that someone becomes noted for their association with a person or with a craft that they had nothing to do with creating simply by talking about it.

This has happened to me more than once. And, from a personal perspective, I cannot understand why the other person(s) would let something like that happen to themselves in the first place. For all they have done is to tie themselves to me throughout eternity. Sure, maybe they became a bit more famous because of it, but at what cost? All they have done is hitch themselves to my bandwagon and they have taken the ride for free. Do people not think that there is a karma associated with that? Not to be cruel but how young was Gene Siskel when he died and did you see what happened to Roger Ebert’s face?

Now, I certainly understand that I am a small player in the grand scheme of things, so I find it very strange that this would happen to someone like me at all. But, I guess that is the cost one pays when you create something. People want a part of it—a part of it for free. They want it for free when they paid none of the life-dues that I had to pay to get to where I could create something in the first place.

Since I was a kid I have witnessed this—ever since the trash magazines were attached to the cash registers at all the supermarkets, they would say this and they would say that about whatever celebrity was a celebrity at the time. And, I guess they still create those mags, though more of the focus has shifted to the internet. Programs like TMZ have created an empire by doing this—making all of the talkers on the show famous in the own right—famous for talking about someone else and what someone else has created.

Certainly, there have been a few reviewers who have become very famous with their own newspaper review columns, radio and TV shows; simply for loving or hating what someone else created. But, what does loving or hating what someone else created actually mean? The reviewers didn’t do anything—they went through none of the trials and the tribulations to get the project actualized, all they did was to love it or hate it. What does that even mean?

Some people are good at this. I guess they are highly motivated. They set out on a course and they make a name for themselves by talking about the creation(s) of others. But, who are these people, what are these people? And mostly, why do they get to be famous simply because they attach themselves to someone else? Why do they get to take a free ride on the fame, the notoriety, and the creative blood, sweat, and tears of another person? What have they personally conceived and created?

Again, from a personal perspective, those people who did this in association with me, did nothing for me. In fact, they hurt me way more than they helped. They never reached out a hand of friendship, they never asked if I needed any help on a movie, with a book, with anything… None of them have even met me. Yet, they believe they know me well enough to judge my work, my thoughts, my actions, or me. And, what do they get for doing it? Free fame.

Now, I am not talking about the people who get out there and actually do something with their life; whether that is making a movie, writing a poem or a book, playing some music, painting a painting, taking a photograph, kicking a kick, whatever... If anything I have said or done helps, GREAT, take full advantage of it! Adapt it and make it your own. And/or, if you want to say something nice about me,
“Thank you!” But, to latch yourself onto someone just to take a free ride, that is just wrong.

Now, I have referenced myself a lot here but that is really not the focus of this piece nor is it what I meant to do. But, you know, free-form thinking and all… It just kind of happened.

The point I am trying to make is, do what YOU do. Make your own art form. Or, as they used to say in the 60s and the 70s,
“Do your own thing.” Don’t jump on someone else’s bandwagon just to make yourself look like some kind of something. Do something/anything from your own source of inspiration and creativity. Do it yourself! Create it yourself! Talk about what you have created, not about what someone else has created. From this, the new/next art form may be given birth to. Don't tie yourself to and ride someone else's bandwagon to fame. That just makes you look like you have no personal inspiration to create something uniquely your own. Create YOU. I've already created me. Get off the bus and stop taking a free ride.

I Believe: Compounding Factual Inaccuracies

Life is based upon a set of beliefs. These beliefs come to us from many sources. We gain them from what we are taught, what we hear and read, what we witness, and then; once we have been provided with a certain set of parameters given to us by our culture, our desires, and our placement in life and time, we decide what we believe.

Some people decide what they believe and then simply do the conscious thing; believe it. Others decide it is they who have the calling, the desire, the ability, the power, the gift, and/or the need to broadcast their beliefs to the world. From this, they spread their ideologies out, from within in their own mind, to others. Why do they do this? The simple answer is ego. They want to be seen as a knower. If they are not seen as a knower then, at least, they believe they will be understood to be a discontent, sewing the seeds of controversy and anarchy.

There is one essential problem is the conception of, “I believe,” however. Belief is opinion, it is not fact.

In a free society every one has the right to have their opinion. But, if a person lives a life of consciousness they understand that their, “Opinion,” is just that — it is not a fact. It is simply what they believe and belief is an interpersonal process, it is not a factual accounting of reality and something that someone should expound outwards to the world for then only one thing occurs; the compounding of factual inaccuracies which have the potential to negatively affect the life of others.

It is like the conspiracy theorists, they look for and try to find logical reasoning for what they believe to be an anomaly of life, time, space, and/or occurrences. But, there is fact and then there is theory. Some people attempt to broadcast their theories to the minds of other people. This does not make their ideologies fact; it simply makes them broadcasted theories. And, each theory is simply some-thing that a particular some-one hopes to make fact based upon what they, personally, believe. It is not fact, however, it is simply belief. Yet, they hope to pull others into the web of what they believe. This is how many of the falsehood that have been disseminated through societies, throughout time, have come to take hold. Not fact, simply belief that a large number of people have come to believe.

The fact is, some people are so locked into their beliefs that even if you present them with factual evidence that what they believe is wrong they will argue with you about the validity of your presentation and will not concede that their belief about a practical subject and/or their belief system in general may be wrong.

Some people become very lost between the concept of opinion and fact. If they do not possess an analytical mind they simply assume that there is no difference. People driven by ego, desire, jealousy, or anger often fall prey to their own undefined differences between these two mental concepts. They believe, so what they believe
IS. But, is it? Is your belief ever the defining truth for the entire world? Yes, it may be the defining truth for your world but should your belief be expounded to others? Do you ever ponder this fact before you spread your belief(s) outwards?

How much of your life mind-time do you spend pondering the fact of understanding where your belief system arose? How much of your life mind-time do you spend actually contemplating why you are saying, what you are saying, when you are disseminating your beliefs outwards, beyond yourself? When you do speak of your beliefs do you only care about the fact that you desire your beliefs to be witnessed as the truth? In fact, do you ever think at all before you speak of your belief? Finally, what is your desired end result when you propagate your belief? Why do you discuss your belief(s) at all? These are all important concepts to think about as you pass through life.

It is essential to contemplate why you believe what you believe. Think about this, have you ever believed one thing and now you believe it no more? This is the simple formula to help you define for yourself the difference between belief or fact. And, it is also essential to keep in mind, just because other people believe something (even large groups of people like a religion) this does that mean that you are forced to believe it?

Belief is only what it is; an ideology formed in your own mind. As long as it is kept in your own mind, it can hurt no one. As soon as it is released chaos is given birth to.

Belief is never fact.

Not of Our Culture

Cultural indoctrination is a really interesting process in that where we are formed is where we learn how to behave and from that we go through life behaving in a very specific manner. Now, this is all fine and good if you spend your entire life living in one culture (or subculture) and never step outside beyond its boundaries. But, if you do move away from YOUR culture into an another culture, you must adapt. If you do not, then all you do is create havoc, chaos, and discomfort in the lives of those you come into contact with. This discomfort can be small or it can be large. It can be a simple annoyance or it can create a life changing event. But, the one common factor in all of this is that one or more person(s) enters into the realm of another and if they behave in a culturally unacceptable manner, the person or persons whose life they have entered is altered for the worst.

How do you behave? Do you take your culture with you or do you adapt to the culture around you?

