Jeff Bridges Urges Donald Trump to Learn a Little Zen Philosophy from “The Dude”

By Craig Lewis
Buddhistdoor Global | 2017-01-09 |
Jeff Bridges as Jeff Bridges as "The Dude." From

US president-elect Donald Trump might stand to benefit from a little Zen philosophy, according to Oscar-winning actor Jeff Bridges, who was speaking to journalists recently after attending a Hollywood ceremony to preserve impressions of his hands and feet in cement. Bridges responded to a reporter’s question by suggesting that Trump, whose divisive presidential campaign was characterized by inflammatory rhetoric pitched to play on the fears of a disillusioned American electorate, might learn something from the concepts discussed in the book on Buddhist thought he co-authored with Zen teacher Bernie Glassman.

Six-time Academy Award nominee Jeff Bridges, 67, has been a bright star in the Hollywood firmament since the early 1970s, appearing in such notable films as The Last Picture Show (1971), Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974), Starman (1984), The Fisher King (1991), Fearless (1993), Crazy Heart (2009), and True Grit (2010). However, Bridges is arguably most widely known for his iconic role as Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski in the Coen brothers-directed classic The Big Lebowski (1998), which has since garnered a cult following. “The Dude,” is an amiable, stoned slacker and an avid bowler with a fondness for White Russian cocktails, whose sole aim in life is to simply “abide.”

In 2013, Bridges collaborated with the renowned Zen teacher and social activist Bernie Glassman, a long-time friend, on the book The Dude and the Zen Master, which uses the laid-back character of “The Dude” as a starting point for a freewheeling philosophical discussion of some of the tenets of Zen Buddhism. 

In 2013, Zen teacher Bernie Glassman, left, co-authored a lighthearted look at Zen philosophy with Bridges. From elephantjournal.comIn 2013, Zen teacher Bernie Glassman, left, co-authored a lighthearted look at Zen philosophy with Bridges. From

“Years ago a good friend of mine who happens to be a Zen Master, Bernie Glassman, came up to me and said: ‘You realize in Buddhist circles, The Dude is considered to be a Zen Master . . . it’s filled with Buddhist knowledge. We’ve got to bring Buddhism into the modern times,” Bridges recalled. “So we wrote a book. So maybe Trump should read that book. It’s called The Dude And The Zen Master. We talk about all of the good ideas that that movie has hidden in it.”

Bernie Glassman, 77, is one of the founding members of the Zen Center of Los Angeles and the Zen Community of New York. In 1996 Glassman co-founded the Zen Peacemaker Order, which describes itself as “supporting the vision and inspiration for socially engaged Buddhism throughout the world.” Glassman has authored several books in addition to The Dude and the Zen Master, including Infinite Circle: Teachings in Zen, Bearing Witness: A Zen Master's Lessons in Making Peace, and On Zen Practice: Body, Breath, Mind.  Glassman suffered a severe stroke in January last year that left him partially paralyzed, although he has since made a strong recovery.

Bridges attended the Hollywood ceremony with Sharon Stone and Chris Pine, the co-stars of his latest film Hell Or High Water (2016), for which he received a Golden Globe nomination for best supporting actor.

The actor adopted a similarly philosophical note late last year when asked about Trump’s controversial election win. “The story [that Hell Or High Water] is telling shines a light on why the election went the way that it did, and how seriously disappointed many people have been in the way that the government is running,” Bridges observed. “They have little faith in it, and we’ll see. I hope we don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater here. But I’m rooting for the guy, Mr. Trump. One of the things that’s most appealing about him is his unpredictability. A less kind word might be his hypocrisy, but unpredictability and hypocrisy are things that each of us human beings share. It’s something we all struggle with and work with.” (Entertainment Weekly)

“I’ve got a lot of high hopes. I can’t help but have a lot of concerns. Fears and concerns are also bubbling up inside me. But I also have high hopes.” Bridges told the Los Angeles Times. “I’m rooting for the guy. I’m hoping all this behavior he used to get to be president will change once he is president.”

See more

Jeff Bridges thinks Donald Trump could learn from 'The Dude' (AOL)
Jeff Bridges urged Donald Trump to read his book about Zen philosophy (Independent)
The Dude And The Zen Master (bless this stuff)
Jeff Bridges says he has 'high hopes' for a Donald Trump presidency (Los Angeles Times)
Jeff Bridges: Hell or High Water 'shines a light' on why Trump won (Entertainment Weekly)

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