Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Possessing Some Hidden Knowledge

By Scott Shaw

 

            I always find it interesting when there is a new figure that takes center stage in the mind’s of the searching masses and offers some new take on reality and how to live life. Many of these people offer the same knowledge that is written and spoken of all over the place, yet they somehow have moved up to the front of the class and begin spouting their truth as if it is something unique.

            The fact of the matter is, the majority of humanity is so locked into their own momentary reality (be it good or bad) that they could care less about someone who says anything. They immediately dismiss this realm of humanity as nonsense. Though the seekers of this life-place look down on that type of person—feeling superior due to the fact that they feel that they are the ONES, the True Believers, on the path of rising consciousness, the reality is, it is a much purer source of mental consciousness to disregard teachers and teaching than to seek them out. Why? Because then you are free. You are not lead down a pathway that can lead to financial or psychological disaster and/or a disillusioned mindset due to the fact that you will eventually seen through the guise of the person you were following; witnessing their flaws, understanding their lack of true knowledge, and encountering their egotism.

            The sourcepoint for anyone who steps to the pulpit is egotism. Whether they call themselves a priest, a reverend, a monk, a swami, a guru, a nun, a mystic, a psychic, a medium, a whatever… At the root of their attempting to teach is an egocentric ideology that, “I know something, I possess something that you do not and I feel I have been chose to impart that knowledge to you.” Bullshit…

… All of these people claim that they possess some hidden knowledge that you do not and step to pulpit base their reality upon what? I know but you do not. I am a teacher and you are a student. And, throughout history, there have been those who flock to these claimers of knowledge. Why is this?

            This is because of the fact that throughout society young people are trained to believe that they are lacking—that they do not hold the answers. And, if they want to find the answers they must turn to someone else who HAS them. This, in itself, is the sourcepoint for all of those people who have and come and gone, claiming to possess some hidden knowledge.

            The good news is, most of the people are a flash in the pan—most come and go with little applause, while others rise to the top of the game and then are allowed to make their living off of the money of others—charging for their supposed knowledge.

            At the end of the day, however, what is left. There are still the people who claim to be teachers. Apparently these types will always exist. And, there are still the people seeking. These too will apparently always exist.

            Here is the fact, if any of these people who claimed to hold knowledge were valid, their truth would spread to everyone. All would know. All would understand. All would no longer be seeking. But, people are still seeking. They are unfulfilled. The teachers who have claimed to be teachers are still out there trying to gather a flock, capture the money and the minds of others and, thus, feeling personally fulfilled by the fact that they have a new student believing in their particular brand of bullshit.

            But, there is one reality, the world ticks on and on. Each of our lives eventually ends. And, that is the end of that… It is all very simple.

            You can spend your time seeking. You can spend your time knowing. Or, you can spend your time embracing the perfection and seeing each life event for what it is—a transient life event. As in always the case, your life is your choice. Do you want to be free? Or, do you want to be under the spell of another?

 

Copyright © 2014 — All Rights Reserved

Paying for Your Crime

By Scott Shaw

           

            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 Father’s 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.

 

Copyright © 2014—All Rights Reserved

Monday, April 13, 2020

I Believe: Compounding Factual Inaccuracies


By Scott Shaw

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.

Copyright 2016—All Rights Reserved

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Surrender


By Scott Shaw

Most people who enter onto the Spiritual Path are drawn to it very early in their life. The majority of these people don’t take the steps to actualize their early instincts until they have lived through one too many traumas and are encountering a complete lack of meaning in their life. This explains why there are all the formally depicted reasons for, “Becoming Spiritual,” desperation, illness, poverty, loss of a loved one, and so on. Even in the cases when an individual is propelled into spirituality based in those negative motivating circumstances, if they were not touched by the divine early in life, they would not choose spirituality over the more destructive forms of mourning, such as drugs, alcoholism, sex addiction, and crime.
From a personal perspective, defined by whatever unexplained Karma or destiny, I formally entered onto what may be called, “The Spiritual Path” very early in my life. I was drawn to Eastern Mysticism as far back as I can remember. As I grew up, in the 1960’s and 1970’s, the terms: Guru, Karma, Yoga, Zen, and Meditation were commonplace, as were photos of Indian Spiritual Teachers gracing the walls of head shops, homes, billboards, and telephone poles. I suppose being born in Los Angeles, where this type of mindset was much more commonly embraced than in many other parts of the country, didn’t hurt to aid in the availability of the spirituality that I came to heartily embrace and allow to formally shape the person I was to become.

