The Warrior Within - The Philosophies of Bruce Lee to better understand the world around you and achieve a rewarding life
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Lee in a different lense. His true interest was Life's philosophy. Kung Fu was the way to express it. Gung Fu is self-mastery in any field. Anyone becoming a master in any topic shows his perfection of thought.
Foreword - Linda Lee Cadwell
a great fighter fast, an opponent to be feared; a man in superb physical condition, with washboard abdominals, broad deltoids, defined forearms;
But Bruce Lee—a philosopher?
During our marriage of nine years, I saw him struggle to overcome stumbling blocks along the path to the attainment of his goals. In his interior life, I watched him struggle to overcome the self-doubts and insecurities that plague us all.
Bruce would be the first person to tell you that he was not a perfect man, but more important, he would say that his mission in life was to become a real human being.
His journey was a constant process of evolving, one step at a time, with the object being not to reach a state of perfection, but to experience life with every nerve exposed, fully in touch with gut-level feelings and cerebral senses. To this end, Bruce delved deeply into his psyche to define and refine his own philosophy of life.
All knowledge is really self-knowledge, Bruce often said, meaning that the more a person exposes himself to learning opportunities, the more these experiences enrich, enhance, and become part of who that person is.
ruce was a model of a self-educated man. how does the thinking process of an individual propel him to actualize his full potential in a superior way?
as he trained his body for strength and efficiency, so did he discipline his mind to search for the causes of his ignorance. So intensely did Bruce focus his attention on this task that his mind became absolutely centered, while at the same time, he was filled with a blazing awareness of all that went on around him.
By exploring the depths of his being, he was able to nurture the seeds of his personal philosophy, which grew and blossomed into the real Bruce Lee, the man you have experienced as a prodigious fighting machine and that you will now get to know as a philosopher, a man wise beyond his years.
What is this something about Bruce Lee that continues to fascinate people in all walks of life? I believe it is the depth of his personal philosophy.
His personality was such that he brought you into his inner world, changed your attitudes, altered your perceptions, fine-tuned your awareness.
Look beyond the words on these pages. Think about these thoughts, then feel them, then make them your own.
Foreword - Daniel Lee
very few people know that Bruce Lee was also an innovative thinker, a philosopher, and a scholar who had a deep understanding of Chinese Taoist and Zen philosophy.
each chapter was written on a particular aspect of Bruce's philosophy and, therefore, stands alone. Yet when all the chapters are combined, they form a cohesive body.
The word Tao (pronounced "dao" in Mandarin and "doe" in Cantonese) means lithe way of nature" or "the creative force governing the universe." Thus the term jeet kune do written in the Chinese language would mean "the intercepting fist that follows the principles of Tao."
in the Japanese language, do, carries the meaning "the way of":
judo, "the way of gentleness";
kendo, "the way of sword fighting";
aikido, "the way of harmonizing the chi";
shodo, "the method of calligraphy."
"Tao is that from which all things in the universe are created. The process by which all things are created is produced by this energy or Ch'i, which originates from Tao. This energy is divided into two aspects: Yin and Yang. All things in the universe have Yin energy and Yang energy. When Yin and Yang energies merge together, they produce a state of harmony."
Bruce was so influenced by this concept of the harmonious existence of the Yin/Yang energies that he chose the Yin/Yanpsymbol (which is referred to by the Chinese as the^T'ai Chi, the £Grand Ultimate?) to be his school emblem in order to represent the core principle of his Jkd fighting art, which contains and utilizes both the firm and pliable energies of Yin/Yang.
Bruce added two arrows around the T'ai Chi circle to further emphasize that the jkd fighting techniques must contain the harmonious interplay of Yin (pliable, yielding) and Yang (firm, assertive) energies. He emphasized that "in his jkd fighting art, one does not oppose force with force but rather "complements" one's opponent's strong force with Yin, or yielding, energy.
In his writings, Rmre stated metaphorically that "the stifest tree is easily cracked under pressure, but the bamboo survives by bending with the wind."
He also wrote: "Be like water because it is soft, resilient, and formless. It can never be snapped."
It is my firm conviction that Bruce believed that jkd training must involve the cultivation of both Yin and Yang energies. The cultivating of Yang energy involves the sharpening of what Bruce called one's martial "tools," or the weapons of offense, such as kicking, punching, and grabbing. One must also raise his quality of execution by improving coordination, precision, speed, and power.
