Monday, April 9, 2018

The People Who Never Evolve

By Scott Shaw

Life is a process of personal evolution. We are born, we experience, we are taught, and we continue to pass from birth to death; growing in both understanding and in wisdom. Many of us have done foolish things when we were young. When we look back to those times, we shake our heads and question, “How could I have ever been so unwise?” But, we have grown, we have evolved, we have become better people—we took a long hard look at our self, our life, we studied our existence, we learned from our mistakes, and we emerged as a better person refusing to ever make the same mistakes again. 
Not everyone is like this, however. There are some people who never change—they never evolve. They are so lost in the realms of misplaced self-adsorption that they never take the time to learn from their mistakes and to understand that bad thoughts, bad words, and bad deeds not only do nothing to help the overall evolution of this world but they, in fact, hold them back, (as a person), from ever achieving anything of substance with their life. 
Having been involved in the martial arts for over fifty years, I have watched as many so-called martial artists have played the game of attempting to make themselves, their teacher, their school, or their system look like something more by diminishing the accomplishments of others. Throughout these years I have watched as most of these people have grown into something more—became something better and have left this foolishness behind. But, this is not the case of everyone. Every now and then I will encounter a person, years later, and discover that they are still locked into the mindset of believing that it somehow makes them look like something more if they say something negative or bad (be it truth or a lie) about someone else.  I forever find this very-very sad.  The martial arts are about making someone a better; more whole, more complete person. The martial arts should never be diminished to the level of personal attack—motived by individual ego. This type or behavior destroys the true essence of the martial arts. It robs them of their true beauty, as this type of behavior is simply motivated by a very sad and low level of human consciousness. 
Having been involved in the film business for the past three decades, I often encountered this type of behavior, as well. The one thing I will say is that the film business is an industry motivated by ego. So, unlike the martial arts, which should solely be about focusing on the higher self, the motivation for this behavior can be more understood in this arena of life.  This is not to say it is right or good, but it can be explained.
The fact is, it is easy to find a reason for criticism in the film industry. You may not like a performance, a storyline, or a style of cinematography. From this, judgments are made. 
Certainly, the enlightened filmmaker does not follow this path. As a true filmmaker, they understand that each project and/or actor is art onto itself.  The true filmmaker understands that whether or not they personally like a specific project, that project is simply a process of giving to the great whole of the art form. Thus, judgment is put aside. 
But, as in all things in life, the low-minded, the unaware, the egotistical, and the unaccomplished are generally the ones who are screaming the loudest.
Over the recent years I have found myself discussing the internet and how it relates to human consciousness quite frequently. The internet is the defining factor of this period of history. As such, it has become the conduit for both all that is good and all that is bad with humankind.  From this, many have found a voice where in times gone past they would have had none. 
Here, on this internet, people can say anything about anyone with little consequence. Most hide behind screen names so no one even knows who or what they truly are. To me, this simply seems like a coward’s soapbox. People scream as loud as they can; scream about anyone or anything but they do not even have the personal level of Self-Honor to tell the world who is truly saying what, what they have accomplished in their life that gives the right to voice an opinion, and why they are saying it in the first place.
