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.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Stealing and Selling Other People’s Work and Internet Piracy is not a Victimless Crime

This is a mashup of two previously published articles.

By Scott Shaw

            Ever since the dawning of the Internet, bootlegging, (for lack of a better word), has become quite rampant. Meaning, that people copy and sell products that they did not create to other people for a profit. But, none of that money goes back to the people who actually created the product; be it a book, music, or a film.
            Maybe stealing is a better term...
            Certainly, the whole Napster syndrome shook the music industry a few years ago. At that point, people were copying music, uploading it, and “Sharing it” with other people. Though it changed the music industry forever, it also affected the financial livelihoods of many artists.
            In the more recent past, movies have come to be bootlegged, uploaded, and then people are allowed to watch them by paying a price to join the website service that is showing them.
            Now, in terms of high budget films, one could argue that the movie studios have already made a lot of money on these films, so why do they need to make more? Be that as it may, there is a whole other side to the issue. For example, people like myself, who pay for their films to be made out of their own pocket. When these sites get a copy of my films and put them up on the Internet, it can really kill sales. And, believe me, it costs a lot of money and time to make a movie. And, it is very sad when someone else is making a profit from my creation, when I am not.
            Some people believe that the “File sharing sites” are better than the ones just described, as they appear to be free. They are not. Someone in that chain is making money or these site would not be active. Someone, but not the creator of the project.
            Another path where people are commonly bootlegging other people’s creations is in relation to books. I have found several of my books, copied and put up on sites on the Internet. Now, let’s think about this for a moment. The people who do this may like the book, but they did not write the book, they did not spend the money to have the book printed that was laid out by the publishing company. Yet, they scan the books and are selling people the ability to read them on the Internet. They are the one’s making the money. Not the author or the publishing company.
            Recently, I was popping around the Internet and I found a website that is selling scanned copies of martial art magazines. In fact, this site is selling photocopies of several magazines I wrote articles for. They scan them and then sell them.
            Of course, on this website, the people are not honorable enough to provide a name, address, or telephone number where you can contact them. Which illustrates that they know what they are doing is wrong, illegal, and uncool. So, I emailed them. They did not reply.
            But, think about this for a moment. How long do you think it takes to write an article? Then, you have to supply photographs for the techniques presented in the article. This all costs time and money.
            Back in the day, when these magazines were published, they use to pay me $125.00 per article. The photographs alone used to cost me more than that to produce. So, I personally made no money. And, this is not to mention all the time and money it actually took, on the part of the publishing company, to create and release these magazines. But now, here is somebody on the Internet, who had nothing to do with the creation of these magazines, making money by selling someone else’s hard earned work.
            Ultimately, if you’ve ever created something, that you cared about, and took the time and made the effort to get it published or released, you will understand the problem with what is happening when these websites release this information.
            We all want things for free or for cheap-er. This being stated, whether you are paying to access a site or viewing and downloading content for free, you really should think about the reality of what is going on and how your actions are affecting the lives of creative people before you access these sites that sell and make money off of the creative work of other people.