Sixteen
When I was sixteen years old, a friend of mine came knocking at my door. I had not seen him in over a year.
We had met when he was a senior and I was a sophomore at Hollywood High School. During our preliminary friendship we realized that we were both drawn to the Spiritual Path. We would spend hours talking about the various philosophies and ideologies of Hinduism, Taoism, and Zen. But initially, we were not able to take the next step and move into the more refined realms of spirituality as neither of us had a car and we had no way to travel to spiritual centers where we could meet the teachers. This all changed a year later.
Post him showing up at my Hollywood apartment that evening, we both progressed into a period of rapid spiritual awakening. We would drive around with Malas, “Prayer Beads,” hanging from the rear-view mirrors of our cars, pictures of Krishna or images of the Buddha taped to our dash boards, listening to the music of Ravi Shankar and Bhagavan Das or lectures by Ram Dass and Alan Watts. As we drove we would chant while the passenger played the bamboo flute. We spent the next year or so frequenting all of the spiritual centers along the West Coast. My friend eventually went off to college in Santa Cruz and I found the Sufi Order and Swami Satchidanada’s, Integral Yoga Institute. Though I was intrinsically much more drawn to the joy that was brought about by the singing and dancing which served as a meditation tool to the Sufi Order. None-the-less, I found myself spending many nights practicing Hatha Yoga or lost deep in meditation with my new friends at the IYI.
As I look back, I realize how quickly I moved through the ranks of the IYI and quickly found myself in the inner circle of the group with direct access to Swami Satchidananda. This was in no small part due to the fact of my love for Rock n’ Roll I had already acquired a vast knowledge about audio taping and how to operate sound systems. Thus, I became Gurudev’s soundman—traveling to his lectures, doing his sound, and recording his talks for posterity.

Brahamcharya
It was at one such function in Santa Barbara, where Yogaville West was located at the time, that Swamiji had given a public talk. Though I was a practicing Brahamcharya, “Celibate,” and planned to be for the rest of my life, I had brought along this female friend of mine to meet Swamiji.
I had met her at the Sufi Dances and she and I were very attracted to one another. At the time, I believed that if anyone were worth giving up my lifelong plan of celibacy for, it would be her.
Post the lecture, which went exceedingly well, as I was always very conscientious and concerned about the sound being exact, Gurudev returned to his home in Montecito overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and the IYI inner circle gathered at a vegetarian restaurant in Chula Vista—the University town just North of Santa Barbara.
The gathering was coming to a close. It was my female friends and my plan to go camping in the Santa Monica Mountains that evening where our infatuation was leading towards consummation. She and I were preparing to leave when this female Swami came up to me and said, “My ride has left and you must drive me back to L.A.”
Well, this put me in quite a quandary. I mean, it was getting late and to drive her back to the Hollywood IYI would kill all of the plans my friend and I had in place.
This Swami was a female born on the East Coast and though she had embraced the Spiritual Path she certainly maintained all of the abrupt inner-city traits commonly associated with the East Coast lifestyle. In other words, what she had said to me was not so much a question, but more like a command. I looked at my friend, she at me.
It was one of those moments that seem to go on for an eternity. In that seeming eternity, however, I truly embraced my inner being—that inside place where you simply know. I saw my physical persona, seriously infatuated with this girl, and then I witnessed my pure spiritual being—who knew that if I couldn’t step outside of my own desires and help those who needed help, what did the spiritual life truly mean.
I surrendered; I was going to give her a ride home. In that moment of surrender, the Swami’s missing ride, reappeared. She had not left, as was suspected. But, had simply gone off to the beach for a gaze at the setting sun. I was saved!
I sat there in the restaurant knowing that it was my surrender, to the situation, which caused Divananda to reappear. Had I fought the test I was given, then my drive down the coast would have included another passenger.
The party broke up with Pranams, “Prayer Hands,” to everyone. My female friend and I were in my car heading South—off to the camping spot which she knew of.
By the time we arrived in the Santa Monica Mountains, it was quite dark. And, though we looked and looked, she could not find the camping location. It was decided to give up our adventure. I drove her home to her house in Bel Aire.

