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Author Topic: Walter -> Dude -> Donny: Evolution of Enlightenment  (Read 18214 times)

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Re: Walter -> Dude -> Donny: Evolution of Enlightenment
« Reply #15 on: February 12, 2011, 09:06:01 PM »
Huge kudos (er, dudos) to Meekon for pointing us all to the ten bulls parable. That's fucking interesting man!

However, here's another possibility to consider:

In line with the Zen parable:

"Before I studied zen, mountains were mountains. While I was studying zen, mountains were no longer mountains. Now that I am finished studying zen, mountains are again mountains"

Is it possible that bulls 1-3 are Donnie, bulls 4-6 are Walter and 7-10 are the Dude?

Donnie is simplistic and childlike. He has the "uncarved block" aspect of the child but it's a serenity born of innocence and ignorance. He is only dimly aware of "the bar". So dimly aware that it in fact kills him because he's unprepared to deal with it. This is the danger of not practicing Zen - you have serenity but not fortitude.

Water is the heroic search for the bar, the attempt to overcome it via force and physical action. He manages to subdue it but only at cost and with violence. It is traumatic, as is the middle of the zen quest. Zen monestaries aren't like new age retreats - they can be punishing places. The spiritual path has a tough second act.

When the Bar is finally tamed (remember that the Dude went through a tough period - he was a member of the Seattle Seven after all!), the Bar is seen for what it is - a monster of our own devising. He did not know this for sure until going out into the world of the wealthy and successful and tried to engage in business to see what it was like. He learns just how fucked up everyone is because of money and status and ego issues. At film's end he knows for a fact that all that shit is just a dark side of the human psyche and that he traveled on the right path to get to the place where he will always abide in Dudeness.

Donnie is a child. Walter is an adult. Dude is the eternal manchild. Full circle, but more of a spiral.

Am I wrong?
I'll tell you what I'm blathering about...

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Re: Walter -> Dude -> Donny: Evolution of Enlightenment
« Reply #16 on: May 17, 2011, 02:20:32 PM »
Possible Symbolism (just my opinion, man)

1. Dude represents that effortless enlightenment/abidedness (Taoism calls it wu wei) that all may attain if they just stop getting so uptight in their thinking about this Case (i.e. Reality).  I see the Dude's greatest moment of Zen or Contentment (Take It Easy-ness) as the moment before he enters his apartment in the prologue scene. 

He is at peace..he is content with the simple things that define his life...his Caucasian ingredient, his bowling ball, his robe, his car..he seems to bounce and dance down the path to his home. Very much abiding.   When we see Woo's face beside the door..we know it's a harbinger to the world of pain (Buddhist concept..suffering/attachment) the Dude will face.

2. Walter represents our desire to satisfy our ego and/or sense of order/justice. Walter urges the Dude on because he sees the case as a chance to define himself as a hero (something perhaps denied him in Nam).   The case is a quest for glory, honor..and ego.   

However, Walter also has a spark of the Dude in many if he is on that path ("Calmer than you are..fuck it..let's go bowling) 

Also, Walter defines and attaches his ego and sense of worth to a framework of culture/heritage..hence his inability to let go of his ex-wife, her religion (and it's dictates) or his inflexibility in the RULES (of which he GIVE A SHIT!).     He sees the bowling tournament as another quest to feed his ego and self-worth (just like our society does with the Rat Race).

3. Donny represents our endless and often fruitless quest for knowledge both the Mundane Questions and the Big Questions. How much of his dialogue is in the form of questions? 

 He represents how our quest can sometimes derail us into trivialities. His only "Zen state" is when he is throwing rocks.  Like the Zen monks..Donny's mind is quieted and at peace when he stops asking so many questions..when he stops wandering into a room like a child.

Both Walter and Donny represent the obstacles we all face as we walk the path of Dudeism towards Abide-ness (peace, Zen state, nirvana..the State of Take It Easy......what have ya).

"The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong , but to those who see it coming and jump aside." Hunter S Thompson, The Rum Diary


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Re: Walter -> Dude -> Donny: Evolution of Enlightenment
« Reply #17 on: April 05, 2012, 08:56:38 AM »
Intresting thought...I've sorta connected it to some sorta thing i heard once about Buddhism, where Buddha himself is pictured as standing on a lotusflower in a lake. Buddha: the ultimate form av enlightenment.
Then under the surface is the people on their way upwards, these are people that either go with the lakes currents lets themselves go with the flow like the Dude, and those people who struggle against the current and risk getting tangled in the...lakeweeds...and the steams of the lotusblossoms (Walter).
Then there are people who are down in the murky depths down near the bottom, people that through ignorance or people how are just like a child walking in during the middle of the movie and not close to being on the path to enlargement (Donny)..

Didn't know if i wanted to go as far as titulate The stranger as the enlightend Buddha though, even though he through his narration seems to pretty durned enlightend.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2012, 09:02:18 AM by ManRalf »


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Re: Walter -> Dude -> Donny: Evolution of Enlightenment
« Reply #18 on: August 08, 2014, 11:05:14 AM »

Now from my point of view I think you've gotten the last two steps the wrong way round.

Yes I see Walter as a personification of the modern person, all caught up in trying to be what he thinks everyone else thinks he should be.

But I think Donny's bowling skill is confusing you. Donny for me is the second step spending his time lost and confused not really knowing where anything is at. I think he doesn't partake of the ringer episode not out of any especially spiritual reason, he just doesn't understand.

Where as the Dude has reached the summit and stepped back into life renewed.

Walter is bulls one to three.

Donny is bulls four to eight.

The Dude is nine and ten.

I do think Donny may abide in the position of the It is difficult sometimes to measure the level (if one were to try to measure that is) of such an individuals enlightenment (the concept of measuring enlightenment being in itself ridiculous). A holy fool may exist in the grace of whatever understanding of enlightenment by the very means of their madness, ie living the life of unattached nirvana only because they are uncluttered by the "sensible" restraints of the unenlightened.


Donny IS lost and confused, and that's precisely what makes him the most enlightened character. As Lao-Tzu says, the normal person learns something new everyday, while  the spiritually mature person forgets something new every day. Donny is the personification of Chuang Tzu's "Free and Aimless Wandering."


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