June 28, 2010
What is Dudeism?
According to dudeism.com, a website dedicated to deploying the wisdom of The Dude (Jeff Bridges) from the comedy The Big Lebowski, Dudeism is a religion with the following creed:
The idea is this: Life is short and complicated and nobody knows what to do about it. So don’t do anything about it. Just take it easy, man. Stop worrying so much whether you’ll make it into the finals. Kick back with some friends and some oat soda and whether you roll strikes or gutters, do your best to be true to yourself and others – that is to say, abide.
In short, Dudeism is not Buddhism.
However, dudeism.com does list the Buddha as one of the “Great Dudes in History”—along with Snoopy, Gandhi, and Jerry Garcia—citing the fact that “he bailed on his birthright and taught that you should go with the flow.”
Also, if you Google “Buddhism and The Big Lebowski” a ton of stuff comes up comparing The Dude to various Zen masters or the Buddha himself. One of the more substantial essays on this topic can be found here at mythicthinking.org. The author writes:
Understanding the distinction between true Buddhism and Western, modified Buddhism is essential for understanding the Dude. Alan Watts describes a phenomenon called Beat Zen as the Buddhism of Western counterculture that is designed to allow people to take it easy and to justify lazy behavior (Watts, Beat 24). In other words, Beat Zen is used as a justification to screw around. Watts’ criticism of this lies in the fact that it alters the doctrinal message of Buddhism enough that it barely resembles traditional Buddhism.
Though I wouldn’t agree with the distinction he makes between “true” Buddhism and “Western, modified” Buddhism, I still think his point is valid. While there is something of The Dude’s patience and humor to be found in Buddhism, it would be a stretch to call him enlightened.
As for Bridges himself, who people always like to assume is the same person as his character in The Big Lebowski, be sure to check out his Tricycle interview with Katy Butler in the upcoming August issue of the magazine. When Butler asks whether he considers himself a Buddhist, Bridges offers what sounds like a deeply Dudeist reply: “A Buddhistly bent guy sounds kind of right.” Right on, man. However, to have this be the only thing you take away from the interview, and to ignore his personal dedication and reflection, is to sell both Bridges and Buddhism short.
If you're into this sort of silliness, also check out the entertaining Dudespaper—A Lifestyle Magazine for the Deeply Casual.
To watch the Tricycle Web Exclusive Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman: A Conversation, click here.
Image: Dude-vinci, from dudeism.com