It is important to preface this writing with the fact that I am not demeaning any culture. Just the opposite, in fact. But, the fact of the matter is, cultural adaptation, guiding by the blending of cultures, ideally takes place over long periods of time. If someone attempts to immediately pressure cultural adaption by forcing their cultural beliefs into the place they newly have come to inhabit, then conflict is given birth to.

I have spent much of my adult life traveling the globe. Many years ago the foreigners I would encounter, while abroad, were most commonly Americans. This is not the case anymore. Due to the overall demise of the U.S. economy and other factors, it is much more likely that you will encounter a traveler from another region of the world than America. The point being, it used to almost be a joke about the way Americans would behave in other countries. Even me, I was embarrassed by the way they acted and would have nothing to do with them. They expected that the world should be just the way it is in America — that all those across the globe should behave in a manner that the American mindset deemed appropriate and due to the fact that they were, “American,” they should be kowtowed to. Very sad. Very inappropriate. But, this is how some people behave.

Even me, I remember the first time I travel to Berlin, (back when it was West Berlin), my German was very poor. I went to the post office to mail a package and I tired to communicate with the postal worker in English. He scolded me, yelled ay me, told me to learn German and I totally got it. This was his country. German was their language and I couldn’t speak it very well. Finally, he changed his tone and spoke to me in perfect English. But, it was my fault. Not his.

From an American perspective, in the recent decades, large numbers of immigrates have immigrated into the United States. Many, if not most, have come here hoping to be a part of the American culture. But, some have not. Though they are here, they wish to hold-fast to their own culture and simply reap the rewards of America. From this, I have witnessed conflict, disharmony, and distrust arise. For example, in the area of Los Angeles where I live there is a lot of new money and a lot of old family money. I have watched as large numbers of people of Middle-Eastern heritage have come to the area and completely disregarding common cultural courtesies. For example, I think back to a time recently when I was sitting outdoors at a Starbucks. As we all know Starbucks is a smoke-free environment. This one guy drove his top of the line BMW up and parked right in front of the shop in the red zone. He didn’t care… Went and got a coffee, came outside and lighted up a cigarette and started blowing smoke. This, even though there is a no-smoking badge on the table where he sat. Now, I really hate conflict. I think most of us do. But, was I going to let this man ruin this environment for the old guy, the high school girls, and myself sitting on this patio? No. I straight-away went up to him and told him about the rules and told him he was being very rude. But, he knew and he didn’t care. He was just going to push the boundaries as far as he could and the rest of the world be damned. Smoking was who he is. He looked at me. He said nothing. He went and sat in his car, parked in the red, drank his coffee, and smoked his cigarette.

This is just one small example about how people (culturally) invade the space of others. In his culture smoking everywhere/anywhere is fine. But, not here. But, he didn’t care. Though it all turned out fine and that was good. This is not always the case, however. This man unconsciously created conflict simply by bringing his culture with him and not caring about the culture of the land where he now resides. And, creating conflict, based upon cultural indoctrination, is never a good thing.

In various articles and in the various incarnations of this Zen Blog and in other places, I have detained how periodically people have come into my life, uninvited, and really messed it up. They have done this because they were inconsiderate of my life and the life of other people and/or maybe they just did not care. In some cases, when confronted about what they had done, they have sited reasons like that was they way they learned to behave where they were from and nonsensical excuses such as that. But, the fact is, they came in and damaged my life — they damaged the life of others. And, they did this because they were not aware enough, not conscious enough, to care. And this takes us to the heart of the matter. In life, we each move from place to place. Whether this is miles upon miles or simply across town, in each of these places we find people who behave in a certain manner and they expect to be treated in a specific manner. If you behave differently, if you act wrongly, if you go into their space and do something that negatively affects the life of anybody; you are in the wrong. It is a simple as that. And, if you do wrong things, that hurts the lives of other people, based upon how you believe it is okay to behave, you are the one causing the problem. Thus, all the blame goes to you.

Now, the fact is, some people don’t care. They take their culture with them wherever they go and the world be damned. But, that mindset is the cause of conflict. That is where all the fights, all the wars, and all of the problems of the world begin. Is that how you behave?

What are you the sourcepoint of and for? Do you care more about meaninglessly holding onto the bad habits of your culture or do you care about caring enough to care about others first? You really need to ask yourself that question whenever you find yourself in a new environment. Do you adapt? Or, do you pollute?

***

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

***

Everyone wants the other person to be paid back for their bad actions but no one wants to be paid back for their bad deeds.

There’s Millions of People Who Are Suffering

Have you even gotten into the shower and the water was too cold? Have you ever taken a shower and the water was too hot? Though you take a shower in the same place everyday, for some reason, on this day, you just have a very hard time getting the water just right.

I think back to one of the times I was in Burma. I was twenty-five and I was staying at the only hotel that was in existence, at the time, in Mandalay. I had woken up one morning and I went to hit the shower before I went out to the day. The water pressure was ify, the temperature of the water was inconsistent, the floor of the shower was a cold cement basin, and it was all making me really frustrated. Anyway, finishing my shower, having my breakfast in the hotel restaurant, I went out and was walking around the streets. As I was, I saw several of the locals taking their morning shower/bath. They were in front or to the side of their small wooden homes. What they had was a bucket full of water that they would dip their washcloth or a sponge into and wash themselves down with it. One guy, when he was done, took the bucket and poured it over his head. That was his shower. I wondered how the he liked the temperature and/or the water pressure?

Here’s the point, there are so many people out there who do not have any of the comforts that we do. Yet, we are the one’s complaining. We are the one’s obsessing about some-thing, some object that we desire, or some person. We are doing all we can for what WE want but we are nothing for anyone else. We are not thinking about anyone else but ourselves.

What do you do to help the people who are suffering? What do you do to help the people, across the globe, that actually need help? Do you spend you time mentally masturbating on the internet or do you get off of your ass and go out and do something that actual help someone who needs help?

If you do not take your mental focus off of yourself and what you want to do when you want to do it, your life is meaningless. If you do not get out there and do something positive, and actually helpful, to make the lives of those in-need better, your life is meaningless. If you focus your energy on hurting anyone, no matter what your motivation, instead of helping someone/everyone, your life is meaningless.

People are in need all around us. You don’t have to go to Burma to find them. There are millions of people who are suffering, are you one of them? Probably not. If you are not, then get out there and help someone. Get out of your own head and do something good. For this is the only true measure of a person. This is the only thing that you can actually take pride in accomplishing. This is the only thing that all humanity will actually applaud. The only thing that truly matters in life is, who are you helping, who’s life are you making better, and who’s life have you removed pain from?

Today’s a good day to start. Get off your butt and go out and do something that actually helps someone.

People Never Think About the Effect

People never think about the effect they are having on the life of another person.

I was speaking to a shop-girl I know the other day and I asked her how she was. She tells me that both her and her boyfriend’s car had been stolen in one week. “Wow,” I exclaimed. “That’s terrible!”

If you think about it, that is pretty hard core. Here are two young people, attempting to make a life together, and BAM, someone enters their life, (uninvited), and really messes it up without even caring about what affect they are having on these two people.

The couple only had the basis car insurance and was not cover for theft so they were completely screwed. Screwed, here in Los Angeles, where living is expensive and they both hold low-paying jobs. Very sad.

This is the thing about life, most people never care about the effect they are having on the life of another person. They simply do what they do and think only about themselves.

