Something in early 1973, Bruce received a request to instruct a young man named John in his martial philosophy of Jeet Kune Do. Lee graciously declined the request, stating the following:
“Time wise I wouldn’t have time to teach, but I’m willing-when time permits-to honestly express myself or “to open myself” to you-to act as a sort of sign pole for a traveler.”
The traveler in this case was John, but Lee’s advice is pertinent to anyone of us who is wanting to travel down life’s road in search of truth. And, quite in keeping with his personal philosophy, Lee realized that the most enlightened form of teaching was to serve, not as a “giver of truth” but rather as a “pointer towards truth;” to point one in the direction of truth in the hope that he will ultimately find his own. Lee put a finer point on this by adding:
“My experience will help but I insist and maintain that-true art that is-cannot be handed out. Furthermore, art is never decoration or embellishment. Instead it is a constant process of maturing (in the sense of NOT having arrived!)”
Lee believed that the road to truth, and from that truth enlightenment, had many different paths out of necessity. People are, as Lee noted earlier, different, with different wants, desires and aspirations. While we all share a common biological root, the blossoming of our souls and personalities is varied indeed.
“You see, John, when we have the opportunity of working out, you’ll see that your way of thinking is definitely not the same as mine. Art, after all, is a means of acquiring “Personal” liberty. Your way is not my way. Nor mine yours.”
While a personal letter from Bruce Lee would serve as quite a “sign post” in guiding one along life’s road, letter writing wasn’t the only form of sign post that Lee chose to erect. He was an avid writer and note-jotter; furiously scribbling down his thoughts as they percolated through his consciousness. The style of writing that he often chose to express these concepts was the time honored Chinese style of poetic aphorism. Lee would write down these brief insightful lines as a way of disciplining his thoughts. There follows just a few of them:
To change with change is the changeless state.
Not being tense but ready. Not thinking but not dreaming. Not being set but flexible. Liberation from the uneasy sense of confinement. It is being wholly and quietly alive, aware and alert, ready for whatever may come.
Man, because he is a creative individual, is far more important than any style or system.
Life is a constant process of relating.
Liberating truth is a reality only in so far as it is experienced and lived by the individual himself; it is a truth that transcends styles or disciplines.
A person cannot forget someone who is good to them.
Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.
A good teacher protects his pupils from his own influence.
A fat belly cannot believe that such a thing as hunger exists.