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The Dude and the Zen Master

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The New York Times bestseller from Academy award-winning actor Jeff Bridges and Zen leader and author of Bearing Witness, Bernie Glassman.

Zen master Bernie Glassman compares Jeff Bridges’s iconic role in The Big Lebowski to a Lamed-Vavnik: one of the men in Jewish mysticism who “are simple and unassuming, and so good that, on account of them, God lets the world go on.” His buddy Jeff puts it another way. The wonderful thing about the Dude, he says, is that he’d always rather hug it out than slug it out.

For more than a decade, Academy Award–winning actor Jeff Bridges and his buddhist teacher, renowned Roshi Bernie Glassman, have been close friends. Inspiring and often hilarious, The Dude and the Zen Master captures their freewheeling dialogue about life, laughter, and the movies with a charm and bonhomie that never fail to enlighten and entertain. Throughout, their remarkable humanism reminds us of the importance of doing good in a difficult world.

288 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2012

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About the author

Jeff Bridges

35 books35 followers
Jeffrey Leon "Jeff" Bridges is an American actor and producer. He comes from a well-known acting family and began his first televised acting in 1958 as a child with his father, Lloyd Bridges, and brother Beau on television's Sea Hunt. Among his best-known major motion films are: Tron (and its sequel), Fearless, Iron Man, The Contender, Starman, The Fabulous Baker Boys, Jagged Edge, Against All Odds, The Fisher King, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, Seabiscuit, Arlington Road, and The Big Lebowski. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Otis "Bad" Blake in the 2009 film Crazy Heart and earned his sixth Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Rooster Cogburn in 2010's True Grit.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 390 reviews
Profile Image for John.
211 reviews44 followers
March 7, 2013
You know when you walk into the kitchen at a party and there are two stoned guys having a conversation and they're kind of talking about the same thing but really they're just spewing utter nonsense that occasionally lines up?

This book is just like that.
Profile Image for Claudia.
954 reviews535 followers
October 22, 2018
LE: 22.10.2018
I came across this interview today with John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, and Jeff Bridges, shot a few days ago, 20 years after the movie was out. Had a great time watching it, recalling scenes and some behind-the-movie insights. Jeff also mentions his encounter with Bernie Glassman and thus how the book was born. Funny and nostalgic, made me wanna watch the movie again.
Here's the link, you're interested: https://youtu.be/KNzquU4hjpk

Quite a special book. Jeff Bridges is one of my favorite actors and that's the reason for reading this book: I wanted to see also his just-man side and I was not disappointed.

The dialogues emerge from the lines said in the cult movie The Big Lebowski by Dude (which is seen as a Zen Master by a lot of Zen practitioners, due to his detachment in limit situations - don't laugh, as I did :)) you'll change your opinion later in the book :D). Each chapter has one as a title. And with it as a starting point, Jeff and Bernie begin their conversations about work, family, environment - in other words, about life itself, seen through Zen precepts. I admit my knowledge in this field is less then minimal, but I found out that it has some very interesting aspects regarding the way life should be perceived.

On occasion, the dialogues seem broken, it's just like Jeff is talking about one thing and his interlocutor about another, but this feeling comes from the fact that mostly Jeff has a simple opinion on something and Bernie states his from Zen Buddhism point of view.

But overall, the book is about two guys, which have their fears, problems, inner thoughts and which are trying to make life better for them and for the others around them. They gained my respect and admiration for the way they are trying to make this world a better place.

And in the end, please enjoy a Zen precept from the Zen Master, The Dude ;))

Profile Image for Michelle.
Author 5 books7 followers
February 10, 2013
The Dude and the Zen Master by Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman is an entertaining, charming, inspiring look into the minds of two practicing Buddhists through the lens of a Hollywood cult film.

The Hollywood film in question is The Big Lebowski in which Bridges stars as “The Dude.” Although the Coen Brothers didn’t write the movie from a Zen perspective, Roshi Glassman views The Dude as a great example of the men of Jewish mysticism who “are simple and unassuming, and so good that, on account of them, God lets the world go on.”

