Film star Jeff Bridges and Zen teacher Bernie Glassman (profiled as one of our Living Spiritual Teachers) have been friends for years. The two of them have been quite taken with The Big Lebowski, a popular film directed by Joel and Ethan Cohen. Jeff Bridges plays the Dude, a laid back character who doesn't feel the need to excel or succeed at anything. He'd rather sit in his tub drinking White Russians. Glassman sees this character as a Zen master and as a mensch.
Both men are attracted to the art of improvisation in music, films, and daily life. The Dude accepts whatever shows up instead of trying to follow a plan. He evidences a certain grace under pressure. The Dude has learned how to abide, to be patient with himself and kind to others. What he has to come to terms with is his attachment to things (the rug that holds the room together) and to his routines.
In this rowdy and appealing book, Bridges and Glassman chat freely about things that interest and intrigue them such as being stuck, spiritual practices, enlightenment, the oneness of life, songs, service, peace in the world, politics, and befriending oneself. Glassman brings us his delight in the pot-bellied Hotei, a Zen trickster, and then shares some of his experiences working with Wavy Gravy, the famous clown and social activist. He writes:
"I always have this red nose in my pocket, and if it looks like I'm taking things too seriously, or the person I'm talking to is taking them too seriously, I put the nose on. It doesn't matter what we're doing or talking about, it doesn't matter if we agree or disagree, the nose changes everything."
The Dude and the Zen Master is guaranteed to put a smile on your face as these two entertaining men practice "plorking" (a combination of play and working).