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That rug really tied the room together.
January 15, 2013 12:39 PM   Subscribe

The Dude and the Zen Master is a new book by actor Jeff Bridges and Zen teacher and activist Bernie Glassman, in which the two men spend several days on a Montana ranch discussing the connections between the Dude in "The Big Lebowski" and common Buddhist teachings.

Bridges and Glassman recently sat down for a brief interview to promote the book on "The Today Show," and Bridges made Jon Stewart a Zen master on "The Daily Show" by giving him a red clown nose. While a guest on NPR's "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!," Bridges described his reaction to Glassman's claim that in many Buddhist circles, the Dude is considered a Zen master ("What are you talking about, man?"). In the same interview, he admits that the "rug" line is one of his favorite koans from the film. Additional coverage in the L.A. Times; reviews of the book from the New York Times, the A.V. Club, and Kirkus.

In the book's introduction, Bridges equates it with a snakeskin:

To me, this book is sort of like a snakeskin. A snakeskin is something you might find on the side of the road and make something out of – a belt, say, or a hatband. The snake itself heads off doing more snake stuff – getting it on with lady snakes, eating rats, making more snakeskins, et cetera… The actual ‘snake’ of this book was the hang, the jam, with Bernie and everyone else who helped. It was the chance to dance, create, be intimate, and be free. So, here it is. Hope you dig it.

Here's the publisher's description (via Amazon):

Zen master Bernie Glassman compares Jeff Bridges’s iconic role in The Big Lebowski to a Lamed-Vavnik: one of the men in Jewish mysticism who “are simple and unassuming, and so good that, on account of them, God lets the world go on.” His buddy Jeff puts it another way. The wonderful thing about the Dude, he says, is that he’d always rather hug it out than slug it out.

For more than a decade, Academy Award–winning actor Jeff Bridges and his buddhist teacher, renowned Roshi Bernie Glassman, have been close friends. Inspiring and often hilarious, The Dude and the Zen Master captures their freewheeling dialogue about life, laughter, and the movies with a charm and bonhomie that never fail to enlighten and entertain. Throughout, their remarkable humanism reminds us of the importance of doing good in a difficult world.
posted by flyingsquirrel (33 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
Filing this under something to buy on Kindle next time I take a flight. Sounds lovely, in a slight sort of way.
posted by bwerdmuller at 12:41 PM on January 15, 2013


Despite its many aspects which should not be emulated, Jeff Bridges website is pretty cool.
posted by wobh at 12:46 PM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Bridges made Jon Stewart a Zen master on "The Daily Show" by giving him a red clown nose.

Okay, I was all set to be cynical, particularly given the number and density of unintentionally hilarious Zen poseurs I've known in my life, but this establishes for me better than anything else that Jeff actually gets it.

Either that, or I don't. That works too.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:48 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bridges sure cackled a lot in that TDS appearance, which was oddly enjoyable.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:48 PM on January 15, 2013


getting it on with lady snakes

She's not my special lady snake, she's my fucking lady snake friend. I'm just helping her conceive, man!
posted by Celsius1414 at 12:49 PM on January 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


I was watching that Daily Show interview with friends, and I at some point I turned to one of them and wondered aloud whether Jeff Bridges was high. I still can't decide whether I want the answer to be 'yes' or 'no'.
posted by axiom at 12:52 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


axiom, according to the Coens, before a scene Bridges would often ask them "do you think maybe the Dude burned one on the way over here?" And sometimes they'd say "yes, he probably did", and he'd do the scene as if he were at least a little high.

So your speculation is entirely in order and has the highest precedent.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:58 PM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Along similar lines, there's an entire religion called "Dudeism", complete with sacred texts, philosophical texts, etc, include new "translations" of The Tao Te Ching (The Dude De Ching) and Dueteronomy (Duderonomy).
posted by eustacescrubb at 12:58 PM on January 15, 2013


I maintain the Dude is what really happened to Kevin Flynn, and Tron II was just a chemical dream.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:12 PM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


eustacescrubb: "Along similar lines, there's an entire religion called "Dudeism", complete with sacred texts, philosophical texts, etc, include new "translations" of The Tao Te Ching (The Dude De Ching) and Dueteronomy (Duderonomy)."

And don't forget the Dudeist Priests. [Disclaimer: My girlfriend's been ordained as one for at least a year now]
posted by radwolf76 at 1:14 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


To me, this book is sort of like a snakeskin. A snakeskin is something you might find on the side of the road and make something out of – a belt, say, or a hatband. The snake itself heads off doing more snake stuff

Err shed snakeskin != snakeskin belt material.
posted by rough ashlar at 1:14 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


rough ashlar: "Err shed snakeskin != snakeskin belt material."

Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man.
posted by radwolf76 at 1:20 PM on January 15, 2013 [16 favorites]


I'm holding out for Walter Sobchak's lifestyle book
posted by C.A.S. at 1:24 PM on January 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Okay, I was all set to be cynical, particularly given the number and density of unintentionally hilarious Zen poseurs I've known in my life, but this establishes for me better than anything else that Jeff actually gets it.