Certainly, most people are not so low as to steal a car but that is not even the point. Think about it, how many bad things are done by people who do not care about the effect they are having on the life of someone else? In fact, look at yourself, how many things have you done in your life that negatively hurt someone else? Why did you do them? What was the result? Did it make you a better person? Did it make your life any better? Did the world become a better place because of what you did? Or, was someone else’s life simply left hurt and damaged? And, do you even care?

How you think about others defines who you truly are.

People always look to karma and the, “They will get theirs,” mindset when something bad happens. And yes, probably the person who has instigated a bad action will be negatively repaid someday… But, someday is not now. And, that repayment will probably never be witnessed by the person or persons who was wronged. So what does karma actually mean?

Most people live their life from a very unconscious mindset. They only think about themselves. They only think about what they want, when they want it, and what they need. They take or they break and then they blame everyone and everything else once they get caught for their taking or their breaking.

But, life comes down to one thing, it comes down to you. What do you do? How does what you’re doing help, hurt, or affect other people? If what you’re doing hurts anyone, for any reason, what you are doing is wrong. It is as simple as that.

Life is not only about physical/material possesses being wrongly stolen. Life is about how you affect others and the world around you.

What do you do? What do you take? How does what you do and what you take help or hurt others? What do you think your karma will be?

A person’s life is never ultimately defined by the spin they put on what they do that has hurt other people. A person’s life is defined by whom they have helped. And, a small amount of hurt vastly overshadows any amount of help you may have provided.

What are doing and who are you doing it to?

Always think about other people first.

***

Just because you buy a pair of shoes that are too big does not mean that your feet have grown.

***

If you think that saying something bad equals something good you're wrong.

***

Is your truth the real truth or is it only a lie that you created in your own mind?

***

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

***

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

***

What happens if no one believed in God?

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If you look for the bad in everyone, everyone will look for the bad in you.

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When you criticize somebody, the only person you make look bad is yourself.

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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.

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There is no going back in time.

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Are you stating your opinion as a fact?

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You will never truly understand another person's reality.

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If it is only in your mind it is only in your mind.

Who Makes This Stuff Up?

For each person they have a belief in the concept of a great power, (god if you will), what happens to a person after they die, if you can or cannot communicate with angels or demons from the other side, and a million other things that tie this human form to the concept of and the desire for something more once one passes away. The concept of heaven, hell, purgatory, or reincarnation permeate the mindset of all people across the globe. This is especially the case as one grows closer to the end of their life; then the thoughts of these things become all-encompassing. But, where do all these thoughts come from? Who makes this stuff up?

Religious pundits will tell you that the practices of their religion are the absolute truth, as they have been proven by the Prophets of their religion and recorded in the doctrines. Though each person holds their religion beliefs and believes the teachings of their religion to be the absolute truth, there are a million other religious teachings out there. There is no one proven truth so who is right and who is wrong? Or course, the answer to that question, in the mind of the believer is, “I am right, you are wrong.”

In the West, we are bombarded by a mishmash of varying religious cultures and beliefs. So much so that here, religious ideologies have become an intermingled mess. Certainly, Christianity, in its varying forms, is the dominate religious of this culture but people seek answers, they want to believe that they have a purpose, that there is something more, so they turn to those who promise these answers, opening the door to financing the lifestyle and stroking the ego of many a False Prophet.

Generally, when we are young, there is a belief system programmed into our minds. This is most likely the religion of our parents. Some hold fast to these beliefs throughout their life, others do not; they seek something more. The one thing I can tell you about this practice, as I too am one who sought other things, is that due to the childhood programming there is something that has been embedded so deeply into our psyche that no matter where we go, what we study, the games of dress-up we play, at our core is that religious ideology. I have watched so many people as they were preparing to leave their physical body, near the time of their death, revert to their original religion. This, even though some had spent the better part of their lifetime claiming to be, believing that they believed in something else.

In fact, when spirituality and human growth was at its height, in the 1960s and 1970s, it was often taught how one had to consciously let go of all of their childhood programming. Though this may be a nice thought, it is virtually impossible.

So, for better or for worse, we are what we were taught as children. Yes, our minds expand, yes we come upon new ideologies and philosophic concepts that we may like, and we may even encounter new religions that we may even believe in, but at the end of our life we are bound by the beliefs that were indoctrinated into us in childhood.

Throughout history religions have evolved. The Christianity that was practiced two thousand years ago is not the same as it is practiced today. This is the same with all other world religions and even the lessor known or long forgotten ones. What does this tell us? It tells us that the Buddhists of the first century were taught, believed, and practiced their religion very differently than they do today, just as is the case with Christians, Muslims, and so on. The basis of their beliefs may still be in place: i.e. the Bible, the Koran, or the Dharmapada, but, via the mind of man, the teachings of these religions have expanded, evolved, and, in fact, been guided by the desires of man.

It is very easy to study the evolution of Christianity. Documents are everywhere. You can trace how what we know as the Bible came to be fortified and how the teachings and the practices of Christianity came to formulated. What do you see when you study this evolution? You see the mind of a man or a group of people deciding what they thought Christianity should be. And, this is the case from this religion’s inception forward. Jesus did not write the bible. His disciples did after he had died or ascended depending on how you want to look at it. As it was formulated in the minds of man, based upon their own personal remembrances, visions, and desires, how does that make it holy? Certainly, the zealots will say that they were guided by the hand of god and stuff like that. But, were they? Look at Christianity’s evolution, it was based upon power grabs and desire. And, this is not just the case of Christianity, study the evolution of the other world religions, as well. All are based in the desire of man proclaiming that they know the appropriate interpretation of the teachings and the scriptures.

So, what does this leave us with? It leaves us believing in something that we were programmed to believe—something that we were told was the truth and was holy but it was simply formulated in the mind of man. Yet, at our inner core, we are damned to believe it. It is inside of us.

So, who makes this stuff up? Some guy… Why do we believe it? We have no choice. What can we do about this phenomenon? I have no idea. But, you should think about it before you believe what you believe.

Trolling for Dollars

I listened to a fairly interesting report on NPR today as I was driving back from Hollywood. It was about this one female politician who had gotten trolled pretty hard. They brought in a person who was an expert on the subject. She detailed how the people who troll do so for a number of reasons: insecurity, self-anger, a way to make themselves feel empowered, a means to channel the anger they feel towards life due to their lack of accomplishment, and so on. It was all the psychologically based reasons that we would assume causes a person go on the troll.

Having been trolled myself, once or twice, I find the focused actions of these people very curious. I mean sure, we all have our anger, we all have our likes and our dislikes, we all have our desire to live a better, more fulfilled life but most of us who experience these feelings do something to actualize a better existence. We try to make our life better. We do not waste our time attacking someone for a reason only harbored in our own mind or in the misplaced consciousness of a cyber group that we frequent.

One of the people on the program discussed how a troll had actually set up a twitter account using her dead father’s name and just struck out at her in the vilest ways. I mean, I would question who is even so low to do something that? The fact is, it’s messed up, but there are people out there who do that kind of stuff. Eventually, this lady wrote an article about this troll and the effect he was having on her life. Apparently, the guy read the article, contacted her, and told her how he never realized all the pain he was causing, as he never thought of her as a person. He apologized and they spoke for hours.

This, of course, is the ideal end to being trolled but I would bet this rarely, if ever, happens. People out there trolling are anonymous; they are out there lying about who they are. And, like this guy before he had his mystical realization, he didn’t even think about this woman as a person, he wanted to hurt her, so he trolled her to the max. Why?

