The Six Diseases

In Artist of Life, Bruce Lee (@brucelee), the father of Jeet Kune Do, describes the Six Diseases [of excessive self-consciousness]:

The desire for victory

The desire to resort to technical cunning

The desire to display all that you have learned

The desire to overawe the enemy

The desire to play a passive role

The desire to get rid of whatever disease you are likely to be infected with

Bruce Lee further elaborates:

“The desire” is an attachment. “To desire not to desire” is also an attachment. To be unattached, then, means to be free at once from both statements, positive and negative. In other words, this is to be simultaneously both “yes” and “no,” which is intellectually absurd. However, not so in Zen!

In whatever profession, the six diseases apply:

  • Excessive focus on the ends
  • Excessive focus on the means
  • Excessive focus on the individual/collective
  • Excessive focus on conflict/adversity
  • Excessive focus on engagement/disengagement
  • Excessive focus on perfection

As Bruce Lee emphasizes, we must “preserve the state of spiritual freedom and nonattachment” where “health is an appropriate balance of the coordination of all of what we ‘are’ (are is being mind rather than having mind)” and “the true meaning of life — peace of mind.”

See The Official Bruce Lee site and this beautiful tribute.


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