Check out the documentary PBS did on him for the "American Masters" series. A great overview of his career, but also a good overview of his life and general personal philosophy, which will also convince you that he pretty much "gets it."

(Related to that: here in New York there is a store that is devoted wholly and entirely to the film and any and all tie-in products, and with decor reminiscent of moments from the movie and a guy who dresses like the Dude overseeing the place. The PBS documentary sent Jeff to visit, and there are a few shots of the totally-blown-away host and a few guests joking around with him and Jeff himself totally blown away by the scope of the place.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:40 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


While a guest on NPR's "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!," Bridges described his reaction to Glassman's claim that in many Buddhist circles, the Dude is considered a Zen master

I heard parts of that show while driving, and it seemed like Bridges purposely tanked a quiz segment in which a certain percentage of his correct answers could have won a call-in listener a prize. Which I thought wasn't cool.

(That's all I got -- not a Buddhist or a Lebowski fan, really.)
posted by eugenen at 1:42 PM on January 15, 2013


Is this some kinda Eastern thing?
posted by gompa at 1:53 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Huh. What makes you think that he deliberately tanked it? I heard the same show, and have heard others, and the show goes out of its way to pick questions on a topic that the guest stands practically no chance of knowing anything about. (Like, when they had Ice-T as a guest and asked him questions about panty hose.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:54 PM on January 15, 2013


it seemed like Bridges purposely tanked a quiz segment in which a certain percentage of his correct answers could have won a call-in listener a prize. Which I thought wasn't cool.

Has the whole world gone crazy? Am I the only one around here who gives a shit about the rules? Mark it zero!
posted by yoink at 1:55 PM on January 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Something something Coens something something koans.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:12 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


DevilsAdvocate: Something something Coens something something koans.

You didn't have to do the thing because the thing's already been done.
posted by carsonb at 2:28 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm holding out for Walter Sobchak's lifestyle book

"Calmer than you are" is my mantra.
posted by Lorin at 2:35 PM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Something something Coens something something koans

Bridges made that connection on TDS. High or not, his sales pitch that night was awful. The book might be interesting, but he sure didn't convey that.
posted by davebush at 2:46 PM on January 15, 2013


Your revolution is over, Mr. Lebowski. Condolences. The bums lost. My advice is to do what your parents did; get a job, sir. The bums will always lose. Do you hear me, Lebowski? The bums will always lose!
posted by Artw at 2:53 PM on January 15, 2013


I'm happy Jeff Bridges acts exactly like he would in my head. I've always suspected The Dude didn't involve a lot of acting.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 2:56 PM on January 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I had a fairly crappy day today, but when I came home my housemates had just started watching The Big Lebowski. I laughed, I cried. And now this. You people are good.
posted by iamkimiam at 3:06 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm holding out for Walter Sobchak's lifestyle book

"W. SOBCHAK" in two-inch-tall block caps.

Walter, holding and staring down the length of a handgun pointed at the reader.

"THERE ARE RULES"
"~ a new kosher cookbook ~"
posted by cortex at 3:44 PM on January 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Huh. What makes you think that he deliberately tanked it?

I can't listen again now, but as I recall, Bridges picked an option that was obviously incorrect, and stuck with it even as the hosts were laughing at what they thought was a joke answer -- and then gave a sardonic explanation of why he picked it, and mock-apologized to the listener.
posted by eugenen at 4:06 PM on January 15, 2013


Will Walter's book finally reveal WHERE, exactly, one might get a toe by 3:00 this afternoon (with nail polish)?

(My own mantra: "Careful, man, there's a beverage!" I have also been know to mutter "This is what happens Larry..." at my son when he throws a tantrum over something entirely predictable.)
posted by sonika at 4:10 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you like The Dude you may also enjoy Bridges' Dude like turn in Surf's Up as Zeke "Big Z" Topanga... "You see what I'm doing here? You let the tool do the work, you see? Just like you're riding the wave, you let the wave do the work. You don't fight the wave. You can't fight these big waves. "

I've seen that movie about a hundred times (literally) and I still enjoy it.
posted by MikeMc at 8:42 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm late to the party, and so no one will read this, but I don't think I buy The Dude as Zen master. Not to say that I don't think The Big Lebowski doesn't have something to teach about Buddhist philosophy. I think it does a good job teaching a lesson about the principle of non-attachment. The Dude begins the movie hung up on his rug, then on a woman, constantly grasping after the what might be. Then you've got Walter who's hung up on his past in the form of his ex-wife and Vietnam. Both of them are so far from living in the here-and-now that when Donnie dies they realize they never really knew anything about him.
posted by word_virus at 5:16 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


> I don't think I buy The Dude as Zen master

Definitely not. He's a "Zen master" in the same way that all these places with "Zen" in their name "Zen Optical, Zen Dental, etc" are anything resembling liberation from the artifacts of consciousness.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:25 AM on January 16, 2013


"How was your meeting, Mr. Lebowski?"
"Okay. The old man told me to take any rug in the house."
posted by Artw at 7:49 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


When gurus go wild: Leonard Cohen’s Zen teacher wants to see your tits
posted by homunculus at 4:13 PM on February 12, 2013


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