Bruce Lee:

“The last name is Lee, Bruce Lee. I was born in San Francisco in 1940. I am 24 right now.”

Culture Minus Sanskar:

We all know Bruce Lee; the man, the legend. There have been very few men in modern history who have captured the imagination of the public, across the world, across classes, across age groups. And why not? There is something very admirable about a man at the peak of his [inaudible]. A man, whose always in control of his destiny. There’s this unspeakable charisma, which inspires us to do more, to be more.

Culture Minus Sanskar:

Apart from his physical feats, many have also been amazed by his insight into the human condition. His philosophy has changed lives. And not just lives of martial artists, but everyone. His philosophical outlook was so practical that it resonated with the masses. That’s because Bruce Lee was not just a martial artist; he was a learned man, a self-taught man. He was an avid reader with a massive library of his own, which he accumulated over time. His core reading list, incorporated books by Carl Rogers, Alan Watts, Lao-Tse and many other Buddhist works. But this also included another great intellectual, an Indian monk. His work continues to be a massive influence in the Western world. His teachings are never considered in India, though. He is an obscure philosopher in an India dominated by pseudo-god men. But his teachings did not escape the great Bruce Lee, whose core philosophy was molded by the thought process of this man. Who was this Indian monk?’

Welcome to Indie-A. This is another episode of Culture minus Sanskar.

Linda Lee (Bruce Lee’s Widow):

“I believe that, um, part of the concept that he enjoyed so much about Krishnamurti’s philosophy was one of self-reliance.”

Culture Minus Sanskar:

Meet Jiddu Krishnamurti. Jiddu was an Indian philosopher, writer and public speaker. Born in a poor [inaudible] south, Jiddu’s childhood was tough. But he was legally adopted by Annie Beasant, who groomed him to be the leader of the religious organizations called the Theosophical Society. This is similar to how kids in Tibet are identified and groomed to be the next Dalai Lama.

Jiddu showed great spiritual fortitude. He was a master orator. His insight into the human mind and his deceptions, mesmerized audiences. While his superior articulation, simplified even the most abstract of topics for them. His primary interest oftenly revolved around the nature of mind, transformational psychology and meditation. Eventually, he renounced his allegiance to theosophy. And he claimed that he did not identify with any nationality, caste, religion or philosophy. Pretty intense, right?

Culture Minus Sanskar:

But how did Bruce Lee draw his inspiration from Jiddu Krishnamurti? How did he use the teachings of an Indian monk to become a great martial artist? To better understand this, we must first list down the top 3 Jiddu Truisms that influenced Bruce Lee the most. Number 1; truth is a pathless land. Number 2; freedom is the ultimate ideal. And number 3; the observer is the observed. Let’s look at the first Jiddu Truism.

Jiddu Krishnamurti:

“I maintain that truth is a pathless land and cannot be approved by any power, whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. Truth being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized.”

Culture Minus Sanskar:

By his own admission, Bruce Lee was not the perfect martial artist. But we can all agree that he came pretty close. You see, to be a great martial artist, one must have mastered the physical and the metaphysical, which means, body and mind. The martial artist must train endlessly. Physical training should be relentless. This also means that one must be ultra-efficient with one’s energy. And this is where technique comes in.

Culture Minus Sanskar:

This is where the ultimate fighting style comes in. And Bruce Lee was obsessed with the ultimate technique. He was obsessed with the ultimate fighting style. Although he was taught by the legendary Ip Man, as an ancient practitioner, Bruce Lee realized that the art had its limitations. He was notorious for getting into street fights as a youth, but there are no rules on the street.

While most martial arts came with their own codes of conduct, Bruce Lee was well aware of this. He was also aware of the fact that the fighting did not just involve striking. He was reputed to have fought fighters from various disciplines like wrestling and grappling. As he internalized Jiddu’s first Truism, he picked up on a profound revelation. The only way to achieve the ultimate technique, was to be free from it. No way, is the way. The perfect fighting style was to have no fighting style. The perfect technique was no technique.

Culture Minus Sanskar:

Look at what Jiddu himself wrote in his book of life. ‘There is no method of self-knowledge. Seeking a method invariably, implies the desire to attain some result – and that is what we all want. We follow authority – if not that of a person, then of a system, of an ideology – because we want a result that will be satisfactory, which will give us security. When we follow a method, we must have authorities – the teacher, the guru, the savior, the Master – who will guarantee us what we desire – and surely, that is not the way of self-knowledge.’

