"Be Water, My Friend"- Bruce Lee's Philosophy

When we think of Bruce Lee, we think about his films about martial arts and his contribution to the popularisation of Kung Fu.

What many people don't know is that he was also a philosopher. 

I've stumbled upon this wonderful podcast a few week ago and was fascinated: http://www.brucelee.com/podcast/ 

The podcast is hosted by Bruce Lee's daughter Shannon Lee and culture analyst Sharon Ann Lee. Together they dig deep into the philosophy of Bruce Lee, his way to worldwide fame and his goals. Every podcast episode is made valuable with personal stories and moments that you usually would not know about Bruce Lee, for example that he made his own jewelery.

The podcast has currently 10 episodes with a variety of topics about different aspects of his philosophy like "Be water, my friend", "take action" or "always be yourself".

The beauty of it is that you get an in depth look into the thoughts of Bruce Lee and his mentality. It's a treasure trove of food for thought. It is a fantastic addition to mindful practices or self-improvement.

My personal connection to Bruce Lee is based on action movies in my childhood, just like Enter the dragon, which was probably already 20 years old when I first saw it. In addition I practised Wing Chun, the martial art that Bruce Lee's famours teacher Ip Man taught, for roughly 4 years.

I was always fascinated by the action scenes with martial artists but in my later teens I got more fascinated with the beauty and calm around the sport itself. This might be one of the reasons why I've been looking into meditation for a prolonged time and also my interest in asian culture in general.

Having now this new source of inspiration , rekindling the old flame is a very satisfying expereince.

His philosophy is timeless  

The reason why I'd like to share my thoughts on this is that I believe his philosophy and life can be an inspiration for a much wider audience. We can adjust and improve our everyday life if we take a few hints from the lessons provided in the podcast regardless of our affiliation with martial arts or Bruce Lee.

For instance, take the headline I chose "be water, my friend". He said this in his interview on the Pierre Berton show in 1971 and the quote originally goes like this:

“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and 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.” 

When you think about it, this quote says everything about today's ideal job candidate, social lifestyle, career advice or education. And it comes from a time where we did not have a new phone every 9 - 12 months. This is simply fascinating to me.

The hardest part for me is "empty your mind, be formless". I'm not saying that you should be formless, but practising meditation for over 200 days and counting, the "empty your mind" - part is still the hardest part for me. Real focus on what is important no matter the circumstances it the real art. Being yourself and being comfortable with it. There is so much to get out of this. Brilliant.

If you'd like, here is the link to the interview from 1971:

Another one I love which is talked about in episode #3 in the podcast is "take action".

I couldn't have gotten a better advice for myself after coming out of school and university. After learning so much for the majority of my life, I'm now in the transition of finally practising and taking part in the real world. Not everything works that comes from theory but you can't know for sure if you don't try it.

Listening to this in my late 20s I will definitely embrace this for the next years to come. I mentioned before that I'm a bit of a twist between extrovert and introvert but I really want to see how far I can go with myself even though it makes me anxious.

I want to end this post with one last quote that and wish you all a great weekend.

"To change with change is the changeless state.” -Bruce Lee.


Thanks for reading!