The book is a transcript, essentially, of several conversations between the two men during which they analyze and place into Buddhist context (in a very dudesque way) popular phrases from The Big Lebowski such as “the dude abides” and the rug that “really tied the room together.”
Glassman is Bridges’ buddhist teacher and the two are great friends, so listening in on their conversation is a real treat — their closeness shines through the exchanges, as do their humanity and senses of humor.

The book isn’t organized into logical chapters and topics, which may be a criticism for some, but I enjoyed the stream of consciousness nature of it all, letting the conversation flow in whichever direction it was meant to go.

Another dudesque move, really.

An added bonus is a closer look into the life of Bridges as a man, actor, husband, father, and son. I love Bridges, so this was a plus for me, though some readers might feel he veered too far into the personal. But again, this book is two friends talking, so personal stories are bound to arise, and this reader is pleased they did and made the cut.

Overall, I love any book that can make complex theories and tenets accessible to the average person; this is one of Glassman’s goals, and The Dude and the Zen Master succeeds.

Quite simply, I loved this book and marked off lots of pages and quotes; I know I’ll be reading it again. When I was finished, I close my e-book with a contented sigh and a huge smile, feeling exceptionally optimistic about the world and my place in it. Can you really ask for more in a book?
Profile Image for Paul Gleason.
Author 5 books76 followers
January 18, 2013
Bob Marley once wrote, “We’re jamming / I wanna jam with you, / We’re jamming, jamming / And I hope you like jamming too.”

After reading Oscar-winning actor Jeff Bridges and Zen teacher Bernie Glassman’s The Dude and the Zen Master, you’ll know exactly what Marley meant. In fact, you’ll have jammed with the dude behind the Dude in The Big Lebowski and his Buddhist buddy, Bernie.

But what does it mean it jam? Bridges and Glassman spend a good portion of The Dude and the Zen Master answering this very question. And what’s so cool is that the two of them manage to address many of life’s profundities – relationships, politics, working, aging, living, dying – in their very funny and readable jam session.

The Dude and the Zen Master isn’t a traditional book at all; rather, it’s a jam session. The book transcribes the profundities about which Bridges and Glassman spoke over the course of a few conversations. It had to be done this way to emphasize Bridges and Glassman’s central point – that life’s journey is a jam session in which you allow your ego-based identity (what you think of as your self) slip away and enter into a state of egoless oneness with all other living creatures.

Think about it this way: You’re Bob Dylan, and it’s time to record Like a Rolling Stone. You’ve written lyrics and have come up with a chord progression and a vocal melody. But you know that when you enter the studio, you’ll encounter a producer and other musicians who’ll want to bring their own ideas to the song. You could be very dictatorial and goal-oriented and try to force out of the producer and musicians the completed song that you hear in your head. Or you could just show up, start to play, and see what ideas the other guys have. You might just find that a young guitarist named Al Kooper might sneak to the organ – an instrument on which he’d had no experience – and spontaneously come up with one of the most iconic parts in the history of rock music.

The Like a Rolling Stone session is the essence of jamming. In letting go of his ego and realizing that there was no goal in the creation of the song but only the moment of creating it, Dylan showed a bit of enlightenment. He let the other musicians, especially Kooper, shine, and we can hear this moment of conception – this jam in which no goal exists and all the players are respected and treated with compassion – every time we spin the Highway 61 Revisited album.

The Dylan-Kooper story gets at something else about which Bridges and Glassman talk, which comes out of one of the most deeply philosophical lines from The Big Lebowski: “New shit has come to light.” As Bridges and Glassman carry out their conversational jam, they point out that we’re all constantly faced with new challenges that require us to make decisions. We must always respond to the new shit with which we’re confronted every day. What to do? Indeed, what do we do when, as in The Big Lebowski, somebody pees on our rug – the rug that ties the entire room (or, maybe, our entire life) together?

