Category: Buddhism
A Better Place Starts Here

I’m not sure my art can change the world but I know it can change me.

I’ve long struggled with what, and how, I can do in order to best serve. I’ve tried various things but today it became a little clearer as I sat silent in meditation that the best thing I can do for the world is to be a better person.

Stop trying to change the world “for the better.” Simply change myself and the world will be better as a result.

I’ve said this before — let your work be an expression of Bodhichitta.

I’ve never felt this to be more true than I did today.

 


Into the Given Part 3 — A choice the premise

As part of the pre-production process for my upcoming film, A Thousand Moments Later, I put together a document for the actors and crew to give them something to think over. The document contained some prose and some reference photos of key moments. What follows is part of that document.

Part 1 — What’s needed is an experience
Part 2 — Embracing Failure!

 

Love. What is Love? When we say, I love you? What does this mean? And how could it possibly be a choice?
A Thousand Moments Later is a story about the development of such love.

This type of love is not what we normally think love to be but rather the love to which the ancient Greek philosophers referred to as agape. Spontaneous and unmotivated, agape is love grounded in the aspiration that another be well and happy. This kind of love is not motivated by one’s own aspirations or even preference for a particular outcome. It is unconditional in the purest sense. Indeed this kind of love is the love spoken of by Buddhists and called mettá or maitrí in Sanskrit. The etymology of the term mettá is often rendered as loving-kindness and I think this captures well the intent behind love in this Western sense of agape for both are fundamentally a deep sense of caring—a strong yet gentle impulse to care.

To care and to be care about (not cared for but cared about) — this is the foundation of all romantic love. Yet this mutual and very symbiotic kind of love is hard won. It is hard won because while the genesis of romantic love may be pure, as the years go by love can become mixed with resentment born of power-games, of pain from the things left unsaid, and even just plain old boredom and isolation. In such cases the sense of being cared about has been severed through circumstance. And this can happen without any intention by either party.

But notice something very important here. Love as defined here is not something one gets from another but rather it is something that one gives to another — you do not receive love, you give it. In fact, I would claim that one can never receive love. You can only give it for love is the act of caring. What you receive from the other is a sense of being cared about — supported. And it is when one feels this sense of being cared about that one’s aspiration for the other to be well and happy increases. It’s symbiotic. But someone has to start. And this “start” is a choice.

Love is, therefore, an act of freewill. When it’s not an act of freewill, it is not love. Something else is motivating it. Moreover, when things are going wrong in relationships and arguments become the special of the day, we are in fact fighting with ourselves—with our own fears and doubts about our own lives in isolation. When fear of abandonment manifests into an argument what is the real issue here? Ego!

Ego is the manifestation of the self as a self—cutoff and in isolation from another. At best this is delusional. For upon reflection it is easy to see that no one lives this way. We are, in fact, interdependent by nature but ego cannot see this fact and through its blindness a sense of importance is developed. My happiness. My life. My feelings. My my my. Me me me. The ego is selfish by definition. Suffice it to say, it is only through the transformation of love from one based on the physical to one based on the mental that relationships survive longer term. And similarly it is only once the physical has become mental that the ego can be slain—allowing for this transcendent caring to express itself. While we continue to define ourselves in relation to another— cutoff and in isolation—we are doomed to wander through life uncertain and unable to commit to anything other than the egos own sense of importance.

Now, Ron Howard once said that film narrative is about mapping basic human emotions to interesting actions. And Elia Kazan (East of Eden, A Streetcar Named Desire) before him famously told us that we are trying to make the psychological, physical.

In this regard, A Thousand Moments Later is the story of the potential to love in this purest sense. And the story argues that agape and mettá are both real and possible and often brought to bear in key moments. Moments that define who we are beyond the mask we present to the world — beyond the mask of ego.

This indeed is a difficult task but how could it be any other way?


