"When I forget my ways, I am in The Way"

Philosophical and experiential notes on Nothingness, with supporting insights from martial arts, quantum physics and Taoism

14 August 2016

the man in the hut of a thousand dreams

"If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the Mighty One." -Bhagavad Gita

Dude Jitsu

I'm playing around over on Medium with the idea of Dude-Jitsu. As in tilting my 'Jiu Jitsu for Everyday Life and Leisure ' articles in the direction of Dudeism

Over the past few years, I've both emailed and personally met the religion's founder, Oliver Benjamin. Dudeism is widely viewed as a spoof, and many of its followers reinforce its washed up stereotype of bumbling incompetence. Yet it continues to grow, and it's ordained ministers are legally recognized. From its site...
Come join the slowest-growing religion in the world – Dudeism. An ancient philosophy that preaches non-preachiness.
Oliver is an articulate and thoughtful guy, and his unique ability to combine disheveled, schoolyard humor with Taoism has fueled Dudeism's unique popularity. But a price gets paid for juvenile humor, in that the more thoughtful themes embedded in the Dudeist approach to living are often largely ignored.

On the one hand, I really love the inclusiveness of Dudeism. And that the misfits and outcasts of society are elevated to the seats of honor. But having participated in a few online discussions with some of my fellow misfits, I've come away every time scratching my head over how militant some Dudeists followers are in maintaining idiocy, ignorance and occasionally a not-so-latent hostility toward any form of intellectualizing that travels much beyond "take 'er easy, dude."

Dudeism founder The Dudely Lama, Oliver Benjamin, in the center.
Yes, that's the Mellowphant, inspiration for my own Buddhaphant.

In "The Abide Guide: Living Like Lebowski," Benjamin and co-author Dwayne Eutsey devote a section in Chapter Three called, "This Aggression Will Not Stand: Dude-Jitsu, the Dudeist Art of Self-Defense," in which they draw comparisons to Jiu Jitsu.

Having begun my Jiu Jitsu studies over 25 years ago, there are many parallels that the authors get right. Parallels that are convincingly simpatico with my deep personal interest in transforming useful aspects of Jiu Jitsu's principles and approaches into easy-to-use applications for everyday life confrontations and adversities.

Some time back, Oliver generously extended me an opportunity to write a book on Dude Jitsu. Given my Jiu Jitsu background and how, in a sense it is a 'rug that ties the room together' with Dudeism, it's a compelling thing to consider.
"Of all ridiculous things the most ridiculous seems to me, to be busy — to be a man who is brisk about his food and his work." - Søren Kierkegaard
When I turn toward the martial arts community to find parallels to what Dudeism is striving to convey with Dude-Jitsu, there's little to see. Aikido and my own upbringing in Great River Jiu Jitsu, along with a few other examples, are exceptions. Martial artists tend to get absorbed in the physical and mental discipline of their arts, deeply underestimating the importance and rewards of co-developing the integration of their practices into everyday life.

Turning toward religion, it's safe to say that religions tend to begin and stay serious. Neophytes and old-timers alike tend to become, if not zealots, well, at least convinced that their way is the right way. A counter to this is one of Dudeism's unique quantities: that it's own brand of zealots don't tend to take themselves so seriously. But even that can become a tricky path into zealousness. Because zealotry, in any form, is problematic. Primarily because it's often argumentative at the expense of an open mind. This is humorously true of many atheists, too.

And therein lies the rub. Can zealots of Dudeism or devotees of a movie actually lead a revival of Taoist principles and approaches to living? Or are they simply too laid back, drunk,  coarse or opinionated to be bothered?

In 2013, I modified Jiu Jitsu's 12 Essential Points of Self Defense into Dude-Jitsu's Essential Points of Self Defense. I posted them on a Dudeist forum, and was gratified to see some of the responses. I've since posted the five essential points on Medium here

If Jiu Jitsu can make a contribution to Dudeism, I sense it may come through the principle of relaxing, along with learning how to better tune in to our surroundings. Tuning in, or becoming better aware of our surroundings, helps us to become more considerate... of ourselves, of others, of our environment and of our circumstances. These forms of consideration are aspirational within the martial arts, even if they are not widely acknowledged or overtly taught.

I'm the wrong guy to get all cheeky with Dudeist terminology or home-grown colloquialisms or 'The Big Lebowski' movie quotations. On the other hand, and this is my personal question, can something as ridiculously named as 'Dude-Jitsu' help clear away some of the muddy waters of time, and help us self-discover some improved and easier ways to be more successful at living?

I've devoted decades of study in matters of Jiu Jitsu and consciousness. And for all the good it's done for me, it sure took an awful long time to get me down the road to where I am today. Can't we do better?

The Dudeist belief system is essentially a modernized form of Taoism stripped 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.