The Moral of the Story
We all have the tendency to plan. This episode is the perfect example of the unpredictability of life.
We each set our desires in place and expect them to be actualized. The problem is, there is no guarantee that anything we plan or hope for will come to volition. Not a physical desire, which defined this experience for me, not the enlightenment which is promised at some future date or lifetime to all of those who tread upon the Spiritual Path, not even the assurance that you will be physically alive to experience anything in the next moment.
With this understanding in place, the most spiritual thing you can do each moment of your physical existence, is to surrender to the fact that, “All is unknown. Nothing is guaranteed.” You cannot know what your next experience will be. You can hope, you can desire, you can plan. But hope, desire, and planning are just that. They are what the definition of those words equal—something that is predicated upon expectation. Expectations remove you from the now. Expectations are as far from Zen as you can get.
Because Zen is only about the Here and the Now.

Surrender
What does it mean to surrender? Surrender is embracing the unknown. Surrender is accepting that nothing is promised.
Accepting that nothing is promised, you are allowed to encounter each moment in its perfection. Encountering each moment in its perfection is the essence of Zen.
Well, though the girl and I remained close for a time, we never had the opportunity to take our infatuation to the next level. She eventually became a Scientologist. Me, I went to India.
Surrender, because in that surrender all is allowed to be as it should be.

Copyright © 1996 — All Rights Reserved.

This article can also be found on Scott Shaw.com at: Surrender

Monday, October 28, 2019

Peace In, Peace Out

Originally published by Llewellyn Magazine, May, 2004

By Scott Shaw

Simplicity in life is a complex paradox, with seemingly never ending disagreements, differing opinions, dissenting philosophies, emotional manipulations, and even physical confrontations. Some people seem to not only instigate this adversarial mindset but appear to actually thrive on it.
One may assume that if they walk away from the world and enter onto what is commonly known as the "Spiritual Path," they will no longer be subjected to conflicts and encounters. Unfortunately, the predominance of the world's population is not made up of individuals whose minds are focused on the spiritual elements of life. In fact, it is so common that we encounter people who are willing to do whatever it takes to gain whatever moment of gratification they desire that modern society has given them positive designations: "Motivated," "Driven," "Hungry," or "A Goal Seeker."
More than being simply an external social phenomena, many people find that they are constantly at odds with themselves—continually robbing their own inner peace. "I shouldn't be doing this," "I'm so bad," "I can never succeed," and "I'm unworthy," are just a few of the examples which ramble constantly through the minds of many individuals.
We can easily understand that certain people may have developed a negative self image due to childhood trauma, economic or emotional destitution, interaction with unsavory people, or being psychologically manipulated and guided down a negative road by an unworthy dominator. But, why don't these people immediately leave behind this disruptive inner dialogue the moment they realize it is robbing them of their tranquility?
Some people believe that if they could go someplace else, do something else, then they would know peace. But that place is not here. That action is not now. Thus, it is forever someplace else—where the grass promises to be greener. What commonly occurs, if a person relocates to a new location or takes on a new lifestyle or employment position, is that they are no more satisfied, fulfilled, or peaceful than they were before the move, which they believed would change their life.
Some individuals realize that they possess a lack of peace and wish to change this mindset, so they look to the lives of ancient spiritual masters, believing that their teachings hold the truth to contentment and enlightenment. Though this is a generally held belief, it was not always the case. For example, if we look at the historical foundation of Zen, we see that in the Seventh Century C.E. the monk Hui-neng defeated his Master, the Fifth Patriarch of Ch'an Buddhism, Hung-jen, in a spiritual poetry writing competition. As he won the contest, he believed that it proved he was more enlightened than his teacher. His teacher was not so pleased and set about on a course to destroy his onetime disciple. Because of this, Hui-neng had to flee the region. Though this action was instrumental in giving birth to the Northern and Southern schools of Ch'an Buddhism, which eventually lead to what is commonly known today as Zen, it clearly illustrates that not even the ancient masters were free from competition and conflict.
Conflict is a part of life. If you allow your peace to be taken away from you by external occurrences or internal disharmony then you will never know contentment.
Peace is an inner triumph. It is not something which someone or something can give to you. To embrace peace, in all life situations, you need to develop the skills to become like the calm in the eye of the hurricane—peaceful in a world torn by conflict.

The Foundations of the Pathway to Peace
To begin on your pathway to peace you must ask yourself, "What would bring me peace right now?" Would it be a certain amount of money? Better employment? A new place to live? To be in a relationship with a specific person? Maybe to be ten years younger? Perhaps to be more beautiful, thinner, or taller? Or, to be enlightened?