In the End All We Have is Love

As you go through life some begin to realize that, in the end, whether you like it or not, we lose everything—money. health. status. friends. While for others this fact is lost of them and as a result they can spend the time they have left wondering why! Even bitter at the lost. This is not a judgement but rather an observation.

 

Still it seems to me that what life cannot take form us is our ability to care—to love. And when I say love, I mean it in the Buddhist sense, which of course, has little to do with anything that happens between the sheets!

 

While Lennon may have been correct with his well known, “All you need is Love”, statement this to me has always seemed glib at best…if not just hippy tripe!.

 

Either way it was without doubt the soundbite of the 70’s (or was it the 80’s?) that continues to water-down the truth of the statement and that is a shame really!

 

I think this attitude might be linked, somehow, to a general view about about or what one should do with their life.

 

There will be the people that watch, for instance, the video of Steve Jobs from the last post and nod in approve at the beginning of the speech where he outlines an a-typical life but then disapprove when he goes on the say that this is a rather shallow interpretation of a life well lived!

 

Or as one person close to me did recently…nod and smile in agreement that quickly changed to stoney-faced silent as it dawned upon them why I found this interesting! All you need is Love!!

 

This lead me to think about what is it that makes people believe certain things. Why is it that for some people digging pass the veil of the ordinary, the mundane, is so so natural and yet for others is to frightening beyond belief?!?

 

I do not know yet, but, what I do know is that it pays to dig—if only as a functional mechanism against the wounds of life. Know thyself as the Greeks were found of saying!

 

For the timid, however, it is clear that life turns difficult as they age because they value everything that is easily lost and do not understand that it was ALWAYS going to be “lost” in the end. Really…really…sad!

 

Therefore cherish your ability to care! It maybe all you have left in the end.

 

There are plenty of templates for a life well lived but you have to be brave enough to live them! And the good news is, it is never too late.

 

May all beings…those close and those far….have only happiness and its causes.

 


 


A Year of Light and Shade

Although I continue to tell myself I enjoy sharing I seemed to have gone almost ten months without updating the blog. Shame on me!

Despite that I continue to tell myself I will write more even if I have failed to do so this year. I fail more than I like to really.

This time last year I will still a Buddhist monk when I wrote this piece about Christmas.

Buddhist Prayer Wheel

Buddhist Prayer Wheel

 

Since then my life has, you could say without exaggeration, changed. It has changed for the better even if it has been quite bumpy along the way.

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13th Beach Road sunset taken Christmas 2012

I moved out of the monastery I was living in while trying to complete my PhD.

Buddhist Stupa

I said goodbye to a part of my life I never thought I would but, I have always been the kind of person to move forward without regret. I do believe it important to always move forward with one eye on where you come!

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Leaving the monastery early 2013

I had no idea what I was going to do now that I was no longer a monk but I had confidence that the life I was living was limiting me from something else.

So I moved back to my parents place to restock before moving forward again.

My mum/mom makes great pumpkin soup the best in the world I tells ya!

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Mum’s pumpkin soup with smiley face to make me feel better!

While at mum’s my sister and her family visited. We eat food, spent time as a family, and I made a short film with my six year old nephew called “The Magic Spanner.”

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The Magic Spanner

It was during this time that I meet with one of my father friends and business partners. I had an idea that would allow my to continue to develop as a filmmaker while owning a living. And I thought it a good idea too.

So I arranged a meeting over coffee.

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Meeting over coffee

 

My dad’s friend is a very successful business person and so I thought that he might be good to pass the idea across. Perhaps he will have something to add. Something that I have not thought about, or perhaps he will tell me it won’t work for this or that reason. Either way I felt it a good thing to so despite the possibility of my future been crushed before it was even going.

But the meeting went well. And about 1/2 way through he stopped me and said that he needed me, he needed this idea executed for one of business.

So he asked me to put together a proposal outlining exactly what I saw I could do for this business, how this would actual benefit the business, and of course the cost.