The answer is simple. We jam. But jamming is incredibly easy and difficult to pull off. Remember that Marley can only express his desire to jam with you. He can’t force you to jam. He can’t provide you with an answer – or, the rug that will hold your room together. If he were to do so, he’d be hurting you by giving you the delusion of stability in a world that’s always changing. You can accept his invitation but, at the same time, realize that it isn’t an answer; rather, it’s an opportunity to engage with him in a respectful, symbiotic relationship.

This really is the essence of jamming, according to Bridges and Glassman: the awareness that life requires us to respond to situations that we perceive as being good or bad but, in reality, are part of the same oneness.

Another line from The Big Lebowski pops up all the time during the Bridges-Glassman jam. It’s on the Dude’s answering machine: “The Dude is not in.” The Coen (or should it be koan?) brothers tell us that the Dude is an enlightened being. They’re right. For most of the movie, the Dude “is not in” because he’s almost achieved an egoless state. Sure, his ego occasionally shines through. Remember the hilarious scene when the Dude spazzes out when The Eagles come on the car stereo? The Dude hates The Eagles, and as a result of his overreaction and attempt to stop the music, he burns himself with coffee and almost gets into a car accident. When the Dude’s ego responds – when he clings to hatred – suffering occurs. Even the Dude isn’t completely enlightened.

But Bridges and Glassman’s point is that no one is. The best we can do is, like the Dude again, to achieve a state where we simply abide. What does it mean to say that the Dude – or we – abides? The idea here is to say that we, in our own way, exist in relation to the rest of the universe through jamming. We live moment to moment, without judging, and responding with compassion for others and ourselves to whatever curveballs life throws at us. We realize the oneness of life, just as the members of a tight-knit band realize that when they jam out a song, they understand that the ideas of the individual and the unit are of equal importance as they play in the enlightened state of creation.

Like Marley, Bridges and Glassman can only make the invitation to jam – and their The Dude and the Zen Master is this invitation. Read it and enter into a three-way jam with two Dude-like dudes.

A version of this review will appear in Rock Cellar Magazine.
Profile Image for Mike.
508 reviews107 followers
February 7, 2015
The Dude and the Zen Master is one of the laziest contrivances of a book I have seen yet. Here's the deal: let's take a moderately beloved cult classic - The Big Lebowski - then pair it up with a cigar-smoking Zen master, who functions here as a self-help guru/beacon of wisdom - Bernie Glassman - and then they talk. They go on and on and on in the longest "Yes, and" dialogue I've read in recent memory. The book is in the form of dialogue, but here's the thing: although it takes both Jeff and Bernie to have separate introductions explaining how the dialogue had been made, it becomes awfully clear how shoddily edited it was, how noticeable the self-described "tweaks" were, and how garishly they inserted little speaking twitches and very strange moments where they engaged each other in short bouts. They don't feel organic after all the long, LONG-winded and self-congratulatory slop coming out of both of their heads.

I did, for a bit there, enjoy how Bridges and Glassman can pinpoint cultural touchstones to find the Zen principles in them, or perhaps, the little koans embedded in everyday speech, the wisdom in old nursery rhymes. The Buddhist thought they gave to "Row, row, row your boat" was actually quite nice. I enjoyed how they imbued some quotes from The Big Lebowski with this sense of Zen-ness: "The Dude is not in" wasn't a favorite but I did like, "New shit has come to light" and "That's just your opinion, man." These are good mnemonic devices for people that are fans of the movie to simply return to. They are little nuggets of sentences that maybe, because this 'Zen Master' (Glassman says it enough about himself through the book, ugh) really analyzed them, folks familiar with meditation may be inspired to pick up those tools, OR look for Zen in other works that are resonant with them. Well, not Zen, but something similarly resonant. For me, I began thinking about how "This Must Be The Place" by the Talking Heads is a perfect opportunity for this form of "Zen-finding," for finding short explanations for the practice and educating people through that. It's a good idea, truthfully, as a pedagogical tool.