Internet Piracy is not a Victimless Crime

            I was flipping through channels last night and I came upon the Arsenio Hall Show. Prince was on.
            At first glance, this show was kind of interesting in that this same show could have taken place twenty years ago when Arsenio’s first late show was on the air. But, there they were, Arsenio and Prince both looking quite good for their age.
            I was never a really big fan of Prince back in the day. Though me, being who I am, I do own all his vinyl and most of his CDs. It was later that I came to appreciate his music and his contribution to popular music in general. This, though I do have an abstract connection to Prince in that my high school friend, Lisa Coleman, was his keyboard player for a number of years in the Purple Rain era and an actor, Kevin Thompson, who I have used in a number of my films was a Prince impersonator until that era dried up. In any case, it was an interesting show to watch. 
            When Arsenio was talking to Prince they discussed his love and hate relationship with the internet and how music gets out-there for free which really impacts an artist’s bankbook. Though Prince made his own contribution to the changing evolution of music by being one of the first artists to break away from a major record label, what he said made me think back to the time when the whole Napster thing took place and there were a lot of musicians out there rallying against people getting their music for free. I remember when they spoke to Dave Grohl, (Nirvana, Foo Fighters, etc.), and he said, “Why should I care, I’m already rich.” I believe that is an important, and oftentimes overlooked statement to keep in mind when one views this subject.
            There is a certain group of people who now expect to get everything for free on the internet — whether it is music, movies, books, or whatever. But, by taking those items for free you are really causing the person who created those things to not earn money for their creation. As money is one of the most essential elements to life, it is what we must have to survive. And, by taking these creations for free, you are really creating karma for yourself.
            It is one of the most instrumental laws of understood spirituality; do not take things for free or steal things because then karma is created. One should always extend a payment for whatever they receive, as then karma remains clean.
            But to view this subject in a little bit more in-depth manner; first of all, do you think the websites who host these downloads are doing it for free? No, they are not. They are earning money by being in existence or they would not be there.
            From a more philosophic standpoint, (if you want to make excuses for yourself), downloading movies and music financed by major studios or corporation can be viewed as, “Sticking it to the man,” if you want to view life from an anarchistic point of view. But, for people like myself or on a much higher scale someone like Prince, who finances all we do out of our own pockets, it becomes a very different ballgame. For me, I can’t make the same claim as Dave Grohl. So, every dime taken out of my pocket really changes my reality.
            The other side of the issue is that there is nothing I can do about it. My books, music, and movies are out there on this offshore websites being offered for free. Do the people or corporations who run those websites care about what affect they are having on me and the other creative people in my predicament? Probably not. Why? Because they are generating money to support their lifestyle based on the creations of others.
            There is just something wrong in that equitation.
            This is what people really need to think about when they do what they do, whether it be downloading things for free, without thinking about what effect it has on the creator of the work, or simply not taking the time to think about the impact they are having on this world by their various actions.
            What you choose to do and how you choose to do it affects everything in this world. How you choose to live your life affects the next evolution of this Life-Place. So, if you are doing things that negatively impact other people, don’t cry when karma comes calling. Because you are the one who set it in motion.
            Internet piracy is not a victimless crime. And, the victim may end up being you.

Copyright © 2011 & 2014 — All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016


By Scott Shaw

            “I enjoy your book, About Peace. I was surprised to see the photograph that you have chosen to put on the home page of your web page. I am really disappointed that you have chosen to use women as objects to promote yourself. Please consider how offensive this is. I had considered buying more copies of your book to give as gifts, but now I am really disillusioned about who you are and what you believe and promote.”
            This is an e-mail that I received and it pretty much speaks for itself. What it also ideally depicts is the perceived illusion, the maya, if you will, of how people expect other people to behave. In fact, what many people desire is that other people act in a predetermined manner that they deem appropriate in accordance with their own definition of reality. Which leads me to the point of this article…
            I often discuss with people how personal judgment, about another person’s life and another person’s choices, truly effects, in a negative manner, an individual’s own life and their own interaction with life-fulfillment and enlightenment. The statement that is posted above is an ideal example of what keeps one from truly embracing all this world has to offer.
            Is the above e-mail based in spirituality? No, it is not. It is based in judgment. And, this is the reason that I always suggest to people that they remove themselves from all preconceived notions and never sit in judgment of another person’s life.
            Why? Because, in a nutshell, no outside individual can ever possess all of the facts and understanding about another person’s life and why they do what they do.
            But, let’s continue…