This brings us back to the entire point of this discourse. Most of us evolve as we pass through life. We become more, we become better, we develop a deeper understanding of life and, from this, we possess less unfounded critical judgment. We, through our own personal accomplishments and our own mental evolution, become more whole onto ourselves. Instead of issuing critiques, criticism, and deformation, we reach out a helping hand. We want to make the world a better place. We want to help those that need help. We do not want to hurt anyone in anyway for any reason. But, the sad truth of life is, some people never evolve. They have become so lost in their interpersonal anger, their sense of lack of fulfillment, their lack of personal accomplishment that they remain lost in the mind of attack. From this, all that they do is attack, especially when they can hide behind the wall of perceived anonymity. 
For those of us of who walk the path of consciousness, we cannot allow ourselves to be drawn into their web of misplace anger—anger that should be focused on themselves for behaving in an uncivilized manner but, instead, is broadcast to the world. These people are out there and you will, more than likely, encounter them. When you do, the best course of action is understanding and forgiveness. Forgive them, because if they were not a truly lost person they would not be doing what they do. 
At each stage of our life we all need took at ourselves. We need to view what we have done: whom we have helped and whom we have hurt. We need to study our own personal trajectory. Where are we going in our life? What will be the consequences of the actions we are currently performing? 
Many people hide from the truth of their life. They hide as many do on the internet. They believe the actions issued by a screen name are not true and their will be no ensuing karma leveled at them because of these seemingly anonymous deeds. This is, however, the explanation of the unaware and the unenlightened.
Everything you do sets everything else in motion. Whether people know who you truly are or they only see a screen name is virtually irreverent. What you have done is what you have done. What you have said is what you have said. If what you have done or what you have said does not produce immediate positive reaction your world will be negatively influenced. This is why so many people fail in life, because what they are doing is not adding to the greater good. 
People fall prey to the addiction that can be had from the adrenaline of unleashing negative emotions outwards. But, take a moment and study that emotion. What are you experiencing when you embrace that negative emotion? Is it positive? No, it is anger and it is rage. Does anything positive ever come from of anger and rage? No, it does not.
Now, think about this, if you have spread that anger and rage outwards, perhaps on the internet, think how many people are encountering your anger and your rage. What do you think will come from that? What you have done is set a negative course of events into motion and those negative events may be wide spanning. Yes, maybe your ego was stoked because you said or did something to someone or something that you do not like. But, that is you unleashing your personal judgment—which is egotism. And, we all know what happens to those who base their life upon egotism. Thus, ultimately, what have you done? At best, you found a moment of ego stimulation and a momentary adrenaline rush. In the long run, however, you set a course of negative events into motion which will, sooner-or-later, all come back to haunt you.
Now, to the evolved person, they will immediately understand and agree with this.  To the un-evolved they will argue in their mind and defend their right to say or do anything that they feel like. …The world and its people be damned. 
But now, for those of you who behave in this manner, let’s look at your life. Is your life all that you hoped it would be? I would bet that it is not. And, that is probably why you are embracing your un-evolved mindset. You are angry at what you are not. 
Again let’s look at you. You can turn this around. Yes, it can be addicting to spew out negativity. But, if you are not living the life that you want to live, then what is that addiction giving you? Just like all additions, it is harming you. Stop it! Be more! Do more! Undo the negativity you have created and redo it with the positive! 
Your life can be more. It can be what you want it to be. But, you have to make it that way by not allowing yourself to be seduced by the negative and doing only positive things.

