During one of the busiest times in his life, Bruce Lee wrote a letter to himself titled “In My Own Process”. When Bruce wrote this, he had just halted production on Game of Death was in mid-prep for Enter the Dragon which included re-writing script pages, creating fight choreography, and being a producer. He was moved to pause and write several drafts of this letter to himself—each version was an evolution of the ideas he began pondering. Through the different versions, you can witness his thinking and creative process—adding, building and refining with each iteration.
He wrote: “At the moment I’m wondering for whom am I writing this organized mess? I have to say I am writing whatever wants to be written.”
“I have come to the realization that sooner or later what it really amounts to is the bare fact that even an attempt to really write something about ones self demands, first of all, an honesty towards oneself to be able to take responsibility to be what we actually are.” “What it boils down to is my sincere and honest revelation of a man called Bruce Lee. Just who is Bruce Lee? Where is he heading? What does he hope to discover? To do this a person has to stand on his own two feet and find out the cause of ignorance. For the lazy and hopeless, they can forget it and do what they like best.”
Most of us spend our lives avoiding these questions or distracting ourselves, Bruce confronted these questions directly.
“The truth is that life is an ever going process ever renewing and it just meant to be lived but not lived for. It is something that cannot be squeezed into a self-constructed security pattern, a game of rigid control and clever manipulation. Instead, to be what I term “a quality human being” one has to be transparently real and have the courage to be what he is.”
Letter 2 “To be a martial artist means and demands absence of prejudice, superstition, ignorance, and all that. The primary essential ingredient of what a quality fighter is and leave the circus acts to the circus performers. Mentally it means a burning enthusiasm with neutrality to choose to be.” “Among people great majorities don’t feel comfortable at all with the unknown, that is anything foreign, that threatens their protected daily mold.”
Letter 3 “I wonder how many of us have really gone to the trouble of reexamining all of the so-called ready-made intelligent answers that are constantly crammed down our throats ever since heaven knows how long? Maybe starting from our first sign of capacity to learn? Yes, we possess a pair of eyes, the function of which is to observe, to discover and so forth. Yet so many of us simply do not really see in the true sense of the word. I must say when the eyes are used externally to observe the inevitable faults of other beings, most of us are rather quick with ready-made condemnation. For it is easy to criticize and break down the spirit of others but to know yourself takes maybe a lifetime. To take responsibility for ones actions, good and bad, is something else. After all, all knowledge simply means self-knowledge.”
Letter 4 “What the hell! You are what you are and self-honesty occupies a definite and vital part in the ever-growing process to become a “real” human being and not a plastic one.”
“Ever since I was a kid the word “quality” has meant a lot to me. Somehow I know, and I’m devoting myself sincerely to it with much sacrifice, and heading toward a direction, and you can rest assured that Mr. Quality himself will always be there, somehow one day you will hear “Hey, now that’s quality, here is someone real.” I would like that.”
Bruce Lee give context to these “In my Own Process” letters in his 5th letter, “I am in the midst of preparing a new movie, Enter the Dragon, a joint venture between Concord and Warner Brothers, plus another Concord production, The Game of Death, which is only halfway done. I have been busy, yet this article deserves my undivided attention at this moment. If somehow I can communicate with somebody, I am satisfied. If not, it cannot be helped.”
“I have always been a martial artist by choice, an actor by profession, but above all I am actualizing myself to be an artist of life. Yes, there is a difference between self-actualization and self-image actualization.”
From the 6th letter: “Bruce Lee is a changing person because he is and always will be learning, discovering, and expanding. Like his martial art, his learnings are never fixed, they keep changing. At best, Bruce Lee presents a possible direction, but nothing more.
In letter 7 he says, “I have discovered another quality over the spread of a decade. I have long been in the process of discovering through earnest personal experiences and dedicated learning, that ultimately the greatest help is self help.”
In letter 8: “Of course, this writing could be made less demanding should I allow myself to indulge in the usual manipulating game of role creation. Fortunately for me, my self-knowledge has transcended that and I’ve come to understand that life is best lived, not conceptualized.”
“Like any art, martial art is an unrestricted, athletic expression of an individual soul. Oh yes, martial art also means daily hermit-like physical training to upgrade or maintain one’s quality. However, martial art is also about the unfolding of the bare human soul, and that is what interests me.”
Bruce Lee was always in process—evolving, growing and changing. He was guided by his heart, intuition and a relentless dedication to taking action.
Take Action: When you feel compelled to express something meaningful to yourself, write it down. Keep track of all the different versions to research your own life and mark your progression.
(Awesome Asians and Hapas)
This week our #AAHA shout-out goes to a close family friend of Shannon’s, Taky Kimura, a Japanese American, martial artist, and one of Bruce Lee’s best friends. Taky was one of Bruce Lee’s top students, closest friends, best man at Bruce’s wedding, first person Bruce certified to teach Jeet Kune Do, one of Bruce’s first assistant instructors, and was pallbearer at Bruce’s funeral. Taky is in his 90’s and still teaching in Seattle, WA. Taky’s family was interred in WWII with his family and experienced a lot of the prejudice and racism that followed the war. Taky met Bruce when he was in his 30’s and credits Bruce with renewing his spirit. Taky has lived a quiet life and has trained people in his family’s grocery store basement for free. Taky, you have been a wonderful friend to Bruce and Shannon’s family, and you’re awesome, thank you!
This week’s #BruceLeeMoment comes from Felix Sinn in Hamburg, Germany:
Dear Shannon and Sharon,
I wanted to share my thoughts with you because my spiritual connection to Bruce Lee and the impact to my life has been so huge and deep for many years now. That´s why I´m unbelievable thankful for the Bruce Lee podcast and for your work to get the Bruce Lee rights back and keeping the spirit alive to help others. As I listened to the podcast the first time, a new world opened to me and it was like a missing part which I was searching in my heart all the time.
So first of all I have to tell you that there is no single Bruce Lee moment in my life, there are probably hundreds of it so this is much bigger than one moment. I moved away from my family and friends south Germany up north to Hamburg, where I am going my own way and where I founded my company. And I am not only working on the company but also on myself and on being myself which seems to be a lifetime challenge. I am 28 years old now and there is nobody who I could copy, nobody who tells me what to do, and no mentor. And although I did not know too much about Bruce´s person I felt his philosophy. It felt like some of his spirit lives in me all the time and now as I hear all the information about him and his philosophy in the podcast, it is like you would tell me all these things that I already had in my heart but couldn´t express it in words like Bruce did.
Now I can finally try to get a clear understanding about him and his philosophy and he seems to be more available as a mentor. But not only this, as I am born 1988 I am the second generation - the Bruce Lee spirit also connects me with my father. He was also a fighter and a Bruce Lee fan when he was young and when the martial arts came around the globe.
I think it must have been in the 80´s when he bought a Bruce Lee necklet, now I have got it since I was a child and I treat it like my treasure. This is a thing in real life which represents Bruce Lee´s spirit for me and which helps my with Bruce Lee moments whenever I need to be brave and strong and trying to empty my mind. Enclosed you see a picture of me and the necklet. And I am pretty sure that I will give this necklet to my sun und hope my sun will also feel the spirit. So I can just ask you for continuing with your work and once again - thank you very much. Greetings from Hamburg, Germany Felix Sinn