One of the side effects of teaching our ninja martial art is that you get into the habit of observing people, how they move and what they say, not just while training but in every day situations too.
I was listening to a number of people talking about politics. One person in particular kept making statements as his own that I know came from a political pundit on a TV show that I had seen. As I listened I started to think about our words and thoughts and questioned…whose thoughts are they?
With television, the Internet, political spin-doctors, religious zealots, scientific proponents, teachers, friends, parents, peers, spouses and all the other influences out there acting on us, are any of us thinking our own thoughts?
As an exercise I began to track my own thoughts. I picked a subject at random then tried to write down three ideas I had about that subject, so far not too difficult.
The next part though was enlightening. I tried to remember where I got my ideas for this subject. What was the evolution of these thoughts? What did I read, see or hear that lead me to these thoughts?
Then even harder to do, I evaluated my research for these thoughts. Did I actually check any of the facts or did I just pass the information along like idle gossip? What experience did I have that could verify any of these thoughts?
As I continued the examination I began to question and take apart what I thought I knew about this subject. Could there be a different perspective? Could I be wrong? The answer is of course, yes.
Without examining our thoughts and their origins we give power over to others that could intentionally or unintentionally try to control our perspective. I found three examples of “martial artists” online posting trying to make it look like they know more than they do.
One of them plays the praise game. They tell someone how much they like the ideas in that person’s post and how well they “feel” that person is doing. Of course there is some reference to “when I was at that stage” as if they are far ahead of the person in training. The problem is they never really say anything about the subject just make it seem that they know it already.
The second one plays the mysterious game. They throw in comments like, “when I am training I use the (insert foreign language name here) secrets of the mystery scroll to achieve my goal.” The collection of exotic names makes them sound knowledgeable but what does it all mean? They can’t actually communicate an idea to others using simple terms.
The third is a keyboard commando. This one goes out on YouTube and finds martial arts videos to criticize. They take scenes out of context or just ridicule the video to build their reputation, not by helping others learn, but by tearing down whatever they find.
All three of these people are trying to influence your perspective to make you believe they are important. Many people just take in their words and then repeat them as fact. How many of us stop and question what we read or hear before we pass it along as our thoughts?
So I have to ask, whose thoughts are you thinking?