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Recently, Jeff Bridge published a book called “The Dude and the Zen Master.”  As I understand it, it’s conversations he had with Roshi Bernie Glassman about the ways “The Big Lebowski” movie espouses spiritual principles.

I haven’t read the book, but I’ve always held a notion that the character Jeff Bridges plays in the movie, that  of The Dude (a.k.a Jeff Lebowski)  is very Zen.  I haven’t given a lot of thought to the possibilities in the rest of the film. However,  I think Mr. Bridges said something about the character of Donny. I could see  Donny being a bit like Monkey Mind as he chattered on and asked meaningless questions. The Dude’s best friend, and bowling partner, Walter, was always saying, “Shut up, Donny.”  But I’m merely grasping at straws.

What I do know is The Dude.  As the movie begins, the Dude is in a grocery store.  It’s late and there aren’t a lot of people around.  He is dressed in his usual outfit of tan Bermuda shorts, a tee shirt and sandals.  He lives in LA, so he doesn’t need much else.  But he is in the grocery store in his bathrobe on top of the uniform.  Seems the Dude needed some cream for his favorite drink, the White Russian.  He was probably wearing his robe at home and just went out the way he was.

The Dude lives a simple life.  All he really needs is the fixings for his drink and a joint now and then.  He uses his sense of smell to make sure the cream hasn’t soured.  His apartment is sparsely furnished, except for the rug which “ties the room together.”

The quest of the movie is to replace the carpet the nihilists, actually looking for another Lebowski, ruined after peeing on it.  Prior to the urinating, two men had pushed the Dude’s head into a toilet, asking him where the money was.  He didn’t know and told them so.  When they persisted in the question, the Dude suggested that maybe it is down the toilet and he should take another look.

The truth is, the Dude doesn’t have much money.  But he has the money he needs.  Some things are more important.  His landlord came to the door one day asking for the rent, which the Dude didn’t have. The landlord brushed it off, but asked that the Dude come to the Landlord’s scheduled performance and give him notes.  Such the Dude is revered by others.

The Dude knows right from wrong.  He doesn’t like to hurt people and wants very much to help “that poor woman,” who is the object of much of the plot.  After being drugged by Jackie Treehorn, the man to whom money was owed, the Dude ended up at the police station and explained to the sheriff that “Jackie Treehorn treats objects like women!”  The Dude doesn’t approve.

He doesn’t usually get upset. “The Dude Abides,” they say.  When he does get upset, as the comings and goings of the plot evolve, Walter points out that he is being very “un Dude.”  By nature, the Dude is easy going, taking it light.

The Dude enjoys bowling with his friends, taking baths by candlelight and was the  author of the original Port Heron Statement – not the second version which compromised too much.

He is patient and lives in the moment.  He is willing to listen to others, even the “Big Lebowski” who offered him a proposal.  The Dude is tolerant of his kooky friends, even Donny, to a certain extent.  And he is quite comfortable saying the word “vagina.”  The Dude did not forget his promise to show up at the Landlord’s performance.

Plenty of White Russians, some pot now and again, and enough bowling, the Dude is a Happy Man.  Oh yeah, if he has the right rug to pull the room together, the Dude Abides.

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