The Freedom of Honesty

July 2016


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Philosopher, scholar, and martial artist Bruce Lee wrote, “To see a thing uncolored by one’s own personal preferences and desires is to see it in its own pristine simplicity.” For martial artists ancient traditions steeped in principles have made truth and honesty fairly concrete notions. Being honest means rising above our lower human instincts and taking oneself-one’s needs, fears, agendas-out of a situation, then looking closely and clearly at what is left.

No examination of honesty would itself be terribly honest if it didn’t acknowledge the role of dishonesty in our lives. Dishonesty can protect us from pain, whether it is the pain of seeing a loved one with hurt feelings, or the pain of acknowledging our own imperfections. Dishonesty, particularly when a trauma has been suffered or a difficult concept presents itself, can seem to help us minimize potential damage to our psyches. It can seem to help us weather emotional storms.

July 2016 Newsletter Freedom of Honesty 1

(Bruce Lee art by Sensei Juan Carlos Casais)

The danger comes when we are unable to let go of the protective subterfuge of dishonesty, when the fear of what we are shielding ourselves from becomes so strong we must remain hidden in deceptions. There we are trapped, not only have we misrepresented things to others, but we must now work to maintain the illusions we have created.

So how can we get closer to embracing the ideal of honesty Bruce Lee speaks of? How do we embrace honesty when it may hurt? How do we reap the benefits of knowing that we have been truthful, and have nothing to hide from others or from ourselves?

July 2016 Newsletter Freedom of Honesty 2

(Winning a tournament is proof that your Sensei have been honest with you about your progress as a Martial Artist)

Here are some points to consider:

Be objective: Look at the bigger picture. If you don’t think about your opinion of something, what changes in the way you perceive it?

Think critically: Question what you see, hear, and feel. Dare to dig a little more deeply into the question of why events have unfolded as they have.

Be responsible: Be sure to examine the role you have played in things, whether passively or actively. There is no quicker way to doom yourself to repeating mistakes, or missing out on triumphs, than failing to consider the consequences, positive or negative, of your actions and attitudes.