Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Dudeness

The books I've read lately have been seriously bumming me out. Some were novels and some were memoirs but there was a lot of lying and cheating and divorce and faking deaths and framing spouses for murder. I tried to like the people, but they kept doing all these terrible things to each other and it was very disheartening.

Then the library let me borrow The Dude and The Zen Master by Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman, which is more my speed. And is also making me want to watch The Big Lebowski again. I liked the part where they talked about The Dude as Lamed-Vavnik, a concept from Jewish mysticism. According to Bernie Glassman: "Lamed-Vavnik means 36. It means there's 36 of these people, people who are maybe like Lebowski, like "the Dude." There are 36 of these folks at any one time, and they don't know that they are anything special. They are just doing their thing, and they are just doing plain righteous acts. Because of the acts of these 36 folks, according to Jewish mysticism, God does not destroy the earth. And they don't know who they are. They're kind of like "the Dude," they just go around doing their thing."

I don't know what is so significant about the number 36. What happens when one of the 36 dies? Is a new Lamed-Vavnik born at that same moment? What if there were only 36? Would God destroy the earth? What if there were 37? Would it rain donuts?

It's a neat idea though, this concept of people who live simply, humbly and with kindness, unaware of the total awesomeness in that. But why stop at 36? I'd like to think there is a Lamed-Vavnik inside everyone, that every person has the potential for righteous awesomeness. Maybe sometimes it gets obscured by whatever suffering is weighing them down at the moment - insecurities, fears, troubles - all the stuff that makes them act less than awesomely at times. But I'd like to think it's always in there somewhere, that capacity for kindness and Dudeness.

Bowl on, my friends.

Lyric of the moment: "And I got a peaceful easy feeling. And I know you won't let me down. 'Cause I'm already standing on the ground..."

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