But as a product? The product placement here is unbelievable: awkward, stilted insertions into Bridges' promoting old films, films in development, and Glassman's work on a new restaurant in Massachusetts, a very well-rehearsed but impossible 'conversation' about their ability to both fight hunger and be good which then becomes laundry lists of organizations to Google later, and on and on. Again, the slacker mentality of assembling this book - its devil-may-care attitude with its own presentation - sort of fits the characters talking here. Well, when it seems they could actually be talking. Either way, a book should probably look less slacker when it's laden with this much shameless self-promotion. And it comes so easily off of the resurgence of Big Lebowski's popularity that, well...It's a little disingenuous. A lot disingenuous, wall to wall, if I may correct myself.

The Dude and the Zen Master has these simple nuggets in them that could have the capacity to make this book a book to return to. It references Jon-Kabat Zinn, who in turn references Thoreau. It references Victor Frankl. It references the Digha Nikaya (sp?). Having been exposed to plenty of those references, The Dude and the Zen Master could have had value as a fun, "isn't-that-neat" way of revitalizing one's Zen practice by looking at Zen's ideas through a certain film or popular culture. If only it didn't shoot itself in the foot. It also had little notes that resonated with me about my Mom's charity and this and that...but the funny thing is, they never stuck. I underlined plenty of things in the book - sometimes "ugh" or "oh please", but sometimes wrote "for Mom" or "for the man." I looked back at what I underlined, and realized how slight and tepid those quotes are. I underlined them at the time because they reminded me of things I've read and underlined in better texts elsewhere. I wondered why this idea was so important when I looked back, and I wondered why all of it was utterly forgettable.

It hit me: this book wasn't meant for staying power at all. In fact, the more utterly forgettable it is, the better off Bridges and Glassman will be.

The Dude and the Zen Master is two friends getting cigars talking about how they have shit in common. Their idea of a good time is to have their lives meet somewhere in the middle. Great. What results is a book that could've been a 5-page English paper called "The Dude is Not In: Zen and the Big Lebowski" or something like that. Because that's the thing: finding those symbols and ideologies within fiction is a B.A.-in-English's job. They go to school for $40,000 a year to learn to say "hey, there's a little bit in here that looks a little bit like that. Jeff and Bernie, I don't think, have that skill. So leave it up to the naturals: put this material in a college English paper and let it sit there: short, simple, and not completely ego-stroking beyond belief.

Then maybe I could write a brief essay about how "This Must Be the Place" works as an example as well. You could then read the short article, and move on. And how I wish this book were just a short article.

Oh well, no more grasping, yes Bernie? Okay good.

We're not grasping for cash are we here, gentleman? No? Really? Okay good.

You're capitalizing pretty shamelessly on fandom and low self-esteem. Are you sure? Alright.

Is it going to charity? Like, I mean is it going to the causes you spent a ton of time talking about very stiltedly?

Oh, the Dude is not in right now? Can I leave him a message?

Oh okay, I figured. Tell him I 'bore witness' to him or whatever. Ugh, you fucking assholes.

Profile Image for Conrad Zero.
Author 3 books135 followers
January 3, 2018
Transcriptions of conversations between actor-dude Jeff Bridges and zen master Bernie Glassman. The topics center on living Zen Buddhism, the nature of suffering, nonattachment, enlightenment, etc and they tie their discussions to their real world experiences. The attitude is very Dude (a'la the Big Lebowski) You also get a peek into Jeff Bridges life as an actor, and see how he is (and is not) like the Dude.

