#75 Reform the Formula


“Many people are still bound by tradition; when the elder generation says ‘no’ to something, then these other people will strongly disapprove of it as well. If the elders say that something is wrong, then they will believe that it is wrong. They seldom use their mind to find out the truth and seldom express sincerely their real feeling. The simple truth is that these opinions on such things as racism and traditions, which are nothing more than a ‘formula’ laid down by these elder people’s experience. As we progress and time changes, it is necessary to reform this formula.”

Bruce is talking specifically about racism, but this quote can be applied in a broader sense to old traditions and stagnations we face in life. Bruce encountered racism and stale traditions in both the martial arts world and in Hollywood, and decided that he had to create his own formula for moving through those worlds.

When is it time to reform the formula? How do we know when a formula is not working? You can tell when something is not working for you if you are banging against a barrier and not progressing forward or if the tradition you are upholding is hurting other people. Another indication of a formula not working is if you find you are dimming your light, your essence, for the sake of others. These are all indicators that you need to change the formula because what currently exists is not working.

“When one is not expressing himself, he is not free. Thus he begins to struggle and the struggle breeds methodical routine. Pretty soon on is doing his methodical routine as response rather than responding to what is.”

This is when you return to doing what has always been done, instead of asking: is this the right thing to do in this moment? Have you grown past that routine? It can be hard to notice that you need to grow, especially when you are frustrated in the struggle.

“Organic seeing is diminished or forgotten when we begin to choose sides.”

Witness what is flowing. Organic seeing comes from within you and is not influenced by other people’s thoughts and ideas. Organic seeing is more difficult when you are mired in negative self-talk.

“In a struggle you need, not neutrality, not indifference, but Transcendence.”

Transcendence is the reforming of the formula. Step back, get a different view of the landscape, and figure out where you need to go from there.

A big red flag is if you notice that you feel you have to be less of yourself to fit in or to make other people feel more comfortable. If other people want you to cover up your light because they are not shining as brightly, this is when the formula has to be changed. It is a good indicator of your real friends and partners in life, they want you to succeed regardless if they are personally succeeding in life or not.

“Playing the concept strengthens our negativity, prevents us from seeing and, above all, wastes a lot of energy. Instead, we should use this energy creatively for our own development.”

The formula is what boxes us in. If you are trying to find justifications for keeping a formula that is not working, you are keeping yourself shut inside that box and this stifles your growth. This is self-image actualization, where you strive to be what someone else wants you to be, and if you play that concept over and over, it will increase your negativity.

When you think of a new idea, there is always going to be a response telling you not to do it. Be unsurprised by this type of reaction, it is a natural response you will face because people do not like change. Change is uncertainty and can cause discomfort so people become resistant. Do not let it affect you too much or deter you.

“Because one does not want to be disturbed or made uncertain, he establishes a pattern of conduct, of thought, of relationship. Then he becomes enslaved to the pattern and takes the pattern to be the real thing.”

If you are not in a constant inquisitive relationship with everything, you settle into these patterns. Then, you start to think that those patterns are all that there is and you are trapped.

Not all patterns we follow are bad. Routines can be created as the solution for a particular problem, but that does not mean the pattern will be a solution for all situations or continue to work forever.

When do you notice hints that the pattern is not working for you? It is important to be in constant awareness of those signs so you know when you need to modify or tweak what you’re doing.

“When your actions and your thinking become mechanical, you cease to expand or grow. You do not rely on yourself for expression. Do not nurture dependence, rather nurture independent inquiry.”

Get curious about what is not working. Inquire as to why it isn’t working.

Some things are going to be easy, small things in your life and others are going to be much bigger like racism and going up against the old school traditions. Those big things do not change quickly and require a lot of souls bonding together to fight against them.

“When real feeling occurs, like anger, fear, etc, can one express himself with a classical pattern? Or is he merely listening to his own screams and yells while mechanically performing his routine?”

This quote offers a great visual of how to know when you have to reform the formula. (Think of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.”)

“However, do not deny the classical approach as a reaction, for you will have created another pattern in which you will be trapped.”

