The People Who Never Evolve

By Scott Shaw

Life is a process of personal evolution. We are born, we experience, we are taught, and we continue to pass from birth to death; growing in both understanding and in wisdom. Many of us have done foolish things when we were young. When we look back to those times, we shake our heads and question, “How could I have ever been so unwise?” But, we have grown, we have evolved, we have become better people—we took a long hard look at our self, our life, we studied our existence, we learned from our mistakes, and we emerged as a better person refusing to ever make the same mistakes again.

Not everyone is like this, however. There are some people who never change—they never evolve. They are so lost in the realms of misplaced self-adsorption that they never take the time to learn from their mistakes and to understand that bad thoughts, bad words, and bad deeds not only do nothing to help the overall evolution of this world but they, in fact, hold them back, (as a person), from ever achieving anything of substance with their life.

Having been involved in the martial arts for over fifty years, I have watched as many so-called martial artists have played the game of attempting to make themselves, their teacher, their school, or their system look like something more by diminishing the accomplishments of others. Throughout these years I have watched as most of these people have grown into something more—became something better and have left this foolishness behind. But, this is not the case of everyone. Every now and then I will encounter a person, years later, and discover that they are still locked into the mindset of believing that it somehow makes them look like something more if they say something negative or bad (be it truth or a lie) about someone else.  I forever find this very-very sad.  The martial arts are about making someone a better; more whole, more complete person. The martial arts should never be diminished to the level of personal attack—motived by individual ego. This type or behavior destroys the true essence of the martial arts. It robs them of their true beauty, as this type of behavior is simply motivated by a very sad and low level of human consciousness.

Having been involved in the film business for the past three decades, I often encountered this type of behavior, as well. The one thing I will say is that the film business is an industry motivated by ego. So, unlike the martial arts, which should solely be about focusing on the higher self, the motivation for this behavior can be more understood in this arena of life.  This is not to say it is right or good, but it can be explained.

The fact is, it is easy to find a reason for criticism in the film industry. You may not like a performance, a storyline, or a style of cinematography. From this, judgments are made.

Certainly, the enlightened filmmaker does not follow this path. As a true filmmaker, they understand that each project and/or actor is art onto itself.  The true filmmaker understands that whether or not they personally like a specific project, that project is simply a process of giving to the great whole of the art form. Thus, judgment is put aside.

But, as in all things in life, the low-minded, the unaware, the egotistical, and the unaccomplished are generally the ones who are screaming the loudest.

Over the recent years I have found myself discussing the internet and how it relates to human consciousness quite frequently. The internet is the defining factor of this period of history. As such, it has become the conduit for both all that is good and all that is bad with humankind.  From this, many have found a voice where in times gone past they would have had none.

Here, on this internet, people can say anything about anyone with little consequence. Most hide behind screen names so no one even knows who or what they truly are. To me, this simply seems like a coward’s soapbox. People scream as loud as they can; scream about anyone or anything but they do not even have the personal level of Self-Honor to tell the world who is truly saying what, what they have accomplished in their life that gives the right to voice an opinion, and why they are saying it in the first place.

This brings us back to the entire point of this discourse. Most of us evolve as we pass through life. We become more, we become better, we develop a deeper understanding of life and, from this, we possess less unfounded critical judgment. We, through our own personal accomplishments and our own mental evolution, become more whole onto ourselves. Instead of issuing critiques, criticism, and deformation, we reach out a helping hand. We want to make the world a better place. We want to help those that need help. We do not want to hurt anyone in anyway for any reason. But, the sad truth of life is, some people never evolve. They have become so lost in their interpersonal anger, their sense of lack of fulfillment, their lack of personal accomplishment that they remain lost in the mind of attack. From this, all that they do is attack, especially when they can hide behind the wall of perceived anonymity.

For those of us of who walk the path of consciousness, we cannot allow ourselves to be drawn into their web of misplace anger—anger that should be focused on themselves for behaving in an uncivilized manner but, instead, is broadcast to the world. These people are out there and you will, more than likely, encounter them. When you do, the best course of action is understanding and forgiveness. Forgive them, because if they were not a truly lost person they would not be doing what they do.

