2nd gutter ball, successfully missing the target, life is good…
History of anything can be written as history of appropriation. Americans got pasta from Italians who got noodles from China, that kind of idea. With that in mind it is an all-fun game of tracing histories of ideas and appropriations, like making a lineage tree of sorts. For the actual fact that there must always be a point of view, in other words of who appropriates who or what, and not the other way around. All this is much harder to establish on the level of ideas. In terms of the lineage tree this converts into the idea: Whoever that is making the tree, can put themselves as the last, most current, resultant recipient. And it can always be indicative of the ideas shared by that person. The whole idea of, the victor is the one who gets to write the history, comes into play. And it worries us and so on we go, fighting.
In the idea above we can see persistence of possibilities for a slow simmering conflict between business of profit driven schedule of life and the unproductive slow-mo of an artist squatting in an abandoned building without running water, all in order not to worry about the bills but rather find in creation of the arts a point of focus. Now regardless of whether we like their art or not there is that: the creation of art. Admittedly it is often done in very unbusiness like way. Where then would someone who professes to practice a sort of spiritual discipline of meditation or retreat fit into these ideas? Well they don’t fit and they do. The idea that you get is that they just bring the business schedule onto their, what becomes, achievement-motivated spiritual path. It is as if you are looking up online on how to start a not-for-profit organization and all you get is: treat it and run it as a business. While it maybe a good idea to file the tax return, and understand the amount of funds available to you in your bank account, do you have to do the rest plus casual Fridays? So, can we relax on a tight schedule? Possibly.
Going back to the ideas of appropriation, does the Dude, the Artist, or the Spiritual practitioner fit in, and do we need to fit them in? Do they have to fit in and achieve? The rest of the article is about my chance meeting with someone who was said to be the Dudeist Priest, a religion that is said to be summed up by one-liner: Take it easy man. Let’s get inspired, and Let’s go Bowling Dude.
So, there is a long-standing and highly respected tradition of attribution of all or as may quotes as possible, writing of bibliographies at the end of any book or even composing commentaries onto texts with the use of only already recognized classic texts, without much addition at all. Within this dynamic, even at a slight glimpse, one feels the weight, the responsibility: it is hard to think, impossible to write and dangerous to draw the next breath in a manner of speaking. Questions arise: Is it an original breath or just like others? If like others, which ones? Mine or someone else’s? If only I was properly educated to quote the source materials. Along comes a movie, The Big Lebowski, which over time effortlessly gathers huge following and the status of a classic, a cult classic.
Because of its accumulated, present fame, we are all more or less familiar at this point with The Big Lebowski. When it came out, it was a total flop in the box office. Now, imagine my incoherent thoughts when in a small meeting of Buddhist-minded individuals on the second floor of a café in a small upstate NY town we hear a friend coming along, telling us that they in fact are ordained as Dudeist Priest? Quite frankly, it took a whole day for the idea to sink in, to turn to Google and look it up. It sure did provoke a strong degree of initial interest right away, but muddied, like “is it a joke?”, “do people really take themselves seriously in all of this?” or “is this a status-thing” or “a religion based on just a movie?” I hope you notice the big shadow that the status of something as global as religion could cast. It is like a huge figure made of stone propped up on a rooftop high above, no one wants it falling down to crush the busy market square below. So, we hope that it somehow could over time keep getting higher and higher, and away from us, lost in the clouds at last, to possibly affect the all-important judgment, but only after a very long life and peaceful, timely death.
On to the subject at hand then, Dudeism very openly according to their website borrows from every system of thought that most call world religions. With Buddhism as one of the major general inspirations. Now, it may be time for Buddhists to borrow from the Dude. I personally believe some credit is due. Nothing should prevent us from setting up casual likes and dislikes, as in: we accept this, but not that. If not for our own spiritual wellbeing, which it will not produce, but rather for delineating the whole attribution of who is appropriating from who.
Also, as a side note: Yes, there can be a very healthy discussion not directed at the people in the know but rather others who are looking to get an idea, some sort of scope of what Buddhism is. Yes, Buddhism is much better when not termed as a religion, but rather a spirituality or a system of education.
However, things are termed as who stands for what, so considering these Dude ideas of “Take it easy man” and “the Dude abides” were worth my attention. The constant judgment of self and others yield one unavoidable result: fatigue. Relaxing, all the while keeping the mind limber, may not be explained as the Buddhist way but if borrowed directly can be of relaxing benefit. If adopted as an attitude of general approach to the commercial, neatly packaged way of life that does no longer even promise any degree of happiness, just predictability. What is the result? One can be happier, with less, with much less.
This consumer reality: the achievement of the predictable next item, one after the other, all for the sake of incrementally predictable steps, step by step, of more of the same, of looking forward to having a perfect experience of more of the same one tomorrow after another, works like addiction without identifiable substance. It is the addiction to routine, to a cleanly written resumé of everything that is not thought provoking, where by the obtainment of a single bigger box one can open it and get the perfect smaller replicas to come out, all consistently same, tasting alike and assuredly globally branded, thus available world-wide. Instead of the seeming degree of calm a monotonous idea like this should affect if maintained, this very act of maintenance and unhappy disruption generates all the familiar stress. So, on a sober note, to clear the mind in an attempt to enjoy here and now, take it easy on the consumerism of more and more of same, or more of same upgraded. To abide in that understanding means we already have, happiness that comes from within. That is really beautiful and no White Russians or smoking is required, just some degree of that precious commodity: contentment.
So, next time you see me walking down the street in my bathroom robe, do not be alarmed. It is not yet dementia, I am just powerfully cutting through my deeply rooted spiritual materialism, by taking it easy.
Photos from the movie: The Big Lebowski.
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