Monday, December 20, 2010

On meeting an American Master

This summer I went to the Zen Peacemakers Symposium for Socially Engaged Buddhism. It was an excellent experience, but what made the trip epic was meeting the Dude, Jeff Bridges, in person. I arrived early on the day Jeff was to attend the event, he was to give some talks, and then a small concert. I also wanted to get my Zen on, there were a lot of very interesting people scheduled to speak, and so much I was keen on experiencing beyond just coming to see the Dude. The Zen Peacemakers and Engaged Buddhism are two things I am looking to become more involved with.

Jeff arrived at the symposium and gave his "give Bernie a little head speech", which was enlightening and hilarious, he and his message were well received by the crowd. Sharing his talents in order to benefit others is the kind of thing the Dude would do, like going to dance recital or just being a good friend. The "Little Head" he brought for Bernie Glassman showed that this guy is no one trick pony, a truly creative Dude. I would recommend to any Dude with a thousand clams to burn, get one of these heads, you don't keep it forever, but they are cool and it will help spread Dudeliness.

As the discussion came to an end, I felt the call of nature. Making my way to the rest room, by happenstance I ended up in line right behind the Dude, whoa. Suddenly faced with a quandary, do I approach the man I have come to meet, while he is in line for the bathroom, and risk being a total dork, or risk not getting another opportunity. I went for it, I mentioned how I appreciated what he was doing there, and let him know I was a Dudeist, and could I ask him a few questions. He was totally cool about it, of course he wanted to use the rest room first, but would be happy to chat with me. I was stoked.

When he came back out, we had a nice chat about his thoughts and awareness of Dudeism. He made it clear he was aware of us, and he thought it was way cool what we are doing. I asked if he thought it was weird that a religion has formed around a character he played in a movie? He said, "yeah I think it's a little weird, but it's great man, I dig it" (I may be paraphrasing a little). We talked for several moments about the ins an outs of Dudeism, and he was thrilled that a Dudeist priest made it to the Symposium. I couldn't get over how easy going and friendly he was, no air of Hollywood elitism, just two regular Dudes talking Dude stuff. He asked if I would be staying for his intimate concert that night, I said I wouldn't miss it, and we agreed to chat some more later.

After that this Dude was lost in some sort of acid flashback kind of mindset, I couldn't get over just hanging with the Dude, and being surrounded by the Zen Dudes made it a bit surreal. The Symposium had this odd sense to it, and I wasn't the only one to notice. It was quite literally the nicest place I have ever been. There was a feeling that there was no need to be the least bit defensive, as no one there was out to harm or take advantage of you in anyway, it was like visiting Nirvana, a happy Sangha going about it's caring work with contentment and community.

I truly lost myself in the spirit of community around me, and started joining in with helping out as much as I could. I ended up helping move a large ladder, I offered to take the burden and then saw that it was Jeff's wife I was relieving from carrying this big ol' ladder. Abiding and not trying, put me in the right place and frame of mind to come to Susan's aid, being in the moment made my moment.

Well after that, Jeff and his wife were more than happy to let me hang around them, and while talking to Susan she mentioned that Jeff was going to be the first American Master of the new season on PBS, and it would be cool if I helped get the info out there. Got that Dudes, The Dude is an American Master(like we didn't already know that), be sure to catch his show in January on PBS.

Thinking this was a great day to be alive and Dudeist, it got even better as Jeff and long time friend John Goodwin took the stage. They played a lot of very cool music, including some they had written for Crazy Heart. The crowd of Zen Dudes and Buddhists were alive with the Dudes musical styling, one of the best shows I have ever seen, close and personal, full of fun and goodwill. As summed up by another attendee, "that was not undude".

After the show I got to tell Jeff about The Dude De Ching, asked if he had heard of it, he hadn't, so I offered to give him my copy. He seemed really quite thrilled with it, and mentioned how Bernie had done a bunch of Koans based on the Big Lebowski. He really dug that there was a "holy" Dudeist book based on the Tao, he is quite familiar with the Tao and totally saw the connection. So Dudes, the Dude De Ching got an unofficial, first look, stamp of approval from the Dude, he dug the style.

