Tag: Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee: The Four Basic Philosophical Approaches


As found in Bruce Lee: Artist of Life, which provides unique insight into the mind of Bruce Lee through his private letters and writing.

1. Aboutism keeps out any emotional responses or other genuine involvement — as though we were things. In therapy, Aboutism is found in rationalization and intellectualization, and in the “interpretation” games where the therapist says “This is what your difficulties are about.” This approach is based on noninvolvement.

2. With Shouldism you grow up completely surrounded by what you should and should not do, and you spend much of your time playing this game with yourself—the game I call the “top dog/underdog game” or the “self improvement game” or the “self-torture game.” Shouldism is based on the phenomenon of dissatisfaction.

3. The Existential (“is-ism”) approach is the external attempt to achieve truth, but what is truth? Truth is one of what I call the “fitting games.”

4. Gestalt attempts to understand the existence of any event through the way it comes about, which tries to understand becoming by the how, not the why, through the all-pervasive gestalt formation; through the unfinished situation, which is a biological factor. In other words, in Gestalt therapy we try to be consistent with every other event, especially with Nature, because we are part of nature.

Bruce Lee on Self Regulation versus External Regulation


Bruce Lee the philosopher brought us some insightful comments on self-actualization. Now he's back with more goodness.

In Bruce Lee: Artist of Life, Lee talks about the curative power of awareness.

The important thing to remember and to understand is that awareness, per se – by itself and of itself – can be curative. Because with full awareness you become aware of this organismic self-regulation; you can let the organism take over without interfering, without interrupting; we can rely on the wisdom of the organism. And the contrast to this is the whole pathology of self-manipulation, environmental control, and so on, which interferes with this subtle organismic self-control.

Our manipulation of ourselves is usually dignified by the word “conscience,” which is nothing but a fantasy, a projection onto the parents. The “road to hell is paved with good intentions,” and any intention towards idealistic change will achieve the opposite—the New Year’s resolutions, the desperation of trying to be different, the attempt to control oneself, and so forth.

If we are willing to stay in the center of our world, and not have the center either in our computer or somewhere else, but really in the center, then we are ambidextrous—then we see the two poles of every event. We see that light cannot exist without non-light. If there is sameness, you can’t be aware anymore. If there is always light, you don’t experience light anymore. You have to have the rhythm of light and darkness.

Bruce Lee on Self-Actualization


Recently on reddit, Bruce Lee's daughter, Shannon, did an ask me anything.

One of the questions caught my attention:

… of all your father's philosophies, which do you feel we can all learn from? I am a huge fan of your father's cinema, martial art form and of course his writings.

Shannon Lee's response was pretty amazing.

I feel we can learn from his philosophy on self-actualization. I believe we are all still talking about him because he was so good at cultivating and expressing his true essence. If we all did that, we would all be cultivating our uniqueness and we would all put something original and truly authentic into the world because it would emanate from deep within ourselves which [is] a place that no one else can inhabit but ourselves!

So I went digging to read some of Lee's thoughts on this.

In Bruce Lee: Artist of Life, he writes:

… if you are cursed with perfectionism, then you're absolutely sunk. This ideal is a yardstick which always gives you the opportunity to browbeat yourself, to berate yourself and others. Since this ideal is an impossibility, you can never live up to it. You are merely in love with this ideal, and there is no end to the self-torture, to the self-nagging, self-castrating. It hides under the mask of “self-improvement.” It never works.

Many people dedicate their lives to actualizing a concept of what they should be like, rather than actualizing themselves. This difference between self-actualizing and self-image actualizing is very important. Most people only live for their image.

Where some people have a self, most people have a void, because they are so busy projecting themselves as this or that. This again is the curse of the ideal. The curse is that you should not be what you are. Every external control, even internalized external control—”you should”—interferes with the healthy working of the organism. There is only one thing that should control the situation. If you understand the situation that you are in, and let the situation that you are in control your actions, then you learn how to cope with life.

The less confident we are in ourselves, the less we are in touch with ourselves and the world, the more we want to control.

In Striking Thoughts: Bruce Lee's Wisdom for Daily Living, he expands on the difference between fulfillment and appearances using similar language.

Most people only live for their image, that is why some have a void, because they are so busy projecting themselves as this or that, dedicating their lives to actualize a concept of what they should be like rather than to actualize their ever-growing potentiality as a human being. Wasting, dissipating all their energy in projection and conjuring up of facade, rather than centering their energy on expanding and broadening their potential or expressing and relaying this unified energy for efficient communication, etc.

(image source)