Step One
Your first step to Peace Realization is to consciously understand—anything which you do not currently possess, anything you are not right now, does not exist in this moment. As long as you choose to hold onto the desire of something you do not currently possess or something you are not, you will never be at peace. You will continue to torment yourself with the desire of attainment. This is not to say that you cannot move forward with your life. But, you must do so in a manner where you embrace the here and now. You must decide to love each moment for what it is, and then move forward in a state of peace, not a state of disharmony.
Disharmony is contagious. Disharmony is addictive. It is addictive because it provides the body and the brain with a constant source of adrenaline. It is invigorating. But, it is not healthy. Remember, peace can also be contagious and addictive. Peace, however, is not only better for the person, but better for all those who inhabit this place we call life.

Step Two
As long as you choose to believe that something outside of yourself will bring you peace, you cannot experience peace. Let go of your desire and peace will surround you. This is not to say remain stagnant. Instead it means love each step of the way. Embrace the moment and love each experience you encounter in this moment. It may not be what you desire, but it is, nonetheless, what you are living. Embrace it, whether you like it or not, and peace will find you.

Step Three
Know that the essence of peace is not outside of yourself. Understand that it is in you. Take a moment and find that place of peace. Begin right now. Close your eyes. Let your mind stop racing. Allow your inner guide to take you to that place in your body where peace emanates. For some, it is their heart center. For others, it is the third eye. Wherever it is for you, go there and embrace the totality of peace—even if just for a moment.
Do this several times a day. Come to know this place. Understand this experience. Then, whenever you find your mind torn by desires, when you are attacked by the negative energies of others, or when you find yourself lost in desire, hating your current moment—go to this place in yourself and find peace.

Copyright © 2004—All Right Reserved

You can also view this article @ Peace In, Peace Out @ Llewellyn.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Character Study


By Scott Shaw

I, of course, am a practitioner of Zen Filmmaking. Zen Filmmaking is all about embracing the naturalness of the moment—allowing your portrayed character to exist in the spontaneity and genuineness of the moment. Thus, the words you speak, while in character, and the actions your take are all guided by the response to what the other actor is saying and where you find the life understanding of your character naturally flowing towards.
Traditional acting is much different from that. A person is told what their character is to be—how they should look, act, feel, and behave. They are then provided with the words their character should say and the way their character should speak those words; all defined by the script.
In many ways, this is a much harder process. In many ways, it is much more unnatural. That is why I devised Zen Filmmaking—to embrace the true essence of the individual to let them be who they truly are while portraying the someone else.
But, there is a great art to actually becoming the someone else. It takes time. It takes practice.
I think we have all seen actors on the screen doing a very bad job in their portrayal. Sure, they are dressed appropriately. Sure, they have memorized their lines. But, they have not become the character they are playing. And, from this, there is something lost in the believability of the character and, thus, with the entire production.
As an actor, every now and then, I am asked to act in a traditional production. I am given my script and I must learn my lines. For me, it is a fun, enlightening experience because I must become that someone else. As I am running my lines I try to emerge myself into the mindset of that character. I try to understand who that person truly is. I try to become that person.
More than simply a process used in acting, I believe this is a technique that people should bring into their life. Ask yourself, how often do you truly try to understand life from the perspective of the other person? How often do you put yourself in their shoes and take the time to try to understand life from the perspective that they are living it? Most people just judge. They just see others from their own perspective, never trying to see the life melodrama that the other person is living.
So, next time you are passing judgment on a person… Next time you think that you know what someone is feeling and why they are feeling it… Next time you believe that you know why a person is doing what they are doing, become that other person. Put yourself into their mind. Become them as a character you are playing on the silver screen. Put yourself into their shoes. If you do, I am sure that you will come away with a completely different perspective about who they truly are and why they are doing what they are doing. In fact, by mentally becoming them as a character you are portraying, you might even emerge with a better perspective about who you truly are.