The cultivation of Yin energy, however, involves increasing the sensitivity and pliability of one's body, improving the soft and yielding skill of one's limbs, and cultivating the relaxation of the mind and body, in addition to developing a "detached" attitude of mental poise and emotional calmness.
As a result, one is able to move to a higher training level, developing the skill of spontaneous adaptation. This skill allows one to quickly generate the appropriate amount of energy, which complements the opponent's energy almost without conscious effort. During combat, for example, the goal is to use soft and yielding skill (Yin energy) to neutralize the force of one's opponent, rather than attempting to meet your opponent's force (Yang energy) with additional stiff or resisting force (Yang energy).
As soon as one's opponent overextends himself and senses his weakness and retreats (Yin energy), one should attack immediately (Yang energy) to defeat him. This training is very challenging and exciting, and I am far from accomplished at it. As Bruce mentioned in his writings, when one's adaptive skill reaches its highest level, it becomes "as a shadow following effortlessly the moving object," or "as a cork adapting itself to the crests and troughs of the waves."
Bruce also reminded us in his writings that "the height of cultivation should move toward simplicity.
The process to simplify is like a sculptor who continuously chisels away all the nonessentials until he creates a masterpiece."
"Many students make the mistake of neglecting that which is near (that which is readily available and essential to you) to pursue what is far (other martial arts that are nonessential or not related to the very art you are learning). Your error in judgment and pursuit will take you thousands of miles off course. Therefore, you must be careful to make a clear distinction between what is essential to you and what is not."
Foreword - Mark Watts
The course of a bird in flight pays no attention to the lines of East and West.
-- Calligraphic inscription by Alan Watts
it is apparent that my father's works were an important influence in his life, and like my father, awareness of the Tao was central to his art.
as John Little notes, "the problem with the Western approach is that it attempts to explain life as opposed to revealing how to experience it.
Both Lee and" Watts were involved in teaching endeavors that were in a sense attempts to "speak the unspeakable," to communicate the essence of something that can be understood only directly.
In Taoism they found a uniquely practical philosophy dedicated to, as it were, revealing the purposelessness of life. For in directing ourselves toward a goal, we invariably
point our attention ahead and outside of the present moment, and as my father was fond or saying, "If the goal of dancing were to reach a certain spot on the floor, then obviously the fastest dancer would be the best. The point of dancing is the dance itself." And so it is with life.
"Life lives, and in the living flow - no questions are raised. The reason is that life is a living NOW! Completeness, the now, is an absence of the conscious mind to strive to divide that which is indivisible. For once the completeness of things is taken apart, it is no longer complete."
the answer to virtually all of our problems resides within us already. The Chinese call this naturally occurring energy "chi," and it is their belief that it circulates in continuous cycles within our bodies.
Some have compared this vast inner energy to the quantum theory in physics; that is, the subatomic energy.
Bruce Lee was able to generate tremendous inner power, or what is referred to in Chinese as chi.
The dividend in our learning to tap into these vast energy cycles is that doing so can result in a complete and total harmony of mind and body that reaches its culmination in the form of a great spiritual awakening, what the Taoist sages of ancient China called tun-wu, and the Japanese Zen masters call satori.
"/ feel I have this great creative and spiritual force within me that is greater than faith, greater than ambition, greater than confidence, greater than determination, greater than vision. It is all these combined. . . . Whether it is the godhead or not, I feel this great force, this untapped power, this dynamic something within me. This feeling defies description, and there is no experience with which this feeling may be compared. It is something like a strong emotion mixed with faith, but a lot stronger."
"When man comes to a conscious vital realization of those great spiritual forces within himself and begins to use those forces in science, in business, and in life, his progress in the future will be unparalleled."
Bruce showed me how to harness some of what was raging inside me and summon it completely at my will. The Chinese call it chi; the fapanese, ki; the Indians, prana it is the life force, and it is incredibly powerful. . . . It sounds bizarre, and it can't be explained adequately except to those who have already experienced it, but it's one of the very few unliable miracles.
-- areem Abdul-Jabbar
First and foremost, immeasurable thanks is owed to the JT j Jr man whose perspective and philosophy of life I'm presenting within these pages, Bruce Lee. Lee's words and example first served to open this writer's eyes to the pleasures of philosophy and ultimately brought about the awakening of my own inner warrior.
Further thanks are extended to those individuals and thinkers from whom Lee learned a great deal, either directly, from people such as his first (and only) martial arts instructor, Yip Man, or indirectly, through the writings of philosophers of the first order such as Lao-tzu, Confucius, Alan Watts, Jiddu Krishnamurti, and Daisetz T. Suzuki.
