Inside the May Shambhala Sun: “The Dude & The Zen Master,” the road to enlightenment, Pico Iyer on Leonard Cohen, and lots more

Our May magazine (mailing to subscribers shortly!), features “The Dude & the Zen Master,” Andrea Miller‘s profile of “Buddhistly bent” actor Jeff Bridges and Zen teacher Bernie Glassman as they reflect on the friendship, spirituality, and shared sense of social responsibility documented in their new hit book. There’s also a teaching from Glassman, and Bernie’s analysis of some of some of The Big Lebowski‘s best-known lines as seen through the lens of Zen koans.

There’s lots more inside, too, including Pico Iyer on the fires of art, passion, and Zen burning in Leonard Cohen‘s heart, and Judy Lief‘s road map for the three-yana journey of Vajrayana Buddhism.

Plus: Margaret Wheatley on living in the age of digital distraction, a look at a new comic book featuring Thich Nhat Hanh, Sister Chan Khong, and Alfred Hassler, the Karmapa on the key Buddhist concepts of emptiness and interdependence, and more.

Look for all this and more when the May magazine arrives. If you’re not a subscriber, click here to subscribe and save.


  1. Michael Flinn says

    Sadly, this is one issue that I won’t be purchasing. “The Dude and the Zen Master” is hardly a development worth the cover of your magazine, and the book itself is nothing more than silly, each of the authors blowing smug Zenny kisses at each other. Just as western Zen struggles with some major issues in 2013, we are treated to this fluff promotional piece that only reinforces the idea that US Zen is directionless, or at least going in the wrong direction.

    Shambhala Sun, your job in part is to use discernment and help build up the Dharma in the west,not give cover to those that commercialize or it weaken it.

    • says

      Sorry to hear you feel that way. But we think you'll feel differently about the subjects/authors of The Dude and The Zen Master and whether or not they're furthering the dharma if you read the article. Maybe you can pick it up and give it a look for at your local library.–Rod Meade Sperry at the Shambhala Sun

    • Nancy LeBlanc says

      That's not fair, then you might just as well say,you'll not buy a certain item because you do not like the way the person who made it looks. At least read it and give it a go.There's nothing wrong with Fluff', did the Buddha ot teach to question everything. How can you question what you do not investigate??

    • Don Genshin Bucher says

      Many long term Zen practitioners have expressed this sentiment in private. Second generation practitioners have had to confront the growing body of evidence that the brand of dharma exceptionalism imported from both Rinzai and Soto Zen is highly toxic over the long haul. 1st generation teachers only knew what their teachers told them, nothing more.Unfortunately, Bernie Glassman's teaching is more of the same. He is a brilliant man, like his teacher Maizumi, like many of the first generation White Plum teachers, like Dogen. His clown nose is a prop – he chooses when to put it on – and he is hiding in plain sight from himself.

    • Don Genshin Bucher says

      For better or worse, Zen is all about discernment and articulation. Because some of us are naturally better at this than others (with Dogen the gold standard), enormous egos develop over time. Does an enlightened person fall into cause and effect or not? Yakujo's response – do not ignore causality – becomes more and more difficult for the best and the brightest as time goes on.

      We 2nd and third generation practitioners are finding that this is a slippery slope – a serious mid-course correction is needed, urgently. Glassman has been coasting on his reputation for years. His legion of successors, many hard working, well meaning people, need to grab him by the nose, in public, and give him a good shake. He needs to pick up his bowls, go back to his room, and work on his memoirs. Let us know what worked and what didn't, for himself and others.

  2. knockedoutcold says

    Wow… someone telling someone else what THEIR job is. Don't fall for the "everything in the west is bad" complex. It's horribly misguided, and I learned that by living in the East for several years(The East is also not terrible.. still living here). Commercialization isn't synonymous with every term that means evil. The entire magazine IS commercial, reaching a massive audience, and that's a good thing in my opinion. I would rather the commercial world be into Dhamma, than something much worse. Also, a bit of humor is good Dhamma! Many of the old traditions can be taken far too seriously. Radical changes in Buddhism, including a more humorous approach should be a wonderful thing.

  3. Susan says

    I do enjoy the levity and there is certainly a 'danger' in attaching to any one viewpoint of Zen. Personally, I think Forrest Gump is the ultimate Zen master – he was fully present to the needs of the moment and without judgment. Moreover, he was the reflection of right action. That is a (yet to be written?) article that I think would make some interesting parallels.

  4. Michael Flinn says

    Mr. Sperry:

    I appreciate your respectful comments and I offered my perhaps harsh opinion respectfully. Again, respectfully, I see these kinds of promotions as “Dharma-Burgers…(yes, I am a fan…) and I have witnessed among certain Zen “masters’ a willingness to dilute the Dharma and twist it in the wind of American commercialism to the point where the true ancestral teachers might be shocked and dismayed. Zen in the west, IMO, doesn’t need more weirdness, it needs less. I’m going to go stand in my front yard now and shake my fist at speeding teenagers.

    Slow down, Shambhala Sun, and see the direction you’re taking!

    • wyrdness says

      Personal appropriation of "Dharma" as a measure of absolute righteousness in the context of subjective opinion seems inherently problematic. It is akin to the fundamentalist attitude which has potential to prevail in any religious institution that trades in the currency of morality – especially morality which is considered superior to secular concerns, by way of "divine right" and other related concepts of "higher" laws which are to be "respected" as opposed to "disrespected".

      There is certainly a long history related to the imposed dichotomy of "sacred" and "profane" and debates regarding the dividing line between them. One of the key problems with such classifications is derived from the perceived source of knowledge, namely whether that knowledge has been created by fallible humanity itself, or passed down by "superior" people (such as buddhas and gurus and prophets and saints and so forth), or even directly manifested as the absolutely infallible "word of god" or some similar idea of channeled/revealed phenomenology.

      I would venture that there are many multitudes more questions than answers regarding these matters, especially since perception itself is one of the most basic issues we all must begin with. We are all dealing with our physical conditions as human beings, even before being conditioned by the imprints and influences of our various cultural concerns (derived from whatever our current location and historical time period may be). The resulting social constructions of communal organization is built upon a deeper foundation of life itself, and yet I would daresay that our current global society is not a utopian paradise. Is there a disconnect there? Should we even ask?

      Questions remain, it would seem…. would it not? One thing we may be able to agree with is that we all begin with our own perception. Then again, some may disagree with that. Who is right? Who is wrong? Does it matter? If so, why? If not, why?

      Personally, I would agree with the idea that this human life is short, and yet infinitely precious. Death may come for any of us at any time. We would all do well to remember the basics. This too shall pass.

      "everything under the sun is in tune, but the sun is eclipsed by the moon"

      – pink floyd