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Tom's Blog
Welcome to Tom's Blog. Below you will find writings, photos, and other entries from Tom Shadyac about the making-of and future of his new documentary, "I AM." Check back frequently for updates!

Shining Like the Sun!

Everyday, we are assaulted with messages, images, slogans, and sound bites, that tell us of our inadequacies, the sad state of affairs that is you and me:  “With this product, you can lose weight, with this one, you can gain muscle; if your breasts sag, our bra lifts them up; if you have wrinkles, this cream irons them out; if you’re sad, we have a pill that will make you happy; if you’re too happy, we have a pill that will bring you down; if you’re not as much of a man as you used to be, this pill will straighten you out (literally!).  And everyone who’s anyone has itunes, the iphone, and the ipad, am iclear?

And we participate in this maddening chatter unaware, telling our kids that in order to succeed they have to get the best grades, get into the right school, and get the right job.  We tell them that one day they must stop all this horsing around and get serious with their lives; we ask them who they are going to be when they grow up, warning them that life is all down hill after 22, declaring college the best four years of their lives; and finally, if they are lucky, they just might make something of themselves in this dog eat dog world.  It’s enough to stress you out completely – but of course there’s a pill that can fix that, too.

Is this how life really is?  Is our identity simply conditional and fragile?  Is who we are really defined by the things we own, our job status, and the social circles we run in?

The mystics, those saints and sages who saw through to the inner workings of reality, proclaimed something very different.   A little background here:  The word “mystic” comes from the Latin word, “mysterium”, from which we also get the word, mystery.  Thus, a mystic is one who sees into the mystery.  So what exactly did the mystics see?  And what does their vision of reality reveal about who and what we are?

Here’s what Thomas Merton said, after decades of meditation and contemplation:  “As if the sorrows and stupidities of the world could overwhelm me now that I realize what we all are.  I wish everyone could realize this, but there is no way of telling people they are all walking around shining like the sun.”

Shining like the sun.  That’s you.  He didn’t say, shining like the sun after you can afford the new electric Chevy Volt.  He didn’t say, shining like the sun after your bust gets lifted.  What he said was, right now, in this moment, with all of your imperfections, with all of your challenges in the temporal, with all of your worldly failures and successes, you are walking around shining like the sun!

Merton goes one step further with this concluding insight: “I am finally coming to the realization that my greatest ambition is to be what I already am.” Wait a minute.  What about worldly status and success and power?  Merton saw through all of that, and invites us to do the same.  Can you imagine?  What a lesson to embrace, to embody and even, to teach; to declare to our kids they don’t have to be someone, they already are someone.   Now the cynic will undoubtedly rise up and warn that this will poison our youth; they will be so inflated with their own identity, they will surely sit back and do nothing.  Quite the opposite is true.  This knowledge compels those it touches, Jesus, Gandhi, St. Francis, Mother Theresa, Rumi, and Hafiz, to walk with power, to use their talents for the good of all, without the drag of invented pressure to measure up to some arbitrary social standard.

You see, (and it is a matter of sight!), what we are telling ourselves, the command to succeed and be someone, is just a story; it’s a story based on expectations.   It’s temporal and finite.  It is not who you really are.  The Sufi mystic, Meera, wisely said: “You cannot play your role in time, until you know who you are in eternity.” And who you are is a drop in the ocean of divinity.  Inside you is starlight.  Inside you is the same infinite energy that created the universe.  As the modern mystic, Irwin Kula, knew, “Everything is god in drag.”

So the next time you’re told you need to be somebody, rest in the knowledge that you already are.  Hafiz implores us to wake up to this truth when he says: “I wish I could show you, when you are lonely or in darkness, the astonishing light of your own being.” Now what iphone or ipad, what present day pill or product can deliver that?

Tom’s First Blog Entry!

A lot of articles have been and will be written on I AM and my personal journey, each with a differing opinion on my message and lifestyle.  And while I respect each journalists’ or bloggers’ right to his or her opinion, I want to use this space as an unfiltered expression of who I AM and what I stand for, and to clarify some potential misunderstandings and/or inaccuracies.

–I’ve heard repeatedly that some believe my bike accident caused an instantaneous spiritual awakening which radically shifted my life and had me give away all my possessions.  As dramatic and movie worthy as this sounds, I assure you it was not the case.  The “awakening” so to speak, was much more gradual, taking place over a long period of time, with much consideration and contemplation.

The truth is, I had been on a quest for years, questioning what I had been told, seeking truth, reading the mystics and masters, and had woken up to principles that, when applied, step by step, began to change my life.  These changes involved simplifying my life, no longer flying privately, the move to the mobile home park, and giving away more money.  I also began experimenting with a new economic model that would govern how I would do business in a more balanced and equitable manner.  The goal for me had become unity and integrity, so when anyone looked in any drawer of my life, they would hopefully see a consistency of character rooted in compassion, creativity and love.

So what did the bike accident do exactly?  In facing my own death, and not wanting to die with these ideas inside of me, I was compelled to share my experience and the principles I had woken up to.   Simply put, the accident knocked me from my head to my heart, and gave me the courage to speak publicly about the principles that had inhabited me, and changed me, over the course of a decade.