I think that most people like me (especially if they have met me) and understand what I’m doing. So, my troll hits have not been too hard. Like I said in a recent blog, people either say, “Fuck you,” or write these articulate pieces that though based upon altered facts and misrepresentations of the truths, are at least well written. Thus, they make me smile. Though they probably do hurt my reputation in the minds of people who actually read that kind of stuff and believe it. But, what can I do? Ultimately, the karma goes back onto those who concocted their words in the first place.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that none of the people who have trolled me have ever asked for my side of the story before instigating their troll. Additionally, they have never woken up, seen that I am a person, and said, “Sorry,” or anything else for the mistruths, harsh comments, and lies they have spread about me. And, if they have trolled me, that means they have done it to others. Certainly, I am not all that special, so I am sure they have hit others much harder.

The fact is, tracing an ip addresses is pretty easy. In some cases, I have watched from where these troll hits have arisen. It’s pretty easy to know who some of these people are. …Some have even friended me on Facebook. They don’t remove the lies that they put out there but they want to be my friend. I think that’s pretty strange. I guess they want to see what I'm up to? Weird…

You know, I came up in a world of spirituality. For me, life is all about Karma Yoga — doing for others and asking nothing in return. I realize that the world has changed a lot since then. There was no internet and none of the non-stop babble that goes on via the various cyber space methods. All this being said, think about it; isn’t doing something good for other people; saying something good about other people, better than being a troll? I mean, doing something good, helping someone; doesn’t that make you feel good?

So, if you’re angry, frustrated, insecure, whatever; instead of going on the troll, get up off of your butt and do something positive for someone else. The world then becomes a better place. Be a conduit for positivity. Not a negative troll.

Anyway, like I always talk about… I think the main thing in life is not to focus on other people: what you like or dislike about them, what you like or dislike about what they have done. Instead, never use other people as your basis of suchness. Do something for yourself. Do something that makes you, YOU. Create your own something. And mostly, own who and what you are. If you’re going to say something be brave enough to claim it or be adult enough to understand that we each have our own life and our life-missions and say nothing at all.

To the trolls out there, think about it, from the doing something and being something positive you won’t be lost in all that insecurity and self-directed anger that makes you troll people in the first place. BECOME and then you won’t need to attack and criticize.

BE and YOU are.

The Moral High Ground

I forever find it curiously amusing when I see some religious or political leader speaking about a subject and denouncing the people who are of some specific subset of culture and condemning them for their practices and/or beliefs. I mean how many times have we heard about the minister who was caught having an affair with someone other than their wife and then begged for forgiveness from their congregation once they were caught? How many times has a minister or a politician condemned those who are gay and then been found to be having an affair with someone of the same sex?

Here’s the thing… It is easy to have an opinion. It is easy to present your opinion to the world as fact, especially when it is an opinion that is believe to be culturally correct. It is easy to have an opinion when that opinion condemns someone or something. Why? Because people always get emotionally invigorated when someone finds a way to focused their undefined internal anger on a person, a religion, a political movement, onto anything as long as that anything is some-one or some-thing else other than themselves.

But, why is this? This is because people are dissatisfied with their own life. This is because people are envious of those who have more or have achieved more. This is because it is easy to hate because hate takes no effort. All it takes is to tap into a negative emotion which invigorates their entire being.

Most people will deny this fact. Most people would rather state, “That person is immoral, bad, wrong, against what I believe is right, or against the ways of god.” But, any person who employs these definitions as a defining factor for anyone or anything does not understand what they are feeling or why. All they are running on is induced adrenaline — which is such an addictive conduit that has lead to much of the bad that has been unleashed in this world.

Why do you dislike anyone, especially if you do not know them? Why do you hate an entire race, religion, or biological makeup, especially if you have not even met a person who has practiced this precept? Why do you think you have the right to cast judgment on anyone or anything?

Just because you think you are right does not make you right.

People want to form opinions. It makes them feel whole onto themselves. But, how many of those opinions are whole and organic decisions and how many of them are induced by the thoughts and the words of someone else?

Where do your opinions come from? How did you come to the conclusions that you have concluded? Who or what guided you towards believing what you believe?

If what you think, feel, and express is not based on pure empirical fact — if it is not based upon the actual factual truth, it is simply based upon an opinion. An opinion is never a fact. It is not the truth.

Before you say anything about anyone or anything, first look to your motivation(s) for why you are doing it and then look to your basis of fact. Are your, “Facts,” based upon your desire for your opinion to be seen as the truth or are you stating something that you have proven to be true? Then question, once you have established this level of personal knowledge, why do you need to say anything about someone or something at all? What is the point? Who does it help and who does it hurt? If what you say or do hurts anyone or anything, if what you say or do incites anyone to hurt any other person, if what you say or do causes damage in any way, what you are saying and what you are doing is wrong — it is self-motivate and does not lead to the greater good.

Good, is saying and doing good things. Good, hurts no one.

Do not base your life upon negative opinions. Negative opinions only lead to negative actions. Negative actions only hurt, they never help.

A better world begins with you.

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 the 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.

Swamiji and Me

As you may or may not know, I am a bit of a bibliophile. I collect books. My main quest is for rare Eastern Metaphysical and spiritually based writings. In any case, I came upon a book being offered online created around photographs of my teacher, Swami Satchidananda, titled, Sri Swami Satchidananda: Portrait of a Modern Sage. I was drawn to the book for two reasons, it was signed and it was a hardcover copy which is apparently hard to come by. It was bit pricy, but whatever, I bought it. The fact is, I never even knew about this book. It was published in 1996 but I guess I just never came across a copy.

In any case, I ordered it and it arrived. I unpack it and I opened it up to a random page. Damn, there I am! A photograph with me, the L.A. crew, and Gurudev on page 135. I was both extremely happy and shocked. I obviously knew about this photograph and I clearly remember the day it was taken. But wow, what a flood of memories.

Swami Satchidananda and his teachings were a very essential part of my adolescent years, early adult years, and my spiritual upbringing. I have written about experiences I had with him in various other places, most notably in the book,
Zen: Tales from the Journey. But, to be cast back like this, it was quite a happy shock.

Above that photograph is another photograph where it is the back of the disciple’s heads, as Gurudev was in the foreground. My head is there too. But, you’d only know it if you knew what the back of my long blonde haired head looked like back then. Happy That photo was taken during one of the very intimate satsangs we would have with him on Saturday nights at the ashram in Santa Barbara when he was in town.

I was Swami Satchidananda’s soundman for a number of years. Back then, spirituality was very high on the minds of the masses. (Not now). So, he used to give a lot of lectures. I would pack my equipment up in my ’76 Dodge van and travel to, set up, and recorder the words he spoke. Man, so many memories from those experiences… He was a wise teacher. At these small satsangs, however, he didn’t need a mic. I did record some of them for posterity but not all. Obviously, the one portrayed in the photograph, I did not.

I really think if you truly hope to learn anything from a teacher you need to develop a personal relationship with them. You really need to be close enough to them to come to understand who they truly are. From this, you gain the complex understanding of what it takes to be a good human being, while remaining centered on spirituality. Too many people, I believe, cast their faith to those that are unmeetable as they are no longer in their human body. From this, myth is born. Is myth the truth? Usually not.

