Directives

Updated: 19/7/21

I recently listened to a 4 hour podcast whilst driving in Scotland about the life of Bruce Lee. He’s another one of those figures who has shaped a large part of my thinking.

Lee wrote Striking thoughts : a series of reflections on various topics.

This is inspired by Striking Thoughts. Condensed aphorisms as a guide. These are for myself as reference. Please disagree and examine yourself.

Words are fixed. Life is fluid. Examine your own experience because truth is a pathless land.

Work

  • Escape competition through authenticity
  • Wu Wei : How can you get the maximum results by putting in the least effort?
  • Work smart (not necessarily hard)
  • Action over words
  • Operate within your circle of competence
  • Follow your genuine intellectual curiosity
  • Learn outside of your field. Having distinct subsections of knowledge is a man made construction. There is a unity of knowledge.It all inter-relates and mixes.
  • Create a local net positive

Wealth and Fame

  • You want to be creatively living an anonymous life whilst contributing to society
  • Micro change > Macro change
  • Assets > Expenses
  • Compound interest is 8th wonder of the world
  • Keep a budget.
  • Don’t fall into lifestyle inflation / upgrading. Living below your means holds a freedom those who don’t can’t fathom
  • Time is non renewable.
  • Trade money for time and experiences.
  • You need very little to survive
  • Don’t play status games
  • Watch your desires- Hedonic treadmill

Communication

  • Simplicity > Complexity
  • If you can’t explain it to a 5 year old, you don’t really understand
  • Understanding > Memorisation
  • If you have nothing to say. Be silent
  • Be curious. Ask questions.
  • Don’t force learning. Learn when you are into it.
  • When people give you unwarranted advice, it is a reflection of their desires
  • Praise specifically, criticise generally
  • Don’t give advice unless it’s asked for. No-one likes being preached to. It gives the idea that you understand better’ (which you don’t)
  • Ask other people for advice
  • Treat people on a peer to peer basis rather than hierarchical
  • There is something to learn from everyone

Learning

  • Read books. 21st century is the best to live in in terms of access to information
  • Read old books for old problems (how to be content etc)
  • Watch YouTube for modern day (how to code)
  • Every problem you have faced, much smarter people have written down
  • Any person can learn from experience. Better to learn from the experience of others too
  • Be into it. Don’t force. Curiosity is the driver
  • Doing > Reading > Watching
  • Reason from first principles. Chef rather than Cook in domains that are important to you
  • Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast
  • Treat life like a series of 5 year experiments. Life is long. Continue to learn

Nutrition and Exercise

  • Nutrition and exercise have huge impact physically and mentally. Overwhelming evidence. Few rules:
  • Limit/Avoid processed food
  • Eat food, mostly plants, not too much
  • Eat some meat, fish, not too much
  • Avoid seed oils
  • Lift weights / Calisthenics
  • Strength without mobility is nothing

Modern Day Struggle

  • Abundance of information. Information overload
  • You have a limited bandwidth
  • Don’t consume news. It has become entertainment. Not evolved to be constantly switched on worrying about the troubles in distant parts of the globe
  • As with junk food, you have junk information. Don’t read junk
  • Use social media actively rather than passively (i.e. create)

Habits

  • We are habitual creatures
  • Every intention, thought, action is born out of habit
  • Unconscious habitual processes can cause harm
  • Examples of habits : exercise, nutrition, outlook on life, peace, reading, creativity, your emotional disposition
  • Do it every day.
  • Motivation is overrated. Habit is underrated
  • Compound interest is the 8th wonder of the world
  • Have something that keeps you fit, something that makes you money and something that keeps you creative
  • Better to act your way into a new way of thinking, rather than to think your way into a new way of acting
  • Discipline is overrated : You don’t rise to the level of your expectation, you fall to the level of your training

Decision Making

  • Choose the option that would make a better story
  • If you can’t decide, the answer is no (for the big decisions - marriage, work, location)
  • Choose the option that will lead to long term peace of mind. Short term may be uncomfortable

Honesty

  • Be honest. Then you have nothing to remember.
  • Even white lies. Lying is more prevalent than one thinks. Deeply harmful.
  • Temper honesty with kindness
  • Kind > Smart

Self Knowledge

  • Observe your thoughts and processes.
  • Meditation is a way to transcend thought
  • Reflection and introspection (e.g through journalling) is a way to create adaptive thoughts/stories.
  • Use both meditation and reflection.

Time

  • Psychological time is an illusion
  • Just thoughts about the past or the future being projected into the present
  • Literally the only moment that exists it the present.
  • All else is just projected into the present
  • It is possible to be present and also plan for the future.
  • Being present is about being aware of the mind in each moment.
  • Accept. Life is a river of sensory information, largely up to your interpretation.

Identity

  • Identifying with any sect/tradition/teacher is the start of unawareness
  • We go round creating identities and cling to them e.g. I am a doctor/lawyer/, I am ugly/smart/stupid/funny/ I’m Hindu/Christian/Jew etc ‘I am an unchanging entity’
  • Without realising it is all illusory. A story we tell ourselves.
  • Then when the ‘image’ is not congruent with reality. You are hurt. The image is not reality
  • The self is just an internal model.
  • The illusory nature of the self can be seen through- non dual awareness.

Science

  • Science and ‘Meditation/Introspection’ are the two sides of the same coin
  • Science is an exploration of the physical world through observation
  • Meditation/Spirituality is an exploration of the internal world through observation
  • Both non -dogmatic
  • Both require no ‘a priori belief structures’
  • Both require a sceptical but curious mind
  • Spirituality is sadly misunderstood, confused with religion or ‘mysticism’.
  • What is spirituality? : observe your mind

Jealously, Comparison and the Rat Race

  • We all admire people who ‘march to their own drum’
  • What this means is ‘internal validation > external validation
  • Comparison is the thief of joy
  • Jealously disappears when one is playing against an internal scorecard
  • Jealously : would you swap 100% your life with the other person? No
  • It is no measure of sanity to be well adjusted to a sick society (paraphrasing)
  • It all goes to zero in the end.
  • Desire is suffering. Striving for the sake of accumulation is madness
  • Enjoy the process rather than striving for the outcome

Relationships

  • Quality > quantity
  • Core values have to match up. Then all the small idiosyncrasies and differences don’t matter
  • You react to an image of the other person that you have created, rather than reacting to the person themselves
  • Empty your expectations and images.
  • Love and attachment are different.
  • Attachment is reacting to an image of the other person. It is expecting them to conform to this image, as a non changing entity
  • Love is unconditional. Reacting to reality
  • Don’t give advice, unless it’s asked for. No-one likes being told what to do
  • When you tell others what to do, its more a reflection of your own desires
  • When you don’t hold any images, all judgement ceases
  • Treasure the time you have- it’s on loan

Grief

  • Grief comes in waves. Rather than resist, be curious and look. What is it that causes pain? Potential futures. Reminiscing about the past.
  • Time and attention are all you have. Allocate them well
  • Be grateful for the time you have. Everything is on loan.

Regret

  • Top regrets of the old “I wish I didn’t work so much” “I wish I didn’t conform to others expectations” “I wish I spent more time cultivating relationships”

  • Regret is a thought, it is entirely your perception. You can reframe events so that you create meaning or suffer less.