The Dude and the Zen Master
by Jeff Bridges & Bernie Glassman
Blue Rider Press, 273 pages
Jeff Bridges played the Dude in the movie The Big Lebowski. Mr. Bridges’ introduction to this book starts with him quoting Bernie Glassman, his co-author and a Zen master, who said, “Did you know that the Dude … is considered by many Buddhists to be a Zen master?”
There are several pages on Facebook for variations of a “Church of the Dude.” It was an interesting concept to put these two friends, the actor who played the Dude and a real-life Zen master, together to share conversation.
Their topics range from much talk of the Dude and the Dude’s Zen aspects, especially his lines “the Dude abides” and “the Dude is not in,” to Mr. Bridges’ and Mr. Glassman’s social justice activities, including efforts to eliminate hunger to acting and movies, to love. And stories in the book illustrate Buddhism beyond the Dude factor.
The authors have a good compatibility. Mr. Bridges has had a life of creativity and the ability to explore in art and life. Mr. Glassman is a former mathematician and aeronautical engineer who became a prominent American teacher of Zen Buddhism. Both have Buddhist practices.
The Dude and the Zen Master is a light read and a quick read — or it can be deep and slow, depending on how you wish to engage the Zen of the scenes. Either approach, it's a fun read — as long as you have some familiarity with The Big Lebowski.