The story of "The Dude" is truly a movie that has grown beyond itself. It's so much more than a movie - and that's the sign of a classic. Like many classic characters and stories, "The Dude" has become a cottage industry unto itself, extending the common man wisdom of a Venice slacker into a guide on how to live a contemporary Taoist lifestyle. Dude-esque sagely advice, playing on classic roots, can be found in books such as the Dude De Ching: A Dudeist Interpretation of the Tao Te Ching, published by the "Church of the Latter Day Dude." Seriously. The "Church" of Dude-ism, which is an organized religion that claims more than a hundred thousand followers. Let's face it - if a movie character can spawn the development of a religion that is seriously (or at least as seriously as a "Dude" could be) practiced, we've moved into a significant cultural phenomenon.
The original "Dude" Jeff Bridges has been happy to comply with and promote the culture that has arisen around one of his most well-known roles. And he has become in many ways synonymous with the Dude, Jeff Lebowski. Along with his longtime friend and philosophical partner Bernie Glassman, Bridges continues to promote the virtues of "Dude" in the book, The Dude and the Zen Master. Bridges and Glassman have spent years exploring the tenets of the contemplative life of non-resistance. And in their book they have simply collected some of their thoughts and conclusions. It's not really about about Buddhism or Taosim or even Dude-ism, as much as it's about the thoughtful life that has been a tenet of American spirituality since at least the times of Henry David Thoreua, if not Founding Father Benjamin Franklin.
Thus, the story of the Dude lives on, and extends itself beyond the script in ways that never cease to entertain some of us. From the lists of quotes that never get old to the discovery of new and interesting aspects of the film that haven't occurred to us before, the "Big Lebowski" continues on.
But that's just an opinion.