This idea of reforming the formula is not that either “all old ideas are bad” or “all new ideas are good.” It is about an evolution, it’s about building on what works and tweaking what does not for your self. This is an ongoing process that is never finished.

Trusting your self and living in harmony means that you do not have to be constantly at war with everyone who disagrees with you, you can let them be and follow your own path.

“Fortune is the reward of the man who can think of something that hasn’t been thought is before.”

Reforming the formula, thinking of something that you have not before, can bring you good fortune and goodwill in your life, and help you transcend your struggles.

“A choice method is the cultivation of resistance. A well-disciplined mind is not a free mind. Any technique, however worthy and desirable, becomes a disease then the mind is obsessed with it.”

Take Action:

Notice where you are stagnant or dimming your light. Ask yourself: what would it look like to go beyond the thing I am struggling with? Is there a place in your life where you say, “That’s how I’ve always done it.” Examine that and ask if that is truly the best way or if you are stuck in a pattern.

If you’d like to share how you’re doing with this action item you can email us at hello@brucelee.com.


(Awesome Asians and Hapas)

Jennifer Yuh Nelson

Jennifer Yuh Nelson is an American director and storyboard artist. Born in South Korea, Jennifer grew up in Lakewood, CA. From a young age she enjoyed martial arts movies and drawing, “I have been drawing since age 3 and making movies in my head for almost as long. In fact, drawing for me was a way to express those films when I had no other means of doing so.” Jennifer Yuh is best known for her directorial debut Kung Fu Panda 2. Jennifer is the first woman to solely direct an animated feature from a major Hollywood studio. She won an Annie Award for Best Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production for directing the opening for Kung Fu Panda and was the second woman nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature for her work on Kung Fu Panda 2. After Kung Fu Panda 2 was one of the most financially successful films directed by a woman, Jennifer returned to direct Kung Fu Panda 3. In 2016, Jennifer was added as one of the board of Governors by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Jennifer, thank you for sharing your talent with the world and being a pioneer in Hollywood and the animation industry, we love your work and think you’re awesome!


This week our #BruceLeeMoment comes from listener Tyler J.:

“I am 25 years old and I have been listening to the podcast since close to the time you started. Thankfully it popped up on iTunes and I had to click it. I've never seen any of Bruce Lee's movies but I knew who the man was, a badass! What I didn't know was the philosophy he had. I wrestled for 10 years and I'm in the beginning of jiu jitsu now. Although these martial arts are the most fun sports for me, I participate in them for more than that. Bruce's philosophy makes sense of why I am in martial arts. I relate to him as an artist, yet I can relate the philosophies to everything else in my life. I just finished the 27th episode about energy. My Bruce Lee moment, before I realized it was a Bruce Lee moment, was keeping in touch with friends with good energy, or energy that is positive, the friends with those good vibes. I haven't lost touch with my old friends, but I definitely haven't reached out to them because I feel their energy has never been positive toward my life. Even in my workplace, which I am in the process of finding a new job, I've had plenty interviews and although I am desperate for a job, I do not want to be at a job where the energy is negative. I am hoping to find a job with good energy that I can also be a part of as well. I realized as well that most of my friends I've kept in touch with are my teammates. We've all been through the training together and spent time together outside of it as well. The teammates I've kept in touch with are usually the ones with the best energy, not just conditioning and strength, but the best vibes that you talked about in your podcast. My middle name is Kapono, which means "righteous one" in Hawaiian. I do my best to live a righteous life and although my sports involve harming others, I do so righteously, with good intent, and for self improvement. Thank you so much for the podcast. You are able to help me through figuring out situations in my life and decoding ones in the past. Thanks to you delivering Bruce's philosophies through your voice, you're able to be the coach I've been wanting after my competitive careers and I appreciate this so much. I'm sure when the podcast ends, I'll re-listen to every episode again because it is truly that good. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Tyler J.”

Share your #AAHA and #BruceLeeMoment recommendations with us via social media @BruceLee or email us at hello@brucelee.com.


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