Kindess and Honesty
By Tom Olson
Training in the martial arts is such an interesting, all-encompassing method of study. It brings about lessons in a way that are profoundly important, at a level that few other methods can attain. What it teaches you encompasses life and death. It brings forward our fears by preparing us for them, it brings forward our mortality by showing it to us, and it generates correct morality by showing us its effectiveness in application. Truth in movement is truth in word, and true martial arts training brings this to the surface by stressing two very important moral traits. These two traits are Honesty and Kindness.
Honesty is such an important part of martial and moral training, and without it, we are stuck in a quagmire of doubt and misunderstanding. We can only know our true ability in any endeavor by first knowing where we stand in its understanding. So in every step of life and training, honesty is required. Honesty with ourselves reveals our true nature, the one that often hides behind the dishonest front of the ego. Honesty with others creates an understanding of truth, the ability to see it, and the ability to be open with everyone. Life hidden behind the ego only clouds what is in front of you, your view of things as they come at you is so very important, particularly if it is an arm, hidden behind a fist. So if we are honest with ourselves and others, honesty is then revealed. We begin to see our ego, and those belonging to others as simply a façade placed to make the true self look different than what it is. Much the same way one places bushes and flowers in a front yard, so that it will take away from attention of a house in need of cleaning.
Lao Tzu is quoted as saying:
Treat those who are good with goodness,
And also treat those who are not good with goodness. Thus goodness is attained.
Be honest to those who are honest,
And be also honest to those who are not honest. Thus honesty is attained.
In order to excel at any endeavor, particularly martial arts, one must be honest at all times. Because by being honest, we can see situations as they are, not as we would like them to be. We see where our weakness lies, and we fix it. We see where our enemy’s weakness lies, and we can be honest enough with ourselves to know that it is best to either exploit it, or simply show them the weakness, thereby honestly removing that person as an enemy and creating a friend through kindness.
When we look honestly at ourselves, we perhaps see things that we do not like. Things that our ego may have been covering up for years, it is then that we must be kind to that person. That person behind the façade is a true person, one who deserves kindness and love. One that will save your life should a violent response ever be needed to keep you breathing and above ground. Only through kindness with one’s true inner self can we come to grips with who we are, and love that person. And only through kindness can we then be happy with not only ourselves, but the situation that we are currently in.
Looking outward, kindness allows those who would be enemies to relax in front of you, it allows those who are on the fence about how they feel about you to then truly like you. And it allows those who truly like you to be completely relaxed around you, and be honest in all levels with you. You see, kindness, like honesty, is brought about by being kind. Age old adages about how “we reap what we sew” and “what goes around comes around” are steeped in truth
Another quote from Lao Tzu states:
Kindness in words creates confidence.
Kindness in thinking creates profoundness.
Kindness in giving creates love.
Being honest with people will not always reap an immediate positive response, even those who you are kind with while being honest. Honesty with yourself will tell you this. But what it will do is show your integrity and allow that person to trust you for your honesty. Ultimately we trust those who are honest, particularly those who are kind in their approach. True life also tells us that there are a huge number of people who like to hide behind their ego, who want to live a lie that is propagated by dishonesty, and never even try to see past the veil they have placed over their eyes. Know who those people are, take note, be honest with yourself to know who they are, and move on.
Treat them all with kindness. As your kindness will make it possible to become friends.
As Abraham Lincoln once said:
Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends with them?
So in conclusion, we can only truly advance in our martial training and application by applying honesty and kindness to our regimen. Look for ways to show kindness always, and always be honest with yourself as to why you are doing so. Be honest with yourself and be kind to the person that lies beneath the ego. Train that person to be a good, kind, and truthful person who sees what life throws at him or her for what it is. Reactions to it will then be appropriate, timely, and effective. Learn from your mistakes by being honest with yourself that you did indeed make them, then be kind enough to forgive yourself so you can learn from them. A true master then can see through veils of deception, react to them appropriately, is honest enough to know what the best recourse is, and then applies themselves to the best of their ability.