Copyright © 2019—All Rights Reserved

Monday, July 8, 2019

Wikipedia and You Can Only Play in Your Own Playground


By Scott Shaw

         Like I have long said, “You can only play in your own playground.” You can/should only play in your own playground if you want to keep yourself: friends and family safe and not be accosted by the diabolical forces of the world.
         You know, once upon a time this ideology applied to the actual physical safety of an individual. I hate to sound old, (even though I am), but life was not necessarily better way back in the way back when but it was certainly a bit simpler.  A person was defined by where they lived and where they hung out. Me, (unfortunately), I grew up in the hood, so I was always accosted by danger the moment I stepped outside and I never knew where it would come from. It wasn’t fun. But, that was all outside. If I didn’t go out into the out and about, I would not have to be forced to fight. Now, the danger is different. It comes to attack from inside. Of course, I am speaking about the world of the internet.
         You know, I always find life, (my life included), very interesting and sometimes very strange. Most people live in a space of observances. They look outside of themselves hoping to find something that will make them feel the way they wish to feel. Most people are cool. They just look for normal things that they decide they like. But, then there are those who want to feel some sort of something and they venture into the realms where they can extend their control. Many do this via the internet. Where, as we all know, there are very few rules of defined appropriate codes of conduct and behavior.
         Me, I don’t surf the web too much. Only if I am looking for something specific. I check my Facebook most days, unless I am out of the country or off doing something more important, and my Instagram. There, I like to look at fun animal photos and videos. I’m not on the internet to preach, debate, fight, or tell someone/anyone what they should or should not believe. So, the thing is, unless I am told about a situation that involves me in cyberspace, I probably wouldn’t even know about it.  And, I think that’s better; isn’t it? Not knowing. Then you are living in a world free from the unnecessary agitation.
         Anyway, all this rambling brings me to the point of all this…
         I’ve never really been a fan of Wikipedia. From its early days forward, as far as I can tell, it is just a platform that is controlled by a bunch of people who have nothing better to do and want to force their opinion(s) onto someone else. They want their truth and their perception of reality to be the truth, whether it actually is the truth or not.  Sure, Wikipedia has its checks and balances. But, who controls those checks and balances? A bunch of unknown cyber people whose faces you will never see. Many of them are teenagers. People, who have moved up and through the Wikipedia ranks because they really don’t have anything better to do. They just edit all day, everyday. Yet, in that space, they can control the knowledge of the masses. That’s a pretty powerful thing, don’t you agree?
         I remember when Wikipedia was in its early stages and I found it on the web one day. I forget how. I noticed an article about Steven Seagal. The article totally tore the guy apart. I thought that was pretty uncool.
         Now, I have no feelings about Seagal one way or the other. I initially met him a million years ago when he was studying from Fumio Demura and then I ran into him again in Japan in the ‘80s. I thought his early films were pretty good.  But, that was that. On Wikipedia, however, somebody had torn the guy apart. My thought was, how is that an honest biography or portrayal? Anyway, as anyone could and can edit Wikipedia, I decide to try my hand at it and I cleaned up Seagal’s bio. You know, do a good deed and all that… A day or so later I looked back at the page and it was once again the scathing portrayal. Someone had undone all of my doing. That was the last time I ever edited on Wikipedia. What was the point? I guess things have gotten better over the years on Wikipedia, but it is still based upon the fact that anyone can edit, say whatever they want, and there is no true checks and balances.
         For those of you who may not know, if you ever want to see who said what and why on Wikipedia all you have to do it go to the View History button on the page. From there you can find a listing of all of the edits. If you follow through by clicking on the, "Contribs," link after the screen name of the person who made a specific edit, you can commonly see what type of edits they focus on and what they are trying to personally achieve on Wikipedia. As each editor does have an agenda, you can really observe what contribution (or lack thereof) they are trying to make on the platform.
         One of the main things to keep in mind is that, on the education level, you cannot use Wikipedia as a citable resource. That fact alone explains the nature of what is going on at that website. In fact, Wikipedia itself says, Wikipedia is not a reliable source. Click on that title to see what Wikipedia says about itself.
         Thus, I have always been anti-Wikipedia. The website is based on love or hate and personalities, not the truth. …Not the people who have lived what other people are writing about.
         For someone very famous like Seagal, he has a lot of fans and supporters. And, this is good, I guess. It is what keeps his page on the site somewhat in check. But, what about all the other people that are not really famous who have pages on there? Then, it is a free for all. 
         Somewhere along the line someone put a page up about me on Wikipedia. Initially, it was flattering, but I quickly saw the downside. Every now and then someone would let me know that there was some false information or some seriously derogatory statements made about me on the page. Me, not being all that well-known, I don’t really have all that many supporters. A number of years ago I was told that there was a crew of people working out of Raleigh Studios that were obsessing about Zen Filmmaking and they were playing with Zen Films and my stuff on Wikipedia. At least they were operating from a space of positivity. But, most of the people who like what I say or do are usually very Zen. They don’t charge in with guns blazing. Of the people that do like what I do, and have tried to help my Wikipedia page, I am told that they have been shot down by the more obsessional Wikipedians. In fact, a number of years ago one of my martial arts students from the 1970s and 1980s was on there, making edits to martial art pages, and he told me they kicked him off by making up some lie about him. So, that just goes to show you the nature of the beast. Thus and again, “You can only play in your own playground.”
         I was recently told that there was some negative editing going on about Don Jackson, myself, and some of our films that have pages on Wikipedia. I glanced over at the pages and it looks like someone is trying to make some point, take down some facts, spread some falsehoods, and/or to diminish and rip on DGJ and I and/or our films. Okay… Good for you whoever you may be. If it makes you feel better…
         And, that's the thing, the people who have learned the inner workings of Wikipedia know how to throw shade and make it look like what they are saying is for real. But, is it?
         I mean, the reality of life is the reality of life. The reality of me is the reality of me. Kind of like Popeye used to say in that funny accent the person who voiced the character used, “I am what I am.” Does what they say on Wikipedia change any of that?
         Mostly, I wish I didn’t even have a page on a site like Wikipedia. If you know how to take it down, please do. Does it really do my life any good? I don’t think so. It certainly doesn't help my life in any way. It just provides the people with nothing better to do a place to waste time and not face the truth about their own reality and, instead, spent their Life Time attempting to cast their judgments on the all and the everything, as they project their feelings about a person or a subject in the subtle ways that can only be done via Wikipedia.
         In my mind, that's just not right. That is not what a site like Wikipedia should be used for.
         So, if you see some negativity or bullshit on Wikipedia about me (or anyone else) you can change it if you want. Anyone can edit on that site. Go for it! I thank you in advance. But please, don’t think that you’re helping me by telling me when some bullshit is up there about me, because I just don’t want to know. Just let me play in my own playground.

