Bruce Lee is probably one of the most unappreciated minds of all time…
Remembered almost entirely for his uncanny fighting ability, few realize that Bruce was an exceptional philosopher whose teachings should be cherished far more than his physical prowess. Within reason, one could justifiably argue that if it were not for the beautiful mind of Bruce Lee, he would never have been able to actualize the physical masterpiece that we have become so familiar with today. After all, the physical body is ultimately a product of the immaterial mind.
Studying various martial arts throughout the course of his life time, Bruce eventually came to the conclusion that all of these ancient teachings were flawed, in one way or another, because of their self imposed limitations and dogmas. They did not welcome innovation or creativity on the grounds of ancient tradition and uncompromising obedience to the status quo.
Blind and unthinking conformity to any system of ideals, even if considered to be sacred by popular opinion, are in conflict with human progress because they encourage mechanistic, lazy, narrow minded ways of reasoning, while simultaneously discouraging critical thought.
You see, Bruce Lee understood that which is the foundation of all wisdom and all progress, and that is the understanding that we — as individuals and as a collective species — are painfully ignorant and have yet to uncover the mysteries of life, or explore the limits of our psychological, spiritual and physical potentials. Thus it is important to keep an open mind.
Limitations can only be conquered by those who are capable of thinking beyond them.
These objective assessments encouraged Bruce to develop his own fighting style, which incorporated all the applicable strengths of the different martial arts he studied, while discarding the irrelevancies and weaknesses. He called it “Jeet Kune Do,” interpreted as “way of the intercepting fist,” something he described as “Using no way as way, and using no limitation as limitation.”
Thus, Bruce Lee, who today has been revered by the president of the very popular UFC as “the father of Mixed Martial Arts,” took multiple ideas from brilliant minds and made them all the more brilliant through his personal adaptation and creativity. It’s no wonder that when Bruce was asked in an interview if he thought of himself as being Chinese or American, he simply replied, “I think of myself as a human being.”
This outlook of keeping an open mind and being willing to adapt our outlook, my friends, applies to all of life. There is something to be learned from every art, every religion and every science — from every book, from every difficulty, from every circumstance and from every individual we encounter. But we must not allow any system of thought, any system of so called “truth,” or anyone for that matter, enslave our minds or inhibit your potential for personal growth. All systems of thought and belief are the product of the human mind, which invariably renders them limited and flawed in one way or another. Life itself is a journey of growth, where new discoveries are made every day. And in a world dominated by war, bigotry, corruption, greed, and fear, mankind is far from a state of collective enlightenment and would be foolish to argue otherwise. Therefore to keep an open mind is imperative. Bruce Lee understood this.
Countless individuals and groups alike will propagate their belief system to you, some intentionally and some not. This will be pushed on the basis of tradition, popular opinion, manipulated scientific “fact,” and the like. But, irrespective of their level of confidence and assertion in doing so, we must not allow others to dictate “right and wrong” for us, or what “reality” is based on their charisma and method of communication. Instead, investigate and contemplate their perspectives in solitude and without prejudice, and decide for yourself. You must develop the habit of self reliance and independence.
Our job is self discovery, followed by actualization, which will then result in the awakening of our individual creativity and deeper purpose in this world — not mindless conformity.
“Absorb what is useful, discard what is not. Add what is uniquely your own.”
— Bruce Lee
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