You cannot see the true mind in intentional actions but in those that happen out of the corner of your eye, when the guard is down and conscious thought is absent. Consciously, people can act a certain way to convince you of their intentions – whether based in truth or not. This is often true in the beginning of any relationship, where you act a certain way not because you are lying but because you are convincing yourself, and others, of who you wish to be.
Thoughts are fleeting so don’t take them too seriously. However, thoughts that are given attention or spoken often enough can take root. I have had fleeting thoughts that I recognize as unhealthy and immediately replace them with a healthier version…I do not entertain them, even in a negative way. I don’t feed those thoughts. Your thoughts do not define you so « don’t believe everything you think » since it is just your minds way of testing new ideas.
Having said that, you do have thoughts that have taken root. Sometimes they are based in what you think you know or have learned; things that have happened to you in the past, building a lack of trust; or a belief that was passed from previous generations. You may not even know you believe these things until they are challenged. In the past I have taught a student a correction and they immediately go back to the old way. They are not ready to believe the correction because the old way feels right. This is the mind that you can read through watching the actions.
Now that we have spoken of thoughts let’s move on to deeds. Again, I am not speaking of deliberate actions. Actions can be like perfume, used to cover up a stench. There is a story of a student that polished their sword every time the teacher walked by, but never when they were not watching. They polish the sword to impress the teacher not to do their duty, this is not correct action. If not careful both the student and the teacher will think that the mind of the student is diligent, and yes, both can be fooled for a time yet when the sword rusts from lack of regular polishing the mind will be revealed. This is an example of the connection between thoughts and deeds.
As a teacher I see the hollow act as evidence of what is happening inside. Maybe the student is excited to impress the teacher, maybe they are not aware that the polishing of the sword needs to be done regularly, maybe they are lazy and hope to rise up without effort. The unconscious action is the fruit that grows from the seed of thought. My teacher, Sigung Yamanaka, had a top student that betrayed him and I asked when he knew of the betrayal. My teacher replied, « When he failed to remove his shoes in my house, I knew I had lost his respect ». This was not a deliberate act by the student, yet a product of his true thoughts.
How about words? Have you ever heard someone say one thing and do another? The truth is in what they are doing. This disconnection between words and action shows the words are false. The funny part is the person might not even know this is happening and think the words are true. The goal is to align your actions with your words. The real story is in the words between the words, the conversations no one is listening to, and the tone. With practice you will see the mind and notice the actions are forced. Questions tell me where a student is along their training, like milestones. When the deeds or actions are solid then the questions have substance. Now this is the point where you think, « I better watch what questions I ask so I don’t appear shallow » – this won’t help. Honest questions come from hard work like smoke comes from fire. Your question will rise naturally because it comes from burning away the old. If you have to think of the question you have not worked hard enough to ask it.
– Don’t take your thoughts too seriously unless you give them power. If you do empower them they can shape you, even the negative ones so pay attention.
– We have beliefs engrained in our unconscious mind that can be seen through our words and actions if we pay attention. Even though we can push out fake words and deeds, eventually under the right pressure the truth is revealed. So begin by aligning your mind with your desired beliefs.
– If you are of right mind your words and actions will reflect this. If you respect a person you will only speak and act with respect toward them and anything else would feel foul.
Right thoughts, right words, right deeds … does this only work one way? Or can right deeds mould your words that will create right thoughts? Training hard for the right reason can mould your character and rebuild you at a genetic level. Daito Ryu Jujitsu believe we have 108 sins that can be burned away with the mastery of 108 perfect techniques. If you train that hard and long you have no other choice but to meet your god and you cannot perfect a move without coming face to face with your imperfections. It is only in the forgiveness of self that you can move past the mistake and with that most definitely change your mind.