The Way, the Dude and the Life
Sometimes there’s a dude… I won’t say a hero, ‘cause what’s a hero? But sometimes there’s a dude, a dude who really gets it – what life is all about. There have been a number of dudes (and I’m being gender non-specific here) of great renown throughout history. Dudes that challenge the status quo, that make people uncomfortable, even as they use them to achieve their own ends. Dudes that take it easy for all us sinners. The Buddha, Snoopy, Jerry Garcia, and Lao Tsu are all examples of dudes that have sparked a renaissance of the abiding life in their own times and in their own ways. But what does it mean to abide? And how does one attempt to cut free of the fast pace of modern life in order to “take it easy, man?” Tying the room together One of the great abiders, Jesus of Nazareth, encouraged the people of his day to find the divine life deep inside themselves – the kingdom, he called it, and he described it as being ‘here, near and within’. Notably, the fascists of his day were inevitably irritated by this message, as it threatened to make people less dependant on the systems that they had developed to maintain power and control over the masses. His message was one of openness and acceptance. In the parlance of his times, he taught that God was within and peace was available to everyone and that one did not need to rely on the religious system or on citizenship in the Empire for salvation or value. The Dude life is available here and now - to everyone - and is not just some pipe dream for a future existence beyond this life. One of his devotees, Paul of Tarsus, went so far as to say, “We’ve all been reconciled! So be reconciled!” He wanted people to see that Dudeism wasn’t about trying to maintain some kind of ideal lifestyle of perfection, but that the perfect life came from acknowledging and resting in the idea that “Nothing is *lacking* here Dude.” We already have everything we need for a life of fullness and there is nothing that we need to try to achieve or attain. The veil has been torn, once and for all, and a life of peace and freedom is there for the taking by those who can see that it was already theirs. There is an intrinsic human paraquat in our paradigms that wants to convince us that everything is indeed ‘broken’. Our religious, economic, political and social systems are all based on notions of sin, lack, duality and segregation. They tell us that we start from a negative position and need to work to better our lot in life. We then create dualistic frameworks that separate and disparage the other, if only to convince ourselves that we can improve our own position. Where’s the money, Lebowski? Socially and economically we have bought into a consumeristic perspective that is driven by the desire to build our own empires, doing whatever it takes so that the funds will be available when we go to the cash machine. Feeling the pull to keep up with the latest trends and fashions, we work and slave in jobs that increasingly become a means to an end and ultimately only serve to make someone else richer. In the midst of this, the Dude remains intriguingly nonchalant about his finances, having learned how to be content with little or with much. Even the religions that tell us we are loved and worthwhile end up convincing us that we need to live certain lifestyles to remain within the limited boundaries of their type of love. Failing to live within, or even worse, choosing to live outside the bounds of these “beachside communities” results in excommunication, ridicule or self-righteous pity.
Jeff Bridges playing Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski in
Let's go bowling But the Dude can’t be worried about any of that crap. Life goes on man. The Dude is at peace with who he or she is, and finds his own value in his reconciliation to and union with the divine life. He is able to accept and embrace all manner of people from all walks of life, from fragile pacifists to aggressive zealots. He stays true to himself and continues to abide, no matter who crosses his path. He is at ease with even those who would be his enemies and readily forgives the ones who continue to make a travesty of life, because he is at ease with who he is. Ultimately the Dude has learned to love the ups and the downs - the strikes AND the gutters - and has come to realise that simply being at the bowling alley is infinitely more important than the score you make. He knows that blathering about dudeness is very undude and is more than happy to dig a stranger’s style. And when asked about his way of life, there is only one response necessary: the Dude abides. For further information on Dudeism visit dudeism.com, watch (or read) “The Big Lebowski”.
Recommended reading: The Dude De Ching
Russell is an ordained Dudeist priest with the Church of the Latter-Day Dude. When he is not exploring the tenets of Dudeism as they apply to Christianity, he is often found taking it easy. He also has a heart for community and reaching out to the marginalised and forgotten. He is getting to know the God of infinite goodness and is living a joy-filled life with his wife Belinda and three children in South-East Queensland, Australia.
See all previous articles by Russell Croft