At each stage of our life we all need took at ourselves. We need to view what we have done: whom we have helped and whom we have hurt. We need to study our own personal trajectory. Where are we going in our life? What will be the consequences of the actions we are currently performing?

Many people hide from the truth of their life. They hide as many do on the internet. They believe the actions issued by a screen name are not true and their will be no ensuing karma leveled at them because of these seemingly anonymous deeds. This is, however, the explanation of the unaware and the unenlightened.

Everything you do sets everything else in motion. Whether people know who you truly are or they only see a screen name is virtually irreverent. What you have done is what you have done. What you have said is what you have said. If what you have done or what you have said does not produce immediate positive reaction your world will be negatively influenced. This is why so many people fail in life, because what they are doing is not adding to the greater good.

People fall prey to the addiction that can be had from the adrenaline of unleashing negative emotions outwards. But, take a moment and study that emotion. What are you experiencing when you embrace that negative emotion? Is it positive? No, it is anger and it is rage. Does anything positive ever come from of anger and rage? No, it does not.

Now, think about this, if you have spread that anger and rage outwards, perhaps on the internet, think how many people are encountering your anger and your rage. What do you think will come from that? What you have done is set a negative course of events into motion and those negative events may be wide spanning. Yes, maybe your ego was stoked because you said or did something to someone or something that you do not like. But, that is you unleashing your personal judgment—which is egotism. And, we all know what happens to those who base their life upon egotism. Thus, ultimately, what have you done? At best, you found a moment of ego stimulation and a momentary adrenaline rush. In the long run, however, you set a course of negative events into motion which will, sooner-or-later, all come back to haunt you.

Now, to the evolved person, they will immediately understand and agree with this.  To the un-evolved they will argue in their mind and defend their right to say or do anything that they feel like. …The world and its people be damned.

But now, for those of you who behave in this manner, let’s look at your life. Is your life all that you hoped it would be? I would bet that it is not. And, that is probably why you are embracing your un-evolved mindset. You are angry at what you are not.

Again let’s look at you. You can turn this around. Yes, it can be addicting to spew out negativity. But, if you are not living the life that you want to live, then what is that addiction giving you? Just like all additions, it is harming you. Stop it! Be more! Do more! Undo the negativity you have created and redo it with the positive!

Your life can be more. It can be what you want it to be. But, you have to make it that way by not allowing yourself to be seduced by the negative and doing only positive things.

Copyright © 2016—All Rights Reserved

No part of this article may be used without the expressed permission of Scott Shaw or his representatives.

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Zen: Conscious Interaction or Interaction Consciousness

By Scott Shaw

Life is about consciousness. Life is about consciously living. The more consciously you live your life, the more refined understanding you develop about the inner working of yourself, human kind, the universe, and god.

Most people spend their entire lifetime driven by unchecked emotions and desires. They run from wanting to anger about not getting what they want. When they get, they are happy for a moment but then they want something more and from this they are no longer content. Thus, they are again driven to disharmony and rage about not having all that they desire. Though this is a common thread that runs through the life of many/most people, this is the ideal example of a life defined by lack of consciousness as there is nothing conscious about desire, wanting, and rage.

Everyone wants what they want. This is an element of the human condition. This being said, the consciousness individual, the person who walks the path of consciousness, does not let desire and/or emotions control their actions and reactions to the world around them. For if you do, that means you believe yourself to be the center of this universe; which you are not. If you do live your life by this code, however, by doing so, you do whatever you deem necessary to get what you want. But, by living your life in this manner, you injure the lives of all those around you. This is never the path of consciousness.

Many people are falsely feed the belief that if they ask for forgiveness, if they do something good, then their wrongs are righted. No, this is incorrect. Yes, at some point an individual who has wronged others, driven by the own emotions and desires, may experience remorse for their actions, but the only doing is the undoing of anything bad you have done but this is impossible in this Life Space. What you have done is what you have done and though you may seek forgiveness for your actions; your asking forgiveness from a religious elder or some divine entity never can change what you have done. Thus, the person, persons, or the Life Space you have damaged, remains damaged.

People wanting gives birth to lying. People wanting gives birth to damaging actions. People wanting gives birth to bad behavior. People wanting never gives birth to refined consciousness.

