Fortune Cookie Zen


A few days ago, I watched Circle of Iron (1978) starring David Carradine and Jeff Cooper. It was a Zen/martial arts movie that was based on a story written by Bruce Lee with some help from James Coburn. Unfortunately, Bruce Lee died long before the screenplay was completed and the movie was filmed. Carradine plays four different characters that help the hero, Cord (Cooper) through his trials on his journey to find Zetan, holder of the Book of Enlightenment. Along the way Carradine dispenses the fortune cookie wisdom as he did in his Kung Fu series, among them:

  • Tie two birds together and though they have four wings, they cannot fly.
  • One is taught in accordance with his fitness to learn.
  • You can’t step twice on the same piece of water.
  • Every moment that passes changes you.
  • There is no enlightenment outside of yourself.

Those were the ones that I had the presence of mind to write down. While they come off as fortune cookie wisdom, there are some basic truths in them and perhaps a bit of Zen philosophy. Bruce Lee had intended the movie to be an introduction to Zen philosophy and Eastern thinking. The disclaimer at the beginning of the movie warned that there was “brief nudity.” Apparently, it was so brief that I missed it. I was looking for it.


Author: Rick

I'm a simple man, trying to make my way in the universe.

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