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Off to Sydney

 

Suffice it to say, the proposal was well accepted and I was soon off to shoot the first of a series of spots for his sister company in Sydney.

 

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Sydney airport 2013

 

Landing in Sydney I spent the day on a recce! My favorite part of shooting I think.

 

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Sydney Recce

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Icebergs Bondi beach

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Shoot day. What a sight!

After the shoot it was back to Melbourne to try and organize my life again. For now that I had arranged a source of income and in a direction I was happy to move in, it was now time to find my own place.

It had been almost twenty years since I’ve living by myself. See I was always in Buddhist monasteries or centres or overseas study, or whatever. This was the first time I would have my “own” place!

So I looked until I found a place near enough to the city that I could get to and from without too much trouble or need of a car (still not enough money to get one to be honest) and I would simply hire a bomb when I needed to drive somewhere.

So I packed my bags again! Putting everything into a truck and moved into a one bedroom place in a funky outer-city suburb.

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Driving truck to my new home

I needed a truck this time as I bought some white goods for the new place.

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Views of the city

The views of the city from my place are quite speecy! And I set myself for a a lot of work coming my way! Something I was really looking forward to I must say.

I bought some new gear—lenses, camera, and viewfinder.

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New gear is always fun

 

And continued to wait for work to come in.

Yet nothing came.

 

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No wind; no movement.

 

Like a windmill standing motionless this went on for sometime. But that is how things go I’ve found. Patience. I kept telling myself. Patience!

Luckily I was on a retainer and therefore cash was not an issue. Still I’d rather be doing something.

Then finally, as the year rounded out,  I was busier than I could handle. Almost!

In the past six or so week we have put together, shot, and edited several episodes for an upcoming branded documentary. I have created a social-media campaign to help promote the series once it goes live, and I have built a website for the campaign to provide more information for the business, and because of this I got to travel and visit places I have never been again.

 

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Off to the Goldcost Queensland. Looks like to is going to be a dumpy ride!

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Fun in the sun

 

And then back to Sydney for a different shoot—all in the matter of ten days!

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Client arranged the ticket at the wrong airport.

 

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If only I could say I had em eating out of my hands more often 😉

 

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Newtown, NSW – December 2013

Off for a quick bite to eat and a beer.

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Clients. Talent. Crew. Fun!

 

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Heading back home.

My year. A year of contrast. Of light and shade.

My year. A year of contrast. Of light and shade.

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Sunset from my balcony

 

And so that was my 2013. It was a terrific year of challenge and transformation.

A year of contrasts. A year of light and shade—of dumps and of grins.

A year where the light and shade mattered because of the dumps and grins.

2013, you were an experience!

 


David Foster Wallace – This is Water

David Foster Wallace was well aware of Buddhism via his connection to Jay L. Garfield. This is clear.

I find his speech, “this is water”, both inspiringly insightful and utterly heart-breaking for in the end to killed himself.

THIS IS WATER – By David Foster Wallace from The Glossary on Vimeo.

He saw past the veils of cultural pleasantries and into the second truth, the source of life’s dissatisfaction—self-concern or ego-grapsing to use more Buddhist parlance.

We need more people like Wallace. People that will tell it as it is. Without the BULL SHIT!

And he is right. It is difficult to talk about. Most people do not want to hear about it. Truth of suffering!? What suffering? Life is great. But we know these are mere words.

And he also correct when he says, “this is not about religion.” But then neither was the Buddha’s message. “This is suffering. This is its cessation.”

And he went on to say, “Do not believe me out of respect. Test it for yourself.”

He made a claim, an empirical claim, and asked us to test it for ourselves. Choice! People. I’ve stressed it here more than a few times—older readers might even say too often!

We lost a great and troubled writer when David choose out of the “rat-race” by killing himself. What a shame! There was an alternative. And this alternative does not require faith in anything other than yourself.