Bruce Lee was so inspired by this line of thinking, that he eventually established a completely new martial discipline called Jeet Kune Do – the way of the intercepting fist. The martial art did not rely on any one technique, or a fighting style, like striking or [inaudible]. In many ways, Bruce Lee’s wider thinking influenced the rise of modern MMA. Just look at this scene from ‘Enter the Dragon’. The arm bar that Bruce Lee pulls off, is similar to the one executed by the queen of arm bars in MMA, Rhonda Rousey.

You see, Bruce Lee wasn’t just about kicking and punching. No way, is the way. Jiddu had a massive role to play in all of this. Let’s look at the second Jiddu Truism; Freedom is the ultimate ideal.

Bruce Lee:

“I said empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless, like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, it becomes a bottle. You put in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow, or it can crush. Be water, my friend.”

Culture Minus Sanskar:

Flow. This concept is only an extension of the first Truism. When you adopt no way as the way, you’re ultimately freeing yourself from any dogma. This is what Jiddu has to say about flow. ‘Creation can only take place when the mind-heart is still, and not caught in the net of becoming. The open passivity to reality is not the result of craving with its will and conflict. In freedom alone can there be creativeness.’

Culture Minus Sanskar:

Jiddu believed that the human spirit is creative only when it is truly free. The state of flow is very important for the martial artist as well. Because in martial arts, the body and mind of the artist must unite as one in order to be effective. Tony Ferguson is one great example of a martial artist who truly flows. Tony is a mad dude. Look at him in the flow zone as he dances and weaves his way through punches. Flow arises out of a sense of freedom. Neither grasp nor loss. It is the purest state of existence, and out of this freedom comes honest expression. Bruce Lee himself admits it himself here.

Bruce Lee:

“Listen, you see really, to me, okay. To me. Ultimately martial art means honestly expressing yourself.”

Culture Minus Sanskar:

Finally, let’s look at the third Jiddu Truism; the observer is the observed. Jiddu was a big proponent of what he called choiceless awareness. It is a state of existence in which one must detach oneself from oneself and be completely present in the moment. The state of awareness cannot involve any kind of interference by way of rationalized art. Does this mean we must abolished art or the act of thinking? Yes, and no. We cannot stop thinking or stop the flow of thoughts. But should we identify with them to the extent of being influenced by them? We end up taking selfish decisions based on choice. Jiddu would not approve of this. Choiceless awareness entails nonidentification with the self, but more importantly it entails nonidentification with the self as psychological entity. Because our psychological selves are selfish entities that always want to take action on impulses and desires. Which eventually has us leading to wanting, which leads us to anxiety. Which leads us to conflict. Which leads us to suffering. Suffering has us feeling caged and trapped. We are not free anymore. Our human spirit then cannot be creative. There will be no honest expression. There will be no flow and this means that our existence will not be optimal.

According to Jiddu, choiceless awareness ensures that complete attention and awareness dissolves the self as a rational thinking psychological entity. This brings down the duality of ourselves and reality. There is only an absolute existence. Only absolute reality. No, us and them, no, you and I. Not even me and myself. This truism influenced Bruce Lee so much, that he made it apart of his mindset as a martial artist. This led to his world famous, ‘there is no opponent philosophy.’ Check it out.

Bruce Lee:

“Be ready for whatever may come. When the opponent expands I contract. When he contracts I expand. When there is an opportunity, I do not hit! It hits all by itself.”

Culture Minus Sanskar:

The word I does not exist. I do not hit. It hits all by itself. In the first part of the video, Bruce Lee talks about Jiddu’s first Truism. In the second part, he talks about the third and final Jiddu Truism. When you come to think of it, all of Bruce Lee’s iconic philosophical statements have the basis in Jiddu Krishnamurti’s teachings. Just imagine, an Indian spiritual monk, influenced one of the greatest pop culture icons the world has ever seen.

While Jiddu has been given a celebrity status in the Western world, his comparative in India. It’s time to change that. We leave you with a link to our favorite Jiddu video below in the description. It’s a brilliant exposition on film.

This is Indie-A. Thanks for watching.




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