In this world people seek. They seek possessions, they seek position, they seek power, some even seek enlightenment. But, the common factor and the incorrect element to this equation is, “The seeking.” For at the very root of seeking arises the desire for things to be different than they already are. At the very root of seeking is born the concept of unhappiness due to not having. From this, all the damage to others, all the damage to the earth, all the damage to the all and the everything is given birth to.

At the root of Life Betterment is consciousness—focused human consciousness. As humans, all we can be is humans. As humans, we are defined by being human. This being said, it is the person who chooses the path of refining their consciousness that consciously eliminated as many of the negative obstacles of human existence as possible; namely: uncontrolled desire equaling rage, equally lying, equally power-grabbing, and power-tripping. From this, the damage unleashed onto others is minimized and the world becomes just a slightly better place.

In this pages of this book life, life occurrences, and actions will be detailed and discussed. From this, each who read these words may be able to learn from experiences that they did not have to live through but were able to witness; lived by the life of others. From this, new understandings of better way to live life and react to life may be understood. From this, a more conscious world may be born where you, personally, may have the chance to become a more wholly fulfilled and conscious Live-er in this Life Space.

Copyright © 2009 — All Rights Reserved

Lose Your Identity, Erase Your History

By Scott Shaw

The majority of people desire to become SOMETHING. Early in their life they see those who are respected for doing what they do and follow the path of seeking that same admiration. Ask yourself, “Do you seek to become nothing, to be seen as nothing, to be unknown? Or, do you hope for something more for YOURSELF?”

People do all that they can to achieve. Though most never find the pathway to find their ultimate dream, they, none-the-less, try to rise to a position of respect and authority within their place of employment, in their community, or at their school.

Most people eventually find the road to marrying and having a family. At that point, the focus of their life quite often shifts from desires for Personal-Self to desires for their child and/or children. “I want the best for my child. I want them to have a better life than I have had.” How often have you heard those words spoken?

Having a child is not a bad thing. Having desires for one’s child is not a bad thing. In fact, having a child often takes the egocentric focus off of the individual allowing them to rise from a life of self-centered thinking to a life of caring and giving. How many of the people you have met, who do not have children, are truly caring and giving people? Most, are simply lost in a Life-Pattern of selfish thought, thinking only about themselves.

Life-Patterns are instigated by the individual. What one does now leads to the next set of available options in one’s life. As such, the desire(s) that are pursued defines the entire evolution of a person’s life. Though desires may change and what a person does may set a new course of options and availability into motion in a person’s life, everything you desire, and everything you do to gain that desire forever defines your life as your life is one continuous emulation of who you want to be leading to what you are.

Think about the actions you have taken to achieve your desires and your dreams. Have they hurt anyone? Have they hurt you? Are you proud of them? Do they make you ashamed? Do they make you happy or do they make you sad? Remember, you wanted something, you went about achieving that something, thus, it was you who set your ALL into motion by wanting what you wanted, desiring what you desired, which means you are personally responsible for all the goodness and/or all the damage you created in that pursuit. If you hurt anyone in that pursuit you will be forever bound to that person as you did what you did and their life evolution was changed because of it. Remember that.

The thing about personal achievement is that most of the achieved have not cared about their personal effect. They only think about themselves and achieving their desire and thus, the thought of damage to others rarely, if ever, comes to mind. As much as the person of consciousness will say, “This selfish mindset is not the attitude one should possess,” this has been one of the key traits of humanity since its evolution to the realms of thoughtful-self. People only think about themselves and what they want!

Now that this has been established, let’s turn this scenario around a little bit. What if you desired nothing? What if you wanted to be nothing? What if you did not care about your position or your legacy? How would you be feeling right now? What would you have done differently in your life? What would you not be regretting? Who would you have not hurt? Who would you have not been hurt by?

If you did not want to be something, if you did not do the things you have done to be that SOME-THING how would your life have evolved differently?

The fact is, in life we can never go back in time. We never get a re-do. But, what we can do is to become conscious enough to look deeply into the patterns of life and learn from not only our evolutionary movement but the evolutionary movements of all those around us. We can open our eye.

If you can take a moment and step away from yourself and your desire(s) long enough to truly witness what is going on with your life, the lives of those you interact with, and the lives of the Greater-All, then you have the chance to become more than your limited, selfish self. Instead of possessing a desire for your life to be some idealized ego-driven machine, adored by the masses, you have the chance to truly do something good for the world by becoming something that no one else can see or worship, a True Being not driven by ego and desire.

Most people don’t want this. Most people don’t understand this. Most people if they heard about it simply dismiss it as nonsense. They do this because they are so locked into the realms of their own identity, of their desire to become what they desire, that they are too lost to understand that they will never achieve what their mind sees. Why? Because what is, “Out There,” is never “In Here,” it is all an illusion. What you see other people BE-ING is never what you can BE because you are not them, just as they are not you. What you see out there is a projection of an idealized reality you have fantasied in your mind. It is not real. At best, it is only what you hope it will be.

By comprehending this you allow yourself to realize that all that you hope to be, all the steps you take to get there, are, at best, simply your projected desires where you attempt to live a reality that may never be had. Thus, your desires to BE are nothing more than a Self-Instigated Illusion.

Knowing this, you have one of two choices to make. …Two choices that now you can make very consciously. One, are you going to continue on the path you are on, doing what you are doing, damaging who what you are damaging? Two, are you going to let go and simply BE? By being, you become free. Your desires are let go so you create nothing: no bad, no good. From here, you can be happy and whole within yourself. From here, no one is hurt, thus, you are not re-hurt. You are complete free and not trapped by the hurt that arises from not having what you want.

Freedom is always a better perfection that a life bound by desire. You are you. YOU is all YOU will ever be.

Do you want to be happy in your freedom? Or, do you want to be tormented by what you desire?

Copyright © 2016—All Rights Reserved

Zen Mindfulness and Can You Remain Mindful When the World is in Chaos Around You?

By Scott Shaw

I just came upon this article I wrote for a magazine in 1998 and thought it might be helpful.

There is the old adage that it is easy to be holy in a monastery. It is much more difficult to be holy on the streets of the modern world. In addition to this statement being very true, it is also an important factor to keep in mind on your path to mindfulness.

Born in Los Angeles, California, I have been drawn to the spirit of the driven mother ocean as far back as I can remember. Due to this calling, I have lived near her shoreline for virtually my entire adult life.

Having lived in a particular area of Southern California for many years, I would occasionally stroll past this one particular expansive condominium building on my evening walks and think, “What a perfect place to live. How will I ever be able to afford to live in that building?”

As if a jokingly given gift was presented to me from the great beyond, a few days after my mother left her physical body, I was looking though the newspaper and found a unit for rent in the building. Though not cheap, it was affordable. Ecstatic, I applied, was accepted, and moved in.

Looking out of my windows I see the expansive Pacific Ocean. Listening, I continually hear the sound of the divine mother’s waves.

Though a seemingly idealistic environment, the building is inhabited by a large number of very wealthy people, including an infamous African-American television evangelist who during the 1960’s and 1970’s milked an untold number of elderly people out of their life savings—promising heaven if they contributed, hell if they did not. Hand-in-Hand with this affluence comes a definitive problem; the individual units of the building are continually being remolded: floors retiled, carpets torn up and replaced with hardwood floors, design alterations, rooms expanded, and so on… Whereas most of the inhabitants leave for their plush offices or on shopping sprees early in the A.M., before the constructions gets underway, I am left bombarded by a seemingly nonstop barrage of sawing, pounding, and generalized annoyance.

Perhaps the most telling thing about this situation is that during periods of silence, I fall in love with my surroundings. Then, each time I have a project to complete, it seems new construction begins. Thus, I am kept from the peace and solitude and seemingly forced to the necessity of mental focus to the degree where my creativity can be channeled while noise constantly rattles my concentration.

Initially, I became very upset at the noise. I would blame people’s desire and vanity, (including my own), karma, god, and anything and anybody else around me. “How can I be creative with all this noise,” I would scream.