A quick, light read for fans of Zen or Dude or Both.
Profile Image for Colette.
643 reviews15 followers
May 3, 2014
I would have given this book 3 stars if the other guy, the "Zen Master", were not in it. I was sick to death of hearing this Bernie guy tell me he was a Zen Master and he does - again and again and again. I was mostly interested in Bridges' approach to acting which sounds all consuming and yet, humbled at the same time. I enjoyed reading about his time with directors, particularly Hal Ashby. I guess if you are a die hard Lebowski fan, you might love it, but if you are a sentient human being, you will find parts repetitive and irrelevant.
Profile Image for Clark Hallman.
371 reviews13 followers
February 5, 2014
The Dude and the Zen Master is a conversation between two very talented and benevolent men. Jeff Bridges is a well-known Oscar-winning actor, performer, songwriter and photographer; and Bernie Glassman is the founder of the Zen Community of New York and a longtime Zen teacher. This dialogue addresses their thoughts and opinions about work, play, love, compassion, trust, selfishness, fear, life, death, and much more. It’s a somewhat rambling conversation that is humorous at times and very poignant at other times. It reveals much about each of their personal (and working) lives, while weaving much Zen wisdom throughout the discourse. The Dude is a character from The Big Lebowski (movie) and serves as an example for much of the wisdom that they impart. The conversation leads the reader through a maze of diverse topics which requires inquisitiveness, patience and thought. However, I found it to be a very rewarding experience to negotiate this maze. I learned much about both of these men and appreciated their integration of Buddhist wisdom into their discussion. This is a unique and very worthwhile book that provides entertainment and life lessons from a Zen perspective.
Profile Image for Anthony.
21 reviews6 followers
March 6, 2013
I thought this would be a cheap cashing-in on Lebowski, forcing links between the character's lazy "zen"-like behavior, but it is actually an extended conversation between the two authors where they reveal and share while discussing zen and its application to real-life situations. It was fun getting some insight into Jeff Bridges's personal life, and Bernie Glassman truly is a savant and treasure; not enough can be said about the good that both these men have contributed to the world. But more than these insights, they both unsurprisingly prove themselves to really well understand zen and its methods and challenges, and they both appropriately use metaphor and anecdote to relate the practice's eternal teachings. I liked this more than I expected to. Bonus points for being a quick read, too.
Profile Image for Arne Krueger.
18 reviews3 followers
May 22, 2016
this book gets a strong recommendation! it made a deep impact on me and gets a well deserved place among my alltime fav books. especially jeff has made a deep impression on me, with his openness, his kindness, his way to see things, to live and love his life. absolutely great. somehow, i knew bernies sayings from his other books already: instructions to the cook and the basic buddhist teachings too, so that was not so impressive to me. sometimes i felt a bit bored and a lot of resistance, because i thought, i knew what was coming. but in the last third of the book this changed completely. bernie did not change, but his thoughts got somehow deeper and there were no so much a repetition of his teachings, he seemed more in the moment, more with jeff. thank you so much, anthony, for this wonderful birthday present!!!
Profile Image for Lisa.
1,155 reviews62 followers
February 11, 2018
In The Dude and the Zen Master, Jeff Bridges and his old friend Bernie Glassman have a loose and free-wheeling chat about life and Buddhism, attempting to make it more accessible by illustrating many of its concepts with The Big Lebowski as its main example (my love for which probably being what prompted this being gifted to me).

Buddhism and mindfulness have both been recommended to me a lot, given that I have a few troubles with anxiety, and so using something that I already love and know inside out was a good way of trying to sell me on some of its easier to understand principles. It was also reassuring to read that Jeff Bridges, who has always seemed to be as chill as The Dude, can also be pretty anxious underneath it all. He is also, naturally, pleasant company even just to read about and drops more than enough anecdotes to keep the attention even of those uninterested in the main topic of conversation, and for rather large chunks it does feel as though you’re partaking in a pleasantly stoned fireside chat. But I must admit that when it came to really getting me to understand some of the things being discussed, or at least finish some sentences without eye-rolling, it didn’t quite cut the mustard and to my mind both men occasionally teetered on the edge of disappearing up their own arses.

That’s not to say that the book wasn’t enjoyable overall – it was a pleasant enough way to while away some hours. I just don’t think I’ll be starting meditating any time soon.