Jeff is a really deep Dude, and we talked about all kinds of cool shit. He is definitely a qualified Dudeist, the fact that he is so much like the Dude, is just more proof of the synchronicity involved in Dudeism's genesis. A holy trinity if you will, story, character and actor, all just right for their time and place. With Jeff being a Dude, not just playing one, it gives body to the idea of Dueism, like enriching the soil of it's birth. When you look back at his work, you can see a lot of "enlightened" characters and stories, it is no secret he is a Budhisty inspired guy, even his new Tron movie has elements of Zen, he had asked for Bernie's input on the story.

It is completely right that he is being profiled on American Masters, this Dude can sing, act, sculpt and is an inspiration to many. Being the Dude is just one aspect, he is a damn good actor as well, there is an easy going depth to his work, that working for it could not recreate. The man elevates abiding to an art form, literally. I applaud American Masters for choosing this Buddhisty Dude for their season premiere, and I am honored to have met a true American Master.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Long Live the Green Dragon!

It would seem that the Conwall Alliance has declared all out intellectual war against any one, group or thing they veiw as contrary to their gospel. And their latest assault is against "radical environmentalists", which they have given a name, the Cult of the Green Dragon.

While environmentalists focus on Earth Day celebrations and public policy debates and initiatives, the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation is announcing a new initiative, “Resisting the Green Dragon,” that will sound the alarm about dangerous environmental extremism and bring a Biblical viewpoint on environmental issues and creation stewardship to evangelical churches, ministries, and schools.
So while most of us are busy looking for answers to our ecological challenges, they are busy formulating ways to stop us. But I really like the "label", the Green Dragon already sounds familiar, sounds like the perfect name for Mother Earth.

This will be fun as it plays out, there are good hard working environmentalists and humanists doing what needs to be done. They have important work to do, they don't have time to waste on these backwards ideas. But I do, so go ahead keep up the good fight, this Dude will keep them busy. I will switch the ringer for a ringer, and let my compeers stay focused on "saving the Girl".

I am sure others feel as I do, being called a Green Dragon will be a badge of honor, I have already made contact with one Green Dragoneer. I am sure more will follow, think I need to start a strict drug regime to keep my mind limber for the debates ahead.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Quest for the Colbert Nation Teapot Party chapter.

This is a post I put on the CN forum, using my impassioned Colbert style. I really like the idea of Willie doing this, he is one of those special and rare individuals that can bring many different people together, who doesn't love Willie?

The Colbert Nation needs a war room for us cannabis reformers. Having dual passions, Colbert and cannabis(two things that go exceptionally well together) is our strength, we are well situated for the upcoming political battles. The Teapot Party is the spark that lit the final fuse in this long loathsome war, now is the time, the big push is here. It is time to bring down the lunatic policies that corrode our country, our society, our humanity.

We have the advantage, our numbers are now significant, tens of millions strong, we have fact, reason, logic and compassion on our side. They have an arsenal of weapons from guns and war dogs, to helicopters and tanks, we have only the truth we now need the courage to wield it. It is time to sound off and stand up.

This is a call to Colbert Nationals who seek an end to these backwards and irrational prohibitions that have retarded human social evolution, those who understand the grievous damage the War on Drugs has caused. The Colbert Nation is one of the best communities on the webs, and any coalition formed from amongst it's ranks would have to be a force to be considered.

They say every state has a Teapot Party chapter, I say the list is incomplete with out the Colbert Nation being represented, who's in?

I also wanted to provide a space for us to rant, in an effort to spare some threads our fury, we should be moar careful about alienating "middle of the roaders", we will need their support later on.

So have at it Dudes, let us conspire, the time of Yes we Can(nabis) has passed, now is the time of We Will.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Zendudes make symposium a success

The First annual Zen Peacemakers Symposium in Montaque Mass took place from 8/9 to 8/14, the Symposium featured some of the key figures in Engaged Buddhism, the arts and health care. The event went off with out a hitch, thanks in large part to a group of very hard working volunteers. Working behind the scenes, seemingly unnoticed, but always present. They changed jobs and function keeping up with the fast paced intensive event. I had to wonder how they managed to keep all the threads straight, with out the benefit of a strict drug regime.

Bernie Glassman and the Zen Peacemakers hosted a gathering of socially engaged Buddhists and others. They set out to create the space and opportunity for social activists to meet, discuss what they have been doing, and what more could be done. It was an enlightening and encouraging event. It included some truly cool characters; Anne Waldman, Peter Matthiessen, Jon Kabot Zinn, Jim Bastien and some Dude they called Jeff Bridges, who will supposedly be featured in Tricycle magazine.