Somewhere along the pathway I realize, however, that you cannot be reliant upon silence if you wish to remain mindful. Mindfulness cannot be defined by a quiet, passive environment. You must be able to focus your mind to the degree that you can transcend the limitations of the physical world. If you cannot do this, your life, and particularly your mindfulness, will be constantly controlled by your external environment.

Though the noise continues, even as I write these passages, I have been able to create some of my most important work, to date, while living in this building and living through all of the construction turmoil. At some future time, I may move away from this building. For now, I use it as a karmic guru, teaching me to transcend the domination of the material world.

If you choose to walk the path of mindfulness, you must do the same. For if you are only mindful when things are going the way you want them to go, you are not mindful at all. You must be mindful in noise, in chaos, in traffic jams, and in the midst of a heated argument. To do this, you must develop the ability to step back from yourself and remain free of judgment in a world dominated by individualistic desires.

Stepping back, seeing the truth in the chaos, and the perfection in the absurd, this is Zen mindfulness.

Copyright 1998—All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

Coffee House Zen

By Scott Shaw

Here is a flashback article for you written for a magazine in the 1997/1998 period of time.

A friend of mine and myself were at this coffee house in Venice, California last Saturday evening. We were sitting around, taking about life, love, god, and things in general. These two girls came up and sat down next to us. My friend, unattached, became quite exited. This was especially the case when one of the girls leaned over to me and said, “You look like a Buddhist.” I laughed, because what does a Buddhist look like?

My friend immediately became lost in conversation with the girls. Shortly thereafter, the one who had spoken to me pulls out a cigarette and begins to smoke. She looks over at me, “I know, I know, a Buddhist shouldn’t smoke. I’m bad.” My infatuated friend immediately exclaims, “Don’t worry about it. Do whatever you want.”

It must be understood, however, “The do whatever you want,” mentality works fine in the realms of the material world for in that space of perception you can justify your actions and assign them to the mindset of, “I’m getting what I want. It makes me feel the way I want to feel.”  The realm of a Zen is very different, however, as the mindset of, “I’m getting what I want. It makes me feel the way I want to feel,” is completely adverse to that of mindfulness.

The definitions of mindfulness and desire oftentimes becomes blurred in the modern world. The reason for this is because of the fact that within the scope of spirituality there are many conflicting teachings. Some tell you that you can only be holy if you adhere to a very strict vegetarian diet, drink only water and herbal tea, associate with only those of like spiritual mind, and so on. Other teachings detail that you can do whatever you want as long as you do it consciously.

Due to these conflicting teaching, many people become very confused on the path to consciousness. On one hand, they know they are drawn to the spiritual path. On the other hand, they are surrounded and influenced by materialism. As such, they are driven to perform decidedly worldly actions and not only find justifications for them, but realizing that they are doing something not good for their body, their consciousness, the environment, or the world on the whole; criticize themselves.  None-the-less, the actions are still performed.

This is the place where many people fall off of the spiritual path.  Due to the ease in finding associates who do not share the like mind of spirituality, the world draws one to the dark side.

So, what is the person walking the spiritual path, who is surround by the worldly, supposed to do? If we look at life in regard to mindfulness, the question that must be pondered is quite simple, “Is what you are doing leading you to a higher state of mind?” If the answer is, “Yes,” then the action may be mindful. If it is not, you are not walking on the path to higher consciousness.

As the actions you take in life are always based upon personal choice—the choices you make sets you on the road to higher consciously, universal understanding, a healthier, happier world, and enlightenment, or they do not. Thus, all things that occur in your life; all the people you meet, and the things that you decide to do in association with those people you meet—all of the outcomes that occur due to the decisions you make are based upon one single choice. What is your one single choice? As that one single choice will come to define your life.

Copyright © 1998—All Rights Reserved.

 

Swamiji and Me

By Scott Shaw

As you may or may not know, I am a bit of a bibliophile. I collect books. My main quest is for rare Eastern Metaphysical and spiritually based writings. In any case, I came upon a book being offered online created around photographs of my teacher, Swami Satchidananda, titled, Sri Swami Satchidananda: Portrait of a Modern Sage. I was drawn to the book for two reasons, it was signed and it was a hardcover copy which is apparently hard to come by. It was bit pricy, but whatever, I bought it. The fact is, I never even knew about this book. It was published in 1996 but I guess I just never came across a copy.

