The Dude and the Zen Master – Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman

Live like you’re already dead.

Like most books, the punchline comes near the end. This punchline is also a wonderful summary of all the verbal jamming before.

I picked up this book out of curiousity: first, for the title (I’m a sucker for Zen Buddhist philosophy), and second, for Jeff Bridges. Ten minutes later, I was standing in Chapters trying not to keel over in fits of laughter.

Just throw the fucking ball!

“The Dude” is the the Dude from The Big Lebowski (Cohen brothers, 1998). He is played by Jeff Bridges. I’m a Cohen brothers fan, but I haven’t seen the movie. The movie isn’t requisite for reading this book. The Dude is apparently considered a bit of a Zen Master/Zen mascot/Lamed-Vavnik in knowledgeable circles. Why? “He’s simple and unassuming.” He’s a lover, not a fighter. He goes with the flow.

Row, row, row your boat….

Bernie Glassman is a Zen Master (if he’d consent to calling himself that) with whom Jeff Bridges jams, musically and philosophically. The book is a written version of one of their jam sessions.

Bridges usually starts off the topic with a venture down actor-lane: when I was doing this role, I experienced this. Glassman then counters or interprets Bridges’ story into a generalized Zen Buddhist lesson.

That’s your opinion, man.

What comes out is a modern spin on Zen Buddhist philosophy spun, told, and jammed by two people who’ve walked a time in the modern world. It’s refreshing, it’s humorous, it’s enlightening. I learned the distinct but important difference between practicing and playing, and that to reap the benefits of living fully you need to do both. I am reminded of the sanctity of individuality while savouring our interconnectedness with each other and with our environment. And I am reminded that life is much better when you row gently down the stream.

That’s a nice way of looking at it.

If you like modern interpretations of traditional philosophy spun for modern living, you’ll like this book. If you like primary sources and straight from the horse’s mouth dogma, you probably won’t like this book.

I am paying this little gem forward and giving it to a friend. Go buy yourself a copy, read it, laugh, ponder, then pay it forward.



Other books you might like:

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – Robert Pirsig

The Way of the Peaceful Warrior – Dan Millman

The Tao of Pooh – Benjamin Hoff

Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting – Lynn Grabhorn


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