#25 The Art of Dying
When Bruce Lee spoke about the Art of Dying, he did not mean dying in the literal sense, but as a metaphor for letting go of the past and things that limit you, so you can be a fluid human in the present moment.
“Like everyone else, you want to learn the way to win, but never to accept the way to lose, to accept defeat, to learn to die is to be liberated from it. So when tomorrow comes, you must free your ambitious mind, and learn the art of dying.”
Bruce was constantly practicing this idea of dying because to him it meant returning to beginners mind and neutrality. He even had an art piece tombstone created which stated, “In memory of a once fluid man crammed and distorted by the classical mess.” This was a physical reminder to let go of anything that keeps you rigid or limits growth. “To understand and live now, there must be a dying to everything of yesterday, die continually to every newly gained experience be in a state in choiceless awareness of what is.”
Dying in this instance is more about living in the moment and being able to continue to be the student and learn.
“Drop and dissolve inner blockage, a conditioned mind is never a free mind. Wipe away and dissolve all its experience and be born afresh.”
“We live in clichés in patterned behavior, we play the same role over and over again. To raise our potential is to live and review every second refreshed.”
“People try to hold on to sameness, this holding on prevents growth.” You try and hold onto the sameness because it offers security, but it prevents real connection to others, yourself, and the world around you and hinders your personal growth.
“Like everyone else, you want to learn the way to win, but never to learn the way to lose. To accept defeat, to learn to die, is to be liberated from it. Once you accept this you are free to flow and to harmonize. Fluidity is the way to an empty mind. You must free your ambitious mind and learn the art of dying.”
Learning to change how you hear criticism or how to lose will help you move gracefully through the bigger defeats in life such as losing the game or your job while keeping the lessons learned from those defeats. “To desire is an attachment. to desire not to desire is also an attachment. To be unattached then means to be free at once from both statements. In other words it is to be simultaneously both yes and no, which is intellectually absurd.”
Our minds are so linear that it’s hard to hold on to duality, when the answer might be both yes and no.
When you are following a pattern then you only understand the pattern, and if you are only focused on the pattern you are not looking at yourself or understanding yourself. So many of the patterns we follow or create are based on what “should be” according to societal pressures. We have to let that go in order to be free and fluid. “Escape the pointless endeavor to trap life in a metaphysical net instead of simply living it.”
There is a way to be in the world that also allows everyone else to be in the world. Harmonious individuality: you can exist in the world as yourself and others can exist in the world as themselves. “If when you’re being knocked down, you can stop and say ‘Why am I being knocked down?’ then if you can examine that in that way then there’s hope for your growth.”
Take Action: Practice being in the present moment and letting go. Where are you being rigid in your life? Where can you bend more? Where do you have a firm attachment to an idea or position? If you can identify the attachment and create a little bit of space between you and the attachment then you are on your way to freeing yourself from that attachment.
(Awesome Asians and Hapas)
This week our #AAHA is Ang Lee, Tawainese born director, screenwriter, and producer, known for many iconic films like Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Life of Pi, Hulk, and Brokeback Mountain. Ang brings both East and West to his films, exploring the fantastic and the dramatic. He has two Oscars, both for Best Achievement in Directing, a testament to his incredible storytelling and cinematic talent. He’s always pushing the boundaries of film technology—but only in service to the story and emotional experience of the film. Ang Lee completely devotes himself to his work and only works on one project at a time. He’s also a longtime Bruce Lee fan. Thank you Ang for your incredible artistry, we think you’re awesome!
This week’s #BruceLeeMoment is from Daniel from Australia: Hello to you Shannon, and to your family, both immediate and extended. Let me also pass on my deepest sympathy for your loss of your father, and of your brother also.
My name is Daniel. I am 41, a husband, father, and live in Sydney on our little island down here called Australia.
Just over the last two weeks have I found your podcast and am so excited to listen. I am up to episode 9 now, as I listen to them in my car driving to and from work. Finally there is a little connection that the rest of the world has with the legend that is Mr. Bruce Lee. Being subscribed I'm not going to miss an episode.
I would like to share with you my Bruce Lee moment: My Bruce Lee moment has actually been made up from two separate events in my life, many years apart, and then joined together later on in my life again without me even really noticing it, and not just being restricted to just Mr. Bruce Lee, but also his son, Brandon. I’ll explain what I mean.
As a young teenager watching 'Enter The Dragon'. I heard this really cool sounding line “Don’t Think, Feel” and I always remembered and used it when I could. Being young I though it was a pretty cool thing to say, and I think I sort of knew what it meant but never took much interest in working it out, as I was young and it just sounded tough and cool!
Many years later, in 2008, I lost my brother in law to cancer at the age of 31. We both enjoyed watching Bruce Lee, as well as his son Brandon. We both shared the same love for Brandon's film The Crow, and as a result for when my brother in law died, but a few more years down the track, I got the famous pose of Brandon as The Crow with his crow on his shoulder tattooed on my arm as a tribute to him. Being a doubled edged sword, it was also in memory of Brandon and the tragic turn of events that took his life, again way too soon.
I remembered the ‘Don’t think, Feel’ statement again, but it was not ironically until I heard about the Bruce Lee podcast. I was concentrating on listening to the intro to the podcast when I realised I had applied this philosophy unknowingly for the longest time and had actually became ‘water’ myself, adapting it to mean that even though your hurt with a loss, to stop and think about the life you had together and remember the love that came from that is what's important! I opened my mind to let in the emotional content only for a split second but that was all that was needed, and worked out that it was with me the whole time, ever since childhood. All that heavenly glory; the love, memories and happiness that comes from spending time together with loved ones is what is key! Now having a growing family of my own, it rings even more true, more so than ever. I think it's something that is always there but we don't take much time to think about it. We are too busy concentrating on one thing to stop and talk about everything else.
As indirectly as it may sound, this was my Bruce Lee moment. 30 years in the making and a second to realise I had always had it with me. If I may ask a question too while I have you; I have heard that while your Father was being filmed in fighting scenes that it had to be produced at a reduced speed so that the audience could see his moves; as he performed them too quick for the eye! Is this actually true? If possible I would love to get a response on this question, either via the Podcast or in reply email, as it sound very feasible but wanted to ask the one and only credible source.
Finally, thank you so very much. The Dragon has a very long tail, reaching all corners of the world, including Australia. Warmest and humblest regards, Daniel.