A couple of pages deeper in the book, page 138, if you look really hard you can see me again in and amongst the disciples. It was outside on a rainy day and it was the inauguration of the Santa Barbara ashram. My face is partially blocked by another disciple but my IYI (integral Yoga Institute) friend Hari is behind me, Uma is a bit in front. Shiva was in the photo as was Jadhana, and the list goes on. The funny thing is, at least to me, is that in the photograph all eyes are on Gurudev but I was obviously saying something to the girl I had brought with me, Carol. A girl who I had met at the Sufi Dances and was totally infatuated with at the time. I thought if there was a woman worth giving up bramacharya for, she was it. Happy I joked to a person I showed the book to, “All eyes were on the guru but my eyes were on the girl.” That’s funny now but back then I was seriously devolved to the formal spiritual lifestyle. If you feel like it, you can read a story about that day, and my interaction with that girl and the spiritual group, also in the book,
Zen: Tales from the Journey.

Those were good and important times for me…

The last time I actually interacted with Gurudev was when I was twenty-four. By this point I had fallen away from the IYI as I felt the people in control of the group had become a little bit too full of themselves. I had gone to India, did what I did there, had returned and was going to grad school. It had been a few years but, out of the blue, I received a call from Padma asking me if I would/could do the sound for a lecture Gurudev was giving. I accepted.

I got the equipment together, brought my beautiful Spanish via Cuba girlfriend with me, (yes, I had left bramacharya behind), and it was an overall great experience. It had been a few years since I had seen Gurudev by that point and he kept joking, “Who’s this, who's this,” in regard to me. The day went as the day went. I never saw him in person again.

It was a great memory churner to discover this book. I am sure that there are a lot of other photographs out there of me in association with Gurudev—photographs I will probably never see. Me, I never carried a camera back then. Just living in the moment and all… But, the memories are there.

From my point of view, most people just pass through their life, grabbing at whatever they can to keep themselves in a state of unsecured momentary happiness. They move from one thing to the next, one desire to the next, attempting to hold on to something that they cannot define. Few people attempt to find deeper meaning. I think that is sad. I believe that you must first know yourself, then study yourself, removing as many obstacles and bad qualities from yourself as possible, and then move forward into the greater MORE. How you do this, is your choice. For me, at least in my early years, it was defined by Swami Satchidanada and the Sufi Order.

Life is a funny thing. But, if we do not attempt to make ourselves more and better and do good things for other people, what does it all mean?

Do You Care About Me?

In life, you can only care about someone else when your life is not on the line. You can only care about someone else when you have the time to think, feel, imagine, and dream. You can only care about someone when you possess the ability to know how to love.

People speak about caring about someone else all the time. But, who are these people? And, do they really care?

Life is made up of a complex set of human interactions. When someone, “Cares,” about someone else do they really care or do they simply care about what that person can give them: be it love, lust, money, companionship, knowledge, you name it? Is their caring true caring or is their caring based upon some hidden agenda—a hidden agenda that the individual who claims to care may not even realize that they have?

Have you ever had to fight for your life to survive? In those situations, there is no time to care for someone else. Your entire life experience is brought into the absolute now of the moment and survival is all that can be front and center to your mind. A fight, a war, drowning, starvation, a plane crash, a car accident, all of these things and more bring an individual to absolute now consciousness. Who do you care about when you don’t have time to even think about caring?

Caring only takes place when you have the time and the presence of mind to care. Some people are very selfish, they never truly care for or about anyone. Others, do care. They want a person or an entire people to be safe, happy, and fulfilled. But, just because they care does not mean that the caring is returned. Have you ever cared about someone, did something for them, and they returned your gesture with dismissal, indignity, or injustice? Did you still care for them after that innocent occurred?

Take a moment. Think about who you care about. Think about why you care about them. Really get to the bottom of your emotion. Ask yourself, “Would you care about them if they didn’t care about you?”

How many people have passed through your life and at one point you felt all kinds of emotions towards them—you really cared about them. Now, they are gone. How to you feel about them at this point in your life?

Caring is a choice. It is a good choice. It is better to care than to desire to injure someone. For anyone you injure, in any way, shape, or form, so too will you be injured. That is the simple truth of life.

You do not have the right to pass judgment on anyone for any reason but what you do have the right to do is to care. If you care, you care. Caring is forever good but you have to understand the source of your caring. You have to care even if they don’t know you care. You have to care even if they don’t care about you. That is true caring.

To many people caring is only a condition locked in their mind. They think about someone, wish them well, hope the best for them, even pray for them but all this is all just mind-stuff. It is not true caring. True caring is doing something positive in this physical world for a person. True caring is taking action to make another person’s mind, body, and life better.

Who do you are about? What does your caring mean? What does your caring equal? What are you going to do for them because you care about them?

Lose Your Identity, Erase Your History

The majority of people desire to become SOMETHING. Early in their life they see those who are respected for doing what they do and follow the path of seeking that same admiration. Ask yourself, “Do you seek to become nothing, to be seen as nothing, to be unknown? Or, do you hope for something more for YOURSELF?”


People do all that they can to achieve. Though most never find the pathway to find their ultimate dream, they, none-the-less, try to rise to a position of respect and authority within their place of employment, in their community, or at their school.

Most people eventually find the road to marrying and having a family. At that point, the focus of their life quite often shifts from desires for Personal-Self to desires for their child and/or children. “I want the best for my child. I want them to have a better life than I have had.” How often have you heard those words spoken?

Having a child is not a bad thing. Having desires for one’s child is not a bad thing. In fact, having a child often takes the egocentric focus off of the individual allowing them to rise from a life of self-centered thinking to a life of caring and giving. How many of the people you have met, who do not have children, are truly caring and giving people? Most, are simply lost in a Life-Pattern of selfish thought, thinking only about themselves.

Life-Patterns are instigated by the individual. What one does now leads to the next set of available options in one’s life. As such, the desire(s) that are pursued defines the entire evolution of a person’s life. Though desires may change and what a person does may set a new course of options and availability into motion in a person’s life, everything you desire, and everything you do to gain that desire forever defines your life as your life is one continuous emulation of who you want to be leading to what you are.

Think about the actions you have taken to achieve your desires and your dreams. Have they hurt anyone? Have they hurt you? Are you proud of them? Do they make you ashamed? Do they make you happy or do they make you sad? Remember, you wanted something, you went about achieving that something, thus, it was you who set your ALL into motion by wanting what you wanted, desiring what you desired, which means you are personally responsible for all the goodness and/or all the damage you created in that pursuit. If you hurt anyone in that pursuit you will be forever bound to that person as you did what you did and their life evolution was changed because of it. Remember that.

The thing about personal achievement is that most of the achieved have not cared about their personal effect. They only think about themselves and achieving their desire and thus, the thought of damage to others rarely, if ever, comes to mind. As much as the person of consciousness will say, “This selfish mindset is not the attitude one should possess,” this has been one of the key traits of humanity since its evolution to the realms of thoughtful-self. People only think about themselves and what they want!

Now that this has been established, let’s turn this scenario around a little bit. What if you desired nothing? What if you wanted to be nothing? What if you did not care about your position or your legacy? How would you be feeling right now? What would you have done differently in your life? What would you not be regretting? Who would you have not hurt? Who would you have not been hurt by?

If you did not want to be something, if you did not do the things you have done to be that SOME-THING how would your life have evolved differently?

The fact is, in life we can never go back in time. We never get a re-do. But, what we can do is to become conscious enough to look deeply into the patterns of life and learn from not only our evolutionary movement but the evolutionary movements of
all those around us. We can open our eye.

If you can take a moment and step away from yourself and your desire(s) long enough to truly witness what is going on with your life, the lives of those you interact with, and the lives of the Greater-All, then you have the chance to become more than your limited, selfish self. Instead of possessing a desire for your life to be some idealized ego-driven machine, adored by the masses, you have the chance to truly do something good for the world by becoming something that no one else can see or worship, a True Being not driven by ego and desire.

