At a party about 15 years ago, Jeff Bridges found himself seated between spiritual leaders Bernie Glassman and Ram Dass, which led to an unexpected conversation about the parallels between The Dude, Bridges' iconic character in "The Big Lebowski," and the tenets of Buddhism.
"Bernie and I kind of hit it off, and he said to me, 'You realize that in Buddhist circles, The Dude is considered the Zen master?'" Bridges told HuffPost Live's Ricky Camilleri on Monday. "And I said, 'What are you talking about, Bernie?'"
Glassman's explanation began with the names of "Lebowski" directors Joel and Ethan Coen, whose surnames sound an awful lot like "kōan," the word for a spiritual dialogue or question in the Zen practice. Glassman argued the film is "filled with modern-day kōans," including some of the movie's most memorable lines, like "The Dude abides."
"The movie is just chock full of this very Zen-type stuff," Bridges said.
That conversation evolved into The Dude and the Zen Master, a book by Bridges and Glassman that captures their dialogue about the nature of spirituality.
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