In any case, I ordered it and it arrived. I unpack it and I opened it up to a random page. Damn, there I am! A photograph with me, the L.A. crew, and Gurudev on page 135. I was both extremely happy and shocked. I obviously knew about this photograph and I clearly remember the day it was taken. But wow, what a flood of memories.

Swami Satchidananda and his teachings were a very essential part of my adolescent years, early adult years, and my spiritual upbringing. I have written about experiences I had with him in various other places, most notably in the book, Zen: Tales from the Journey. But, to be cast back like this, it was quite a happy shock.

Above that photograph is another photograph where it is the back of the disciple’s heads, as Gurudev was in the foreground. My head is there too. But, you’d only know it if you knew what the back of my long blonde-haired head looked like back then. 🙂 That photo was taken during one of the very intimate satsangs we would have with him on Saturday nights at the ashram in Santa Barbara when he was in town.

I was Swami Satchidananda’s soundman for a number of years. Back then, spirituality was very high on the minds of the masses. (Not now). So, he used to give a lot of lectures. I would pack my equipment up in my ’76 Dodge van and travel to, set up, and recorder the words he spoke. Man, so many memories from those experiences… He was a wise teacher. At these small satsangs, however, he didn’t need a mic. I did record some of them for posterity but not all. Obviously, the one portrayed in the photograph, I did not.

I really think if you truly hope to learn anything from a teacher you need to develop a personal relationship with them. You really need to be close enough to them to come to understand who they truly are. From this, you gain the complex understanding of what it takes to be a good human being, while remaining centered on spirituality. Too many people, I believe, cast their faith to those that are unmeetable as they are no longer in their human body. From this, myth is born. Is myth the truth? Usually not.

A couple of pages deeper in the book, page 138, if you look really hard you can see me again in and amongst the disciples. It was outside on a rainy day and it was the inauguration of the Santa Barbara ashram. My face is partially blocked by another disciple but my IYI (integral Yoga Institute) friend Hari is behind me, Uma is a bit in front. Shiva was in the photo as was Jadhana, and the list goes on. The funny thing is, at least to me, is that in the photograph all eyes are on Gurudev but I was obviously saying something to the girl I had brought with me, Carol. A girl who I had met at the Sufi Dances and was totally infatuated with at the time. I thought if there was a woman worth giving up bramacharya for, she was it. 🙂 I joked to a person I showed the book to, “All eyes were on the guru but my eyes were on the girl.” That’s funny now but back then I was seriously devolved to the formal spiritual lifestyle. If you feel like it, you can read a story about that day, and my interaction with that girl and the spiritual group, also in the book, Zen: Tales from the Journey.

Those were good and important times for me…

The last time I actually interacted with Gurudev was when I was twenty-four. By this point I had fallen away from the IYI as I felt the people in control of the group had become a little bit too full of themselves. I had gone to India, did what I did there, had returned and was going to grad school. It had been a few years but, out of the blue, I received a call from Padma asking me if I would/could do the sound for a lecture Gurudev was giving. I accepted.

I got the equipment together, brought my beautiful Spanish via Cuba girlfriend with me, (yes, I had left bramacharya behind), and it was an overall great experience. It had been a few years since I had seen Gurudev by that point and he kept joking, “Who’s this, who’s this,” in regard to me. The day went as the day went. I never saw him in person again.

It was a great memory churner to discover this book. I am sure that there are a lot of other photographs out there of me in association with Gurudev—photographs I will probably never see. Me, I never carried a camera back then. Just living in the moment and all… But, the memories are there.

From my point of view, most people just pass through their life, grabbing at whatever they can to keep themselves in a state of unsecured momentary happiness. They move from one thing to the next, one desire to the next, attempting to hold on to something that they cannot define. Few people attempt to find deeper meaning. I think that is sad. I believe that you must first know yourself, then study yourself, removing as many obstacles and bad qualities from yourself as possible, and then move forward into the greater MORE. How you do this, is your choice. For me, at least in my early years, it was defined by Swami Satchidanada and the Sufi Order.

Life is a funny thing. But, if we do not attempt to make ourselves more and better and do good things for other people, what does it all mean?