Copyright © 2016—All Rights Reserved
No part of this article may be used without the expressed permission of Scott Shaw or his representatives. 

This article can also be found on @ The People Who Never Evolve.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Swamiji and Me

By Scott Shaw

            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. :-) 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 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. :-) 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?

You can also find this article on Scott @ Swamiji and Me.

Copyright © 2016 — All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

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.

From the Scott Shaw Zen Blog
Copyright © 2016 – All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Part of the Conversation

By Scott Shaw

            In the past few days, since the conclusion of the most recently United States Presidential Election, there has been a lot of protesting going on in the streets of urban centers around the country fueled by people who are unhappy with the outcome of the election. One of the main things that has been noted, even by the main-stream media, is that the majority of the people who are protesting did not even vote.  They did not vote due to the fact that they are either living in the United States illegally, they did not care enough to vote, or they are not citizens. In fact, a few of my friends on Facebook even stated as much. “I couldn’t vote because I’m not a citizen, but I want my voice to be heard.” Here’s the fact… If you are not a citizen, you are not part of the conversation and you should shut the fuck up. Care enough to become a citizen first, then you have a voice.
            Everyone has an opinion. I get that. Me too…  The fact is, more of the candidates I have believed in and have voted for over the years have lost than have won in presidential elections. That is simply the nature of the U.S. political system. But, that does not send me to the streets in a destructive rage. Then, there have been politicians I believed in like Barack Obama who did win and then really let me down by keeping virtually none of his campaign promises. (Albeit he did enter office with many of the cards stacked against him). But, that is another story altogether.
            We as Americans are a functional part of a system of checks and balances. We as Americans have the right to free speech. But, we as Americans are part of a legally functioning system and that is what allows this system its functionality.
            Throughout time our system has grown and evolved. Yes, this did happen through evolution and revolution but it was all accomplished at the hands of we, the American people. We who were born here or those who came here legally, just like my grandparents did when they immigrated here from Scotland and became legal, functioning citizens. We are all committed parts of this functioning whole. Many of the people who are protesting are not. They are just young people looking for a reason to rage. But, the fact is, if you do not like an elected candidate, then vote them out. Protesting on the streets equals nothing if you are not a person who actually has a voice that can be counted. If you are not a citizen than your voice cannot and should not be heard; especially when it equals damage and destruction.
            I was watching the news and a reporter here in L.A. asked one of the protestors, if he was protesting because he was in the country illegally. He exclaimed I am not but I am afraid they are going to send members of my family back to Guam. This show some of the stupidity of some of the protestors. Just like Puerto Rico, and a few other places, people from Guam are U.S. citizens. This was an ideal example of someone who just wanted to take part in the chaos of the protest. And, the fact is, people who are here illegally should not be protesting at all. Most of these people want the laws to protect them but they have broken the law to get here and are reaping the benefits of this country. If you are not a legal functioning part of the Untied States, you are part of the problem not part of the solution.  
            I think back to a time in the 1980s when I was living in Shanghai. The local government gave my friend some serious grief. She was Chinese, I was not. They could not touch me. But they did touch her. At one point I saw the secret police that instigated the incident. Me, being an arrogant American, I went up to them and demanded an apology. I was young, angry, ready and willing to fight. One of the people with them spoke very good English and told me an apology would not happen. …This was China. It was not the United States. Thus, I had no rights. The man was correct. I had none. There was nothing I could do. Soon after that I Ieft the country. I understood. It was their country. Not mine.
            Here in the States, there have been large protests throughout various parts of our history that have set about change. But, they were instigated by functioning parts of our society—citizens. People who could and did vote. Look to the Vietnam era. For example, my half-brother died in Vietnam when he was only eighteen years old. He could not even vote yet, for back then you could not vote until you were twenty-one years old. Yet, he was drafted and died for his country before he could even vote. Now that is wrong! That is something to protest about! And, people did protest. Laws were changed. We left Vietnam. But, the damage had been done.
            I am sure through time these protests will diminish. But, here is the thing… We all want our voice to be heard. We all want who and what we believe in to be the winner. But, we have to be big enough, intelligent enough, caring enough to understand that our personal desires are not the end-all to the all and the everything. If you want your voice to be heard—if you want your voice to matter than you have to become a legal part of the system. For that is the only way you can change the system.
Copyright © 2016 – All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Scott Shaw Guide to International Travel

