You will never get any more out of life than you expect. — Bruce Lee
In spite of the fact that Bruce Lee is best known for his master skills in martial arts and movies, he was also one of the most outstanding philosophers of the 20-s century. He continuously pushed his mind and body to new levels and his physical prowess inspired and influenced body builders and martial artists alike.
Having had philosophy as his major in college, Bruce managed to fuse the ancient ideas with his own thoughts informed by the intersection of physical and psychological discipline, the most famous manifestation of which is his water metaphor for resilience. In his early career he couldn’t get the leading role, as he was continuously told that white audience won’t accept Asian as one. But he did manage to break through even though he was still treated as a robot.
They did try to cut out philosophy from the Enter the Dragon in order to make just some fun and entertaining movie, but Lee refused to go on set for two weeks, claiming that the kung-fu and the philosophy were inextricably entwined, each the vehicle for the other. Hollywood had to give up and it was the philosophy that made movie stand out.
Master your mind and body.
Bruce Lee saw philosophy as an integral part of everyday life, just like mind comes together with body. It’s not enough just to be smart. It’s not enough just to master your body. Your body and mind support each other. Your body helps turn what you think or dream up into results. According to Bruce: “As you think, so shall you become.”
Lee used to carry a small notebook with him, where he kept notes about everything, starting from training regimes to quotes, phone numbers of the pupils, which included Chuck Norris and Steve McQueen, poems and many more.
The most prominent things from his pocket books were the day timers or so called affirmations. In these notes to himself, Lee articulated his personal philosophies aimed concretely at his own growth, but resonating with universally applicable insight into our common psychology, behavior, and human nature.
Few of his most important quotes were written in the book of 1968, which were written just before his 28th birthday:
“Recognizing that the power of will is the supreme court over all other departments of my mind, I will exercise it daily, when I need the urge to action for any purpose; and I will form HABIT designed to bring the power of my will into action at least once daily.”
“Recognizing that both my positive and negative emotions may be dangerous if they are not controlled and guided to desirable ends, I will submit all my desires, aims and purposes to my faculties of reason, and I will be guided by it in giving expression to these.”
His affirmations are extremely valuable due to the almost impossible fusion of ancient philosophical traditions, especially Zen Buddhism with New Age way of thinking – it is a reminder that our personhood is a mashup of our era and our culture, with all their inherent knowledges and ignorances, and it is the way we combine the elements at our disposal that makes us who we are.
“I have clearly written down a description of my DEFINITE CHIEF AIM in life, and I will never stop trying until I shall have developed sufficient self-confidence for its attainment”.