**Also posted at Cannonball Read 10**
Profile Image for Kurtbg.
689 reviews15 followers
April 12, 2013
The actor who plays the Dude and his zen master buddy spend a week waxing philosophical on the big Lebowski, life, and everything in between. Sure, Jeff Bridges does not lead an atypical life. Sometimes he's got some valid points that give grist to the mill, and other times you can't help but say, " yea, but that's just like you're opinion, man", when you really mean to say, you've had the benefits of a stress-free fiscal life. Well, that's your challenge, because wisdom and understanding are there if you choose to see it. Not that there's anything remarkably special here, but it does provide some nice little moments to remind yourself that it's okay to step outside yourself. After all, It's perfectly valid for you to say to yourself , " hey, that's just your opinion man.", and let that other part of yourself get over it and thrive on.
Profile Image for Mika.
23 reviews
June 29, 2017
I have to confess that I had my moments with this book. It is very difficult to say whether my four stars grading is justified by the fact that the Big Lebowski just might be among the best movies ever made or by the other fact that my mind made an impressive trip during the reading process. Possibly due to both facts, or opinions. Like any book in our world, I am sure this book does not impress everyone. However, if you are thinking to skip this book, just because you think it is one of those DIY-life-improvement-eternal-happiness-pocket-size-that-actually-does-not-fit-into-a-normal-pocket-books, I can recommend you to forget your suspicions and read the book. I am thankful for the warm moments I spent with this book, there is something profoundly great in this world that anyone is capable to see if you just remember to treat yourself with respect and love.
Profile Image for James Gordon.
4 reviews
April 11, 2013
Brilliant. The Dude abides is a phrase I use to remind myself to just be.
Most people assume The Big Lebowski is just a stoner movie. That's the thing about Zen and Mojo, you get it or you don't. This book is a great discussion and along with Willie Nelson's latest book, "Roll me up and smoke me when I die" are great "after stressful holidays" reading.
Related reads; Tao of Willie & Tao of Pooh.
Profile Image for Jim Razinha.
1,261 reviews61 followers
February 9, 2013
Disappointing...even more so as I like Jeff Bridges and The Dude. Two guys talking about many different things and mostly senseless drivel. Zen is a crock of manure anyway (anything that advocates thinking about nothing is an abrogation of the evolutionary imperative to think), and Bernie Glassman spouts the lion's share of the nonsense in this book, but Bridges is surprisingly misinformed about a lot of what he says that's outside the acting world. Now, his revelations about his movie experiences were interesting, but they do little to offset the mind suck of the rest of the book.

Little intellectual substance here, but it was worth a shot.
Profile Image for Bernadette Puleo.
37 reviews1 follower
May 4, 2013
Decided that I didn't want to spend my time finishing this book. Stopped at page 129. There were a couple if good insights along the way but this dude is not in. All this talk about loosing your ego while all they are doing is talking about themselves.
Profile Image for Derek.
109 reviews6 followers
June 12, 2020
I love Jeff Bridges, I love The Dude, I have tremendous respect for Bernie Glassman - this is not a good book. It should have been a 20 page article/interview in a magazine. If you happen upon a copy, take half an hour to skim it & then go watch Lebowski again, you’ll thank me.
Profile Image for Yvonne.
319 reviews1 follower
June 29, 2013
5/21/2013 Dude! This is so Zen!
This book was very helpful in teaching me to see and accept myself. Starting with Jeff Bridge's movie The Big Lebowski, two friends have a discussion, Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman, a former aeronautical engineer and mathematician, presently a master of Zen Buddhism.
Some helpful things I garnered:
"Just throw the fucking ball." (My version, Just live your f-- blessed life!)
Row row row your boat, merrily down the stream!
"caring for where I am right now"
The Dude abides. The Dude is not in.
"In fact, the whole movie is about this loose, relaxed guy who gets all upset by life. But he's not embarrassed about it, he's not trying to live up to some persona, he's always the Dude."
"... We have the capacity to sail in any system; we also have the capacity to try to change it (the system we're in). That's the dangerous way to go, because we're going to be criticized, rejected, excommunicated, and maybe even killed."
"... helping people see that there is no one truth, that everything they believe or that others believe is just an opinion."
"... but if I needed to stop for a little while, that would be okay. If I was going to be asked to do something I wasn't willing to do, I wouldn't let it turn me off the entire thing. I would just take a rest for a while. This helped me go further and further, each time asking myself to do a little bit more ...."
"I got into overwhelm, which happens to me quite often. I wish I could be a little more Dude-like."
"Dude likes to be comfortable, man."
"gently lean into the challenge"
"I respect my pace and at the same time I challenge it, you know? But I have to, I got to, please, befriend myself."
"Who are you? What are you? These are the same questions that I ask myself in different situations in my life, and the challenge is not to judge myself or my answer but to just notice. One of the things that I notice is that there are limits, and limits are a cool place in which to hang."
"So if a voice (in my head) says, I should have done this, I can say right back, That's just your opinion, man."
for the opinion You're all wrong! answer "That's a nice way of looking at it."
"practice of befriending the self"
June 15, 2013
Profile Image for Ann.
Author 9 books212 followers
January 28, 2013
Thanks Jeff and Bernie for this book. You're cool cats and Zen dudes.

