People who intuitively perceive 2,500-year-old Chinese and Greek concepts, while knowingly nod to California's detached hippie philosophy and quote droll lines from “The Big Lebowski” are joining a revelatory religion that has illuminated its U.S. founder in northern Thailand.
Dubbed "Church of the Latter-Day Dude," the group also invites "mellow, unflashy chicks who hang around in their bathrobes and take baths with candles and whale sounds," says the religion's Dudely Lama, Oliver Benjamin.
"Everyone feels oppressed by society's pressures," he says.
"Everyone wishes they had more freedom. Everyone wishes they could be more carefree, to worry less about money and status."
Oliver's church is heavily influenced by the Tao of Lao Tzu (6th century B.C.), Epicurus (341-270 B.C.), and the “The Big Lebowski,” a 1998 film written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen.
The film stars Jeff Bridges as a surreal, hilarious, ironic, marijuana-smoking, satirical, 40-something character nicknamed "the Dude.”
Asked by a woman in the movie what he likes to do for fun, the Dude replies: "Oh, you know, the usual. Bowl. Drive around. The occasional acid flashback."
Chiang Mai-based Oliver says he thinks everyone potentially identifies with aspects of the movie, even if they may not wholly approve of the Dude's lazy lifestyle.
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"The Dude is an extreme case, but he provides an ideal which can help you to bring a little more 'Dude' into your life, without giving up on the rat race entirely," he says.
"I grew up in the 1980s, which was a very ambitious and materialistic time — the era of the Yuppies. Even as a youth, I found it frightening and false.
"The reason I embarked on a 10-year backpacking journey was so I could avoid being brainwashed by the machine of industry, and find the space and freedom to indulge my imagination."
Or, as the Dude exclaims in the 1998 film, set in 1990: "It's all a goddamn fake. Like Lenin said, look for the person who will benefit. And you will, uh, you know, you'll, uh, you know what I'm trying to say."
Eastern philosophy and Dudeism
The Church of the Latter-Day Dude's website is ridiculous, absurd and lots of fun.
But it also wrestles with questions and answers that have gripped humans throughout the ages.
"We contend that The Big Lebowski is actually a modern form of Taoism," Oliver says. "Taoism is probably the most philosophical religion in the world.
"Though there are variants that are heavily superstitious, the original tradition has virtually no dogma or rules of conduct. It suggests that there is a natural way of living that people can return to, if they just learn to sense it intuitively.Read more: The man who founded a religion based on 'The Big Lebowski' | CNNGo.com http://www.cnngo.com/bangkok/life/doctrine-chiang-mais-church-latter-day-dude-explained-206793#ixzz1RhAmraHJ