A guest post written by Cynthia P. Barnett, Christian Science Committee on Publication for North Carolina.
It was an intriguing duo on the Today Show. Actor Jeff Bridges (the Dude) introduced his friend, Zen master Bernie Glassman, and the new book describing their relationship in The Dude and the Zen Master. Bridges was in his scruffily cheerful element as he enthused about the enlightenment he’d come to experience with this new friend.
It was the end of this interview with Natalie Morales that I remember best. As the summation of his wisdom, the guru intoned somberly, “Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream; Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, Life is but a dream.”
Curiouser and curiouser, I thought. Is this man on to something? Consider: First, ROW, we were told. Does this mean that first we have to take action, not sit on the sidelines of life? Actually do the good deeds for humanity that Bridges and Glassman are known to do?
Second, we were to row GENTLY. Was that a clue as to how we were to journey through this life? Without resistance, without stress, without friction?
Third, we were to go DOWNSTREAM. Did that suggest that the journey need not be hard, but could actually be pleasant?
Finally, LIFE IS BUT A DREAM. OK, I get it now. This whole human experience is just a shade of the real, wonderful stuff we will understand someday. But meanwhile we can row our boats.
The Zen Dude reminds me of comforting truths I learned as a child: that Love will make us lie down in green pastures beside still waters, restoring our souls and guiding us in righteous paths all the days of our lives– with goodness and mercy, no less. ( Psalm 23)
I like this Zen Dude’s message. It’s deep, deep. I just may find it in other nursery rhymes.
Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet…? Not so much. Three little piggies went to market…? Nah.
I’ll keep on rowing.
Link to Barnett’s blog.