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.