I’ve always considered Bruce Lee to a philosopher over a martial artist. Yes, his training, conditioning, and skill as a martial artist are beyond compare, in his time and ours. But his martial arts helped him develop his philosophy on life; his philosophy on life helped determine his martial arts. His wisdom on the topics of personal development and human endeavor would inspire Tony Robbins.
There was a scene cut from his most famous movie, Enter the Dragon (released 6 days after his death). In this scene, Lee was talking to his teacher, a Shaolin Monk. It was a scene meant to espouse Lee’s philosophy. It was cut for brevity and because it slowed the pace of an action film. But the script is compelling.
Teacher: What is the highest technique you hope to achieve? Bruce Lee: To have no technique. Teacher: Very good, what are your thoughts when facing an opponent? Bruce Lee: There is no opponent. Teacher: Then why is that? Bruce Lee: Because the word I, does not exist. Teacher: So, continue. Bruce Lee: A good fight, should be, like a small play, but played seriously. A good martial artist does not become tense, but ready. Not thinking yet, not dreaming. Ready for whatever may come. When the opponent expands, I contract; when he contracts, I expand. When there is an opportunity, I do not hit, it hits all by itself. Teacher: Now, you must remember the enemy has only images, and illusions, behind which he hides his true motives. Destroy the image then you will break the enemy.
There are so many nuggets of pure wisdom in this small passage.
1. Mindfulness. Bruce conveyed the idea of having no mind. In his martial arts, he suggested to practice until technique no longer mattered. When an opponent moves, your defense and attack are simultaneous and without forethought. No calculations are necessary to plot, plan, or conjure a counter. When one preplans, he must plan for any possibility. He then slows his mind and must depend on what he thinks is happening before he can decide what to do. When his mind is open, his body will react on its own.
This is not only applied to martial arts or fighting. This is life itself. We keep an open mind. We practice mindfulness, living in this moment. When we think of our past, we become sad, remorseful, or regretful. When we try to plot out future, things can get in our way and derail our designs. By living in this present moment we can respond to any circumstance. We can see events as they are and not how we wish them to be. Our response to the events in our lives will be more appropriate.
2. No opponent. Philosophically speaking, there is nothing outside ourselves. All others are a reflection of who we are at the moment. I read somewhere that we are mirrors of everything around us. Everything around us is a mirror of ourselves. This world is a holographic projection, and we are the universe experiencing itself as we experience each other. Yay quantum physics.
Outside of fighting, consider an opponent as an event. It could be an illness, an accident, a job loss, a death in the family. Events are opportunities to expand, learn and grow. I once read that instead of asking “why me?” one should ask “why not me?” or instead of asking “why is this happening to me?” one could ask “what can this do for me?”
In another vein, and this sounds crazy to say, but I think cancer was one of the best things to happen to me. It made me grow. It made me change the way I think about things. I had to address cancer not as an invasion of something trying to kill me, but as an indication of a systemic illness inside me. I had to change from “trying to kill the cancer” to “healing my body and watching cancer vanish because it has nowhere to grow.” I read dozens of books, tried a handful of protocols, and beat the illness myself. I corrected diabetes along the way. But cancer helped me to be the better enabled to help my clients as a holistic wellness practitioner. I didn’t fight an enemy, I embraced myself.
3. Destroy the image and break the enemy. We all wear masks. Inside, most of us are weak, insecure, confused, and just trying to get through life. We put on a front that we are the best thing on wheels. Sometimes, people exert themselves over others. They intimidate to gain control. This is their mask. You destroy the image by realizing that they are just trying to get by, just like you are. When you accept that the hate and anger they are throwing at you is their own hurt and weakness, you can look at them with understanding. This now empowers you in this situation. You have broken the enemy by making him not your enemy. When mindfulness is added to this situation, and you take the time to assess the situation for what it really is, you can then choose how to respond, instead of falling back on an emotional reaction. When we react emotionally, because words of another “triggered us,” we fully immerse ourselves in what the other person is doing. We give up our power by joining the other person where they are instead of mindfully choosing if or how to respond.
4. There is no I. Often this is interpreted as “the only opponent is oneself.” That when you compete or struggle, you are not competing against another person or an obstacle. You should reach a point where you are only competing against who you were yesterday. Or you are fighting toward tomorrow’s version of you.
But there is another interpretation. There is no opponent because you aren’t the opponent either. You are not fighting against yourself, or anyone else. When you attach your endeavors on beating yourself, you bring “I” back into the situation. But when you are simply performing, doing your best, being “in the zone” you forget the I, the they, the it or the them. The dancer becomes the dance. Being in the present moment means you compete against no one. Not even yourself. Because ultimately there is no competition. Sure, we set goals, but each day we focus on the pieces of the process. We immerse ourselves in the minutiae of activities that work us toward our goals, focused on where we are and what we are doing. When there is no “I” we explore ourselves and discover who we truly are.
Life is glorious, complicated, ever evolving, constantly changing, and forever challenging. How you look at life determines how life looks back at you.
This week in our Tai Chi journey, we will visit the One Finger Zen. NO, not that finger. It is a Qigong set designed to increase energy in the body. It is miraculous and powerful and inspiring. Afterwards, we will work with Chi energy built up by the One Finger Zen. It’s always fun.
See you in class.
Classes are as follows.
All classes are pay as you go. No contracts or commitments.
Dubois County Museum
Classes are $12.
Tri State Holistic Wellness
500 Saint Phillips Rd 47712
Classes are $10 cash
Saturday 11:00 am
Unity of Evansville
4118 Pollack Ave 47714
Classes are $10 cash
I am in school for Therapeutic Massage and adding this modality to my repertoire. Massage, Reiki, and Acupressure are a potent combination. At the end of the session, I add crystal bowls and drumming for even deeper relaxation and healing.
I'm available by appointment throughout the week in Evansville for
Reiki / Acupressure / Massage
Herbalism / Nutrition
Message me by text, email, or Facebook Messenger to schedule an appointment.
In the Tao,