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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.

 

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