By Lee Glazier
So, yeah, how’s it goin’?
I’m a Dudeist priest in the Church of the Latter-Day Dude. Dudeism is a new religious movement inspired by the cult-classic film, The Big Lebowski. We use Jeffery “The Dude” Lebowski as an inspiration for how to, ya know, abide with life. Dudeism is kind of like Taoism without the rituals, metaphysics, magic, and what-have-you.
Is Dudeism a joke, a put-on, a hoodwink, or mock religion? Sure, if that’s how ya see it. Dudeists—at least this Dudeist—won’t try too hard to defend their beliefs or convert you to their lifestyle because that’s just, ya know, really un-Dude. The world’s already too noisy, too full of arguments and accusations, too uptight and fast-paced—Dudeism basically says, “Fuck it, Dude, let’s go bowling,” to all of that.
Is Dudeism just an excuse for a bunch of people to be lazy, smoke weed and quote movies while calling the whole thing a spiritual philosophy? Sure, why not? That isn’t what it’s about to me, but you can think whatever you like. You’re not gonna kill my buzz by being a jerk to me, and I’m not gonna kill my buzz by defending myself—thus making myself into a jerk in the process.
Early Taoists loved using the “uncarved block” as a prototype for the enlightened sage.
The uncarved block is smooth, strong and full of potential. Once it’s carved into something, like an intricate wooden Jesus, Buddha, Confucious, Muhammad, or what not, then it loses its smooth potential along with its quiet strength.
You can hit a wood block with a hammer and, if it’s solid wood, it’s not going to care at all. But carve it down into a 6 inch Buddha or Lao-Tzu statue, and it’s going to splinter into pieces when you whack it. So even “Dudeist” is just a label, a placeholder. The idea of “Dudeism” isn’t Dudeism, any more than the idea of “Zen” or “Taoism” is Zen and Taoism. The labels aren’t the labelled, dig it?
So what does an uncarved chunk of wood do?
Oh, nothing much. It just sits there being a boring, simple, uncarved chunk of wood as all the forces under the sun try their damnedest to carve it into something useful. Chuang-Tzu once wrote that useless trees live the longest because they’re unfit for fruit or timber. Unfit for fruit, they’re never mobbed by hungry wanderers or transplanted closer to a city or village. Unfit for timber, they’re never cut down to make tables, chairs, houses, or firewood. They just stand there, letting birds nest and people chill under them, some of them probably having picnics and afternoon delights.
It might seem like chilling out is easy, but it’s anything but—it takes a lot of practice to let things go. It isn’t easy to take it easy, to go with the flow after someone pees in the river. But, “The Dude Abides.” The world hasn’t been screwed over by bums, by lazy people who are just trying to relax, burn one down, and enjoy the view. It’s been screwed over by people with a whole lot of initiative—inspired dreamers, idealists, and motivated titans of industry.
Being lazy, moving slow, and letting all the stress just roll off isn’t only healthy, it’s also a revolutionary act. In a world built for hares, the Dude chooses to be the tortoise. Because it sucks being the hare, man, it really does.
“Abiding” is like deciding to identify with the screen more than the movie, the wind more than the leaf; just letting it all play out as it will. Even though I identify with the screen, I’m also in the movie, still a character in the show. So, I’ve gotta play my part well but, deep down, not take it seriously.
It’s easy not to take it easy, to get swept up in all the BS and to get lost in the movie. Stress is addicting, and it rewires the brain in ways that make relaxation seem boring and unpleasant by comparison. This isn’t something that we have direct control over. In fact, part of the stress is wanting to not feel stressed. This usually comes up when we don’t actually have anyting in particular to be stressed about at the moment.
A perennially stressed out brain doesn’t know how to handle life when things are good. Instead, it goes looking for trouble, thinking about the past, or it starts imagining what might go wrong in the future. This isn’t just a hippie platitude, you know; it’s science. Thanks to habitual stress, we wouldn’t know ease if it gave us its social security number, birth certificate and a notarized cease and desist order because we just add stress to even the most mellow situations—like sitting on the porch drinking coffee.
The thing is, happiness is always possible. It’s as close as a cool drink of water; a comfy seat on some soft grass; a smile and nod at a stranger in the grocery store. It’s the little things, Dudes; it’s always been about the little things. The big things are always, “out there” somewhere, kinda abstract and inaccessible.
But those are the things we worry about, you know? And even when the big things affect the little things, it’s still only the little things that are workable. Rarely are our worries about anything that’s happening right now in this very room, and what’s happening in this room is the only thing that’s ever actually happening to us.
Yeah, this is kind of a naive way to look at things. It’s simple, child-like, without any of the nihilism or cynicism that we consider the hallmarks of adulthood.
But getting older doesn’t mean I have to get colder too.
“Dude” Lee Glazier is a Dudeist Priest, Zen adherent and Taoist enthusiast from Golden, Colorado. He likes reading, writing, hiking, taking baths, listening to classic rock, drinking White Russians, smoking, and having the occasional acid flashback. The only thing he truly believes is that everyone needs to slow down, mellow out, and unwad their underpants. He feels that that would solve all the world’s problems in a heartbeat. “Do you have the patience to let the mud settle and the water clear?” Feel free to check out his blog, Cluelessly Falling Down A Spiral Staircase (Musings & Misadventures of an Ordained Dudeist).
Editor: Dana Gornall