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Bruce Lee, “Empty your mind – be formless, shapeless like water…”

Bruce Lee Success Video

[tweet_box design=”default” float=”none”]Empty your mind.  Be formless, shapeless, like water! @brucelee  [/tweet_box]

Written by Kit Elliott

Kit Elliott is an entrepreneur, author, inventor, and business coach who helps solopreneurs turn their passion into profit. Kit founded SuccessLive.com - to provide coaching that helps solopreneurs start, build, and grow their own full-time online business.


  1. I wonder what this really means AND I wonder how you let everything from your thoughts, your actions, your emotions be fluid like water?

    • Found this answer on Quora:

      To understand ‘Be water’ we should first look at Taoists and the concept of ‘Wu Wei’ which uses a lot of metaphors of water.

      Wu Wei literally means ‘not doing’. But the deeper meaning, is being calm. In the moment. Still. Like water.

      So it is essentially not really inaction. It is action without action. Wei Wu Wei.

      Only when the inner waters of your mind are completely calm, can you be truly natural. In sync with nature. Your own self. That is the true union of the self with the divine. When Bruce Lee talks about being water, he uses his words carefully. He doesn’t say be flexible like water. He says ‘Be water’!

      Reminds me another excellent quote of Bruce Lee –

      Don’t think, feel….it is like a finger pointing a way to the moon. Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory!

      So, he means become water. Not like water. For if you try to be like water, you would be focusing on the finger and not the moon!

      Quoting Bruce Lee-

      Suddenly a bird flew by and cast its reflection on the water. Right then I was absorbing myself with the lesson of the water, another mystic sense of hidden meaning revealed itself to me; should not the thoughts and emotions I had when in front of an opponent pass like the reflection of the birds flying over the water?

      This was exactly what Professor Yip meant by being detached — not being without emotion or feeling, but being one in whom feeling was not sticky or blocked. Therefore in order to control myself I must first accept myself by going with and not against my nature.

      This is the true meaning of ‘Be water’. It is the complete and unconditional acceptance of the self. Where the self itself melts and becomes formless, fluid and flexible. When you attain that state, you are water!

      And not someone who has tried to incorporate the adjectives used for water.

      Bruce Lee’s technique and prowess is rich with his philosophy of life. His art was not just of the body, it was of the mind. His art was in sync with his natural self. There was no effort.

      If you try to be like something (water for instance), there is an obvious effort. He was effortless. He was water. He was ‘Wei Wu Wei’ personified!

  2. Here’s how I empty my mind: Sit upright, on the floor or a chair, close your eyes and start focusing on your breath. Take a few breaths and follow your breath. Think of a few things that you’re grateful for and picture that in your mind, then continue to relax. As you feel happy, you start smiling. As you continue this breathing pattern – you start the process of emptying your mind.

  3. We should do a 30-Day meditation challenge or something? I wonder if anyone would be interested in joining me.

  4. I feel like there’s a deeper meaning here that I’m just not getting. Anyone else feel that way?