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The Dude and the Zen Master Hardcover – January 8, 2013

204 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Bookforum

A tremendously harmless, good-natured pile of mindlessness. —Choire Sicha


“Mr. Bridges and Mr. Glassman are likable, and smart, and interesting...[The Dude and the Zen Master] includes compelling discussions of Mr. Bridges’s marriage, acting technique and close relationship with his’ll always be grateful for the hang.”
The New York Times

“[The Dude and the Zen Master] is an odd and wonderful little work that makes use of the transcendentally funny characters and language of [The Big Lebowski] as the starting point for a relaxed philosophical discussion about a wide variety of topics.”Los Angeles Times

“[A] truly incredible book about two friends talking about the good life.”
—Huffington Post
“Whether he knows it or not, The Dude’s laissez-faire attitude has become a model for coping with life’s complexities...[in] The Dude and the Zen Master, one gets the impression he or she is eavesdropping on an intimate conversation...It’s more than chicken soup for the soul, [it’s] cacciatore for the spirit, a winner’s guide to optimal living—a manual on how to Dude-ify oneself and just abide, man.”
— (Cleveland)
The Dude and the Zen Master is an exercise in likeability....[Bridges] is in rare form here....To know the Dude (and, by extension, Bridges’ own meditational endgame) is to love him.”
—The Hairpin
“[A] good conversation between good friends...One of the unexpected treats of The Dude and the Zen Master is the insights into who Jeff Bridges is behind the Dude persona...touching remembrances of his parents, his reflections on life as a devoted family man, and his behind-the-scenes stories of movies he’s worked on [and] profound little Zen observations and insights sprinkled throughout the book.”
The Dudespaper
The Dude and the Zen Master doesn’t read like a traditional book at all—but rather riffs like a jam’ll feel as though you yourself sat in on the sessions with the dude behind the Dude in The Big Lebowski and Buddhist buddy, Bernie....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 this very funny and readable jam session.”
Rock Cellar Magazine

The Dude and the Zen Master [is] a wonderful book of conversations...about acting and Zen and the long, fond relationship between these men.”
—Sheila Heti, Financial Times

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Blue Rider Press; 1 edition (January 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399161643
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399161643
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (204 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #157,352 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

156 of 171 people found the following review helpful By Bill Gallagher on January 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Odds are if you landed on this page, you want to like this book. I know I did. After all who doesn't love Zen master and innovative social activist Bernie Glassman or Jeff Bridges, especially in the persona of The Dude (I suppose my one caveat to liking JB is I'm less than fully enamored with him when my wife is swooning over how cute he is). So I did want to like this book--and parts of it are satisfying; and Jeff and Bernie do come off as loveable--but overall I find it problematic as a book, as opposed to, say, a video.

The philosophical heart of the book lies in looking at The Dude character as a kind of Zen master. For one example, roshi Glassman says on "The Dude is not in, leave a message": Not being in -- not being attached to Jeff or Bernie or whoever you are -- is the essence of Zen. When we're not attached to our identity, it allows all the messages of the world to come in and be heard. When we're not in, creation can happen." They also consider the expression "The Dude abides" from many different angles.

Some many find this of interest, but I find the notion of The Dude as a bodhisattva to be something of a stretch. Don't get me wrong, I'm a bona fide Big L fan, and rarely does a week go by (okay probably more like a few days) when I don't quote it ("you want a toe, I can get you a toe"), but taking The Dude as some kind of enlightened being seems to be confusing relaxed laziness with awakened awareness and compassion.

I suspect BG and JB don't take the words and thoughts in these pages all that seriously, but have embarked on this conversational book as a fundraiser. In that regard you can feel good about buying it and I bet it will be more satisfying to Jeff Bridges and Big Lebowski fans than it would be to Buddhist practitioners.
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45 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Jes on January 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is not a self-help book, or some guide to become a zen master. Dismiss any such misconceptions right away. It just isn't. It is, however, a simple book containing the comments and conversations of two friends reflecting on their lives and how the world has perceived things in unexpected ways, namely the movie "The Big Lebowski and the movie's character, the Dude". Accept it for what it is and the book is an interesting and entertaining read. No expectations are better than high expectations, in most cases, and this book is no different.

Now, don't take me wrong. I am not putting the book down. I throughly enjoyed reading it and will pass it around to my friends to read themselves. I am merely sad to read reviews of this book as if it was some self-help or Zen guide, and thus reviewed negatively. It was never marketed as one and never tries to be one. So, I don't understand the confused crossover.

The book is actually a few days of conversations between Jeff and Bernie, on various topics, recorded and the transcript organized into a somewhat coherent structure. You can really see the conversation back and forth in the way the book is formatted with the "Jeff: Jeff's thoughts. Bernie: Bernie's thoughts" sectioning to the chapters.

Each chapter is full of insights from both men, reflections of past experiences such as Jeff training with a master bowler for the role of the Dude, and random thoughts. If you have ever had, or listened to, a conversation between two old friends going on about anything and everything, then you know what is in this book. Two men, with unique lives, tossing around thoughts, over cigars.

An interesting and entertaining read, to say the least.
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69 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Robert Piper on January 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First off... this book is awesome! I think it's a real life changing book, it's one of those books you read and few days later you find it positively impacting you.

The first opening sections were Bernie says, "Thinking's not the problem. We freeze up because we expect a certain result or because we want things to be perfect. We can get so fixated that we can't do anything. Goals are fine; what I don't like is getting caught up in expectations or attachments to a final outcome."

This book is not just about the Big Lembowksi that's just a metaphor. This book is about two people, living a good life with compassion, happiness, and most importantly - humor. You don't even have to have seen the Big Lembowski to enjoy this. Jeff explains his fascinating career in the movie and music industry; than explains how he used a non-attachment - just do it attitude. Some days are good; some days are not so good, and it doesn't do any good to get caught up whether it's good or bad.

Then Jeff goes on to explain how he used a non-attachment mind throughout his entire life. Jeff says, "Just do it. Get into the thing, see where it takes you." There's a tremendous amount of incredible wisdom, in here that you couldn't read anywhere else.

You get to peer into the life experiences of two incredible people. Or there's a great part were Jeff is talking about working on a movie with James Fonda and director told them to just do it! There's no need to let your mind wander to thousands of different worries you have -- just do it.

There's a great part were Jeff talks about working with Francis Coppola and how Coppola made him use improvisation on set. He relates these experiences to how to live a good life.

The philosophy in this book is life changing...
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