You are your own protector. Who else will be that protector. And you are also your worse enemy. For you wish for happiness and yet run to suffering—to borrow from one of the greatest sages of all recorded time.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, watch the video below and read this and also this.

Now, you know what needs to be done. Go. Do it!


Live Life at Eleven

While working on the outline for a “secret project” I wrote a note to myself that will represent a series of events spanning several days with the simple title— “Life is a Series of Moments — Make Em Count!”

(update: the “secret project” is Medals for the Intrepid.)

 

This got me thinking…life REALLY IS JUST A SERIES OF MOMENTS.

 

These moments are things that no one can take from you.

 

How you choose to spend these moments, therefore, is your choice—your decision.

 

Do not turn the TV on simply to fill the space with noise.

 

Do not find something to do just to be active.

 

Do use technology to engage, inform, and educate.

 

Do be as active as possible to engage, inform, and educate.

 

These are your moments. And these moments ARE your life.

 

You can spend them goofing off. Distracted. Asleep! Ignorant!!

 

Or you can choose to live life at eleven. Eyes wide open, fully engaged, ready to help—completely clear in body, speech and mind.

 

The decision is yours. Blue pill; Red pill. Which one will you take?

 

And don’t think this is not the most important decision of your life for there ain’t no re-runs in this cinema.

 

So make em count!

 


 


Stop the Glorification of Busy

Do you brush your teeth each day?

Do you shower each day?

Do you lunch nutritious food each day?

Do you spend 30 minutes each day in quiet reflection?

If not; why not!?

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We are naturally concerned with our health but often overlook the degree to which our mental life impacts of our physical health and our normal day to day activities.

By taking just 30 minutes a day to sit quietly and watch your breath you may begin to reverse the years of the compulsion to be always doing something, anything.

Science has shown what contemplatives have known for over two millennia — meditation is vital to good holistic health.


Photography from an Oasis – Part 1

Below are a couple of shoots taken on the iPhone as I walk to the main building for morning group meditation with my fellow monks.

Hope you enjoy them as much as I did taken and then tweaking them!

Hi, I’m Clarke Scott and welcome to my website. Here you’ll find articles on the things I find cool and interesting — creativity and personal transformation mostly.

I started the website many years ago and it has gone through several iterations as my personal journey morphed from Buddhist monk to filmmaker.

I’d like to tell story of human potential. I believe people want to see these stories. Indeed, I believe, stories of human potential are important to our cultural.

If you’d like to follow that journey as I sharing my dreams and disappointments please subscribe to the newsletter here.

If you have any questions I’d be happy to answer them. Go here to contact me.

 

Buddhist Prayer Wheel

Buddha Statue

Buddhist Prayer Flags

Buddhist Stupa

Gong


Losing Your Way Finding Perspective

Sometimes it happens—we get lost. Lost in thought. Lost in time. Lost in life. And yet these times—times when everything seems upside down—can be the best of times for fresh views of old truths can bubble up providing new perspective.

Now let’s face it, even though all of us, all sentient beings, want happiness this is not news, and it is obvious on reflection that we are not endlessly seeking the kind of happiness born of sheer hedonism but real, bonafide, genuine happiness.

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Restlessly do we seek a good life. A life that goes well. A life with real meaning. A life where we are loved and we have the chance to love. A life where love transcends the ordinary.

But if this is to be so, we must go through a process of transformation, of transcendence. A transcendence of old habits and this kind of change never comes easy.

Life is hard won. Indeed the life we seek is hard won.

And yet if we are the protagonist and the author of our own life’s story, and the arc of this transformation is embedded in the challenges we face, then it is to ourselves that we must look. We must write into the screenplay of our life challenges only we can face.

So whether you are in the first or the last act of your story, do not be afraid of life—your life. The road is open. Go. Explore. See the world. See yourself. Find yourself getting lost. Find yourself by getting lost.

For at the end of the day, by losing our way we transform, and through transformation our life can become an expression of grace, of love, of bodhichitta.