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Be Like Water: The Philosophy and Origin of Bruce Lee’s Famous Metaphor for Resilience

Artist Of Life

Bruce Lee rivaled many great thinkers and philosophers with his new-age insights on life and his convictions on martial arts, family and love.

A collection of his notes, private letters, and poems are now published in the book **Bruce Lee: Artist Of Life.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

Be Like Water: The Philosophy and Origin of Bruce Lee’s Famous Metaphor for Resilience

Be Like Water: The Philosophy and Origin of Bruce Lee’s Famous Metaphor for Resilience

https://www.brainpickings.org/2013/05/29/like-water-bruce-lee-artist-of-life/

brainpickings.org

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Key Ideas

Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee was famous for being a martial artist and a movie star, but in reality, he was a Zen master. His philosophies are timeless, and his spiritual insights make him a rare cultural icon whose appeal is increasing in each generation.

Artist Of Life

Bruce Lee rivaled many great thinkers and philosophers with his new-age insights on life and his convictions on martial arts, family and love.

A collection of his notes, private letters, and poems are now published in the book **Bruce Lee: Artist Of Life.

Be Water

Nothing is weaker than water, and in that weakness, there is immense strength. Water is fine and impossible to grasp. It does not suffer any hurt, and cannot be stabbed, or cut. It has no shape of its own but molds according to where it is placed. It can be hard as a rock and also invisible as vapor.

Being like water, humble, adaptive, resilient and ever-changing, we become masters of our surroundings.

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Bill Watterson

"Most of us discover where we are headed when we arrive.”

Bill Watterson
Bill Watterson: The reator of Calvin And Hobbes
  • Bill Watterson is the elusive creator of the much-loved comic strip Calvin And Hobbes, which provides a glimpse of life’s funny and often bittersweet musings and philosophies through the eyes of the mischievous six-year old boy named Calvin, and his imaginary tiger friend Hobbes.
  • Even though Watterson concluded the daily strip after ten years in 1995, it is still adored among fans worldwide.
  • Bill Watterson has given only a handful of interviews or public appearances throughout his career.
  • His 1990 Commencement Address at Kenyon College, from where he himself graduated, is a case-study of his guiding philosophy of life: The pinnacle of creativity is playfulness.
A Motivation To Work

The amount of effort we are able to put when we are completely in charge and are not working for someone else is astonishing.

While a work ethic and a daily grit towards working consistently is a must, the only time one is really working hard without any stress, and enjoying it, is when the work is just for us.

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The Bees and the symphony of life
The Bees and the symphony of life

Against every choice of destruction, there is always the choice of creation.

This is the message of Poet Audre Lorde, as she draws on bees to describe the alternative to destruction. He...

“Construction and destruction alike satisfy the will to power, but construction is more difficult as a rule, and therefore gives more satisfaction to the person who can achieve it."

“Construction and destruction alike satisfy the will to power, but construction is more difficult as a rule, and therefore gives more satisfaction to the person who can achieve it."

There’s more to Bruce Lee than martial arts

He was also a philosophy badass.

From a very young age, Bruce Lee was obsessed with learning how to make the most out of his life - by the age of 30, he possessed thousands of tit...

Self-discovery
Martial arts was not merely a competitive sport for Bruce Lee, but in essence a means of self-discovery and self-expression.

By learning to fight, he was able to better understand who he was — he could force himself out of his comfort zone, test his limits, and confront his fears. 

Be like water

Bruce Lee saw life as being in constant change.

Unless we learn to adapt to it, we’re bound to experience tremendous resistance that will entrap us in a constant state of suffering.

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Bruce Lee as a philosopher

He studied poetry and philosophy in school. He focused his studies on Asian and Western philosophy, incorporating elements of Jiddu, Buddhism, Taoism, and Krishnamurti. 

This helped h...

Bruce Lee's impressive life
  • He wasn't a master of any standard form of martial arts. He was closest in mastering Wing Chun.
  • He invented his own style of martial arts. He based his style on the teaching of Man and what he learned of Wing Chun. He called his style Jeet Kune Do "the style of no style"
  • He starred in 20 films in Hong Kong before the age of 18.
  • He popularized the "1 Inch Punch" as seen in Kill Bill Vol. 2
  • He was a prolific poet and philosopher. He studied poetry and philosophy in school and was even published several times.
  • He was so fast, his moves were often too fast for a camera to catch.
  • He only made 5 feature films in the US, his last released posthumously.
Bruce Lee: The Symbol
Bruce Lee: The Symbol

In the 32 years he inhabited this planet, Bruce Lee created a legacy that is unparalleled in modern times.

His work, philosophy and lifestyle have influenced everything from video games to...

Be Water

While trying to diffuse his anger, Bruce Lee once started punching in the sea and had a profound realization.

Water, he understood, is of a neutral nature, having no form or shape of its own. He realized that to be invincible, he had to be as formless as water.

Giving Form To the Formless

The continued fascination with Bruce Lee and the never-ending need to capitalize on the man and the myth is the opposite of what he really intended.

His insights of being like water showcase his philosophy of having no philosophy at all. The formless structure that has to be assumed to live one’s life is destroyed the very moment anyone is influenced or tries to emulate Bruce Lee.

Breathing Is Everything

How you breathe will dictate everything from the type of athlete you are, to how you sleep, to how your body feels and looks.

At the core of breathing is connecting with ...

Slow It Down

Being proficient at anything at full speed takes the willingness and patience to first go slowly, literally and figuratively.

 Any professional athlete will tell you that the ritualistic nature of slowing down your craft is the key to success in that craft. You have to walk before you can run.

Words Only Have the Power We Give Them

Words inspire, words inform, and words can destroy - if we let them.

The martial arts will teach you not to react to other’s problems, but to pay attention to your own. Learn not to react to words that are meant for harm.

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Describing wonder

Wonder is said to be a childish emotion. However, as adults, we experience it when gaping at something unexpectedly spectacular.

Adam Smith, an 18th-century moral philosopher, describes wond...

Bodily symptoms

The bodily symptoms of this strange appearance point to three dimensions:

  • Sensory: The marvelous things take hold of our senses - we stare and widen our eyes.
  • Cognitive: We are perplexed because we don't have a past experience to understand them. It leads to a suspension of breath, similar to when we are startled.
  • Spiritual: We look upwards in veneration, which makes our heart swell.
The scale of wonder

At the mild end of this emotion, we talk about things being marvelous. More intense emotions might be described as astonishing. The extreme of this experiences is met with expressions of awe.

3 more ideas