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Lions Roar : May 2013
59 SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2013 A Harvard student asks: “How do we reconcile not-knowing with the need to know?” Koryu Roshi says: “Why has the Western barbarian no beard?” KoOn’s interpretation: “True or false? This statement is false.” Roshi Bernie comments: “Not-knowing is most intimate.” IAm Lebowski koan: “You’re Lebowski, Lebowski.” Mark’s life koan: “Who am I?” Traditional case koan from The Book of Equanimity, Case 38: Linji said to the assembly, “In this lump of red flesh, there is a true person of no rank. He is always going in and out of the face of every one of you. Those who have not yet witnessed him: Look! Look!” Giving Lebowski koan: “Put the piece away, Walter.” Mark’s life koan: “What Does it Mean to Give?” Traditional case koan from the Gateless Gate, Case 41: Bodhid- harma sat facing the wall. The Second Patriarch of Zen, Eka, said, “My mind is not at rest. Please pacify it for me!” The First Patriarch replied, “Bring me your mind and I will calm it!” The Second Patriarch said, “I have searched for it everywhere, but I cannot find it!” Bodhidharma replied, “There, I have put your mind at rest for you!” I Wasn’t Listening Lebowski koan: Malibu cop: “And I don’t like you, jerk-off! Do I make myself clear?” Dude (after a pause): “Sorry, I wasn’t listening.” A Harvard student asks: “Is there a connection between Zen meditation and one’s ability to ‘listen from the heart’ ”? Koryu Roshi says: “The breeze is whistling through the old pine; hearing it closer, the sound is better.” KoOn’s interpretation: “Doctor! I keep hearing voices outside my head!” Not-Knowing Lebowski koan: “I’m not Mr. Lebowski. You’re Mr. Lebowski. I’m the Dude.” Mark’s life koan: “Who is this stranger looking back at me?” Traditional case koan from Blue Cliff Record, Case 1: Emperor Wu of Liang asked the great master Bodhidharma, “What is the main point of this holy teaching?” “Vast emptiness, nothing holy,” said Bodhidharma. “Who are you, standing in front of me?” asked the emperor. “I do not know,” said Bodhidharma. o He then claims that, in constantly telling Donny to “Shut the fuck up,” Walter is employing a standard Zen technique for relaxing opinions. It’s in the same spirit as the Zen teacher Ummon striking his student Tozan for saying innocuous things, as recorded in the classic koan Tozan’s Sixty Blows. Zen masters of this rough ilk, says Glassman, are “trying to get you to realize that what you’re saying ain’t the truth. It ain’t the whole thing.” In fact, “there ain’t no whole thing. You’ve got to just be open.” Or as the Dude says, “That’s just like your opinion, man.” So now for my opinion about The Big Lebowski and its dharmic thread. As I see it, the Dude indeed abides in a way that smells faintly of spirituality. Though I detect attachment to a certain sweet, milky cocktail, he’s essentially unattached to material goods. If his dumpy apartment doesn’t tip you off to this, you can see it in the understated way he describes losing a million dollars: “Lost a little money today.” By and large the Dude is also compassionate, thinking as he does about the safety of Bunny. But he’s clearly fast and loose with the precepts. Beyond the aforementioned cocktails, he’s not above a lie or two—if it means getting his soiled rug replaced. Moreover, he doesn’t really practice the Zen ideal of effortless effort. Unemployed and smoking up in his bathtub while listening to whale music, the Dude is simply effortless. Right from the beginning, the Stranger who bookends the film tells it to us straight: the Dude “is a lazy man...quite possibly the laziest in Los Angeles County, which would place him high in the runnin’ for the laziest worldwide.” Don’t think, though, that I don’t have a soft spot for the Dude and his easygoing ways. It’s just that, instead of lump- ing him into the Buddhist tradition, I think he merits his own, all-American religion. And, indeed, he has inspired one. It’s called Dudeism and, if Dudeism.com is to be taken seriously, it boasts over 150,000 ordained priests worldwide. The home page offers this invitation: “Come join the slow- est-growing religion in the world...an ancient philosophy that preaches non-preachiness, practices as little as possible, and above all, uh...lost my train of thought there.” T HE H EBREW WORD for peace is shalom, and to Roshi Bernie Glassman it’s the key to his work with the Zen Peace- makers. It’s a word many people are familiar with, but what’s less commonly known is that the root of shalom is shalem, meaning whole. Therefore, to make peace is to make whole, and in Zen—according to Glassman—the practice is to real- ize the wholeness and interconnectedness of life. Glassman had a profound experience of wholeness in the early seventies, shortly after finishing his mathematics Ph.D. He was driving to work one morning when he had a vision