Buying a Book
            If a person buys one of my books and they enjoy it or it helps them, that’s great. If while reading the book, they find some sense of deeper meaning and life-happiness, even better. That is why I wrote About Peace and other books on spirituality. But, you have to understand an essential fact about life, we each seek what we seek. If we are seeking spirituality, then we will find spirituality. We will travel to places where spirituality exists and we will find books like About Peace and other spiritual writings.
            It is just the simple fact of life; we find what we are looking for.
            But, now here comes the other side of the issue, when we are looking for something, we have already come to define what we consider the definition of that SOMETHING to be. If we are seeking spirituality, we have already defined in our mind what we consider spirituality to look like. As I have talked and written about many times, spirituality is quite commonly defined in very limited terms: a person must look a certain way, dress a certain way, and do certain things.
            The question then arises, however, is what you define as being spiritual, true spirituality or is it simply what your thinking mind has decided spirituality should look like?
            You really need to ask yourself that question, because if spirituality is only defined by what you expect it to look like, then it is not spirituality at all, it is simply mind-stuff and that is the chief causation factor for maya, illusion. And, this is the primary reason why people never truly interaction with enlightenment, (another subject I have written extensively about), because then they are bogged down with their own created illusion of what they think enlightenment is supposed to be. Thus, they never free themselves enough to truly embrace Nirvana.
            Now, it is important to understand, I am not criticizing the individual who wrote me this e-mail. In fact, I find it quite amusing, because if they knew anything about me or my website they would know that I do not, ‘Use women as objects to promote myself.’ I just thought the photo they referenced was a fun memory and an interesting image. And, the photos on the website are in a continuous state of flux.
            Believe me, I get e-mails and letters all the time, most are very nice and complimentary. But, a few, like this one, want me to change who I am and want me to behave in a manner that the author finds appropriate.
            It is essential to understand, however, that an individual who writes an e-mail like this is not simply focusing all their attention upon me. They invoke this type of behavior across the board. They want everybody to be the way they want them to be. But, this is not true spirituality. And, someone invoking this style of behavior has no right to judge anybody — not if they are an ordinary person or a well-know spiritual teacher or guru. Why? Because, attempting to dominate the actions of other people is based in ego; thinking, “I know more than you. I know what is right, you don’t.”
            That mindset is not spirituality!
            I mean, let’s think about it; how many of us remember when churches across the U.S. where claiming that rock n’ roll was the devil’s music and anybody who listened to it was a sinner? How ridiculous was that? Or, remember in the 1960s and into the 1970s if you were a male with long hair you were a totally outcast and in complete opposition to all that was just and right. What a joke!
            The point I am making here is the same point that I discuss in the book About Peace and elsewhere in my writings,
            As long as you have desires, as long as you have definitions, you will never be free. Because, you will never be happy unless your definitions are met. Which they never will be. And, you will never find enlightenment, unless enlightenment meets your expectations. But, expectations have nothing to do with spirituality or enlightenment. Expectations are not true spirituality. They are simply judgment. And, judgment has nothing to do with true spirituality!
            Ultimately, what you have to do is to define what you want out of life. And, as previously discussed, you will find what you are looking for.
            If you are looking for someone to criticize, you can find a million reasons, in a million people, to criticize. But, if you are seeking true spirituality, then you simply allow everything and every person to be as they are.

People Are Beautiful
            Let’s face it, women are beautiful. Women find men beautiful. Everybody and everything is beautiful. People ARE objects (as the e-mailer stated). We are things — moving, living, feeling THINGS. So, yes, we are objects, if you want to call people objects. But, that does not make us lesser human beings. What makes us lesser human beings is to unleash our judgment upon the world. For that is the basis of all conflict. And, conflict has nothing to do with true spirituality.
            Feel what you feel. That is the predetermined condition of life. But, you do not have to spread your own predetermined feelings upon others.

            How many of us enjoy truly artistic photographs or paintings of people? I do. But, do I sit there and say that a specific photograph or painting is not spiritual or is not artistic because of what the subject in the photograph is or is not wearing? No, I do not. I may like, I may not. But, that does not change the fact that I appreciate it as art.
            Here is the question you must ask yourself, “Who has the ultimate knowledge that gives them the right to judge anybody and tell them how they should live their life?”
            Do you have that ultimate knowledge?

This is Life
            This is life, you must decide who and what you are going to be. Are you going to walk through life full of predetermined judgment? Or, are you going to truly understand spiritually and accept everything and everyone for what and who they are - allowing each individual to be who they are, embracing the arts and life as they see fit?
            To people who don’t know me, my life may appear to be a contradiction. But, it really is not. For me, what my life is about is bridging the gap between perceived spirituality and the world. You see, this is really common sense, but many people do not understand the simple fact that you can live in the world but not be of the world. That you can walk with sinners and still be a saint. You do not have to dress a certain way. (I used to be a Swami. Think how I used to dress.) You can do what you do, have some life-fun and still be contributing to the overall good, as opposed to the overall-bad which is born out of judgment.
            We all must understand that what we think is only what we think. But, do we need to tell other people what we think? No, not unless they ask. Do we need to try to influence other people to feel what we feel, do what we do? No, that is not spirituality.
            Ultimately, we must learn to keep out opinions to ourselves. Because, in truth, the only one who cares about our opinions is ourselves.
            Live, love, be who you are, do what you will do. Let go and be free of judgment. This is Zen

IS — is enlightenment. This is Zen.

IS NOT — is not enlightenment. It is not Zen.

IS or IS NOT is your choice.

Enlightenment is your choice.

Who are you going to be? It is your choice.

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

Copyright © 2007 — All Rights Reserved.

You can also find this article on, Judgement and the Spiritual Path.