Dudeism

dudeism

Dudeism has sometimes been referred to as a ‘mock religion,’ though its founder and many adherents regard it as ‘real.’ Its stated primary objective is to promote a philosophy and lifestyle consistent with the original form of Chinese Taoism, outlined in ‘Tao and Laozi’ (6th century BCE), blended with concepts by the Ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus (341-270 BCE), and personified by the modern day character ‘The Dude’ (Jeff Bridges) in the Coen Brothers’ 1998 film ‘The Big Lebowski.’

Founded in 2005 by Oliver Benjamin, a journalist based in Thailand, Dudeism’s official organizational name is ‘The Church of the Latter-Day Dude.’ At least 160,000 ‘Dudeist Priests’ have been ordained.

Although Dudeism primarily makes use of iconography and narrative from ‘The Big Lebowski,’ adherents believe that the Dudeist worldview has existed since the beginnings of civilization, primarily to correct societal tendencies towards aggression and excess. They list individuals such as Lao Tzu, Epicurus, Heraclitus, The Buddha, and the pre-ecclesiastical Jesus Christ as examples of ancient Dudeist prophets. More recent antecedents include pillars of American Transcendentalism such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman and humanists such as Kurt Vonnegut and Mark Twain.

The Dudeist belief system is essentially a modernized form of Taoism purged of all of its metaphysical and medical doctrines. Dudeism advocates and encourages the practice of ‘going with the flow,’ ‘being cool headed,’ and ‘taking it easy’ in the face of life’s difficulties, believing that this is the only way to live in harmony with our inner nature and the challenges of interacting with other people. It also aims to assuage feelings of inadequacy that arise in societies which place a heavy emphasis on achievement and personal fortune. Consequently, simple everyday pleasures like bathing, bowling, and hanging out with friends are seen as far preferable to the accumulation of wealth and the spending of money as a means to achieve happiness and spiritual fulfillment.

The Church of the Latter-Day Dude launched its official publication, ‘The Dudespaper,’ in the fall of 2008. A Dudeist holy book, ‘The Tao Dude Ching’ went online in 2009 (it is a reinterpretation of Peter Merel’s translation of the ‘Tao Te Ching’ using dialogue and story elements from ‘The Big Lebowski’). The book was later renamed ‘The Dude De Ching’ to avoid being confused with an upcoming book by Oliver Benjamin called ‘The Tao of the Dude.’

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