“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”
– Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind – Beginner’s Mind
April 10, 2019
As a preamble, it must be stated that Bruce Lee was not a conformist in any way shape or form.
Martial artist and philosopher Lee was the very antithesis of conformity. In a modern era where the system seeks to social engineer you in more ways than you can imagine, Lee’s take on the oft-overlooked subject of conformity is monumentally refreshing and well thought-out.
Lee valued individuality far more than most. In fact, in Striking Thoughts – Bruce Lee’s Wisdom For Everyday Living, writer John Little expounds upon this very notion:
“Bruce Lee rejected blind obedience to external authority. He urged human beings to hold themselves and their lives as their highest values and wrote in praise of “the artist of life” who lives by his own judgement…”[Bold & Underline Emphasis Added].
Lee also cautioned the following against conformity:
“We have more faith in what we imitate than in what we originate.”
In this sense, imitation is not the highest form of flattery, not even close.
Likewise, Little notes that the result of conformity crisis is that:
“…we are encouraged – and have opted – to look to anyone but ourselves for the answers of our most unsettling questions.” [Bold Emphasis Added].
The system teaches you to search from without, not from within; away from the individual and their inner consciousness.
Due to knowledge of this conformity crisis, Lee was very careful not to impose his beliefs and knowledge onto his students. In fact:
“[a teacher] employs a minimum of form to lead his student to be formless. Furthermore, he points out the importance of being able to enter a mold without being imprisoned by it, or to follow the principles without being bound by them.“ [Bold Emphasis Added].
Lee sought for others to remain fluid, malleable, like water. An apt analogy if there ever were one considering Lee’s timeless water analogies.
Moreover, Lee also cautioned about an individual’s knack for clinging to artistic principles which curtail an individual’s growth as an individual. Lee warned:
“If we cling to any artistic technique it can limit our artistic expression. Art is the expression of the self; the more complicated and restrictive a method is, the lesser the opportunity for expression of one’s original sense of freedom….If we cling to them, we will come bound by their limitations.” [Bold Emphasis Added].
Freedom of expression, and freedom of creativity should always be sought after and merely clinging to any artistic system restricts this in myriad detrimental ways for all individuals.
For those following artistic systems, Lee also forewarns:
“The second-hand artist, in blindly following the teacher, accepts his pattern and, as a result, his action and, above all, his thinking becomes mechanical, his responses automatic according to the pattern – and thereby he ceases to expand or to grow. He is a mechanical robot, a product of thousands of years of propaganda and conditioning. The second-hand artist seldom learns to depend upon himself for expression; instead, he faithfully follows an imposed pattern. So what is nurtured is the dependent mind rather than independent inquiry.” [Bold & Underline Emphasis Added].
Lee shows why it’s critical to maintain an open mind, clear of any previous dogmas.
Along the same line of thought, Lee states:
“Do not restrict yourself to one approach, there are different approaches, you know?…We must approach it with our own self – we are always in a learning process, where as a “style” [or system] is a concluded, established, solidified something. You cannot do that, because you learn everyday as you grow older.” [Bold Emphasis Added].
Allow me to translate: the individual is ever-learning, ever-growing, ever-evolving. A static mindset is counterproductive to that and the antithesis to open-mindedness and growth.
For those seeking truth in a world that seeks to conform, Lee also cautiously intimates:
“The truth is outside of all set patterns. Conditioning is to limit a person within the framework of a particular system. All fixed set patterns are capable of adaptability. [Bold Emphasis Added]..”
The only way to attain truth is outside of set patterns, outside of a closed mind, which is already set in its ways.
On the very significance of maintaining an open mind against any sort of conformity, Lee states:
“Keep your mind uncontaminated by past conditioning.” [Bold Emphasis Added].
Just as author Shunryu Suzuki trenchantly notes in his illuminating Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind, Lee is every-steady in urging individuals to remain fluid and flexible, maintaining an open-mind, a beginner’s mind.
If the individual is to ‘adopt’ anything, Lee suggests to:
“Use ‘no way’ as way. When there is a ‘Way,’ therein lies the limitation. And when there is a circumference, it traps. And if it traps, it rots. And if it rots, it is lifeless.”
Systems lead to stagnation and to decay. On the other hand, flexibility, fluidity, open-mindedness – the open-mindedness of a beginner’s mind – allows for ceaseless learning to be had in ever moment, at every instance. And isn’t that what life is about, learning?
Conformity is the very antithesis of learning. Conformity leads an individual to stagnation and to hold their mind, their very being, their creativity, under lock and key. And what is allowed to manifest, is always within the confines of a box – the system-imposed matrix social engineers seek. That is not an approach that fosters growth. The opposite side of the spectrum is what offers it.
A clear mind of all preconceptions – of all notions – that holds open-mindedness is they key.
And isn’t it logical that the mind of a beginner, if it is always maintained, is ever-ready, like a blank canvas, a blank page, prime for learning, for it is inherent in a beginner’s nature.
In that way, all life is learning, all learning is life; endless growth follows – the endless growth of you; the seed of today, the juggernaut of tomorrow.
 John Little, Striking Thoughts – Bruce Lee’s Wisdom For Everyday Living, pg. xx.][Bold & Underline Emphasis Added].
 Ibid., p. xx.
 Ibid., p. xx-xxi
 Ibid., p. 90.
 Ibid., p. 138.
 Ibid., p. 172.
 Ibid., p. 154.
 Ibid., p. 149.
 Ibid., p. 148.
 Ibid., p. 154.
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About The Author:
Zy Marquiez is an avid book reviewer, inquirer, an open-minded skeptic, yogi, and freelance writer who aims at empowering individuals while also studying and regularly mirroring subjects like Consciousness, Education, Creativity, The Individual, Ancient History & Ancient Civilizations, Forbidden Archaeology, Big Pharma, Alternative Health, Space, Geoengineering, Social Engineering, Propaganda, and much more.