If you are looking for a book about your favorite movie, The Big Lebowski, this isn't it. Although, Bernie Glassman, who founded the Zen Community of New York, finds perfect Zen simplicity (and popular representation) in two of the Dude's phrases: "The Dude is not in" and "The Dude abides." And then there's the question of letting go of the rug that 'really tied the room together.'

Conversations between these remarkable men and close friends are structured into chapters of sorts, with interspersed photos by the 'photographer/recorder cat,' Alan Kozlowski.

Two very pleasant surprises. 1) Jeff Bridges is an award-winning actor and movie star without a huge ego. He's got his stories about being on set, but he also talks with deep love about his parents, his brother Beau, and his wife and kids; and he lets Bernie do a lot of the talking. 2) Bridges and Glassman bring in their religious upbringings, Catholic and Jewish respectively, without any animosity or contradiction to their Buddhist meanings. For example, Bernie discusses the Lamed-Vavnik (or 'thirty-sixers') in a way that helped me better understand the concept.

You have to go with the flow. Bernie uses "Row, row, row your boat..." as a kind of mantra and example of the reality of our lives. This was very helpful to me, at a stressful time. I find myself repeating the child's rhyme in words and signs. We're all going down the stream. Are you going to use one or both oars or read a thousand books to make sure you do it right, or will you just follow the stream, 'merrily, merrily' as you can?
Profile Image for Colin.
38 reviews2 followers
February 28, 2020
What is the sound of boomers booming?
but seriously, this was an enjoyable little tome. Jeff Bridges (you know who he is) has a chat with Bernie, who is really into Zen. The whole thing is recorded and the book is an edited transcript. The Big Lebowski is used as a metaphor for Buddhism, which reminds me of Benjamin Hoff's The Tao of Pooh, wherein a fictional character from a Western source is identified as exhibiting behavior that and attitudes that exemplify Eastern philosophical principles. So the Dude is a bodhisattva? It's a clever conceit, I suppose.

As a film buff, I was most interested in Jeff's anecdotes about working in movies. Bernie has a few nice things to say, and has a knack for explaining Buddhist ideas in simple language and colorful metaphors that cut through all the esoteric jargon. His stories about visiting Auschwitz were interesting too.

So basically a couple of wise old hippie guys chatting about life, the universe, and everything. If that sounds like something right up your alley, then it probably is. Readers will probably either find it deeply spiritual and fascinating or dull and pretentious, depends on the individual's interests and temperament. I found it... eh, alright. Not bad.
Profile Image for Modi123.
109 reviews
March 19, 2013
'The Dude and the Zen Master' was a strange read for me, not just jumping abit outside my preferred genre, but also being a book I tried to enter with no preconceived notions. I understand it is not a total break down of 'The Dude', and I know it is not a zen primer, but instead is just a weekend conversation between Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman. I tried to take it as such and I think that just a relaxed and quiet attitude is the best to read this.

Sure the book draws specific markers from "Big Lebowski's" The Dude, but those are just launching points for conversations about Jeff's and Bernie's lives, trials, attempt to keep zen going, and their goals. A solid read with enough real world zen applications and lessons it makes me want to root through my closet to see if I have any of my old zen books there.

