“Truth is outside of all patterns”

The subversive Tao of Bruce Lee

Teacher: “What is the highest technique you hope to achieve?”

Bruce Lee: “To have no technique.”

I’ve been known to say stuff like this — a lot: “Rediscover the subversive pleasure of thinking for yourself.”

Even so, it doesn’t make me immune to the soothing charms of a hive mind. It can be intoxicating to unquestionably believe we are right about something and to have like-minded folks surrounding us to confirm it all day, every day.

Man, the living creature, the creating individual, is always more important than any established style or system.1

Of all the humans I’ve never met, it’s safe to say Bruce Lee has been the most influential in my life. My foundational perspective of challenging orthodoxy at every turn was constructed early on, thanks to the motivating power of Lee’s example.

Set patterns, incapable of adaptability, of pliability, only offer a better cage. Truth is outside of all patterns.2

Every now and then, I recognize the need to check myself and step “outside of all patterns.” This approach is far more arduous than settling into the “better cage” of groupthink… but infinitely more rewarding and enlightening.

Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own. — Bruce Lee

As time passes, I’m astonished and grateful to take stock in the wide range of individuals and groups I’ve worked with, interacted with, learned from, and taught. Each of them carried with them lessons but none more important than this: keep questioning, keep unlearning, keep evolving.

It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials. — Bruce Lee

Every time I believe I’ve discovered the Holy Grail, the deepest roots of my quest and/or my truest personal essence, I am soon reminded of just how wrong I can be. These moments are disconcerting, of course, but they also number among my all-time favorite gifts.

Using no way as way. Having no limitation as your only limitation.3

Charismatic personalities, facile solutions, incremental compromises, an endless array of -isms and alluring comfort zones, etc., etc., etc. As dissidents — as human beings — we’re surrounded and tempted by those who’ve found “the answer.”

Some of ‘em have done amazing work and have drawn powerful conclusions but, contrary to popular belief, there is no guidebook or manual.

There is no one “right” way.

What then? I’ll leave the last word for Bruce: “Use only that which works, and take it from any place you can find it.4

  1. Bruce Lee, As quoted in “From Wing Chun to Jeet Kune Do” by Jesse R. Glover in Black Belt Vol. 31, No. 9 (September 1993), p. 35. []
  2. Bruce Lee, Tao of Jeet Kune Do. Source. []
  3. Bruce Lee, Tao of Jeet Kune Do, January 1, 1975. []
  4. As quoted in Bruce Lee: Fighting Spirit (1994) by Bruce Thomas (1994), p. 44 Source: Tao of Jeet Kune Do. []
Mickey Z. is the creator of a podcast called Post-Woke. You can subscribe here. He is also the founder of Helping Homeless Women - NYC, offering direct relief to women on New York City streets. Spread the word. Read other articles by Mickey.