Copyright © 2016 — All Rights Reserved.

This articel can also be found on scottshaw.com @ Swamji and Me

 

The Kris Derrig Les Paul

By Scott Shaw

I have noticed that there has been a lot of discussion about the evolution of the Kris Derrig Les Paul on the Internet. Much of this discussion is speculation and incorrect. As such, I thought I would write a few words on the subject as I was an actual friend of Kris.’ I knew him when he was happy and healthy and I sadly watched him fade away into sickness and death.

For the record, Kris’ name is sometimes spelled Chris in the media and on the Internet. But, this is incorrect.

The Kris Derrig Les Paul
The story of Kris’ Les Paul creations, (in California), occurred when he was hired in the mid 1980s by my long-time friend, Jim Foote, (who is every bit the luthier that Kris was). At that time, customizing and creating custom guitars was a common order of business. Jim, who was then working on guitars for many of the top rock stars of the era, hired Kris to help him refinish and customize guitars. In fact, many superstar bands of the era, such as Ratt, Great White, Dokken, and Guns and Roses, commonly rehearsed at Jim’s shop, the Music Works, which had a rehearsal studio set up in the back building. From this, many of the bands had much of their guitar work done at the Music Works in association with their rehearsals.

Kris’ Les Pauls have become somewhat legendary in the industry as he only made a few before his untimely passing, from lung cancer, at the age of thirty-two. Most notably, Slash plays one, as does Lenny Kravitz. There are only about six or seven other California made Kris Derrig Les Pauls out there that I am aware of. When he was making them at the Music Works, he had more than one client, who would further age the guitar, once it was created, and then sell it as an original 1958 Gibson Les Paul. So, some of his creation may never be found — as they are thought to be a true Gibson Les Paul. But, for the aficionado, if you look at the routing and the pickup cavities, Kris created them slightly different from the Gibsons of the late 1950s.

In addition to building a Les Paul for me, Kris also worked on and refinished a number of my guitars during this same period of time.

The 1960 Kris Derrig Les Paul
The history of the guitar he made for me began when Kris had some free time and began to create a new Les Paul to sell — as he was always in need of money. In association with making guitars and customizing others, he was busy converting a vintage Pontiac Tempest into a GTO. Each week he would go to the pick-a-part junk yard seeking parts for his automotive creation. One afternoon, at about four o’clock, he called me up. He had found a part he really needed. I forget what it was. But, he needed money fast. $950.00 to be exact. This is what he asked me to pay him for the Les Paul, though he normally charged in excess of $1,500.00. I went to the bank and gave him the money later that afternoon.

As it was still not complete, I wanted Kris to take the guitar in a slightly different direction from the other Les Pauls he had crated while at the Music Works. So, I brought him a set of, “Patent Applied For,” gold Grover tuning keys that I had laying around, a set of Gibson PAFs with gold posts and pickup covers, and a vintage gold Gibson ABR bridge. He finished the guitar the next week, grabbing some of the remaining needed parts from the wall of the Music Works, which annoyed Jim. “Someone has to pay me for those parts!” I guess it was Kris, because it wasn’t me.

Kris made the guitar with the inspiration of the 1960 Gibson Les Paul. The neck is thin like a 1960 Les Paul and the Serial Number reflects 1960 Gibson. All of Kris’ other Les Pauls are based on the late 1950s Les Pauls, which makes the one he created for me a very unique piece of Kris’ heritage.

When Kris created the guitar he tried to match the sunburst of the 1960 Les Paul that he saw in books, but the color was somewhat off. I knew this because I owned an actual 1960 Gibson Les Paul. In the early 1990s, long after Kris’ passing, I had Jim Foote refinish it for me. He did a great job and matched 1960 Gibson coloring perfectly. He then let it hang in his shop for a couple of years, as he was distracted by other projects. Though I would have preferred to have it put together, the time did sun-age the finish perfectly.

And, that is the story of the creation of the 1960 Kris Derrig Les Paul.

Mostly, Kris was a great guy and a close friend. He has been missed since his passing over twenty years ago. He was one of those unique individuals who left this place we call LIFE way too soon.

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