By Scott Shaw
            As I spend a lot of time out there on, “The Hard Road,” as I like to refer to it, I am often asked questions in regard to how to best travel internationally. To answer, here is, Part One…
            One of the main things that I have to say, before I go into particulars is, look nice — dress nice. Westerners are commonly looked down upon, across the world, because they do not respect customs, and dress so shabby. This being said, what you wear at home, should not necessarily be your fashion choice for international travel. This is to say, if you dress shabby at home, because that is your style, don’t do it internationally. So, forget about the tee-shirts, no matter how accepted they are where you live or how much they cost. Pack a polo shirt instead. They are just as comfortable and they look so much nicer.
            The reason for this is simple; there are a lot of restaurants, religious shrines, and even museums that will not let you in if you are not wearing a collared shirt. It is fine to be overdressed, but you should never be undressed.
            This is the same with shorts. I never recommend wearing shorts. First of all, you will not be admitted into many places if you are wearing shorts. So, save yourself the embarrassment of being turned away. But, more importantly, they do not protect you from the sun, the elements, or even scrapes and scratches. When you are traveling you want to be able to experience all the sights and sounds as best as possible. So, you do not want to damage your body in any way, shape, or form. Wear pants!
            This brings me to jeans. No!
            Again, though you may wear them at home, you will not be let into many restaurants and higher end establishments if that is what you are wearing. No matter how much they cost. And, we all know, some jeans can be very expensive.
            Why bother holding back your options, simply to embrace your style? There are a lot of very comfortable pants out there that are functional, while being fashionable, (if that is what you are after), while still being acceptable in all establishments.
            Shoes… Since I was a teenager and throughout my adult years, tennis shoes have been my mainstay. I wear them with suits, tuxes, everything… Why? It is simple. They are comfortable.
            Here in the States, culture and fashion is very different from many other countries. We, in many cases, allow room for the artist and the fashionista. Other cultures do not. They find it disrespectful if you show up in casual attire, like tennis shoes. For this reason, though I highly recommend you bring a comfortable pair for walking, have a back up.
            Long ago, I realized if you want to wear tennis shoes to do all of your walking and you do not want to weight your luggage down with a traditional pair of hard shoes, there is a great alternative, dance shoes. Companies like Capezio, make black dance shoes that literally squish down to almost nothing in your suitcase. When you need to go out to a nice establishment, they look as good as any dress shoe.
            The other style of shoes I recommend is, walking shoes. In the mid 1980s a company called Rockport and later Dexter began to make these shoes that were designed externally to look like dress shoes but internally they are like tennis shoes. In more recent years, companies like Sketchers have followed a similar path, but made the shoes much more fashion friendly. If you have limited space and want to travel light, go for a pair of shoes like these. Then, you can have comfortable feet while walking and still look good when you go out to dinner.
            The main thing is, wear shoes that have a rubber style sole. You never want to wear shoes with a slick sole. And, for women, do not wear high heels. I can tell you from personal experiences, as I have been attacked a few times out there on the hard road, if you have to fight and kick someone in the groin, the head, or run, you do not want to be wearing shoes with slick soles or you may fall. You need to always be wearing sturdy shoes that you can maneuver in, and if necessary kick ass.
            This leads me to sandals and flip-flops. No! Do not wear them. They are not good for long walks. They do not look nice, and you will not be allowed to enter many establishments if you are wearing them. But, more importantly, they offer your feet no protection. If your feet are damaged, much of your trip may be ruined.
            Also, always make sure your shoes are well broken-in before you bring them on a journey. A funny, (well not that funny), story happened to me in regard to this matter. Since they were introduced, I loved Nike hiking shoes. Every pair I had were very comfortable and durable. Just before I was on my way to East Asia, I purchased a new pair — assuming that they would be like all the other pairs I had. I arrived and begin to walk. This pair destroyed my feet. As high-end tennis shoes were very expensive where I was, (in comparison to the States), and I couldn’t even find a pair that was big enough, when I was finally willing to pay the price, my journey really suffered. So, break-in your shoes!
            Since 9/11 the rules about what you can and cannot take on airplanes, in regard to shampoos, shaving creams, sunscreen lotions, and the like are continually changing. So, you will need to check that out with your particular airline before you travel. I can tell you about one experience I had. I was flying into Shanghai for an extended stay in the mid 1980s. When I unpacked I discovered that my shaving cream had exploded. Now, this was not my first trip to Shanghai and I knew everywhere to go to buy necessary items. But, nobody had any shaving cream. What I ended up doing was that each day, in the shower, I would soap my face up and in association with the water and the steam I was able to get a pretty good shave. The point is, while traveling, you will forget things, lose things, or things will explode and you will not have all of the amenities that you have at home. What you need to do is not shut down but explore your options and make new things work for you.
            Many people either over pack or under pack when they are preparing for a journey. Both can cause you to not have an ideal travel experience. Here is my normal packing listing. I have used this for journeys that have lasted one week, to trips that have gone on for as long as two months. Though this clothing segment is designed mainly for men. (As obviously, I am a man). It can, however, be easily adapted for women. And, this list includes what I am wearing while I travel.

Here it is:
One suit (matching pants and a coat).
One sport coat.
Two pairs of pants.
Five shirts.
Fire underpants.
Five tee-shirts.
Five pairs of socks.
One pair of tennis shoes (running or cross training).
One pair of dress shoes.
Two neckties.
One belt, black.
One pair of sweatpants.
One pair of swim trunks.