–The LA Times wrote rather inaccurately, that I am a Hollywood dropout.  I am not a Hollywood dropout.  I have infinite respect for storytellers and consider the storytelling art sacred.  I will continue to do what I can to serve this art with passion and integrity.  As Rumi says, “there are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”  Stories, film, theatre, and the like, are some of those ways we kneel and kiss the ground.   And while I have not left the movie business, I have left the way I do business in the movie business.  Simply put, I no longer want to stand on top of the movie-making heap and declare that I am the most valuable, and therefore worth more.  I only want to take what I need and give the remainder to those in need.

–Many believe it’s impossible, or just downright crazy, that I have given much of my money away.  Well, I guess we’d have to define “much”, but yes, I have indeed given lots of money away to various worthy causes, and will continue to do so until I dismantle the spoils received from what I believe was my participation in a cancerous economic philosophy and game that I no longer wish to support.  St. Augustine said, “Determine what God has given you, and take from it what you need, the remainder is needed by others.”  That’s my philosophy in a nutshell, which is consistently reflected in nature.  But our culture encourages us to take as much as we can, to amass fortunes that sit idle in bank accounts while others starve (and nature is abused in the process!)  This is a fear-based philosophy that has us worrying more about our future than the needs of the present day, to the point that many of us, as Thoreau said, “make ourselves sick in order to lay up something for a sick day.”  I simply believe that my future problems (which is why we save money in the first place, just in case we get sick, or have no work, etc…) are trumped by some one else’s present need for food, shelter, medicine and/or education.  If that feared and dreaded “someday” comes, I will trust God and life that others will meet that need as I have tried to meet theirs.  (My belief is that in the future, such an act will not even be considered generous, but simply seen as normal and just.  After all, we call it bread for a reason; it goes stale if it isn’t used.  And who wouldn’t share their bread if they themselves already had their fill?)

Tom's First Blog Entry!

A lot of articles have been and will be written on I AM and my personal journey, each with a differing opinion on my message and lifestyle.  And while I respect each journalists’ or bloggers’ right to his or her opinion, I want to use this space as an unfiltered expression of who I AM and what I stand for, and to clarify some potential misunderstandings and/or inaccuracies.

–I’ve heard repeatedly that some believe my bike accident caused an instantaneous spiritual awakening which radically shifted my life and had me give away all my possessions.  As dramatic and movie worthy as this sounds, I assure you it was not the case.  The “awakening” so to speak, was much more gradual, taking place over a long period of time, with much consideration and contemplation.

The truth is, I had been on a quest for years, questioning what I had been told, seeking truth, reading the mystics and masters, and had woken up to principles that, when applied, step by step, began to change my life.  These changes involved simplifying my life, no longer flying privately, the move to the mobile home park, and giving away more money.  I also began experimenting with a new economic model that would govern how I would do business in a more balanced and equitable manner.  The goal for me had become unity and integrity, so when anyone looked in any drawer of my life, they would hopefully see a consistency of character rooted in compassion, creativity and love.

So what did the bike accident do exactly?  In facing my own death, and not wanting to die with these ideas inside of me, I was compelled to share my experience and the principles I had woken up to.   Simply put, the accident knocked me from my head to my heart, and gave me the courage to speak publicly about the principles that had inhabited me, and changed me, over the course of a decade.

–The LA Times wrote rather inaccurately, that I am a Hollywood dropout.  I am not a Hollywood dropout.  I have infinite respect for storytellers and consider the storytelling art sacred.  I will continue to do what I can to serve this art with passion and integrity.  As Rumi says, “there are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”  Stories, film, theatre, and the like, are some of those ways we kneel and kiss the ground.   And while I have not left the movie business, I have left the way I do business in the movie business.  Simply put, I no longer want to stand on top of the movie-making heap and declare that I am the most valuable, and therefore worth more.  I only want to take what I need and give the remainder to those in need.

–Many believe it’s impossible, or just downright crazy, that I have given much of my money away.  Well, I guess we’d have to define “much”, but yes, I have indeed given lots of money away to various worthy causes, and will continue to do so until I dismantle the spoils received from what I believe was my participation in a cancerous economic philosophy and game that I no longer wish to support.  St. Augustine said, “Determine what God has given you, and take from it what you need, the remainder is needed by others.”  That’s my philosophy in a nutshell, which is consistently reflected in nature.  But our culture encourages us to take as much as we can, to amass fortunes that sit idle in bank accounts while others starve (and nature is abused in the process!)  This is a fear-based philosophy that has us worrying more about our future than the needs of the present day, to the point that many of us, as Thoreau said, “make ourselves sick in order to lay up something for a sick day.”  I simply believe that my future problems (which is why we save money in the first place, just in case we get sick, or have no work, etc…) are trumped by some one else’s present need for food, shelter, medicine and/or education.  If that feared and dreaded “someday” comes, I will trust God and life that others will meet that need as I have tried to meet theirs.  (My belief is that in the future, such an act will not even be considered generous, but simply seen as normal and just.  After all, we call it bread for a reason; it goes stale if it isn’t used.  And who wouldn’t share their bread if they themselves already had their fill?)