By the Arch-Dudeship, Dwayne Eutsey
In Dudeism’s “Take It Easy Manifesto,” we pose questions that fellas wiser than ourselves have contemplated across the sands of time:
What makes a religion? Is it being prepared to do the right thing, whatever the cost? Isn’t that what makes a religion? Or is it that along with a pair of testaments?
As for definite answers to these timeless queries, well, Dudes, we just don’t know. There are just too many theological ins and outs and ecclesiastical strands to keep in our heads, man. Besides, we smoked a lot of Thai stick back in seminary, so, truth is, we don’t remember a lot from our world religions class.
One thing we can say for certain, though: Most religions have a sacred book, a pile of holy writ that most adherents believe is the uncompromised first draft direct from God or what-have-you that really ties the cosmos together, wraps ‘er all up. For instance, Jews have the Torah, in addition to 3,000 years of beautiful tradition from Moses to Sandy Koufax; Christians have Gospels that tell the miraculous story of how the Jesus rolled; and the fanatical cult of loaded reactionaries, well, they have The Wall Street Journal.
Scriptures, epistles, laws, prophecies, psalms, commandments, stock market analyses. So many learned men and women throughout the ages have disputed what they all mean, it can be quite stupefying. Even the religions that are some kind of Eastern thing—like Hinduism and Buddhism—have produced endless reams of Vedas and Sutras and rituals and chants and whatnot.
One exception to the whole divine-revelation-through-written-word thing, however, is Taoism. According to religious scholar Huston Smith, Taoism has only one basic text, the Tao Te Ching (or, in English, The Way and Its Power), a slim volume that, as Smith says, can be read in half an hour or a lifetime. Legend has it that a Chinaman by the name of Lao Tzu one day said “Fuck it” (loosely translated from the Chinese), hopped on a water buffalo (possibly with rust coloration), and started heading a-way out west to Tibet.
On his way out, someone stopped Lao Tzu and asked if he would write down the tenets of his ethos before leaving town. Being a lazy man, Lao Tzu lodged his water buffalo against an abutment long enough to write the Tao Te Ching’s 81 short verses. When finished, he kicked his water buffalo into gear and, tossing his ringer to the man, rode off into the misty horizon of legend and myth.
Regardless of whether the legend is true, or whether Lao Tzu even really existed, the Chinaman is not the issue here, Dudes. The issue is that the Tao Te Ching is the perfect expression of Taoism’s wu wei of life, or in the parlance of Huston Smith, a life of creative quietude in which “the conscious mind must relax, stop standing in its own light, let go” so that it can flow with the Tao (or Way) of the universe.
Dudeism has a lot in common with Taoism, of course, being its philosophical compeer. Taoists, for example, revere the fella I’ve innerduced by the name of Lao Tzu (literally “The Old Boy,” not something most folks where I come from would self-apply); we have “The Dude.” Lao Tzu rejected uptight Chinese imperial society and rode off to the mountains of Tibet, while the Dude rejected uptight American imperial society and became a roadie with Metallica. Lastly and most importantly, Dudeists share Taoism’s wu wei ethos of just taking it easy, man, and rolling with the cosmic flow.
Although Dudeists have The Big Lebowski (a film you can watch in a couple hours or over a lifetime), Dudeism has lacked the equivalent of our very own Tao Te Ching…until now.
You have your way of understanding a story and I have mine, but I think the best way to read these here verses we’re about to unfold is to slow down, kick back, fire up a J or sip a Caucasian, and deliberately savor these stanzas as casually as possible. This ain’t no spiritual In-N-Out Burger, Dudes. The Dude De Ching is just right for pondering as you soak in a tub surrounded by lit candles or when you lie on the rug that really ties your room together, digging some Dylan tunes or the clatter of your favorite bowling tournament.
After reading The Dude De Ching, you may say far out, man, I dig your style, or you may wonder what in God’s holy name we’re blathering about. Either way, it don’t matter to the Dudeist. We can’t be worried about that shit. Life is complicated and all too short and we’re not interested in wasting it on dead doctrinal debates or stale ideological disputes. As one apocryphal Dudeist verse puts it:
The wind passeth over the flower of our days,
Blowing ashes from a Folger’s can back onto our faces,
And it is gone.
The whole concept abates.
But life goes on, man.
The Dude abides. Nothing changes.
We take comfort in that.
Aw, hell. I done innerduced this book enough. Let’s go bowling, Dudes.
REV. DWAYNE EUTSEY
The Arch Dudeship of The Church of the Latter-Day Dude
P.S. To our knowledge, no water buffalo were harmed in the making of The Dude De Ching.
Arch-Dudeship Dwayne’s Take it Easy Manifesto can be enjoyed at: www.dudeism.com/takeiteasymanifesto