Copyright © 2019—All Rights Reserved

Originally from the Scott Shaw Zen Blog.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Where Myths Are Born

By Scott Shaw

One evening, a number of years ago, I walked into the Bodhi Tree Bookstore on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood, California. This bookstore has been a favorite haunt for us spiritual types for decades, because it was not only one of the first, but still one of the best bookstores catering to the spiritual lifestyle in the U.S.

As I walked down the aisles this particular evening, I noticed a book of stories. It was written by disciples about my one-time spiritual teacher Swami Satchidananda. I was obviously curious.

I picked up the book and flipped through the pages. As I did, I was drawn to the story of how, on this one warm autumn afternoon, at a beach side home in Santa Barbara, California, Gurudev, (as we called him), decided to go surfing. The story went on to describe that though this was the first time he had attempted the sport, once he was in the water, he paddled into a wave, and was standing up surfing like a pro.

As I read the words, I was both amazed and saddened by the tale that was being told. The individual who wrote the story was creating this amazing incident. Though amazing, it was a virtual impossibility, as can be attested to by anyone who can remember the first time they attempted to mount a surfboard. But, more than that, and what truly hurt me and caused me to come to a new realization about the truth of tales told to the masses is that, this depiction was not at all what truly occurred.

The Two Surfers
There were two avid surfers among Swami Satchidananda's close disciples at that period of time. One was a carpenter named Ram Dass and the other was myself.

On the fateful day, detailed in the story, there was a get together of a small group of close disciples at the aforementioned Santa Barbara home of a new devotee. As there was a surfboard leaning against the house, Gurudev decided to give it a try. He asked Ram Dass and myself to help. In pure devotional fashion we were happy to do so.

We cautiously walked Gurudev out to where the water was approximately waist deep. This was because of the fact that Swami Satchidananda was well into his sixties at this point in time. At this juncture, we helped Gurudev climb onto the surfboard. We then swam him out a bit further to where the waves were breaking. He held on as we turned the surfboard around. We waited for a wave and then we pushed him into it. Laying on his stomach and holding fast onto the surfboard, he glided in towards the shore. We swam after him.

Did he stand up? No. Did he ride the surfboard like a pro? No. Did he want to try it again? No. Did he have fun? I think so.

Yet, in the story told in the book, he had instantly stood up, as his hair and his beard were blowing in the wind. He was a master surfer.

Exaggeration
Reading this story made me realize something very important. For some reason, people always want to exaggerate the life and actions of the spiritual teacher. They want to take mere mortal occurrences and blow them up to exaggerated proportions. Why? I don't know. Is it simply to make the guru seem godlike? Or, is it that this is how the devotional mind of an individual causes them to witness the occurrences?

