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Row, Row, Row Your Boat

The Dude and the Zen Master

There is an incredible new book out, The Dude and the Zen Master, written by what many might think is an unlikely duo – an actor and a Zen Buddhist. Yet, this book by Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman takes a look at life through the lens of The Big Lebowski. The book is part mystical, part Zen, part humor, part journey, part compassion in action. What I loved about the book is that throughout their entire conversation (on many topics), there was a deep sense of the importance of showing up, being present, and staying true to oneself.

One of their dialogs includes Glassman sharing with Bridges his insight about how to have a mindset without having expectations. He says it can be summed up with these words:

Row, row, row your boat
gently down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream.

It is all about going with the flow, staying in the present, and doing it merrily. The song doesn’t say go down the stream crankily. It reminds us to row our boats, change our oars when we need to, and to be gentle with ourselves. As Glassman says, “There are different streams. Sometimes you come to a fall and sometimes you come to white water. Your rowing has to adapt to the situation. So gently is really important. Don’t power yourself or blast through; rock with the way things are.”

The book gives you the sense you are sitting in the room listening in on a profound conversation and you get to bear witness. You will feel grateful for being able to listen to the conversation and Bridges and Glassman’s insights from acting to Zen Buddhism to sacred activism.

Row, row, row your boat is a way of looking at life in the present, being gentle, and changing shores. As Glassman say, “Take care of yourself right now. Befriend what’s happening, not just who you’re supposed to be or what the world should look like. This is where you are now, so how do you care for yourself this minute?”

Treat yourself to this powerful exchange between two incredible human beings.

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