Most people don’t want this. Most people don’t understand this. Most people if they heard about it simply dismiss it as nonsense. They do this because they are so locked into the realms of their own identity, of their desire to become what they desire, that they are too lost to understand that they will never achieve what their mind sees. Why? Because what is, “Out There,” is never “In Here,” it is all an illusion. What you see other people BE-ING is never what you can BE because you are not them, just as they are not you. What you see out there is a projection of an idealized reality you have fantasied in your mind. It is not real. At best, it is only what you hope it will be.

By comprehending this you allow yourself to realize that all that you hope to be, all the steps you take to get there, are, at best, simply your projected desires where you attempt to live a reality that may
never be had. Thus, your desires to BE are nothing more than a Self-Instigated Illusion.

Knowing this, you have one of two choices to make. …Two choices that now you can make very consciously. One, are you going to continue on the path you are on, doing what you are doing, damaging who what you are damaging? Two, are you going to let go and simply BE? By being, you become free. Your desires are let go so you create nothing: no bad, no good. From here, you can be happy and whole within yourself. From here, no one is hurt, thus, you are not re-hurt. You are complete free and not trapped by the hurt that arises from not having what you want.

Freedom is always a better perfection that a life bound by desire. You are you. YOU is all YOU will ever be.

Do you want to be happy in your freedom? Or, do you want to be tormented by what you desire?

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.

How is that Buddhism?

I am never one to criticize a person’s religion. I believe, we all believe what we believe, created by an untold number of influences, and that is the way it has always been. Occasionally, however, an individual brings their beliefs to the forefront of our conversation and it forces me to think…

Recently, I was speaking with a young girl I know and she told me that she was, “Getting into Buddhism.” She went on to tell me that one of her family members had continue to suggest that she do so and finally she took the plunge. “Great,” I exclaimed.

Then, she began to tell me about how one of the teachers of her group had told her to define three things that she really wanted and begin to focus on them as she chanted. “Nichiren Shōshū,” I knowingly questioned. “Yes. How did you know that,” she asked. Well, she may not have known, but I am sure all of you know, that I have been walking this path for a long-long time, so my studies and my interactions are pretty vast in the spiritual realms and since my early time on the path forward, Nichiren Shōshū has been around.

Now, I am not going to discuss Nichiren Shōshū in this piece, for their formation, who, and what they are, is documented out there far better that I could ever abbreviate. And, at the core of their teachings is a very profound scripture, The Lotus Sutra. What I will say, however, is that ever since I first encountered this group some forty years ago, their main focus for bringing people into their fold is to promise the obtainment of a person’s desire by chanting this group’s primary mantra, “Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō.” This too was the case with my young friend.

One of the most profound and simple teachings that the Buddha taught was, “The cause of suffering is desire.” For me, this is the essence of Buddhism. If we look to the root of any problem we encounter we will easily see that is/was based upon a desire that we had; either for something, someone, to feel a certain way, or to experience life in a specific manner. The questions then arises, “How does any branch of Buddhism teach a path to the obtainment of desire when one of its foundational understanding is that, the cause of suffering is desire?”

Now, I am not saying that their technique does not work. I think we all can agree, the focusing on something and the consciously taking steps to obtaining it is the best way to actualize any desire. But, how is that Buddhism? Buddhism is about the developed lack of desire, not the obtainment of it.

In any case, as always, I let it go. I said nothing and let her walk down her own path, eventually finding her own realizations.

There were a couple of things that were additionally interesting about our conversation, however. She told me that she almost instantly obtained one of her desires. She wanted to play guitar and sing in public and one of her friends had invited her to a coffee house where that type of event took place. Once there, she got up and played.

It made me realize, if all of our desires were that easily obtainable, how easy our life would be. And, this is the thing to keep in mind as we walk down the road to obtaining our desires. If our desires are easily obtainable then, though we may not be free from desire, at least we will not be damned by wishing for things that we will never obtain.

They’re the Ones Talking About Me I’m Not the One Talking About Them

Long ago I coined the statement, “You know you’re famous when people you’ve never met say things about you that aren’t true.” This came about when I read an article someone had written about me that was full of unsubstantiated falsehoods and flat out untruths. Yet, the person who wrote it had the appearance of being credentialed in his field and presented the paper in a very formulated format. Though the reading of it amused me to no end, I later begin to contemplate how someone who didn’t know me and read it would believe the false words to be fact, not fiction. And, here is where the problem(s) begin…

Ever since I first began writing poetry, novels, articles, books, painting, and making music and movies, people began to draw conclusions about me. This is a fact of life, when you create, people who love, hate, or don’t care about what you create are going to come to their own conclusions about your work and yourself; be they true or false.

In times gone past, opinions were kept to one’s circle of friends. If you were going to send your opinion about a person or their creation to a magazine, more times than not, the magazine would fact-check the writing before it was ever published. This is the world I grew up in. Throughout my studies at the various universities I attended and later when I began to be published as a journalist and an author, what I wrote had to possess a verifiable factual essence. You had to prove what you said. Then came the age of the Internet and the publish-on-demand world of printing. Anybody could say anything and there is no one there to challenge what a person says. Sure, you can get into twitter wars with a person but what is the point? People believe what they choose to believe, whether it be true or not.

The fact is, in today’s world, when someone says something about somebody that is not based in fact, the lie simply continues to spread. I have seen one person say something about me that was completely untrue and then I have seen that same statement quoted by another and another. All false, yet it is presented as if it were the truth, when it is not.

This is the thing about the life of the creative… The creative, create. The others talk about those who create.

Whenever I teach a class or a seminar I always pose the question to my students, “Who do you want to be? The creative or those who talk about the creative?”

In a world where you can say anything about anybody with little consequence, the only person you are beholden to is yourself and the karmic destiny you lay out that will unfold in front of you based upon your deeds, actions, and words. Therefore, it is you who must ask the question of yourself, “Are you a person who speaks of others, expounding your opinions about an individual based upon your own appraisal of their words and creations or are you a person who is the source of your own creations?” Yes, being the source point of your own creations will put you in the bull’s-eye but it will be something wholly you own. If, on the other hand, you spent your time focused upon analyzing the creations of others and the personage of who created them, all you are doing is further spreading the myth of that individual.

If you speak the truth that is the truth, then the truth will be known and the truth will embrace you. If you spread the lie, based upon your judgment(s), then all you will be known as is a liar once the truth is revealed and all you will be defined as is an individual who relished in the limelight of others.

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.

***

I didn't know…

That is never a viable excuse.

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 Step On Snails?

I think that most of us, since the time we were children, have seen the many aspects of life around us. Whether it was the seashells at the beach, which are now very few and far between, or the butterflies flying through the air, which have also diminished greatly, we see and appreciate the beauty of nature.

There are other forms of life that some people do not take note of and/or do not particularly like. Snails, for example. Yeah, they are kind of weird. But, they are also beautiful and an integral part of our biosphere.

I remember as a kid, some people I knew would intentionally step on them. That made just a yucky mess. Even way back then I thought that was a very wrong thing to do. Now, whenever I see a snail I have a great appreciation for its purpose and placement in life.

Whenever it rains here in L.A., snails come out to play. They move onto the sidewalks. Whenever I see them I tell them to be careful. I tell them to be careful because so many people are so unconscious or so full of the nothing that they believe they are that they do not even take the time to study where they are stepping and they smash them. Not only is it wrong to unnecessarily kill essential life but also it is wrong to be that unconscious of where you are walking.

