Truth was an important concept to Bruce Lee and it shows up often in his journal entries. But the way he used the word “truth” was not to describe a fact or to be the opposite of a lie. He wrote about a deeper, more of a philosophical, spiritual definition of truth—a concept close to the Tao. It’s why we’re calling it The Real Truth.
“The word Tao has no exact equivalent in the English language, to render it into way, principle, or law, is to give it too narrow of an interpretation. Although no one word can substitute for its meaning, I have used the word truth for it.”
Bruce understood Truth to be the Tao or the way of the universe. Truth is nowhere and everywhere at the same time, and there a little bits of Truth in all things. This is the way of nature.
“Truth is a pathless road, a road that is not a road. It is total expression that has no before or after. How can there be methods and systems by which to arrive at something that is living? To that which is static, fixed, dead, there can be a way, a definite path but not to that which is living.”
The Real Truth is something that’s alive, something that we are in relationship with, and happening in the present moment. I may have my Truth and you may have your Truth, but there is Truth in everything and we should not persecute each other for it.
“Truth comes when your mind and heart are purged of all sense of striving and you are no longer trying to become somebody. It is there when the mind is very quiet, listening timelessly to everything.”
“If you want the truth to stand clear before you, never be for or against. The struggle between for and against is the mind’s worst disease. The perfect way is only difficult for those who pick and choose. Do not like, do not dislike. Make a hairsbreadth difference in heaven and earth are set a part.”
When you take a stance for or against, you are separating the universe instead of approaching it as a whole. If you are in flow with Truth then you do not feel resistance or struggle with the universe.
“The Truth that makes us free is not the truth as an object of knowledge only, but the Truth lived and experienced in awareness.”
You can usually sense when something is meant to confuse or enlighten. What is the essence of what someone is saying? Does it come from a place of fear and anger, or joy and love? If it makes you feel anger and fear? Pay attention to the resulting feeling. The experiences and ideas that make you feel in harmony with nature are helpful guides in your pursuit of Truth.
“I’ve said before truth is nowhere to be found on a map, your truth is different than that of mine. At first you might think that this is truth, but later you discover another truth and the former truth is denied, but you are, in fact, closer to truth. Perhaps when we have found more about what is not the truth we will be that much closer to the truth.”
“Create immediately an atmosphere of freedom so that you can live and find out for yourselves what is true so that you’re able to face the world with the ability to understand it and not just conform to it.”
A core tenet of Bruce Lee’s philosophy is independent inquiry. You need to search for Truth independently, outside of any institution, take all the information in but in a neutral way.
“We shall find the truth when we examine the problem. The problem is never apart from the answer; the problem is the answer. The understanding of the problem is the dissolution of the problem. It is a mistake to think that one can establish a universal definition for verification.”
If you are moved to this path of Truth, you’re going to ruffle some feathers along the way because it is inevitable that you will come up against established ways and even resistance within yourself from your cultural background or how your were raised. On this path you’ll have to confront your own biases. It’s ok to hold on to your truths, but you should check in regularly with yourself to see if they remain true.
“I’m a changing as well as ever-growing man.”
A lot of truths that we hold on to are really traditions, not universal truths.
“The ways of truth consist of seeking after the truth, awareness of truth, perception of truth, understanding of truth, experiencing of truth, mastering of truth, forgetting truth, forgetting the carrier of truth, the return to the primal source where truth has its roots, and repose in nothing."
“You can’t organize truth, that’s like trying to put a pound of water into wrapping paper and shaping it.”
There is an element of truth in everything, nature teaches. If you’re a seeker of truth, then you are in joyful pursuit of those experiences.
“Bring the mind into sharp focus and make it alert so that it can immediately intuit truth which is everywhere. To intuit truth the mind must be emancipated from old habits, prejudices, restrictive thought processes, and even ordinary thought itself.”
The Real Truth is a continuous process in one’s journey as a seeker of wisdom and transformation.
Are you a seeker? Do you want to be a seeker? What truths are you in inquiry about? Acknowledge that you’re a seeker and on this path to truth and freedom. Tackle one judgment or cultural context that you were raised in and be in inquiry with it. Are you happy in your everyday life? What shifts can you make to amplify your joy?
“I have to leave you now my friend, you have a long journey ahead of you and you must travel light. From now on drop all your burden of preconceived conclusions behind and open yourself to everything and everyone ahead. Remember my friend, the usefulness of the cup is in its emptiness.”
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)
This week our #AAHA is Japanese artist and writer Yayoi Kusama. She has worked in a wide variety of media: painting, sculpture, collage, performance art, and environmental installations. She was a part of the pop art movement and influenced Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, and George Segal, and exhibited alongside them but did not receive very much recognition during the 1960s. Kusama is now recognized as one of the most important living artists to come out of Japan. In 2008, Christies’s New York sold a work for her for $5.1 million, then a record for a living female artist. Major retrospectives of her work have been held at the MOMA, the Whitney Museum, the Tate Modern, and the Hirshhorn Museum. Her Infinity Room exhibit is currently on display at the Broad in Los Angeles. Yayoi Kusama, you are so awesome!
This week’s #BruceLeeMoment comes from listener Bruce P.:
“I just wanted to say thank you for the great podcasts. I am a hospice chaplain and I obviously deal with grief all day long on a daily basis. Shannon's frequent laughter as she discusses Bruce's philosophy and daily life certainly helps me break out of the oppressive spiraling memory of what I have just witnessed at the bedside of a patient. Thank you for the refreshing dialogue and thought provoking discussions presented in such an entertaining way. Also, I thoroughly enjoy the concluding segments recognizing Asians who live out exceptional character, leadership, & talent; their stories have the same intrigue as Paul Harvey's "And now for the rest of the story."
Grace and peace, Bruce P.”