For example, was the person who wrote this story, (and I remember her well), so spiritually in love with Swami Satchidananda that her mind took reality and transformed it into a new state of grace? Again, I don't know her motivation for changing fact to fiction. What I do know is how this event actually occurred -- for better or worse.

More than simply an individual relating their perceptions of this event, is the fact that an untold number of people have read this story in the book and believed it to be true. It is published in a book, it must be true — right?

I believe this to be an important lesson that we all must learn when we look to the lives of spiritual teachers — from the most unknown to supreme beings like Jesus and Buddha. For the most part, none of us were there to witness the immaculate events that are said to have been performed by the various spiritual teachers. Yet, their actions have been depicted in an untold number of works of literature throughout time. Whether these events actually occurred or not can only be known by those who were there. Yet, as we have seen, these events can be altered. Thus, what is written is not always true.

What can we conclude from all of this? Well, my conclusion is that, what difference does it make if a teacher can perform miracles. The miracle of yesterday is simply the magic trick of today, and the scientific proof of tomorrow.

Spirituality is beyond action. Action is defined by the realms of the material world. Inaction is the only true spirituality. So, if it doesn't matter what you can do, why should anybody care about what you can't do?

THINK ZEN...
 Copyright © 1997 — All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

You Are Not A Christian


By Scott Shaw

I was the only customer shopping in a small boutique shop the other day. There were two employees in the shop having a heated discussion.  I could not help but overhear their words. The one, a man, was stating that he believed that it was the fault of the immoral policies of the United States government that had unjustly imprisonment suspected terrorists at the prison at Guantanamo Bay and due to the harsh conditions they were forced to undergo, with no hope of a fair trail or release, that it was the fault of the United States government that some of these prisoners had committed suicide.  The female employee argued that these people were simply mentally ill and, if they were not, they would have not committed suicide.  The argument went back and forth with no end in sight until the man said, “Well, if you believe that, that means that you’re not a Christian.”
            Throughout all levels of society this type of statement comes into play when a person is not getting their way in a conversation and/or argument. It is kind of like embracing the philosophy of, “Well, since you won’t agree with my point of view, I will simply kick you below the belt, to get my point across.” 
Why is this style of dialogue added to a discussion, because from this style of rhetoric, the topic completely changes. The female employee exclaimed, “What! I’m not a Christian! No, you’re the one who isn’t a Christian!”
            Ultimately this is the sad reality about opinions that equal discussions that ultimately lead to arguments—people what to talk.  They want to say what they believe.  They want their point to be accepted. They want everyone else to embrace their philosophy.  And, they want their opinion to be accepted as RIGHT by the masses. When it is not, then the rules of discourse go out the window and it becomes every man (or women) for themselves.

Why Participate
            The ultimate question you have to ask yourself is, “Why should I participate in this style of discourse at all?” Certainly, throughout life, we have all disagreed with what other people have said.  For example, I was recently at a party in Orange County California. For those of you who are not familiar with that region of the country, it is commonly understood to be a bastion of Caucasian Republican conservatism. I was sitting with a couple of friends at a table and a person came up, sat down, and blatantly began to state as fact that the reason gas prices were going up again was because it was a secret plan of Obama. I said, “No, it is because of world market demands and the speculation of investors.” Another person chimed stating that he was expecting Armageddon to occur any day now because Obama had been elected president and Obama was destroying the way the world views the United States. In disbelief I inquired, “What do you think W. did?”
            The two ultra conservatives began to exchange agreeing banter. The three liberals, myself included, got up and left the conversation.

We Each Have Our Opinions
We each have our opinion.  Some of our opinions are based on fact and some are based in belief. But, most people already have their minds made up about what they do and do not believe. It is for this reason that, for the most part, intellectual discussions among people of differing mindsets rarely prove anything.  For example, try to argue with a Christian, detailing the facts of the true history of Christianity to them, and you will run into a brick wall of denial of facts.  First you will be told, “It is all based in faith. And, faith is what our lord expects of us.”  Then, if you still carrying on the discussion, you will ultimately be told, “By the way, you know you are going to Hell for being a nonbeliever.”
This life-fact of differing opinions is the basis for all elements of conflict.  So, first and foremost, before you even enter into one of these heated discussions, you have to decide, are you will to entering into a conflict.  If you are, you must first understand, that conflicts only end one way—there is a winner and there is a loser. Now, the person of war may be willing to pay this price and live their life by this standard.  But, this is emphatically NOT the spiritual way. The spiritual way is a path of peace and positivity—though so many so-called spiritual people forget this fact when attempting to defend their ideology.
But the debative conflict of life is much more subtle that this. At the heart of all debate is the ideology of one person who has instigated the verbal confrontation. From that one person, the debate grows and grows and grows. But, no matter how big it gets, it is based upon the ideology of one person. And, what that person is propagating is most commonly based on attacking the thoughts and actions of another person or person(s).

