The Dude and the Zen Master
By Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman
The paradoxical essence of the Zen experience is that it is impossible to convey what it is in words. Zen practice brings one’s awareness into the present through meditative subversions of conceptual structures like language, which is why it’s so famous for pithy aphorisms like, “Zen is the finger pointing at the moon, not the moon itself.”
Still, this doesn’t stop people from talking at length about Zen. That can be annoying when you’re trapped in a conversation with smug know-it-alls impressed by how at-one-with-the-universe they are. But in the case of The Dude and the Zen Master, such conversations can help point your gaze toward the moon.
Consisting of polished transcripts from a week-long verbal jam session between actor Jeff Bridges (aka The Dude) and his good friend Bernie Glassman, a renowned Zen master, the book uses lines from The Big Lebowski as koans (or should that be “Coens”?) to help make the esoteric nature of Zen more accessible to our times and culture.
The book’s simplistic, free-flowing style follows a Zen admonition “that unless you can explain Zen in words that a fisherman will comprehend, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
It’s unlikely that a fisherman who’s never seen The Big Lebowski will get the book’s insights on non-attachment that Jeff and Bernie find in lines like “The Dude is not in”. But fans of the movie interested in Zen might find it a good starting point for checking in on what condition their condition is in.