Most of all I want to thank the late Brandon Lee, whose conversation with me in August 1992 caused me to seriously examine the significance of the spiritual side of the martial arts and to dedicate myself wholeheartedly to the task of locating and disseminating authentic firsthand materials that expounded his father's unique philosophy and incredible legacy.
Epigrammatic Insights from the Philosophy of Bruce Lee
Life is a constant process of relating.
Man, the living creature, the creating individual, is always more important than any established style.
Gung fu is not preoccupied with breaking bricks and smashing boards. . . . We're more concerned with having it affect our whole way of thinking and behaving.
The main thing is teaching a man to do his thing, just be himself… I'm against trying to impose a style on a man. This is an art, an expression of a man's own self.
You can't organize truth. That's like trying to put a pound of water into wrapping paper and shaping it.
Because of styles, people are separated. They are not united together because styles became law, man. The original founder of the style started out with hypothesis. But now it has become the gospel truth, and people who go into it become the product of it. It doesn't matter how you are, who you arc, how you are structured, how you are built, or how you are made . . . it doesn't seem to matter. You just go in there and become that product. And that, to me, is not right.
The greatest help is self-help, there is no other help but self-help, doing one's best, dedicating oneself wholeheartedly to a given task, which happens to have no end but is an ongoing process.
All the time people come up and say, "Bruce are you really that good?" I say, "Well, if I tell you I'm good, probably you'll say I'm boasting. But if I tell you I'm no good, you'll know I'm lying.
All types of knowledge ultimately mean self-knowledge.
Empty your mind. Be formless. Shapeless. Like water. Now you put water into 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. Now water can flow, or it can crash. Be water, my friend.
Through the ages, the end of heroes is the same as ordinary men. They all died and gradually faded away in the memory of man. But when we are still alive, we have to understand ourselves, discover ourselves, and express ourselves.
Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.
Some Thoughts About Bruce Lee
He was very proud of being Chinese, and he wanted to show the rest of — the world part of the Chinese culture through films. Not just the fighting he wanted to add in a little bit of philosophy. He studied all the traditional philosophies, but then he began to form his own philosophy, and he came to the realization that you just can't borrow another person's philosophy. You have to learn about yourself and create your own philosophy, your own way of life. Bruce believed that the most important thing in the world is the individual and that each individual must have knowledge of himself before he can relate to other people. He managed to cross the barriers in communication with people.
-- Linda Lee
There's something about a man who makes you believe in yourself. It's a very special power that only a master has. Bruce made you excel by making you believe in the impossible. Under his tutelage everythig was possible. All doubts were cast aside.
-- Stirling Silliphant (student of Bruce Lee)
Bruce had great inner strength, or chi. You locate the core of your body two inches below your navel and it's a sort of a realization that everything comes from there. Sort of like the axis of the wheel of your car, where even a short turn of the axle can rotate the entire circumference of the wheel. It's like an adrenaline flow that you can tap into in emergency situations. He could just call forth that energy at will.
-- Taky Kimura (student of Bruce Lee)
Bruce taught many Japanese and American students. But, being Chinese, I was able to absorb his philosophy perhaps a little more easily than most. He talked about T'ai Chi, Yin-Yang, hardness and softness, the philosophy of Lao-tzu, and so on. He was an ardent student of all sorts of philosophy and was very much interested in Lao-tzu and believed in the phrase "Using no way as way, having no limitation as limitation.". I would always marvel after every lesson I had with Bruce because each lesson was like a philosophy in action. He wasn't just talking about "punch this" or "punch that" on a mechanical or physical level. He was always talking about the philosophical part that underlined it. For instance, the Yin-Yang, or the "water principle": he would place that principle clearly in your mind and then implement that principle into your action. This was a different approach to martial-arts instruction. We studied philosophy with Bruce because he had philosophy as his underlying theme and direction. He was really my mentor in showing the linkage between philosophy and martial art. They're inseparable.
-- Daniel Lee (student of Bruce Lee)
He was very worldly. He could pick any subject and talk intelligently about it. And not just martial arts; he majored in philosophy, and a lot of times I would go to him for advice and ask him lots of questions. He would always take time to hear me out and then help me to think about things in an entirely new way. He really gave me some good advice - not just in martial art, but in life in general.
-- Ted Wong (student of Bruce Lee)
He felt very strongly that if he could get people to appreciate something in the Chinese culture, then they would appreciate something in other cultures as well. He felt that he was doing his small part in establishing something toward world peace and harmony and understanding among other people of different cultures.