Schadenfreude
            It is somewhat like the German term, “Schadenfreude,” which can be translated in several ways but basically it refers to the fact that a person or persons takes joy in another person’s demise or fall from grace. People who embrace this mindset look down upon the accomplishments of another and, in fact, find accomplishment a reason and motivation to denigrate and criticize people.
For whatever reason, people love to congregate in their own negativity. They love to band together and find a place where their voice of negativity can be heard and embraced. Some may say that this is a human condition.  But, I don’t believe that to be the case.  The only reason that a person or person(s) may relish the demise of another is based in the fact that a negatively-based person has not achieved the level of accomplishment or success they have desired in their chosen field.  Or, if they have achieved a certain level of success, they feel that by bringing another person down they have become superior. But, higher and lower is all foolishness. Less or more is all a state of mind.  And, less or more, higher or lower, is never a concept embraced by the truly spiritual individual.
From a personal perspective I have seen this many times. Someone will contact me being very friendly—most commonly based upon the fact that they want something from me. Then, sometime later, I will find that this same person is speaking or writing very hash things about me, most commonly based upon lies and falsehoods.
Why do people choose to behave in this fashion? Because that is the mindset they have ultimately chosen to embrace. They have entered a space of negativity.  And, this goes on throughout the world constantly. Think about it, how many people have you heard speaking negatively about someone they do not even know and have never met?  The problem with this mindset and reaction based mentality is all that it produces is a nonsensical waste of LIFE TIME and LIFE ENGERY.
The question to ask yourself, if you find yourself embracing a negative mentality is, “Do you feel good when you criticize others? Does it make you a better person?  Does it make the world a better place?”  The answer will almost universally be, “No.” 
What behaving in this manner actually equals is that you are not contributing to the Greater-Good of this place we call Life. Instead, if you are following this negative level of human consciousness, you are not contributing to the betterment; you are only trying to destroy. And, destruction on any level is a negative pathway.
Think about the people you have admired. Do they follow a path of negativity or do they provide the world with a positive service?  Think about the people who have made major contribution to the world.  Are they negative and critical? Are they constantly involving themselves in criticism, arguments, and negative debates?  No, they are probably not.
No matter what field they are in, what they do is to do what they do. They continue to learn and grow as an individual, and follow a path that leads to the betterment of the themselves and the world. They turn away from confrontations; verbal or to there wise. This is the path to making a positive contribution to the world.

In the Words
So, you enter into a space where people are embracing negative dialogue - either about a subject, a person, religions, politics, or whatever.  Do you stay and take part in that?  Argue your point until you make everybody believe as you believe?  Does your dialogue continue until you are both so agitated that you end up in a physical confrontation? Or do you walk away? You must understand that if you remain in debate, all you are actualizing is the revamping of meaningless banter and discourse. Yes, you may have your opinion, based on fact or fiction—we all do.  Yes, you may like or dislike a person who is in the spotlight, based it whatever ideology.  But, as long as you are taking about them, all you are doing is adding to their notoriety.  It is kind of like the fact that Andy Warhol never read the reviews written by his critics; all he did was measure how big the printed discourse was.
What this means is that you are either becoming you and becoming more.  Or, you are not.  If you are not, and constantly engaged in debate that all you are doing is basing your life upon the actions and achievements of other people.
You can be an armchair quarterback and talk, blog, or write, (good and bad), all you want about another person or another person’s philosophy.  But, if you are doing this, all you are actually doing is paying tribute to that person. And, if you are following this life course, then you must ask yourself what does it equal and how it is causing you to become more, better, and achieve what you truly desire?
So, argue if you want.  Stay in the debate if you must.  Hit below the belt if that is the only way you can win an argument. But, ultimately what does that say about you?  And, more importantly, if you live your life at this level, what will be left when you have exited this place we call Life.  Will you have left a positive legacy?  Or, simply a plethora of forgotten conversations based on opinions.

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