Founded by Glassman in the eighties, Zen Peacemakers have been bringing Buddhism inspired service to the west. A part of the larger Engaged Buddhism network, they help many in need. They also network with other faiths to achieve true interfaith cooperation, they open themselves and their resources to many traditions. Their Montague Farm serves as a laboratory Zen house, where they can explore ways of creating and managing future Zen community centers. Further I have it on good authority that Bernie is also a fan of TBL and friends with Jeff Bridges.

The event was a series of smaller events and activities, all conducted for about two hundred attendees, in a one room Zendo, The House of One People. On Friday evening the crowd swelled as Jeff Bridges and long time friend Jon Goodwin took the stage, they jammed with their wit, talent and guitars, to the delight of everybody. A tall stranger in a cowboy hat was heard to say, "that, was not un-Dude". This Dudeist was blown away. The Zendudes had to take care of thousands of tiny details, and perform many varied tasks, they even had to do this while contending with filming for an American Masters special on PBS, about the Duderino himself.

Earlier I watched as Seth set out lunch and chairs for the guests, then scarfed his meal before having to do a bunch of other achieving. He had a calm relaxed nature through all of it, that dude knows how to abide. That was a typical trait among these volunteers, no matter what the challenge, they just met it, with an easy attitude and genuine desire to just help. I managed to catch many of them during a little break in the action, and they were like uber friendly, not all frazzled and creepy. They were just chill'n doin what needed to be done, not getting all reactionary, I was inspired, and started to call them Zendudes.

After what was an incredible performance by Jeff and Jon, and once all the guests and those just there for the show were gone. Well this Dude found himself plum out of plans. It began to look like my only option was to sit alone in a truck on a hill. I had run into Sean the Dharma Punk, he and I had become fast friends earlier, he told me they were going to have a dance party. He planned to play some of his music for the other Zendudes. Buddhist punk dance party? This I had to see. So after an all too healthy hike up the hill to the parking area, to stow my junk in the truck, and limber up a little, I hiked back down to the party.

The music stopped as I approached, and the Zendudes were milling about, Kye said they were gonna go grab a beer, and asked if I would join them. She was kind enough to offer to let me ride in her car. She did not know the way, but that was okay because we had Clemens, for my money far more entertaining than a Tom Tom or GPS. And he takes pictures.

On the ride I got to know these Zendudes better, Jeanie told me of her interfaith marriage, he is Tibetan Buddhist and she is Zen Buddhist. One can only imagine how they surmount such an enormous divide. These Zendudes came from all over, they were mostly young, but a few, shall we say mature individuals were there to help. These guys were fun and friendly, any Dude would feel at ease among them.

So in spite of our crazy Swiss made navigation system, we arrived at The Lady Killigrew, a truly interesting place with a view. An old mill building overlooking a river. With outdoor dining set on a hill, to walk from one side of the table to the other, was to go up in elevation by three feet. If any Dudes make it to the Montegue house, they simply have to check it out, at The Montague Mill.

As they kicked back for some well earned oat sodas, Ari Pliskin began to prepare statements for the next morning. Being bright and an up an' comer, he saw fit to try to delegate. In looking for help with his home work, he turned to a group of weary Buddhists with more interest in Dharma jokes than helping the future leadership of Western Engaged Buddhism. Can't say I could blame him, I had watched this guy work work his illusory ass off. He got a couple of good things out of it, but everybody was just to psyched after an awesome day that ended with an awesome show by our hero, the Dude.

They were all getting a bit punch drunk at this point, maybe even actually drunk. The Zen claws came out when Seth and Sean were discussing whether or not one can even say that one is a Buddhist especially if they are a Buddhist. Well after all the Buddha wasn't a Buddhist, but being Buddhist is a state of being not being Buddhist. At this point I was glad I had limbered up before going, otherwise I would have been lost.

It became all too apparent these dudes needed sleep, I had just rolled in, being able to only attend two days, but they had been busting their existential asses all week. So trusting fate and our Buddhist turned photographer turned navigator friend Clemens. We carved our way back through the winding mountain roads. I was tremendously glad when they dropped me at the top of the hill near my truck, instead of at the bottom of mount needanewknee.

