“Do not pray for an easy life; pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”
Sometimes this quote is misunderstood—out of context it seems like Bruce is encouraging you to toughen up because winter is coming. But these words are not really about praying for the strength to fight against a hard life. Within the context of Bruce Lee’s philosophy of harmony, the “strength” Bruce is referring to is one of calm and flow. An easy life is not something you get because you pray for it or fight for it, the ease comes when you practice self-actualization and achieve peace of mind.
Life is not meant to be hard or something to fight against but many of us are stuck in a story about how hard our life is. This negative mindset creates so much of the difficulty in our lives.
Don’t be complacent in the living of your life. If you have developed your root, your core, the knowledge and understanding of who you are, when you encounter difficulties in life you can easily navigate them.
In fact don’t pray for an easy or a hard life, live your life, be present, live in the moment, and be an active participant in your life without expectation or judgment about what your life is, or isn’t. Develop yourself as a human being so that you can flow through the obstacles as they come.
Don’t pray for a passive life or the fantasy of a life that is completely without difficulties. There are fantasy lifestyles presented to us in media and online and “reality” TV, that make us feel bad for not having the money, fame or toys those fantasies require. Don’t aspire to a fantasy that insulates you from the real. The point of life is to fully feel and experience all the variety that our human experience offers.
If you put this quote in the context of Bruce Lee’s other writings, it’s clear this quote is about flowing through life as a path to ease. However, if you only look at Bruce Lee as the ripped warrior who can kick ass, it is easy to misinterpret this quote to be about getting tough and developing physical strength to defend against a difficult life. When you understand who Bruce Lee was as a total human being, you know he could not have had the negative mentality that life was a constant struggle to be defended against. Bruce Lee was about keeping the mind on the positive and being in the flow.
The “endurance” is about having the stamina to experience your whole life—all the ups and downs. It’s about inviting all of the experiences, including the challenges and catastrophes, because every experience has a lesson in it.
Bruce Lee’s method of endurance was the act of being in the flow.
“One is the captain of one’s soul, the master of one’s life. What causes such realization, and subsequently causes a shift in one’s behavior? To be real, to accept responsibility for oneself.”
Bruce is teaching us to accept the responsibility for who we really are and accept the real occurrences that happen in a real life.
The direct wording of the “Do not pray…” quote is also about commitment. Be committed to living a full life. Embrace all of life and dive deep.
“The good life is a process, it’s not a state of being. The good life constituted a direction selected by the total organism when there is freedom to move in any direction.”
The process of a good life is when you understand that you have the freedom to move in any direction and that you are actively engaged in making those choices.
The first step in the good life process is freeing your mind from the limiting thoughts that are preventing you from engaging fully in life. You have to own your own power. Most of our prisons are in our own minds and you have to decide you want freedom from those thoughts before you can move forward.
“Every circumstance of every man’s life is the result of a definite cause, but mode and control are yours.”
Circumstances can be thrust upon you, but you have the ability to control how you react to those circumstances and how you move forward.
“The cultivation of the spirit is elusive and difficult and the tendency toward it is rarely spontaneous.”
The cultivation of your spirit and root does not happen automatically, one must work on it and cannot quit when it gets tough.
“A fat belly cannot believe that such a thing as hunger exists.”
“The round of summer and winter becomes a blessing the moment we give up the fantasy of an eternal spring.”
How do you look at life? What does it mean to have a full life? You have to experience the full spectrum, not just the fantasy of an eternal spring.
“The true stillness is the stillness in movement.”
If you develop your inner being and you have a strong root from which you function, then your life can be moving around you in a spiral of ups and down.
“The root is the fulcrum on which will rest the expression of your soul.”
If you can develop this root and feel centered, then you can handle whatever comes your way without toppling over.
Bruce Lee worked out extensively and trained hard, but it was effortless for him as he was moving to the rhythm of his own spirit. If you feel like you have to force something in order to make it happen, it can be exhausting. There is a difference between force and power. The “Do not pray…” quote is sometimes misinterpreted to be about physical strength. Beyond physical strength, there is inner strength, mental strength, and spiritual strength. Faith is a type of strength. Cultivating faith will help you navigate through life’s difficulties much more than physical strength.
Be present, fully alive, and engaged in your whole life. Develop a strong sense of self, develop your root.
“Wisdom does not consist in trying to wrest the good from the evil, but in learning to ride them as a cork adapts itself to the crests and troughs of the waves.”
What happens to you when you get thrown by life’s difficulties? Can you be more flexible and adaptable? Does being in the flow and being present to your life give you energy and the strength to keep going? Look at your mindset. How do you want to best navigate your life? How can you work from hard to easy? Notice what kind of escape fantasy you have and when you have it. Are you praying for something or someone to save you from your current life? Where are you being passive rather than active? Where are you forcing things unnaturally? Where are you trying to force instead of flow?
If you’d like to share how you’re doing with this action item you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Awesome Asians and Hapas)
James Wong Howe
This week podcast listener Sobaan nominated James Wong Howe.
James Wong Howe was a Chinese American cinematographer born in 1899 and worked on over 130 films. He was a master at the use of shadow and was one of the first to use deep-focus cinematography, in which both foreground and distant planes remain in focus. During the 1930s and 1940s, Howe was one of the most sought after cinematographers in Hollywood. He was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won twice for The Rose Tattoo (1955) and Hud (1963). Howe was judged to be one of the 10 most influential cinematographers in a survey of the members of the International Cinematographers Guild in the U.S. Often publicized as a Chinese cameraman, Howe was prevented from becoming a U.S. citizen until the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1943. Prior to WWII, he met his wife and they married in Paris in 1937. Due to anti-miscegenation laws, the marriage would not be legally recognized in the U.S. until 1949. After WWII, Howe was gray-listed as a communist sympathizer, and he and his wife moved to Mexico for a time. When he got work again, he won his first Academy Award in 1956 and second in 1963. James Wong Howe died in 1976 at age 76. Howe, you were a creative and social pioneer, and we think you’re awesome! Thank you Sobaan for the nomination!
This week we have a #BruceLeeMoment from listener Daniel:
“Hello Shannon and Sharon, and everybody at the Bruce Lee podcast, My first Bruce Lee moment happened before I was five years old. I have dealt with a great amount of loss in my life and Bruce Lee's philosophies helped me find solutions to life's road, which is now smooth and flows like water, sorry I couldn't resist. As I've grown older I've reconnected with all of his teachings, and I guess with wisdom, they seem more real to me today than ever before, and that speaks volumes.
My most recent Bruce Lee moment was actually on his most recent birthday. My wife and I went out of town to visit our parents over Thanksgiving, and we came back home on Sunday the 27th, I wasn't even aware that it was Bruce Lee's birthday.
I previously went out and bought a inflatable Christmas Dragon for the yard, right after Halloween, in Bruce's honor of course. I put it up as soon as we got back home, which just happen to be his birthday, which would come to my attention through your podcast the following day. I just thought the Dragon was perfect and so was the timing, with his work being a more in depth influence on my life, as of the last 2 years.
I know Bruce had a humorous side to him and he's helped me to be thankful for my problems, because I know there's people out there, that don't even have any.
I have many Bruce Lee Moments since I am now 50, but this one is special because I feel his Spirit so strong in my heart. Love You All, My Friends Daniel”