The Seeker #10-Mentor Series
We all have different versions in our mind of the immortal legend, the dragon whose name was Bruce Lee. The myth, the man, the teacher/philosopher movie star who died too early, yet leaving a lasting mark for eternity.
The man who wanted to be known as a teacher and thinker, not the movie star or kung fu hero he was famous for, but as an artist who wanted to show the world what the body was capable of when one instilled “emotional content” behind actions. We have since made some discoveries of the meanings of what Bruce Lee meant when he gave us the clues on being like water, as Lee made it less about his Jeet Kune Do, and more about the philosophy of life.
One of my more contemporary mentors, reading Bruce Lee’s books was like reading a minefield of gold that would burst on every quote, as my internal mind understood and readily accepted every key quote that he left behind. While compiling this list of some of my favorite Bruce Lee sayings, I found it excruciatingly hard to keep ones from dropping off the list.
Imagine the world 500 years from now, as many of Lee’s books will be underground legends, lost to the advanced society we are becoming, when only the best ten to twenty quotes from a man will be left. Maybe when we are done being inundated by podcasts and listening(the least valuable form of learning) we might one day go back to reading and learning history, slowing down just a bit to actually take in some information, instead of letting it go in one ear and out the other.
Bruce Lee’s Life Quotes
- “Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot.” Perhaps one of Bruce Lee’s most iconic quotes, it’s possible it resonates so well because we recognize it to be so true. Water can be so powerful over time, carving ways around rocks and debris, creating rivers and streams, allowing us to use its latent power for energy. Yet, it takes on the form of the container that we put it in, and remains the same powerful constant. Let it sit, it becomes stagnant, use it properly and it can power entire energy grids. It gives us life and nourishes our gardens. It moves at will, as it needs to, as is necessary for it during its travels. Be like water.
- “Great freedom= Great Sensitivity…There is no freedom if you are enclosed by 1) Self-Interest or 2) Walls of Discipline.” Discipline is defined as the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience. It cannot be true freedom if actions are not freely made and taken. But great sensitivity and having the interest of others in mind creates good actions. Self-interests do not allow us to act freely, as those who’ve seen my latest Instagram IGTV video on passion might know. Self-interests do not allow us to act in the best interests of others, as it creates a fully selfish existence.
- “Books, teachers, parents, the society all around us, all tell us what to think but not how to think. What is the point of being educated, of learning to read and write, if you are just going to carry on like a machine? After all, it is merely the root function to form.” The best part about this quote from Bruce Lee is that while we all know it, it’s rare that any of us stop to really re-evaluate our lives and change it from one of machine-like actions to actually living. Most people consider traveling, or quitting the 9-5 to be the way of getting past the machine existence, but typically they are just copying what they’ve seen other people do that seems to be “freeing.’ Freedom starts in the mind, it’s about how we think about life, and what we are doing to really change ourselves, which inevitably changes the world around us.
- “There is intelligence when you are not afraid. There can be no initiation if one has fear. Fear is what compels us to cling to tradition, gurus, etc.” Intelligence is defined as “the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.”
However, there are two types of knowledge; that of the “empirical” sort and that which is absolute “truth.”
Empirical knowledge is defined as “sense experience, the knowledge or source of knowledge acquired by means of the senses, particularly by observation and experimentation.”
True knowledge must be absolute, single, infinite, whole, undivided, non-dual, immediate and self-conscious.
True knowledge is the knowledge you get when you have that “ah-ha” moment. When you “finally realize” something. It can be felt inside.
To apply knowledge of the senses is to act according to your environment, which is a physical state of existence, and forever changing, which, if u cannot change, life will be harsh.
To apply true knowledge, one must seek the true knowledge first, and everything else comes after. If true knowledge is what we get from going “inside” then one must really “know thyself.” Once one “knows themselves” all fear vanishes, and they become free to act.