This is the thing about human life, and perhaps its biggest downfall, people don’t care. And, they do not care that they don’t care. They are so wrapped up in their own superior-ness, or in whatever is going on in their ego driven mind, that they do not take the time to study where and how they walk. This is very sad. Snails get killed.

If you are passing though life not caring and not being acutely aware of your environment, what does that say about you? If you don’t care, should anyone or anything care about you?

Being conscious, being caring is the sourcepoint of living a good, fulfilled, and giving life. Do you study where you step?

Can It Harm You If You Don’t Believe?

Many people believe in the power of suggestive energy. …Energy that can be focused and then transmitted to a person. Wiccans, Witches, Black Magician, Sorcerers, and various other centralized groups practice with these energies.

Now, I must preface this with the fact that most people never even think twice about this style of focusing of energy. And, that’s a good thing. Not thinking of it, their world is never defined by it. But, there are others of us, in the various traditions of metaphysics, which spend much of our lives investigating and defining how energy moves through the universe. Lord knows, I written tons-and-tons of words on the subject.

But, to the point; can focused energy affect you if you do not believe in it? Let’s take a look…

Dion Fortune’s book, “Psychic Self-Defense,” is without a doubt the most distributed book on the subject. The problem with that text, as I see it, is that it gets a little too deep into hocus-pocus and feeds the reader a lot of suggestive logic that only leads to paranoia. That is never a good thing.

This is certainly not the only book on the subject, however. An untold number of texts have been written: some good, some not so good. For example, The Rosicrucian Order, a group I have a certain interactiveness with has published a lot on the subject over the past couple of centuries. As have many others… Most, speak about how energy is all-pervasive and, as such, there are those who can control it and unleash it at will. But, is this factual?

One of my first interactions with focused or stored energy was when I was probably fourteen. This gay couple was moving from my apartment building in Hollywood to a building that was more gay friendly and they asked me help them move. I was happy to help. I was picking up and loading their stuff into their trailer. Behind one of their chest of drawers was a black tree branch. I picked it up, thinking nothing of it, but BAM I could sense the negative energy immediately. Later I was told that one of the men previously had been into Satan worship and Black Magic and that was his wand. Did I feel the energy? Yes, I did. Did it do anything to damn my life? No, I don’t think so. I do know on my first trip to India, however, I did consciously wash my hands in the Ganges to purify any remaining energy from that touching interaction. But, just because I felt the energy does not mean that it harmed me.

So, is energy out there? Yes. Is it focusable? Yes. Can and/or do people try to send it in a certain person’s direction? Probably. I have heard stories. Should you care? Why?

Here’s the thing… If you go up and punch somebody in the face, they are probably going to bleed. That’s reality. If you punch them a couple of more times, you will probably knock them out. That’s as real as real gets. It’s physical. It’s here. It’s now. There is no debate as to the cause or to the effect. But, everything that you can’t see, is debatable. And, here is where you define your own reality. Do you choose to believe that somebody has the ability to have power over you? Yeah, I know, in all the movies and in all the novels, it is claimed that people do posses this power. But, that’s just fiction. That is not truth. The only power that anyone has over you is the power that you allow them to have over you. Know this and the answer to the question is obvious.

Magical Thinking in the Modern Age

I have been writing about the dangers of Magical Thinking for a lot of years now. How if you do this, if you believe that, all will be well with your life—you will achieve all of your desires.

This is just a salesman’s ploy. A wandering salesman’s snake oil, to get you to buy into their bullshit so they can make a dime.

How many Self-Help books have been written promising the same miraculous life changes if only you employee a recited, time-and-time-again, statement to, “Be Positive,” “Believe,” I am this,” I can control the mind of them,” “I can focus and project my desired destiny,” and the list goes on and on. Then, when it does not work out, there is always the catch phrase, written in small ink, “It’s because of you.” “You didn’t focus hard enough,” You didn't try,” “You are not pure enough,” etc., etc., etc… Yet, the salesmen still get paid. Whether it be a book, a lecture, a whatever, you fork out your money and it is not their fault when you fail at what they promised. Stop the cycle!

If there is a fault, it is the fault with the soothsayers, promising you a reality that is out there… …Out there… But, only if you do what they say. Out there… But, only if you concentrate hard enough and are pure enough.

But, the question must be asked, “How pure are they?” How pure and whole are they to be making money off of you? It sounds to me like you are already more than them because you have the money to fill their bank accounts. If they were all that; there would be no need for charging a fee.

It’s like the psychic. Have you ever sat down with one? If you have an analytical mind, it is so easy to see through their game. The say, “Some one in your family died and you were very upset…” Okay, pretty much every one has had that experience. And, that is just one example of how they look at you, check out your clothing, your watch, your shoes, your style and quickly figure out what may be going on with you. What they are doing is, “Fishing.” Fishing for your emotional center-point. If you say, “No,” to their question, they quickly fish a little further until they find something that you respond to. It is all psychological mind fuck and bullshit. Say, “No,” to them time and time again and see what they come up with.

As I have also stated forever… Look to the lives of these people — the people who propagate his style of deception. They are false. Have you actually met them? Have you actually spent time with them? Have you actually seen or heard how they behave in real life. If you had, I doubt that you would ever consider listening to what they have to say.

It is easy to believe in a person if you have not been allowed to see their idiosyncrasy. Stop believe in the liars who are only out there trying to make themselves seem to be more than you, while they ask you to pay them for their services. And, most of all, never forgive a person for their sins when they try to make up excuses about the flaws in their own personality, while still professing to be any sort of an anything.

If a person is telling you anything… Claiming to guide you… Professing to direct you… If they are not a proven and registered saint, they are a liar trying to make a living.

Life if a complex maze.

Truth is free.

The truth is based in simplicity and not desiring.

Here’s some free advice (no charge) stop desiring what you desire and see how free your life will become.

No Truth

I was kicking around one of my favorite bookshops yesterday. There was an elderly lady stocking the shelves while speaking to another customer. She said, “I don’t think that there’s much truth in these books or there wouldn’t be so many of them being written.” This made me smile.

I’ll just leave it at that. Perfect truth in perfect words.

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.

All the Swagger

As someone who teaches the martial arts virtually every day of my life, I forever find it amusing when I encounter someone who walks with, “All the Swagger.” They walk in like they should be feared, should be respected, should be something...

Whenever I witness someone behaving in this manner, I think back to one of my friends... This guy looks tough. I mean, this guy looks scary. He’s the kind of guy you don’t want to mess with. But, this guy can’t fight.

A funny story came to me about him a year or two after an incident took place. He and a few of his friends were at some car rally. He got drunk and was walking, full of swagger. Some guy bumped into him and my friend got all up in this guy’s business — attempting to intimidate him and drive him away with his fierce looks. The guy who bumped into him, in turn, began to kick his ass. He took the fight to the ground and was pounding the crap out of my friend. It was only when the thirteen-year-old son of one of my friend’s friends smashed the attacker in the head with a watermelon that the fight concluded.

That’s the thing about swagger, it means nothing.

Way back in the way back when, back when I had my first martial arts schools, the aforementioned friend would come by on his vacations and his days off. I tried to train him on a one-on-one basis. But, he just didn’t care. He had the looks, right? That was all he needed. Or was it?

Personally, when I first began training in the martial arts, they were quite revered. I mean, there were very few schools and the idealized image of a martial artist was perpetuated in the media. But then, an influx of so-called, “Masters,”
began arriving from Asia.

