This week was rather momentous – I seem to have accidentally stumbled on a "religion" (for lack of a better term) that suits me, with no tweaking, twisting, turning, etc., necessary on my part or on its part. It’s called "Dudeism," and is based solidly on Taoism, which I’ve been learning more about via Zen Buddhism in recent years; the Tao is applied to the cult movie favorite The Big Lebowski, and voila, instant accessibility (not to mention quotability) to an anxiety-ridden, tired Westerner such as myself.
It’s a funny thing, because to a-religious folks like I tend to be, the fact that it identifies itself as a "religion" is suspect; yet, to people who self-identify as religious, it could be construed as one big, disrespectful joke. I guess that’s why I like it: it’s neither, and both. It’s a whole grey area unto itself, and grey areas are where most of us dwell, if left to our own devices. That’s why, at various times in the past, non-religious "religions" like Discordianism and the Church of the Sub-Genius have been briefly interesting to me – they’re kinda sorta belief systems, but also not really, and the "practice" always involves sardonic humor and irreverence. The big BUTs for me were that they’re not really based on something sincere and meaningful, and their followers (from what I’ve seen, and I could very easily just not have come across the right people) tend to be arrogant, condescending, mean-spirited assholes with absolutely no respect for anyone who isn’t exactly like them. Conversely, Dudeism is based on the ancient Taoism, a philosophy full of wisdom, humor, connection with the natural world, and respect for all creatures, then filtered through a hilarious and wonderfully crafted modern movie. The followers tend to be smart but kind, funny but not disrespectful, and just not weird. Seriously, what’s not to like?
When I saw The Big Lebowski years and years ago, I remember liking it, thinking it was a great story with a lot of humor, but it wasn’t an instant favorite, and I kind of forgot about it until a couple-three months ago, when a friend loaned their DVD to my sweetie and I after we said "We really should watch that again." We watched it three times in a weekend ("Stop Making Sense" is the only other movie we’ve ever done that with), and each time it just got better and funnier. I "liked" The Big Lebowski on Facebook, and read the various updates they posted, and that was about it.
BUT – earlier this week, they posted something about a related book coming out this summer, so I read about it – in the previews/reviews, Dudeism.com was mentioned, and I checked it out for a funny diversion. I did the snap judgment of "Ha! People will make a religion out of anything these days!" And kept reading, just for kicks.
Then a funny thing happened. You know when you hear an outstanding harmony between two voices, and it just resonates, literally, physically resonates somewhere in your head or the area of your heart? People talk about getting that feeling when they finally found a philosophy or religion that fit them perfectly. They describe it also as a feeling of "coming home." Out of the blue, I got that sensation when I read the following: "The idea is this: Life is short and complicated and nobody knows what to do about it. So don’t do anything about it. Just take it easy, man. Stop worrying so much whether you’ll make it into the finals. Kick back with some friends and some oat soda [beer] and whether you roll strikes or gutters, do your best to be true to yourself and others – that is to say, abide." That’s from the "What is Dudeism?" section at dudeism.com. It is so, so simple, and to make it otherwise is, for me, a waste of precious energy.
This comes at a good time, too – I was recently diagnosed as having a kind of generalized anxiety thing going on, which is absolutely exhausting and soul-sucking when it runs unchecked. This news likely doesn’t surprise anyone who has been my friend for any amount of time. Since putting a name and an awareness to this condition I’ve had for about as long I can remember (and thought was "normal," and blamed myself for just not being able to always keep a stiff upper lip in handling it, which of course just made it worse), I find that I’m able to dissipate the anxiety before it builds up too much and interferes with my life, just by using some coping techniques and remembering a different perspective that I learned from a Professional. Thinking about the recurring quotes "Just take it easy, man!" and "The Dude abides" from The Big Lebowski and Dudeism is a quick and easy way to calm myself until I can do the more intensive techniques later. It sounds so very stupid and shallow, but I don’t care! It works. Man.
So here I am, daydreaming about using my newly acquired Ordained Dudeist Priesthood to marry people, or making up other ceremonies, and thinking about metaphors with dairy products and vodka, and rugs tying a room together. And just generally feeling lighter and better about things. It is simultaneously hilarious and meaningful, and therefore, a perfect fit for me, at least for the time being.
David Woods says
Amazing , how so many Dudeists seem to be tinged with the theme of an a-religious background. I aqcuired, at my own expense,a degree in Philosophy & Religion: an expensive way to learn how to think. The goal was to be able to involve myself, wholly, in any & every system of belief that held interest for me. Then,much to my surprise at the time, I would work my way in, through & out again until I worked through all systems I could discover. That fact had remained true for many years, until I stubled upon Dudeism, through mutual interests about the subjects of Religion & the Big Lebowski, from my Reiki Teacher and closest friend. After investigating dudeism.com I had no existential or metaphysical dilemas about becoming an ordained dueist in that very moment. it thoroughly compliments my devotion to chillin’ out, takin’er easy & learning to be a master of equanimity, & to just say fuck it, dude. Sincerely, The Rev. DudeWood
(The Holy Fuck It)
the Dude speaks through all of us man, i mean manlady, wait no dudette? is ladyperson kosher cause that’s all i got right now…
c.c. keiser says
Dear Benfullohell…It’s dude dude. Dude is just like Doctor, not gender specific.
c.c. keiser says
@ Rev. Shawna Lee;
Seems we followed much the same path and ended up at the very same place! 8)
Very Good Article dude!
Thanks dude, much obliged!
rev ari summerland says
Great to have more, uh, ladyfriends ar Dudeist Priests! I ordained a while back and sure dig the Dudeist way of being as well as some of the serious scholarship that is arising from the community (in a relaxed way, of course). Haven’t married any folks yet, though!
Akshay N R says
That 2nd paragraph about the paradoxical nature of Dudeism as a religion is a very astute observation. I have been a Dudeist for a few months now and it has been the best thing to ever happen to me. Ever since I truly embraced it, I really dont remember the last time I got upset over ANYTHING. It can only have a positive influence. Really.
Rev. JNS Grant says
Help yourself to a beer, there’s plenty in the fridge. Then grab a beanbag, kick back and admire the view…
J.J. Vicars says
Rev. Shawna, the word “religion” has different connotations in the East than it does in the West. To put it simply Western religion is more or less a set of rules and a set-in-stone history whereas Eastern religion is more like philosophy. It’s a way of comprehending the overall picture without having to split hairs over every little detail. This is why the West has so much religious war throughout history (“my God is the correct God so you must die!”) and the East is pretty cool with different religions. In fact Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism are often studied and practiced equally without any hangups. Dudeism is a religion in the Eastern sense of the word. Hope that sheds a little light on the terminology. Cheers! (raises White Russian)
I’ am Dude …… therefore Dude I’ am.
Rev. Shawna Lee says
Far out, man! I’m just back from 4 totally unplugged days, and look at all this fabulous stuff! My Ordination kit had arrived, and there were all these kind words to read. Very fucking interesting, man.
It warms my heart to read all the nice comments you all left here and on Facebook. I’m glad the Dudeist community here likes my first humble offering.
@Albert Surely that is just “I am Dude!” no need for anything else.
@Shawna nice article, interesting how many of us seem to have trod the same path, my own from Yoga, to Zen, to Taoism.
I count myself a Dudeist pagan (not the time or the place to go into that in this here box). I am comfortable with both the dudeism and I folow (amongst other things) Discorianism, I think there you just met the wrong people.
I spend a lot of my time avoiding the facebook site, and trolling the forum (http://dudeism.com/smf/), where I stand as the self appointed guardian protecting Dudeism from overt christianisation.
Rev. Shawna Lee says
Thank you, meekon5! I also peruse the forums regularly, and find them entertaining and enlightening – fabulous stuff.
That’s good to know that Discordians can be all right. I gladly stand corrected!
Granted, I’m still in the honeymoon phase, but I find being a Dude very fulfilling. It really ties my various philosophies together.
Very grateful for the welcome and the kindness – much obliged.
Doctor Joe says
As another Dudeist said “Pull down your pants and slide along the ice”. Always works for me when I have any doubts or anxieties.
Try it sometime.
Dudette Sheryl says
that does not Abide
the Eternal Dude
Rev. Ed C says
It’s nice to read about other people’s revelations when it comes to Dudeism and finding their ways here from the interesting paths they’ve walked in the past. This is certainly a unifiying ethos for the likeminded :)
Welcome to the limber-minded side of transcendental-eastern-philosophical fusion religion :P
ps, don’t believe Meekon, he’s a real life troll as well as on the forum. I once saw him club a Kareoke DJ to death and eat his bones… or at least, that’s what it looked like he was thinking about doing ;)
Rev. A Da Fino says
Far out, wise words and acute observation about Dudeism. If this is your first article then you should write many more. Kudos Rev. Shawna. :)
Rev. Shawna Lee says
Thank you kindly, Dudes! I’m glad you’re all digging it. There is another article in the works that I’ll humbly submit for consideration – hopefully not too far in the future.