Jeff Bridges, Yonkers Zen Master Talk Up Their New Book

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Actor Jeff Bridges and Yonkers' Bernie Glassman talk about their book "The Dude & The Zen Master" Tuesday on the "Today" show.
Actor Jeff Bridges and Yonkers' Bernie Glassman talk about their book "The Dude & The Zen Master" Tuesday on the "Today" show. Photo Credit: Today show

YONKERS, N.Y. – Jeff Bridges and Yonkers Zen master Bernie Glassman were on the “Today” show Tuesday talking about their new book and all things Zen.

The Oscar-winning actor and musician has teamed up with Glassman, founder of Yonkers’ Greyston Bakery, to co-write "The Dude & The Zen Master.”

Glassman, who also founded the global service group Zen Peacemakers, said the book was inspired by Bridge’s character in “The Big Lebowski.” Bridges plays The Dude, a laid-back slacker living in Southern California, in the 1998 comedy.

Glassman said The Dude embodied the ideals of Zen and that in certain Buddhist circles he is considered a Zen master.

“He sort of flows with the moment,” Glassman told the “Today's” Natalie Morales. “Instead of The Dude trying to make the world do what he wants it to do, he’s doing what the world is doing, and that’s what Zen is all about.”

In the book, which the two wrote during a four-day retreat in Montana, they talk about movies and their philosophy on life, including things like insecurities, fears and marriage.

They use the phrase “just throw the ball” as a way to encourage people to stop thinking so much and just act. Glassman used the analogy of a centipede, with its 100 legs, trying to walk.

“If he stops too long to think about which leg to do next, he can’t go anywhere,” Glassman said. “We lead a lot of our life like that.”

Instead, he said, we need to just live.

“The point is, when things come up, just throw the ball in there," he said. "Just do it!” 

Glassman, who founded Alexander Street's Greyston Bakery in 1982 after completing more than two decades of Zen training, said the book has another recurring theme: “Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream.”

Both he and Bridges are involved in causes around the world, including homelessness and conflict, and Glassman said the line from the popular children’s song embraces the whole idea of Zen. 

“Do things ‒ that’s the rowing,” he said. “But merrily do it. And gently.”

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