Here are the particulars of this list:
            Sport coats or suit coats are great for men (and women) because they allow you to look nice while carry necessary items in your pockets.
            Two pairs of pants (in addition to the one pair that is associated with the suit). You can intermingle them as necessary.
            Choose five shirts that you can intermingle and match with your pants and jackets. This way you will always be able to present a fresh look.
One thing to keep in mind when choosing your clothing for travel is that dark colors and prints hide stains much better. As we all periodically spill things, and when you’re traveling you may not have the opportunity to change right away, it is best to wear clothing that conceals stains. This is why solid whites and light colors are not ideal travel colors.
            Five underpants. Wear either briefs or boxer-brief style. As you will probably be walking a lot, you really need the absorption of sweat provided by this style of underwear. Boxers just will not do it and you can easily develop a rash.
            Five under or tee-shirts. Wearing an undershirt is something that I discovered in India many years ago. If you only wear a shirt, all of your sweat soaks through the shirt; then you and your shirt look very bad. If you wear an undershirt, however, all of the sweat is absorbed before it gets to your shirt. I personally wear tank tops. But, whatever style works best for you. It is your choice.
            Five pairs of socks. Ideally, I recommend black workout socks, because they are absorbent, comfortable, and they look fine if you are wearing a suit. But whatever color or style you choose, it is best if they are all the same color. In this way, if you lose one, (as socks always seem to get lost), you can easily intermingle your remaining pairs.
            The reason I bring one pair of sweatpants is that they serve two functions. One, you can sleep in them in association with a tee shirt. Two, you can work out in them with a polo shirt.
            The swim trunks are obviously for swimming. They can also be used to work out in. And, if it is warm where you are, you can also sleep in them.
            When packing all of your stuff there is an endless choice in suitcases. Choose what works best for you. One thing not pack your items in, however, is a backpack. Across the world, everyone associates backpacks with hippies. And, nobody likes hippies.
            A word of warning. Women do not carry a purse, particularly a designer handbag. There is a lot of thievery across the globe and if your purse is loose in your hand or on your arm, you are just inviting a purse-snatcher to steal it. If you must carry a purse, carry a small one with a long strap that you can wear over your shoulder and across your body.
            There are also a lot of pickpockets out there. And, they are very good. You will never know that your wallet or your passport was stolen until it is too late. So for both men and women, if you are carrying things in your pocket, either keep them in deep front pockets or use the button to latch down your back pockets. This is the same with sport coats. Many sport coats have a button on at least one of the inner pockets. If you need to carry your wallet or passport with you, put it in that pocket and button it. Even if it is a bit of hassle to open and close it, it is worth the trouble to keep your items safe.
            Okay, there you have it. The first installment of the Scott Shaw Guide to International Travel. Hope it helps and gives you some food for thought.

Copyright © 2011 — All Rights Reserved.

This article ca also be found on Scott at The Scott Shaw Guide to International Travel.

Is Scott Shaw a Nihilist?

By Scott Shaw

            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. :-)

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

They’re the Ones Talking About Me I’m Not the One Talking About Them

By Scott Shaw
            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 began 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 university 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.

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

Thursday, April 28, 2016

I’m Glad You Know So Much More Than Me. Maybe You Should Be the One Writing the Books

Here's a previously published article.

By Scott Shaw

            Every now and then I will receive an email or a letter from someone who has read one of my books and they tell me I am completely wrong and I don’t understand spirituality at all. These messages always make me smile a little bit because if the person who was contacting me truly understood anything about spirituality, mysticism, or enlightenment they would know that there's not only one path. They would see that each person’s path to spirituality and personal enlightenment is unique onto themselves.  It's like my teacher Swami Satchidananda used to say, “Truth is one, paths are many.”
            People love to associate themselves with one religion or one teacher. From this, they are allowed to exist in an environment where there is only one message being propagated.  For them, there is only one truth. ...The truth that is being spelled out in whatever religious text or by whatever teacher they follow.  For them, right is right and everybody else, who follows a different path, is wrong.
            How many wars, throughout history, have been fought over people who hold one religious ideal over another?
            With the answer to that question as a basis, we should all understand that your way might not be my way, just as my way might not be your way.  You may think I am wrong, but that does not make me wrong or you right.
            Do you see the common factor here? One person thinking and believing one way.
         This goes for me too. I believe, “To each their own. Find your own enlightenment and life fulfillment your own way.” That’s just me. But also, I don’t go around telling people they are wrong. I let them live and find out their own truth in their own time.
            Ultimately, we each believe what we believe. Some of us base our beliefs on what we were told. Others of us base on beliefs on what we have experienced. In either case, it is our understandings and our beliefs that make us who we are. 

                                            Copyright © 2012 – All Rights Reserved.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Don’t You Have Anything Better To Do?

