Today Marks the 40th Anniversary of Bruce Lee’s Death

Bruce's Original Headstone
Bruce Lee’s original headstone (1994)

  It has been 40 years since Bruce Lee, Li Jun-Fan, passed away. He was a true pioneer. Not just in the world of Martial Arts but in breaking down societal barriers. He wanted, first and foremost, to be seen as a Human Being. Not Asian. Not his skin color. A human being. To quote Bruce from his interview on the Pierre Burton Show, (being a little flippant with the first part) “As Confucius Say,” but under the sky, under the heavens there is but one family”.”  He smashed through racial boundaries, dogma and  to become one of the biggest superstars in the world today.

  Bruce Lee was also a philosopher. As a student of philosophy he didn’t really break and new ground in the field. What he did do was, just as in his own personal interpretation of the martial arts (Jeet Kune Do), combine different ways and schools of thought into his own way. He lived that way to the fullest up until the day he died. He was the one person who began my intense interests in philosophy and psychology (all be they layman’s interests). As a matter of fact, many of my interests are due to this man. Being eclectic is not only versatile it is liberating.

   So, today,  honestly express yourself and do your best at whatever you do.  By doing these things you will not only be on your way to a phenomenal day but you will also be honoring the life and memory of this great Human Being.

Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water.
Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup;
You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle;
You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot.
Now water can flow or it can crash. 
Be water, my friend.

Do Not Disturb; a Tale of Bruce Lee (李小龍)

Bruce Lee (Li Jun Fan)This is from a conversation between Joe Hyams, Sterling Silliphant and Bruce Lee (李小龍 – Li Jun Fan)

On one such occasion we talked about the difference between wasting time and spending time. Bruce was the first to speak.

“To spend time is to pass it in a specific manner” he said. “We are spending it during lessons just as we are spending it now in conversation. To waste time is to expend it thoughtlessly or carelessly. We all have time to either spend or waste and it is our decision what to do with it. But once passed, it is gone forever.

“It is the most precious commodity we have, “agreed Sterling. “I always view my time as divided into infinite moments or transactions or contacts. Anyone who steals my time is stealing my life because they are taking my existence from me. As I get older, I realize that time is the only thing I have left. So when someone comes to me with a project, I estimate the time it will take me to do it and then ask myself, ‘Do I want to spend weeks or months of what little time I have on this project? Is it worth it or is it wasting my time?’ If I consider the project time-worthy I do it.

“I apply this same yardstick to my social relations. I will not permit people to steal my time. I have limited my friends to those people with whom time passes happily. There are moments in my life – necessary moments – when I don’t do anything but what is my choice. The choice of how I spend my time is mine, and it is not dictated by social convention”

After Sterling finished talking, Bruce looked into space for a few moments. When he finally spoke, it was to ask if he could make a telephone call.

When he came back, Bruce was smiling. “I just cancelled an appointment.” he said. “It was with someone who wanted to waste my time and not help me spend it”

Read Joe Hyams’ book, “Zen in the Martial Arts” here: