Publisher Jim Gimian’s editorial introduction to the May 2013 issue of Lion’s Roar.
First the disclaimer: My name is Jim and I’m an Achiever. “Achiever” here doesn’t refer to being all accomplishing. Hardly. Rather, “The Dude Abides” has long evoked an inspiring image for me, and, in the preferred nomenclature of the world of self-proclaimed Big Lebowski fans, that makes me an Achiever. I’m very pleased that we have the authors of The Dude and the Zen Master on our cover. Just seeing this beautiful photo of Jeff and Bernie conveys an important unspoken message. For me, it’s a message about the profundity we can experience in popular culture and the popularity we are experiencing nowadays of the profound traditions.
Jeff and Bernie’s work together conveys how these two worlds—the popular and the profound—are not separate. Far too often in our aspiration to practice meditation, we tend to see the popular and the profound as different parts of life. Accepting and rejecting things that way in our daily lives is not just a series of victimless crimes, for when we do it we are entering a world of pain.
Jeff and Bernie are perfectly suited to show us how the profound and the popular are not separate. They are into funny stuff, and they are thorough. I say this not just because I’ve been a huge fan of The Big Lebowski and Jeff ’s work for many years but because he’s also had a long, genuine connection to meditation and the dharma. And with his work to fight world hunger, he’s declaring that he minds, man. This form of aggression will not stand.
Nor am I saying this just because I’ve had a deep respect for Bernie’s beginner’s mind ever since we first met, when our teachers were having dinner together in the ’70s, but also because of his incredible service of “bearing witness”—bringing the deep, human understanding we call dharma into the everyday lives of the marginalized people in our society, from the prisons to the inner city to the death camps of Auschwitz.
Though all our readers may not be fans of The Big Lebowski—it’s definitely an acquired taste for some—the Dude shows us how powerfully we can connect to the profound through, well, just about nothing. The Dude just abides. It’s about just being and not applying our judgments. Or as Bernie might put it, it’s about bearing witness to how that awakened spirit in each of us can be presented in the everyday occurrences of our human life.
This is what we hope to show in every issue of the Shambhala Sun—that what we call enlightenment may just be about bringing our full humanness and insights from meditation into everyday life experiences.
And Jeff’s comments about the “mishap lineage,” from our cover story, are important here: We have to take the whole thing without separating the good from the bad, the popular from the profound. We can’t judge the Dude from our narrow reference point, or how he fits into our framework. Life does not stop and start at our convenience. There are rules but we can learn how to do this, since, as humans, we are never out of our element.
Of course, as Bernie might say, “This is just my opinion, man.” Rightfully so. But then, lots of things have come to light to support it, including 2,500 years of beautiful dharma tradition, from the Buddha to Phil Jackson. And to that we can now add The Dude and the Zen Master. Part of the beauty of its message is its simplicity. It really ties the room together.