Bruce Lee On #Conformity & Open-Mindedness | #Mindset | #Motivation | #Inspiration

In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”
– Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind – Beginner’s Mind
Zy Marquiez
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…”[1][Bold & Underline Emphasis Added].

Lee also cautioned the following against conformity:

“We have more faith in what we imitate than in what we originate.”[2]

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 optedto look to anyone but ourselves for the answers of our most unsettling questions.”[3] [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.“[4] [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.”[5] [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 growHe is a mechanical robot, a product of thousands of years of propaganda and conditioningThe 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.”[6] [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.”[7] [Bold Emphasis Added].

Allow me to translate: the individual is ever-learning, ever-growing, ever-evolvingA 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]..”[8]

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.”[9] [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 wayWhen 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.”[10]

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.



[1] John Little, Striking Thoughts – Bruce Lee’s Wisdom For Everyday Living, pg. xx.][Bold & Underline Emphasis Added].
[2] Ibid., p. xx.
[3] Ibid., p. xx-xxi
[4] Ibid., p. 90.
[5] Ibid., p. 138.
[6] Ibid., p. 172.
[7] Ibid., p. 154.
[8] Ibid., p. 149.
[9] Ibid., p. 148.
[10] Ibid., p. 154.

Suggested Reading:

Have You Ever Walked On The Moon?
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Consciousness – The Key To Life
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Imagination Unleashed
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Piercing Perspectives #2: You The Individual Are Extraordinary
Piercing Perspectives #3: The Divide & Conquer Left Right Paradigm
Piercing Perspectives #4: Poker As A Mirror For Life
The Individual, The Foundation Of Society

If you find value in this information, feel free to share it.  This article is free and open source.  All individuals have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and

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.

#Quote Of The Day – #BruceLee | #Mindset | #Perspective |#Life

“Knowledge will give you power, but character respect.”

“If you truly love life, don’t waste time; because time is what life is made of.”

“To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.”

“Notice that stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.”

“As you think, so shall you become.”

– Bruce Lee

Editor’s Note:

The only thing I would add, which is arguably also his most famous quote which is oddly missing, is Lee’s ‘Be Like Water’ adage, which says:

“Empty your mind. Be formless. Shapeless. Like water. You put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put water into a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”

#Quote Of The Day – #Water | #Mindset

“Empty your mind.  Be formless.  Shapeless.  Like water.  You put water into a cup, it becomes the cup.  You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle.  You put water into a teapot, it becomes the teapot.  Water can flow or it can crash.  Be water, my friend.”
– Bruce Lee

The Individual – The Foundation Of Society

Zy Marquiez
March 19, 2019

“Having conceived of his purpose, a man should mentally mark out a straight pathway to its achievement, looking neither to the right no the left.  Doubts and fears should be rigorously excluded, which break up the straights line of effort, rendering it crooked, ineffectual, useless.  Thoughts of doubt and fear never accomplished anything, and never can.  They always lead to failure.  Purpose, energy, power to do, and all strong thoughts cease when doubt and fear creep in.”[1]
– James Allen, As A Man Thinketh

“Thought allied fearlessly to purpose becomes creative force: he who knows this is ready to become something higher and stronger than a mere bundle of wavering thoughts and fluctuating sensations; he who does this has become the conscious and intelligent wielder of his mental powers.”[Emphasis in original].[2]
– James Allen, As A Man Thinketh

“The greatest power that a person possesses is the power to choose.”
– J. Martin Kohe

History has taught us that individuals have a way of changing the course of history.  History revolves around the actions that individuals have taken that still reverberate to this day and will undoubtedly echo into the morrow.  In many ways, the echoes of these actions are not only heard by many but are influencing and changing many people’s lives at the individual level as well as molding the future simultaneously.

Individuals like Socrates, Bruce Lee, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, and countless others have erected pillars for humanity to see farther than it ever has, to accomplish more than it ever could in the past.  The actions these individuals took were borne out of the choices – the individual choices – each of them opted to make.  Without each of those individuals having made the choices that inherently made them who they ultimately became, we wouldn’t have the knowledge, lessons and wisdom that one may gain from them.

One circumstance that is rarely discussed is the fact that individuals of that stature do not just come out of nowhere.  Society most often sees or hears of these individuals in their final iteration, their final form, but that does a great disservice to all.  There is an inherent process of conquering obstacles and facing untold struggles, all of which made these individuals that much stronger and more capable.  To know that is not only to learn about history, the past, but it is also learning about the human condition.

What we know as the finished product – the way we see each of these individuals today – is not the totality of the story.  That is merely the final chapter, in a long list of chapters that merely give us a cursory synopsis into the livelihood of these individuals, into what it took for them to became who they ultimately became, who we know them as today.

Just like life is an inherently fluid process in which growth and entropy are at sword’s edge over which will reign supreme, so are all of us individuals battling inner struggles in order to take sound and rational actions, or give into the opposite of that spectrum.  The point is, for many circumstances in life there are incredibly sound precedents set for individuals to follow, if they so choose.  But without choice, nothing great can be accomplished.  Without choice, all we remain as individuals are blank canvases with nothing to show, or blank books with nothing to tell.  Yet, we know, by the above examples that humanity – via the individual – is capable of much more, so much more.  But it all starts at the individual level.

As the individual goes, civilization flows.  To reiterate one last time, without the actions taken by individuals nothing great can be accomplishedLet that sink in.

Choices are one of the greatest freedoms that we as individuals have.  Each of us is always one choice away from changing our life for the better, but it starts with the individual.

It always starts with the individual – with you.


[1] James Allen, As A Man Thinketh, pp. 39-40.
[2] James Allen, As A Man Thinketh, p. 40.

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If you find value in this information, please share it.  This article is free and open source.  All individuals have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and
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.