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Lions Roar : May 2016
Jeff Bridges The Big Lebowski directed by Joel and Ethan Coen (1998) Now, it could be argued that there’s no Buddhist theme in The Big Lebowski whatsoever. However, my buddy Bernie Glassman has another opinion. He said to me one day, “Did you know that the Dude in The Big Lebowski is considered by many Buddhists to be a Zen master?” I said, “You gotta be kidding. We never talked about Zen or Buddhism while we were making Lebowski. The brothers never said anything about that.” “Yeah,” laughed Bernie, “just look at their name—the Koan brothers.” Koans are Zen stories that only make sense if you can see that life and reality are different from your opinions about them. Most of the famous ones were written in China a long time ago. Bernie went on: “The Big Lebowski is filled with koans. Only they’re in the ‘parlance of our time,’ to quote the Dude. It’s filled with ‘em, like: The Dude Naima Mora Kung Fu Panda directed by Mark Osborne and John Stevenson (2008) I’ve actually fallen in love with a movie that I think has one of the best rep- resentations of fundamental Buddhist principles: Kung Fu Panda. The film is for both children and adults, which I love. It really starts a dialogue about Buddhist principles with young people and their parents who see themselves in each other and learn from each other. The protagonist, Po, is selected as the dragon warrior out of pure circumstance. He is the least likely candidate. He fights to acquire the dragon scroll, all the while believing and being told that he could never do it. He finally wins the dragon scroll that is supposed to reveal all the secrets of martial arts and life, only to discover that it’s blank. Po’s father tells him that in order for something to be special, you only have to believe it is special. Po sees his reflection mirrored in the scroll, understands he is special, and finally sees himself to be the dragon warrior. In Nichiren Buddhism, we chant this same thing to the gohonzon, a scroll that “mirrors our life as limitless as the universe.” This mandala allows us to understand that all things are intrinsically enlightened and contain buddhahood. That all things are spe- cial, and you only need to believe to manifest buddhahood in your life. NAIMA MORA is an America’s Next Top Model winner, a singer, and the author of Model Behavior, an inspirational book for young people based on her own life experiences. ©PHOTOS12/ALAMYSTOCKPHOTODREAMWORKSANIMATION Just as all things are intrinsically enlightened, Po learns that he was always special.