As I left them behind, I couldn't help but think these Zen volunteers were some cool folks, they absolutely deserve the title of Zendudes. Through an exchange of ideas and philosophies, we really reached an appreciation for each others chosen paths. They unanimously dug the Dudeist style, and this Dudeist dug theirs.

Because they all deserve to be recognized for their hard work, the Zendudes;
and Clemens

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Jeff Bridges gives head for a thousand dollars

On Friday the thirteenth Jeff Bridges took the stage at the Zen Peacemakers Symposium and unabashedly announced, "I gave Bernie a little head", referring to Bernie Glassman founder of the The Zen Peacemakers. He said he likes to give all his friends a little head, saying that it deepens their personal connection. With abandon Jeff then went on to display his little head skills, in front of everybody. Not satisfied he offered to give any member of the audience a little head, for a thousand dollars. Now he says he will even give you a little head, but it'll cost you a thousand bucks. Where have I heard that before?

Sure getting a little head from the Duderino sounds costly, but it is for a good cause, and ya' gotta figure getting a little head from Jeff Bridges, star of many awesome movies, has got to be worth something. Well all proceeds are destined to help the Zen Peacemakers in their efforts, and mighty efforts they are. So while you bask in the after glow of getting a little head from the most famous Dude, but you can pat your self on the back for helping the world be a more compassionate peaceful place.

I want to tell you more about the Zen Peacemakers first, so put your wallet away. Bernie Glassman and the Zen Peacemakers have been a potent source for social good. They run many programs and have helped lots of Dudes down on their luck. Part of the overall Socially engaged Buddhism movement, and an important bridge between east and west for positive change. They bring Zen and it's way of abiding into the American social arena, with an open and non judgemental way.

Their Bearing witness programs are examples of Dudeist abiding at work, they are guided by three tenets;
Not-knowing, thereby giving up fixed ideas about ourselves and the universe
Bearing witness to the joy and suffering of the world
Loving actions towards ourselves and others

Yeah mang, these dudes know how to chill for a better world.

Socially Engaged Buddhism has been quietly spreading and becoming an international force for change, not necessarily restricted to Buddhists, the movement is based on the Buddhist concepts of mindfulness and abiding. Both concepts are not exclusive to Buddhism, and in those traditions labels don't matter anyway. So you find many traditions, even completely secular non traditions, mingling and working towards a shared goal of a world more abiding. Dudeism fits right in there, the nihilists are holding the world hostage, and no Dude can let that aggression stand.

I can wholeheartedly say this Dudeist digs the Zen Peacemakers style, and I have it on good authority (authority?) that they dig the Dudeist style as well.

So I bet you are just about bursting with the urge to get a little head from the Dude, and save the world, in one blissful explosion. Well I am privy to some inside information, and I have had to limber up my mind to keep all threads straight. But new shit has definitely come to light. Here's the skinny.

When (soon to be featured on American Masters) Mr. Bridges has left over ceramic from other projects, he likes to sculpt little heads with the balls of clay. They have a range of emotions "noble, pompous, frightened, singing, masked", he just lets it flow and the Dude creates. He has been giving these little dudes to his friends, but is now working on a project around these heads. He will be putting together a book featuring these little heads.The proceeds go to the Zen Peacemakers foundation. He will be leasing these sculptures out on a temporary basis, they come with documentation of your contribution. Here's the cool part, every so often, Jeff said the current holders would get an invitation to "bring your head, let's jam".

The lease will cost a thousand smackerooskis, but with the certificates, that warm fuzzy did something feeling and the possibility to go and "jam" with the Dude man himself, yeah I've got to run for the ATM too.

Watch for official announcements forth coming on "Head for Peace Let All Eat" project from the crazy mind of our favorite actor. This thing has Dudely coolness all over it, and our Zen compeers are doing the good work, in a way any Dudeist can support. This idea has a life of it's own, because the heads will be travelling the world changing hands, and having who knows what kind of adventures. To not be a static possion, but some wild kind of lineage, moving organically through our world. I recommend doin' a J and thinking about this while lying on your rug Dudes, it'll blow your mind.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Another first

Had my first article published here Also went bowling for the first time in years. I think I could dig bowling, gonna go again during the week after work. Yup had me quite the Dudeist weekend.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Dudeism, a new home for lost Hippie types

This is my first article I submitted to the Duder for the Dudespaper.

