The Dude and the Zen Master

by Jeff Bridges

Paperback, 2014

Call number

791.43 BRI



Plume (2014), Edition: Reprint, 288 pages


A dialogue between the actor and his long-time spiritual guru explores the challenges of Bridges' Hollywood career and the ways in which Zen teachings have informed his efforts to do good in the modern world.

User reviews

LibraryThing member jphamilton
Now, how I'm a big fan of Jeff Bridges, thoroughly enjoyed Fearless and The Big Lebowski, among many others, and I always have a calm, peaceful place for Zen-related thoughts in my life — so when I had first heard that this book was in the works, I was excited for the possibilities. Then I read some reviews, and I saw Jeff (who was definitely acting VERY stoned) and Bernie doing the press appearances to promote the book. While they were very amusing, it also seemed that there was a possibility for a high level of lameness in the book's concept. Well, I'm now a believer.

It's not a great book. It's not a good place for a beginner to check out the basics of Zen Buddhism. But it IS a very enjoyable time spent with a couple of friends who have known each other for thirty years and are feeding off of each others words. Jeff has some great stories about the films he's worked on, the people he's acted and reacted with, and has a very accessible manner that exposes how his mind works. He is very Dude-like at times.

Bernie is a very prolific writer of books on Buddhist and spiritual practice. He is always striving to make the sometimes confusing Eastern thoughts and practices easier for us Westerners to relate to. I have read many books on Zen and feel that Bernie does a fine job bringing life and religion together in many clear, thoughtful, and amusing ways

The format of the book revolves around a few days of the them talking about their lives, Zen, The Big Lebowski, and a whole grab-bag of other things while they hang out on Jeff's Montana ranch. At times their conversation get just plain silly, but I also found that there were many points that were most profound and thought-provoking. That's a good mix for any life — silly and profound. I'm very glad I picked it up at the bookstore and found good reason to bring it home for my eyes, mind, and sense of humor to enjoy.
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LibraryThing member aegossman
A very helpful book!
LibraryThing member clark.hallman
The Dude and the Zen Master is a conversation between two very talented and benevolent men. Jeff Bridges is a well-known Oscar-winning actor, performer, songwriter and photographer; and Bernie Glassman is the founder of the Zen Community of New York and a longtime Zen teacher. This dialogue addresses their thoughts and opinions about work, play, love, compassion, trust, selfishness, fear, life, death, and much more. It’s a somewhat rambling conversation that is humorous at times and very poignant at other times. It reveals much about each of their personal (and working) lives, while weaving much Zen wisdom throughout the discourse. The Dude is a character from The Big Lebowski (movie) and serves as an example for much of the wisdom that they impart. The conversation leads the reader through a maze of diverse topics which requires inquisitiveness, patience and thought. However, I found it to be a very rewarding experience to negotiate this maze. I learned much about both of these men and appreciated their integration of Buddhist wisdom into their discussion. This is a unique and very worthwhile book that provides entertainment and life lessons from a Zen perspective.… (more)
LibraryThing member tabascofromgudreads
Lazy stuff. There was no need to make a book out of these conversations. Sometimes interesting, but mostly boring.
LibraryThing member weeta
"why the phrase 'New shit has come to light' is so important" and other discussions worth reading on lackluster days
LibraryThing member Razinha
Disappointing...even more so as I like Jeff Bridges and The Dude. Two guys talking about many different things and mostly senseless drivel. Zen is a crock of manure anyway (anything that advocates thinking about nothing is an abrogation of the evolutionary imperative to think), and Bernie Glassman spouts the lion's share of the nonsense in this book, but Bridges is surprisingly misinformed about a lot of what he says that's outside the acting world. Now, his revelations about his movie experiences were interesting, but they do little to offset the mind suck of the rest of the book.

Little intellectual substance here, but it was worth a shot.
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LibraryThing member Eye_Gee
If there is one actor I'd like to know, it's Jeff Bridges. Buddhist, musician, artist, husband, human being.
LibraryThing member grandpahobo
This is a really good book. Its a conversation (literally) between Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman.

The Zen philosophy is presented in very down to earth, practical terms that are easy to understand. I really liked the personal anecdotes they each bring to illustrate the benefits and difficulties of practicing Zen. I have a feeling that "Row, row, row your boat" will become a new mantra for me :)… (more)
LibraryThing member MattCembrola
I didn’t know exactly what to expect in “The Dude and the Zen Master,” though a relaxed conversation between two old guys (young at heart) smoking cigars up in the mountains might have been just that. This is a nice little book, and while it is largely a single transcribed conversation, it is organized in a way that covers many topics, using Lebowski-isms as starting points. A common thread throughout the dialogue is “row, row, row your boat” – gently and merrily down the stream. Bernie Glassman has a strong background in math and engineering, yet has the ability to explain any topic in simple terms. Perhaps this is why his responses to Bridges often seem a little indirect? As a Zen master, he leads retreats to uncomfortable places, in order to bear witness to the suffering humanity is capable of bringing about. In turn he has also performed all over the world as a clown, to bring laughter to unhappy places. Jeff Bridges, who made the Dude a character we all know, draws from his work experience as an actor, and from his career as a musician. He has shown that he likes to connect with everyone involved in the making of a film, so they can all do the best job possible. Bridges’ family values are equally clear: his mother dedicated time to each of her children, and his love and respect for his siblings and especially his wife are important in his life. The similarities and differences between Bridges and the Dude are of interest. He is funny about his “heads,” made from leftover pottery clay. These he gives to friends, though they usually like to hang out together. The Head For Peace initiative is a good one, however. Glassman’s thoughts on peace are somewhat surprising. Here he also mentions Judaism, so it is insightful to see how one person can possess multiple faiths. One topic that comes up is how they each deal with situations, good and bad. They offer suggestions, but thankfully don’t act like they have all the answers. One of the Zen Master’s tricks, which Bridges has since adopted, is to put on a red clown nose when things get too serious. The dude abides, or the dude is not in. Such dude-isms speak for themselves. That’s my opinion, man. Thank you Goodreads for the First Reads book and opportunity to read the reflections of two friends sharing ideas.… (more)




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