HOW KRISNAMURTI CHANGED THE THINKING
OF BOTH BRUCE LEE AND JOE LEWIS
One of the most significant abilities of both great fighters and the old martial arts masters is their
instinct to anticipate. They know what you’re going to do before you execute. Any serious
martial artist who practices disciplined interaction drills, such as sparring, will gradually acquire
this skill. Over time, one develops his focusing attributes by being able to concentrate such that
the non-essentials are eliminated and only the essentials remain. This awareness, especially in
the abstract, is the highest form of intelligence.
Both Bruce Lee and I were able to expand our awareness through reading and subscribing to the
recorded lectures and writings of the late philosopher, J. Krisnamurti. Here is an example. Two
fighters are sparring. One has a sharp, effective side kick. The other knows this and has
prepared himself with a secret block against it. However, as their sparring session progresses,
every time the second fighter attempts his new block, he fails and consistently keeps getting hit
with the side kick. What is wrong with this picture?
One of the key tenets of Krisnamurti’s teachings is to learn how to clearly expand your
awareness through the understanding and practice of proper observation. This means learning to
see things without contaminating your awareness with conceptual identities. Krisnamurti says,
“That which is being observed is not the same as its identity.”
When you lock your focus on just a symbol for what something is called or its value, your
awareness freezes on the conceptual level of thinking. Your mental thoughts become separated
from simultaneously participating in your actions. For example, the fighter thinks, evaluates,
and then executes a movement. The impulsiveness we frequently witness watching a great
fighter is no longer there.
The fighter above is missing the sidekick because he is looking for, and, trying to identify the
incoming sidekick. He has unintentionally distorted both his reaction and response timing speed
by blindfolding his awareness. What he does not see is how and when the kicker keeps
disguising the set point from which he positions and times the execution of the kick. Nor, does
the victim detect how the kicker breaks his rhythm by keeping him off-balance, and also
contained, as he makes an approach in setting up the kick.
An early scene in the movie, “Enter the Dragon,” Bruce Lee was seen teaching a young student.
Lee pointed his finger upwards towards the moon and said, “Don’t think, feel. It is like a finger
pointing away to the moon.” Not happy with the student’s reaction, Bruce smacks him and tells
him, “Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all the heavenly glory.” This meant that
beyond the awareness of simply what is the moon’s identity is the wider abstract principle of
what this symbol, the moon, represents, that of also being part of the heavens.
If you were to observe the woods out in a rural countryside, what would you see? Do you think
I see some trees, some bushes, some weeds, or some dead plant life; or, do you see beyond just
the identity of the content of your observation and see the wider principle, which these things
represent – the forest? This is one of the ways Krisnamurti tries to teach you to expand your
awareness by first learning how to think in principle.