Dudeism bridges a gap that developed as the Hippie movement self destructed. When Dudes lost their spirituality, even as they lived it, they were unaware of “abiding” and how that connected them to this whole darned human drama. During the Hippie movement Eastern thought met western culture at a cross roads; human potential and freedom of expression were flourishing along with a drug counterculture. It all joined in a swirling mass of loving coolness. For several years things were going great, then troubles like the DNC riots of 68, and the Hells Angels roughing people up at a Rolling Stones gig, too many hippies became overcome with being achievers. Anger, aggression and addiction entered the movement which descended into the failed "me" generation.

After the traumatic events of the late sixties, the movement began to fracture, the squares took all the Zen with em', the Hippies were left with only the drugs. Once they lost their altruism and spirituality, Hippies just faded away from society. Some became disconnected solitary Dudes. With no spiritual touchstone, they drifted like tumbleweeds across a landscape dominated by reactionary religions and nihilists plots. Maintaining a take it easy attitude, and adhering to a strict drug regime, Hippies/Dudes were seen as little more than lovable bums, or out right criminals.

Eastern things still were spreading and many people began to practice Zen, Buddhism and Taoism; Shanghas were set up and rituals from the old world were passed down. The peace movement regrouped and put on a more legitimate face. Even though the happy slacker who abides is sagelike, the reactionaries would latch on to a Dudes preferred forms of herbal meditation and use it to deface the the overall culture of peaceful abiding. Squares would not attack a Dude, but in the face of this aggression they may need to distance themselves from the Dudes, to protect the spirit of abiding. And the rift separating Dudes from their spiritual ground widened.

So where did that leave the Dudes? Well, they became a target of the Drug War mentality, the "if you are not a square or an achiever, then you must be no better than a crack head who leaves their offspring in the trash". We almost started to believe them, the reactionaries; we allowed them to blame societies ills on the happy slacker, as if chillaxin' with a doobie was going to leave America open to economic failure and decay. Meanwhile, the paraquats were pushing the achiever lifestyle, promising sports cars and half naked women to whoever pursued greed and materialism.The rat race of greed lead to needing to defend those material gains, bringing more guns and war to our planet.

Now that science and archeology have confirmed that the Dudes choice of herbal sacrament is both harmless to the individual, society, and historically considered a spiritual enhancer, the attacks by reactionaries look foolish. Now it is understood that not all drugs and philosophies are created equal, leaving plenty of room to stand up with an abiding attitude and defend the Dude lifestyle. That abiding is not slacking in personal laziness; that living a life of acceptance is key to living in a peaceful world. I think one could even defend Dudeisms validity against some of the worst reactionary types, at least to the point where their head explodes with frustration, or they start throwing coffee cups.

Dudeism kind of brings the modern hippies, the slackers, hip, cool, counterculture, partier types back into the Tao fold. Demonstrating philosophy and spirituality don't mean you have to be a square or a reactionary, that complicated Zen rituals are not required. Candles, a warm bath and a J will do; they will do just fine as a personal ritual to find your Tao. Being rooted in ancient thought and beliefs, demonstrably peaceful and kind, yeah, man, Dudeism is the path of a sage.

With that this newly ordained Dudeist sees a long enduring future blossoming with Dudeism. There are so many Dudes wondering aimlessly thinking they don't fit with the other theological/philosophical types, and certainly not with the achiever types. They are still unaware that the Dude has risen. That slacker does not automatically equate with failure or decay. Abiding isn't just some Eastern thing; we have been abiding for years. That waking up - the Dude can see where he fits in, and it turns out he fits right in there, with the other sages of old, and of the future Earth we are trying to find.

So welcome home Dudes, the Hippie may have died years ago, but its' spirit is reborn, and with a brand new myth to boot. The Big Lebowski brought us the charactor of the Dude, and an archetype was born, a new hero for an ancient understanding, and the Hippie redefined. Today our western style of abiding is set to bring some much needed chill'n out to the world, and the slacker sage has a home in Dudeism.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Day of firsts

Today I went to my first Zen sitting, met some of my neighbors for the first time since moving to Maine, and wrote this the first post on my new blog. All of these things were wonderful and I am very happy about how things are going.

I am to attend the Zen Peacemakers Symposium, I am actually starting this blog in anticipation of having experiences at this event that might be worth sharing.