February 20, 2013

The Dude & the Zen Master: Not a Book Review.

Been told I look like a number of celebrities (all, notably, on the comedic end of the spectrum): Will Ferrell, David Letterman, Shaggy from Scooby Doo, and, my favorite, Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski, i.e. the Dude.

True story: once I went to a costume party as the Dude and didn’t even know it. Originally, I was gonna go without a costume, tell everybody I was somebody else dressed up as me. Someone who couldn’t make it even responded to the e-vite with “that’ll be me in the Yoga Cynic mask.” Then, at the last minute, I decided to at least make an effort, so put my ratty terrycloth bathrobe on over shorts and a t-shirt, added the DOLLYWOOD cap somebody found at a thrift store, and a pair of sunglasses. Once I got to the party, people kept, quite mystifyingly, saying, “great costume,” including my friend Kara, to whom I confided, “I don’t know who I’m supposed to be.” She said, “you’re the Dude from The Big Lebowski.”

Far more recently, I got asked to review a book called The Dude and the Zen Master by Jeff Bridges and Zen-activist Bernie Glassman. In Dude-like fashion, I took a while to get around to it, and when I finally did, read it mostly while lying in bed.

Despite generally enjoying the book, I didn’t feel like I had much to say about it, so decided I probably wasn’t gonna write a review. (And, as you’ll see if you keep reading, I really haven’t.) That might be most Dude-like, of all.

(Honestly, I don’t spend much time thinking about what’s Dude-like and what isn’t—which, admittedly, could be said to be pretty Dude-like.)

Anyway, the book’s pretty much a rambling conversation between the surprisingly well-read movie star and the Zen guy. They talk about the Dude, about Buddhism, about bowling, about world hunger and the Holocaust, about coitus, clowns and cigars. It’s all pretty laid-back. You might even call it Dude-like. There are no nihilists. Nobody pulls out a gun. Nobody pees on anybody’s rug. Nobody gets (as we say in the school-marmishly censorious world of elephant journal) %&$#ed in the @#%.

One chapter’s titled after my favorite line from the movie. Yeah, well, ya know, that’s just like, uh, your opinion, man. It occurs to me that how much I’m bothered by other people’s opinions is less a gauge of the volume of stupid viewpoints expressed around me than of my own level of unhappiness.

That’s cool.


You must be logged in to post a comment. Create an account.

Feb 22, 2013 5:46pm

I'm smiling and laughing not so much from your article but from your short description of yourself especially " in case of life-threatening emergency,I can explain Faulkner while you die." The dude abides. Your humor is more effective than most medical doctors I know. I can't imagine reading a book by Bridges he should stick to his day job he's %^&ing great at it but I think he should write another book with you as his ghost writer!

Bob Weisenberg Feb 21, 2013 2:07pm

I have to admit, I was bored to death by this movie everyone else thought was so good. But, as you wrote, that might say more about me than the movie, and that's just, like, my opinion man.

Saw Jeff and the guru interviewed on Charlie Rose. That bored me to death, too, which is very rare for me and any Charlie Rose show. What's, like, wrong with me, man?

(Did find your non-review here entertaining, though.)


PonderingYogini Feb 21, 2013 11:06am

I have a vague recollection of seeing the Big Lebowski years ago while under the influence of something or other. I think at some point I may have to get around to seeing it again as influenced by you, Dr. Jay.

Read Elephant’s Best Articles of the Week here.
Readers voted with your hearts, comments, views, and shares:
Click here to see which Writers & Issues Won.

Jay Winston

Jay S. Winston, founder and proprietor of Yoga for Cynics (http://yogaforcynics.blogspot.com), has a PhD in English, making him the kind of doctor who, in case of life-threatening emergency, can explain Faulkner while you die, is currently (semi-)(un-)employed as a freelance writer and editor, teaches creative writing to homeless men, tutors recovering addicts in reading, was recently certified as a Kripalu yoga teacher, gets around mostly by bicycle, is trying to find an agent for his novel, resides in the bucolic Mt. Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia, State of Mildly Inebriated Samadhi, U.S.A. and, like most people who bike and practice yoga, used to live in Boulder.