Here’s one for the aphorists; a new religion ‘preached on a philosophy of non-prechiness.’ Its sounds refreshing, even though divulging into the origins of this sentiment may raise a disapproving eyebrow on right while leaving the leftfield in hysterics.









The religion is known as ‘Dudeism,’ a reference to the celebrated film The Big Lebowski that was produced by the Coen Brothers in 1998. I was initially sceptical about the idealisation of a rusty, idle hippy incarnated by Jeff Bridges and it’s relevance to religion, but further insight would reveal the merits of the ‘Dude.’

The easy-going and worry free character of the ‘Dude’ is asked to inspire people to do the same, and free themselves from the chaos and anxious environment we have cultivated. Rather than success being measured by money and materialism, the soul should be satisfied. This inner peace and happiness cannot be achieved under the stresses of the relentless capitalist master. So the ‘Dude’ aptly suggests, ‘as Lenin said, look for the person who will benefit.’

Oliver Benjamin or the ‘Dudely Lama,’ spent ten years backpacking the whimsical treasures of the East where he studied a variety of religions and philosophies along the way.  The Church of the Latter-day Dude (yes, that is for real) is located in Chiang Mai, a bustling city in the tropics of Thailand. It was conceived during a screening of the film in the same city, which Benjamin describes as being an illuminating, surreal experience.

‘Dudeism’ is the marriage of a pop culture phenomenon and ancient teachings based on the Eastern philosophies of Lao Tzu’s Tao and Epicurus. The tripod of influence supports the notion of a society free from imposed ‘norms’ and pressures.

Benjamin still dreams of a world in which robots replace human labour so that we can be left to the living and experiencing part. This hedonistic   ethos may come to contradict, even offend people and other great philosophers who believe in the concept of hard work and reward.  However, Benjamin ensures that the ‘Dude’ is an extreme case and free time should not be spent on plunder but rather personal growth and gaining inner peace.

A plethora of different religions exit today, each with its own rulebook to govern every crevice of life. Traditional religion is something to be respected but not imposed. Everyone should decide what influences the feel connected to when living their lives, for instance who they choose to love; and when they wake up on a yellow Sunday, it shouldn’t be a sin for wanting to wear shorts.

In an age of libertarianism the longhaired, robe-esq attire of the ‘Dude’ suggests a kind of new-age Jesus. The resemblance is uncanny. Interestingly, Benjamin has always wanted to start a religion- I’m sure no one guessed that The Big Lebowski could be potentially their new source of divine authority. I can see the Coen Brother’s smiling now.