- “The poorer we are inwardly, the more we try to enrich ourselves outwardly.” There are several versions of this quote from several other philosophers that have come and gone through our time. It is possible to be rich outwardly and rich inwardly, but it’s extremely rare and the common man/woman does not have these capabilities, especially when most people operate from a vantage point of self-interests, as we spoke on above. Whether Bob Marley, Confucius, Jesus, Elijah Mohammed, etc., most people who we have recognized as great have said this, and yet we chase and chase for outer riches, instead of inner life. It is a reflection of our poor position that we place the burden of our souls on our physical body. With food, alcohol, drugs, prescription drugs, etc., we refuse to do the healing work of our soul, and our bodies pay the price.
- “A struggle of any nature can never be settled satisfactorily until the absolute fact is touched–where neither opponent can affect the other Not neutrality, not indifference, but transcendence is the thing needed.” The absolute fact, or truth, exists in a place reachable to everyone. That’s why we disagree on such trivial issues like justice, human rights(which are animal rights because we are animals), equality, and taking care of the Earth as our home and not just some random resource. We disagree because we live in a state of “self-interest.” It’s quite amazing how destructive self-interest lifestyles can be to our own bodies and therefore, the world.
- “To be on alert is to be deadly serious. To be deadly serious means to be sincere to oneself, and it is sincerity that leads one to the Way.” Sincerity, while we like to claim that most people are not sincere, can we really claim sincerity if we do not live in the Way? What is The Way? The Way doesn’t need explained, it’s something we all know and recognize within. We reason our way away from The Way, because it’s easier to be self-interested, than to do the actual work that comes with acknowledging the existence of The Way. To be on alert because one is constantly absorbed in living every moment in TRUTH, which is the fullest way to live in every moment, means that one is extremely serious about their existence.
- “The great mistake is to anticipate the outcome of the engagement; you ought not be thinking of whether it ends in victory or in defeat. Just let nature take its course and your tools will strike at the right moment.” This is what some call chance or luck, but it’s more undercover name is opportunity. We create our destiny, it’s what leads us to our fate, and throughout the journey opportunity appears, It becomes our role to be ready to seize and capitalize on opportunity as it presents itself. I spoke to a woman the other day who told me she had an engagement coming up that she was preparing for that she really wanted to win. I told her that every time I have focused on winning itself, I have lost. The key is to do everything possible in your power that could lead to victory, and leave the rest up to nature, or, what will naturally happen as a result of your actions.
- “Discipline in conformity with nature.” The only discipline that we should follow is discipline that is in alignment with and conforms to the natural state of things. We mentioned discipline earlier, but in relation to the previous quote by Bruce Lee, we understand that nature, or what happens naturally, cannot be controlled. Our actions leading up to what will naturally happen is that magic that makes dreams come true. Therefore, our discipline, or the training we give ourselves that allows us to perform our actions better, must be in alignment with the natural state of things, and in that is the flowing like, or being like, water.
- “To bring the mind into sharp focus and to make it alert so that it can immediately intuit truth, which is everywhere, the mind must be emancipated from old habits, prejudices, restrictive thought process, and even ordinary thought itself.” True freedom is the only thing that can bring about this state. Eliminate all fear, focus inward in the maturation process(“the process of maturing does not mean to become a captive of conceptualization. It is to come to the realization of what lies in our innermost selves.”) I thought this was a fitting end to the Bruce Lee segment, as it kindly brought all ten quotes together, again admonishing us of the omnipresence of the truth, which we must look for(The Way), which can only be found in freedom(discarding all old thought processes), which comes from being focused and alert(deadly serious, or sincere).
While many may not come into the full understanding of what it means to be truly free, sincere in every moment, adhering to The Way, and tossing aside all self-interest, the few that do will always change the world, because transformation of the inner man/woman, will always lead to a change in one’s entire world, which affects everyone that comes in contact with that person.
Think of it this way. Bruce Lee existed and while he existed, wrote books. Those books reached me, many years after the death of his physical body. Even in death, his words were able to penetrate and help me change my own mind. Inevitably, because of that change, I am able to share with you, today, what I believe to be the absolute truths from what I have read, understood and applied. This is what it means to change the world.
See you next week, where we get back to our regular posts on transformation!!