Jeff Bridges appeared on Today to discuss his new book entitled “The Dude and The Zen Master.” While doing so, the 63-year-old not only looked the part of the most interesting man in the world he pretty much sounded like it to.
His new book of Buddhist insights, co-authored with Bernie Glassman, reflects his most memorable role, that of The Dude from the Coen Brothers’ unforgettable The Big Lebowski. Jeff told Today that Bernie told him, “You realize in Buddhist circles that The Dude is considered a zen master?”
Bernie, who Jeff calls “Bern”, went on to explain why “The Dude abides” is a philosophy that can be accentuated in all of our lives.
“The Dude is not caught up with being so attached to himself and what he’s all about. Instead of The Dude trying to make the world do what he wants it to do, he’s doing what the world is doing. And that is what zen is all about.”
During the fun interview Jeff admitted that the way he finally came to propose to his wife of over 35 years was to give himself the out of knowing he could always get a divorce. “Thank God she didn’t kick me to the curb.”
Here’s an excerpt from the book that is conversational in form as Jeff and Bernie chat up the philosophical underpinnings of The Dude.
Bernie: People get stuck a lot because they’re afraid to act; in the worst case, like the master bowler, we get so attached to some end result that we can’t function. We need help just to move on, only life doesn’t wait.
Jeff: And it doesn’t help to say, I’ve got to have a mind-set with no expectations, because that’s also an expectation. So you can get into a spinning conundrum.
Bernie: There’s a little ditty that sort of sums this up.
Jeff: Hit me with it.
Bernie: Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily. Life is but a dream.
Imagine that you’re rowing down a stream and you’re trying to ﬁgure out how to do it. Do I ﬁrst row with the right oar and then with the left, or is it the other way around? What does my shoulder do, what does my arm do? It’s like Joe, the centipede with a hundred legs, trying to ﬁgure out which leg to move ﬁrst.
Jeff: Art Carney of the centipedes.
Bernie: He can’t get anywhere, just like the person in the rowboat. And while he’s hung up with all those questions, the stream is pulling him on and on. So you want to row, row, row your boat—gently. Don’t make a whole to-do about it. Don’t get down on yourself because you’re not an expert rower; don’t start reading too many books in order to do it right. Just row, row, row your boat gently down the stream.
Jeff: Merrily, merrily.
Bernie: That’s important. An English philosopher said that whatever is cosmic is also comic. Do the best you can and don’t take it so seriously.
“Row, row” works I suppose as long as you don’t play The Eagles man. If you’re interested in getting a copy of “The Dude and The Zen Master” click here.