Founded in 2005 by Oliver Benjamin, a journalist based in Los Angeles, California and Chiang Mai, Thailand, Dudeism's official organisational name is The Church of the Latter-Day Dude. As of March 2010 over 70,000 "Dudeist Priests" had been ordained via the church.
Although Dudeism primarily makes use of iconography and narrative from The Big Lebowski, adherents believe that the Dudeist worldview has existed since the beginnings of civilisation, primarily to correct societal tendencies towards aggression and excess.
They list individuals such as Lao Tzu, Epicurus, Heraclitus, The Buddha, and the pre-ecclesiastical Jesus Christ as examples of ancient Dudeist prophets. More recent antecedents include pillars of American Transcendentalism such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman and humanists such as Kurt Vonnegut and Mark Twain.
The Dudeist belief system is essentially a modernised form of Taoism purged of all of its metaphysical and medical doctrines. Dudeism advocates and encourages the practice of "going with the flow" and "taking it easy" in the face of life's difficulties, believing that this is the only way to live in harmony with our inner nature and the challenges of interacting with other people. It also aims to assuage feelings of inadequacy that arise in societies which place a heavy emphasis on achievement and personal fortune.
Consequently, simple everyday pleasures like bathing, bowling, hanging out with friends are seen as far preferable to the accumulation of wealth and the liberal spending of money as a means to achieve happiness and spiritual fulfilment.