            Every now and then someone will bring to my attention to the fact that there is discussion going on about me on the internet. Mostly, I’m doing other stuff and I really don’t care so I don’t check it out. Sometimes, however, if I’m just screwing around on-line when they alert me to the fact, I do take a moment and read them. Some are positive dialogues. Thanks! Others… What I always find is that the inception of the conversation was begun by a very articulate individual who is trying to cast shade on my life and me in a very subtle manner. Those make smile. The assumptions are false. The claims are misplaced. But, the writing is good. Some are just the, “This guy is a fucking asshole!” Those make me smile too because the person writing them does not know me at all. Like the old saying goes, “To know me is to love me.” I think I’m a nice guy. :-)
Spending my life in the world of martial arts this type of attack is not new to me. It seems there is always some insecure practitioner attempting to create doubt about someone else. Sad but true. I have written about this phenomenon in the past…
But, it forever perplexes me why anyone discuses me at all. Don’t you have anything better to do? I mean, I am just a very basic sort of guy who makes weird movies, writes books, makes music, takes some photographs, teaches a class or a seminar every now and then, and stuff like that.
            …There was a filmmaking team who made a mockumentary about me maybe a decade back at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. I thought that was pretty funny. Zen Filmmaking !!! You can get to it from my YouTube page if you feel like it. I imagine they were doing it for a filmmaking class or something. But, at least they created something and probably earned a grade for it.
            What always boggles my mind is, what does talking about and discussing another person equal? What does trying to make me or any other person look good, look bad, or look like anything equal? What does it prove and what does it do for your life — especially if you are hiding behind a screen name? Though, the truth be told, I have watched a couple of people cause their on-line notoriety to rise by discussing and/or talking trash about me (and other people). But, they never even said, “Thank you.” :-)
            As the joke goes, “You know you can believe everything that is on the internet.” I mean any person who wants to can find a place to get their voice heard on the internet. But, why is your voice wasted talking about other people?
            I remember back a number of years ago, I was watching a Run Run Shaw movie with a group of people and someone commented that his name was the same as mine. I made the joke, “I’m half Chinese.” A couple of weeks later I was alerted to the fact that it was listed on some website that, “Scott Shaw is half Chinese.” I mean, come on people… And, I have seen a few other pretty ridiculous things mentioned about me on the internet. But, the thing is, what can I do? This is the internet, anyone can say anything that they want: positive, negative, or just straight up bullshit. They can say it about anyone or anything.
            Some of these, "Writers," present their thoughts, beliefs, and accusations as though they are the truth. They are not the truth but there is a certain segment of society who believes something simply because they read it. Thus, if someone believes something, in that regard, it somehow does become the truth — at least in the mind of that individual. This is how false accusations and misguided beliefs have the potential to truly damage a person's life. And, what is the karma for that, if you are the one instigating or embellishing falsehood and hurting someone else's life? But, I guess most people who do that kind of stuff don't care.
            And… I always feel thanks for the people who rise to my defense (and the defense of others) when they attempt to countermand the spreading negativity by inserting their positive opinions and/or truth based facts.
            The fact is, who and what I am, what I have or have not accomplished is one hundred percent verifiable. I don't care about accolades so you are not going to find me listing mine. Like Jack Webb's Joe Friday character used to say on Dragnet, "Just the facts…" Other people may put them out there, but not me. I don't think about things like that. All I think about is what I haven't accomplished and what I've yet to accomplish. Yet, some people attempt to embellish or diminish who and what I am; what I have done. Why? I don't know. What does it prove? Some people even try to describe my life and my life motivation. But, they have never even met me, so how do they know anything about me? But, as they used to say on the X-Files, “The truth is out there.” 
            Now, all of this rambling about me brings us to the point of this blog. What are you doing with your life? Are you doing something for you? Doing something for the people you love? Accomplishing something with your life? Doing something for the greater good? Counteracting negativity wherever you find it? Or, are you wasting the very short amount of time that you have in LIFE obsessing about someone or something else? Attempting to either put them on a pedestal or cast them to the depths of hell?
            My advice, if you love someone or something they created, support them. If you hate someone or something they created, support them, as well, because they are giving you a reason to think, study, and question life.
            Ultimately, focus on your own life. Make your own life more. Then, you won’t need to focus on my life or the life of any other person. You won't need to make yourself look right while attempting to make others look wrong. By accomplishing your own accomplishments, your life becomes a creative masterpiece based upon your own vision. From this, you can stop talking about other people and start being alerted to the fact that other people are talking about you. :-)

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

Taken from the Scott Shaw Zen Blog.