-- Daniel Inosanto (student of Bruce Lee)
He was a teacher first of all. He taught philosophy and tried to spread knowledge and wisdom. That's why he took on the martial-arts establishment the way he did. Because a lot of what they were talking about was hypocrisy and really just something that gave them the ability to scam people who wanted to learn martial arts. The integrity with which Bruce lived his life and tried to uphold what he believed to be right that is a clear example of how it ought to be done. No matter what it is you're doing, do it with total honesty and total dedication. He definitely influenced me.
-- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (student of Bruce Lee)
Farewell, my brother. It has been an honor to share this space and time with you. As a friend and as a teacher, you have given to me and have brought my physical, spiritual, and psychological selves together. Thank you. May peace be with you.
-- James Coburn (student of Bruce Lee)
He was my father. He raised me. I guess the martial arts, which are an integral part of my life, come entirely from my father. . . . I mean, he started me in the martial arts when I could walk. He trained me my entire life until he passed away, and then, even when I continued my training, it was with one of his students. So while I've had some different influences throughout the course of my martial arts training, essentially the martial arts to me is so connected to my dad that it's almost like they're not different at all. I guess that's the strongest influence.
-- Brandon Lee
I cannot teach you, only help you to explore yourself. Nothing more.
-- Bruce Lee
Part One - Seeing The Totality
Chapter One The True Meaning of Gung Fu
Gung fu is a philosophy; it's an integral part of the philosophies of Taoism and Buddhism, the ideals ofgiving with adversity, to bend slightly and then spring up stronger than before, to have patience in all things, to profit by one's mistakes and lessons in life. These are the many-sided aspects of the art of gung fu; it teaches the way to live, as well as the way to protect oneself.
-- Bruce Lee
Gung Fu, according to the authentic Chinese translation, is a term used to denote a tremendeous sense of total achievement or accomplishment. A master of gung fu, then is one who displays tremendeous proficiency in one's craft, and this craft could, in effect, be anything. A journalist, a painter.
Self-mastery is a very positive and desirable thing for an individual to strive for.
A Tale of Three Swordsmen
Bruce Lee, the man considered by many to be the embodiment of the term gung fu in its original and purest sense, was fond of relating the tale called "The Three Japanese Swordsmen" whenever discussing gung fu.
Lee recounts the story "The Three Japanese Swordsmen" during an appearance on Hong Kong television in 1970.
This fable involving the famed Japanese kensai fswnrd-saint Miyamoto Musashi so impressed Lee with its subtle symbolism that he recounted it like this:
Three swordsmen sat down at a table in a crowded Japanese inn and began to make loud comments about their neighbor, hoping to goad him into a duel. The master [Musashi, the greatest samurai in all Japan] seemed to take no notice of them, but when their remarks became ruder and more pointed, he raised his chopsticks and, in quick snips, effortlessly caught four flies on the wing. As he slowly laid down the chopsticks, the three swordsmen hurriedly left the room.
The reason that the swordsmen suddenly lost interest in harassing Musashi wasn't the man's ability to catch flies with chopsticks.
Instead, they recognized that the skill this man revealed through his actions with the diJiDsticks was an indicator of supreme gung fu, of complete mastery over himself, and therefore, he was a man to be avoided. Any person who attains complete mastery of any art reveals his presence of mind in any action.
Gungfu is practiced not only for health and self-protection but for cultivation of the mind as well. Gungfu was used by Taoist priests and Chinese monks as a philosophy, or way of thinking, in which the ideals of giving with adversity, to bend slightly and then spring up stronger than before, are practiced. The qualities of patience and profiting from one's mistakes are a part of the discipline of gung fu.
-- Bruce Lee
Lee was a philosopher, a man concerned with issues of human conduct and a man who strove to understand the vast and complex world around him. An understanding of considerable depth. This is not to imply that his perceptions on the human condition simply came to him intuitively. Lee studied long and hard varied books on philosophy, religion, and spirituality He read and reread passages by men such as Lao-tzu, Chuang-tzu, Sun-tzu, Confucius, Tzu\eh7So7rates, Plato, Baruch Spinoza, Rene Descartes, and JJavi'd Hume, as well as the more modern sages such as Jicfdu Krishnamurti, D. T. Suzuki, and Alan Watts.
He searched among their words for eternal verities and attempted to learn more about the ultimate nature ot the soul, theTTnTf verse out of which it grew, and of humankind in general. It was philosophy th^t w6 truly Lee's passion. The martial arts were simply the route he chose to express it.