If I took one thing away from this it was a few evenings viewing the world through a lens and path I normally don't. That and to try to use "That's a nice way of looking at it" more often than shutting people down.
Profile Image for Melissa Lee-Tammeus.
1,425 reviews32 followers
August 25, 2013
I have a crush on Jeff Bridges so when I saw this I figured I'd find out how much was based on his characters versus how much is real. And after reading this, I still have my crush. This book is a philosophical discussion related to the character The Dude, which of course is an icon in and of itself. The two friends discuss the notion of Zen practice and how it relates to our lives and our sense of self awareness. On occasion I had to put it down as it began to hurt my head - there is a lot of thought provoking stuff in here - but I also wanted a break from how groovy it all was. I suppose I am just not that groovy, but certainly hanging out with these two would make it so. This book made me run off to an enlightenment retreat and never look back. Jeff Bridges and his Master are two cool cats and that fact that I can say that with a straight face makes me very dude-like, one thing in which we should all aspire.
Profile Image for Julie.
202 reviews19 followers
March 4, 2013
A very enjoyable read, like eavesdropping on a great conversation. So much resonated for me; here are a few nuggets: No system wants to be changed. I'm not talking about utopia; I'm talking about working toward peace -- and then letting go of any expectations. Being at peace means being interconnected. There is a tension and struggle between our individual sense of identity and the ground of interconnectedness that we all belong to. The distinction between play and practice - play is lighthearted and free, practice is a means to an end. Appreciate what you have and work with that. The best way to experience our interconnectedness is through social action (service).
Profile Image for Gavin.
276 reviews10 followers
September 28, 2014
With the common discourse of our lives often focusing on kids, work, or the newest horse apple being sold as a movie, it's nice to sit down with two guys who seem to apply some rigor to their thinking as it applies to their lives. These are the conversations I wish I found more of in my own life. While they may not be breaking new ground, they are at least focused on the honest attempt to understand and improve themselves.

Oh, and the whole thing stems from the greatest slacker movie of all time. Any book with Lebowski quotes for chapters is going to get the thumbs up from me. Call it the most laid back self examination inquest on the shelf.

I'm sorry...I wasn't listening.
Profile Image for Adam.
396 reviews38 followers
April 1, 2015
An endearing, honest, meandering conversation about living a life informed by Buddhism. The initial conceit is that the Dude, the hero of the film "The Big Lebowski," played by Bridges, has a zen-like wisdom that we would-be Buddhists can learn from. But this becomes less important as these two very different figures improvise a dialogue on what living this way means day to day. At times thought-provoking and funny, I enjoyed this thoroughly. Yet, I'm not sure it's a great first read for someone unfamiliar with Buddhism, as it does skip around a lot and portions may make little sense to the uninformed. But, a real pleasure otherwise!
Profile Image for Emma Hannan.
26 reviews3 followers
July 28, 2017
DNF - But I wish I could have. I love Jeff Bridges, and I love being guided into zen. But I couldn't get over the way that this book had little to no structure, and felt a lot like "two stoned guys having a conversation," as another reader had commented. The Big Lebowski will remain one of my favorite films, but I'll pass on this, thanks.
Profile Image for Alex Shly.
22 reviews1 follower
March 6, 2020
I guess I had too high expectations for this, man. The only ‘juicy’ bits for me were Jeff sharing stories from his life and work, especially The Big Lebowski. The rest (to quote the book) - “words, words, words”. Overall, still a decent overview of Zen ideas but often either too vague or too obvious. Didn’t really tie the room together.
Profile Image for Cynthia Malm.
38 reviews
June 16, 2017
This book was phenomenal. I just love Jeff Bridges and all the creative endeavors he sets out to accomplish. This isn't any different. I'm highly impressed and found myself making notes on how I can implement these ideas into my life.
Profile Image for Scott Stahl.
64 reviews2 followers
May 3, 2013
A great dialogue with two wise people. I'm already planning on reading this again, soon. It was a breeze to read through but dense with heavy thoughts. I feel inspired.
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