It was at this point that some boxer would step up to the, “Martial Artists,” and knock them flat.

That’s the thing... If you can’t take a punch, you can’t fight. And, trained boxers are some of the fiercest opponents that exist.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s Brazilian Jujitsu
hit our shores. Then, it wasn’t all about being able to take a punch, it became about being able to defend against the takedown and the chokehold. But, in either of these cases, trained fighters knew how to fight. It wasn’t swagger. It was technique.

Now, if you want to take this to a more refined and spiritual level — fighting is barbaric. So, don’t do it. Moreover, don’t pretend that you have game, when you have none — for the first trained person you step up to is going to knock you out.

All this being said, swagger is for the unenlightened. It is for the criminals. It is for the person who can’t truly fight. For, if they could, they would not need to perpetuate a lie, based in a projected reality, housed in their own mind, in order to try to make themselves feel and look tougher than they actually are.

People who known how to fight, don’t fight. Because they do not need to fight for they have already won the contest. Thus, they need no swagger.

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.

Is Scott Shaw a Nihilist?

I was cruising down the coast between Santa Barbara and L.A. a couple of weeks ago with this sweet young lady. She was looking at her twitter feed and she noticed that somebody had quoted me.

It is pretty common that people quote my books, Zen O’clock, About Peace, and Nirvana in a Nutshell on twitter, because they are made up of short spiritual aphorisms.

Anyway, she noticed that somebody had commented on the original tweet, “That sounds pretty nihilistic.”

She turned and asked me, “What does nihilistic mean?”

Her question made me smile due to the fact that she didn’t know what nihilism was.

I gave her the basic off-the-cuff definition… Someone who is nihilistic believes that life has no absolute meaning and that religions and philosophies hold no absolute truth.

“Are you nihilistic,” she asked. Again, I smiled.

Do I believe that life holds an absolute meaning? No.

Do I believe that religion possesses an absolute truth? No.

Do I believe in a specific religion or philosophy? No.

Does that make me a nihilist? Maybe… But, I think it is a bit more complicated than that. By nature, I am extremely optimistic. I believe in people. I believe in goodness. I believe that people will make the right choices and do the right things — even though I have been proven wrong time and time again. But, I still believe!

So, is Scott Shaw a nihilist? Maybe. But, as a nihilist that would mean that I also don’t believe in absolute definitions. So, the whole question possesses no merit.

Ultimately, if Scott Shaw is a nihilist, he is an optimistic one. Happy

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 Bid 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.

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.

What Do You Mean By That?

Have you ever been in the middle of a conversation and the person you are speaking with abruptly questions, "What do you mean by that?"

Interesting question, because most people simply assume that they know...

Life's conversations are kind of interesting in that they are all dominated by personal interpretations and definitions. Though the words may be the same, each person interprets them differently.

Certainly, we have all said things that we did not mean. Our mind knew what we wanted to say, but the words just came out wrong.

The funny thing about this is, those mistakes in conversations are oftentimes the things people remember the most. You didn't mean it, but you said it... So, it is believed that is actually how you feel or how you define a person or a situation.

The other side of the issue is that people read into what you have to say and define your words by their own distorted perspective. They put their own spin on what you said, even though, in your mind, that is not what you mean at all.

I had one friend who used to truly contemplate what I said. He would sometimes ask me to clarify what I had said days before. On one side of the issue that was nice; at least he cared what I had to say. But, most of the time we ALL just talk. We say what we say and move on. It means nothing...

In terms of spiritual teachers, people always try to understand the, "True meaning," of what they have to say. This is based in the feeling that there must be some deep spiritual truth hidden between the lines of what they have said. Is there? Or, are they like everyone else? They are just thinking about what they are thinking about, so that is what they are speaking of.

Which ever way you want to look at it, words are open to interpretation. People talk, people lie, people say things they don't mean, people try to control other through the use of what they say.

Words... Don't get lost in 'em.

The Process

In Zen there is always a lot of focus placed on the process. Whether this is meditation, meditative walking, making tea, or painting calligraphy, no act is ever just done. Instead, it is systematically prepared for and then precisely actualized. Practitioners of Zen feel that this is the best way to add to the overall experience, which ultimately leads them towards nirvana.

Most people simply jump through their life. They do what they do and that is that. Any planning is more based upon financial parameters than any level of consciousness.

Lord knows, I’ve written a lot about this subject—the subject of Consciously Doing as opposite to Simply Doing. Though both can be a process of enlightenment, if you know how to live them, for many it is more beneficial to begin isolating a few areas of your life and start adding consciousness to their doing. From this, life becomes more refined, understood, and conscious.

These, “Doing,” things can be very simple and very ordinary. For example, if you drink coffee in the morning, instead of simply getting up and pouring it from the pot, take a little time to grind the beans, take a moment to pour the water into the coffee maker, then, if you have the time, watch the coffee brew. When there is enough for a cup, pour it into your chosen cup, sit down, and consciously enjoy this moment of enlightenment.

Though purists may say, “Coffee? No way! Only the teas ceremony and the brewing of tea is the pure Zen path.” But, as anyone walking the path of consciousness understands, consciousness is consciousness. If something/anything, even brewing coffee helps to focus and refine your consciousness, it is all good.

You see, Consciously Doing can be done anywhere, doing anything.

It is your life. How do you want to live it?

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?

We All Make a Deal with the Devil

First of all, I must preface this post by stating, “I am not a Christian.” Though I was born into a Christian family and indoctrinated into the Christian tradition: Sunday School, etc.; like most religions, I find the history, evolution, and interpretation of Christianity to be completely lacking in purity or substance. This being stated, the mythical ideology of, “Making a deal with the devil,” or “Selling your soul,” seems very well suited to the way people live out their lives.

I think if we look back in our lives, we can all see a moment when we made a choice to live a certain way. And, that choice set a course of events in motion that has dominated the rest of our lives.

It is kind of like in the movies and in the novels, when the protagonist goes to the crossroads, where he or she meets the devil and they tell him what they want. They are promised they will get what they desire, so they sign on the dotted line in blood. The problem always is, though they may get what they thought they wanted, the outcomes is never what they expected and their life is not lived in the manner they had hoped for. Why is this? Because people can never anticipate the variables of life that eventually come into play with each life decision and/or choice.

When we are young, there is always tomorrow—there is always the chance to live our dreams. If it isn’t happening today, it will occur tomorrow. So, we make our deals with the devil, to get what we want.


As we get older, however, we begin to understand that reality takes hold and we come to know that we may never get to be all that we desired, to live all that we had hoped to live, or to own all we had hoped to acquire. So, we are left living a life dominated by the choices that we made within our unique set of circumstances.

The point is, we make our life choices due to our individual life circumstances and what we desire. What we desire can be as small as falling in love with a certain person. It can be getting a specific job. Going to the moon, or whatever… Once we focus on that desire, what we then do is set about on a course to achieve that end goal. What happens in that pursuit is what defines our life. It defines our deal with the devil. We may say to ourselves, “I really want that.” “I really want to do that.” Or whatever… But, the choices we make, based in desire, is what sets a set of circumstances into to motion that defines the rest of our life.


Many say, “You can choose to change.” Or, “I have changed.” Not true. People are who they are. They may pretend to be something different that they may become for a moment or two of life, but they always revert to their own psychological makeup, defined by their unique set of desires.

We are who we are. It is as simply as that.

So, where are you in your life? What deals with the devil did you make to get there? And, was the deal you made, worth the cost?

This is your life. Think about it.

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?