Saltwater Buddha: a surfer's quest to find zen on the sea
Fed up with teenage life, Jaimal Yogis ran off to Hawaii with little more than a copy of Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha and enough cash for a surfboard. His journey is a coming-of-age saga that takes him from communes to monasteries, from the warm Pacific to the icy New York shore. Equal parts spiritual memoir and surfer's tale, this is a chronicle of finding meditative focus in the barrel of a wave and eternal truth in the great salty blue.
"Heartfelt, honest and deceptively simple. It's great stuff with the words Cult Classic stamped all over it."
—Alex Wade, author of Surf Nation
"There’s something about Saltwater Buddha that makes the book not only easy to read, but a very relaxing experience. Through Yogis’s vivid beachside descriptions, the reader can almost feel as though they are standing on the sandy shores alongside Yogis, seeking out something in the great beyond. This would make a great summer read, and should intrigue even those who do not generally read for fun."
—Sacramento Book Review
"Yogis comes to keenly understand the continuity between the physical and the spiritual, the particularity of a life lived in the world and the lessons of the Buddha. He takes us through some vividly hair-raising experiences, from vertiginous waves to a stomach-churning episode on a fishing boat caught in an Atlantic storm. His story is also, in part, an adventure story in which the sea is a powerful antagonist, at once the siren and the ogre, irresistible and terrifying in its sheer, monstrous power. For this author, it's a voracious and demanding lover, and he is skilled at summoning its ever-changing presence."
—The Huffington Post
"Any self-respecting surfer who's paddled out into the ocean's fury and caught a wave knows that Zen and surfing are inseparable. It's just that most don't know it - yet. Now with Jaimal Yogis' new book Saltwater Buddha: A Surfer's Quest to Find Zen on the Sea the connection between the two is at last articulated, coming full-circle into the reflective light off the ocean. This breezy, coming-of-age tale is in fact a memoir, a quest for pelagic vitality and terrestrial enlightenment all rolled into the spiritual spindrift of Zen. Like the ebb and flow of the tides, Saltwater Buddha floats between the esoteric surfing/Zen connection and the real life of a young man coming to terms with adulthood."
"If there's anything wrong with the book, it's that it's too short (256 breezy pages) and leaves you wanting more. I would have loved to see Jaimal describe more of the gritty details, the havoc with girlfriends and family as he romped fairly carelessly around the globe. A sequel seems imminent as Jaimal, now 29, continues to travel and surf, writing for various magazines as he goes. But even if not, I do know this: Having had a brief opportunity to get to know this young author during a blissful Malibu surf session (fellow surf author Stuart Coleman along-side as both authors toured through Los Angeles together), I can attest to this: Jaimal definitely "surfs his talk" and we can expect other fine literary works from him in the future."
"A journalist, photographer, and surfer, Yogis began the life of a roving seeker his junior year of high school, when he ran away from his Sacramento, Calif. home to learn how to surf in Hawaii. His subsequent travels include a handful of prime surfing spots, but Yogis's more arresting journey is spiritual, taking him to monasteries in France and Berkley, Calif., and deep into the living tradition of Zen Buddhism. Captured here in short chapters and wonderful, visual prose, Yogis's coming-of-age odyssey also takes readers into the culture of indigenous Hawaiians, who believe the gods were surfers. Yogis's long-time surfing mentor Rom provides insight into the science of surfing, ocean swells, the bathymetry of the continental shelf, deep water canyons and sea mounts. Even land lovers will find Yogis's lessons resonant and entertaining, but surfers will find this a quick, surprisingly deep tribute to the quest for surf and serenity."—Publishers Weekly
"At once playful and intensely contemplative. Yogis takes an open-arms approach to storytelling that makes his book refreshingly accessible: Conversational, humble, and humorous, Yogis welcomes die-hard, surfers, seasoned meditators, and the uninitiated alike."
—San Francisco Magazine
"An incredibly honest story by a writer who, like most of us, is searching for answers about life and where his was heading. He found some of these answers in the waves, but not all of them. Some came from people he met, others by hard lessons and some by accident. Yet he found surfing was the perfect metaphor for life. Sometimes the waves will pound you, other times they go flat, but when the conditions are right, when a slight breeze blows offshore, the sunlight reflecting off the water, and it's just you feeling the natural flow. It's a spiritual moment in which you truly know what it feels like to be alive. By the time I closed the book, my cynicism was long gone. I couldn't wait to get back in the water. And keep paddling."
"This terrific first book (…) will surely find the audience it deserves-among surfers, among seekers, and among those who enjoy being swept along on a curious ride."
—Daniel Duane, author of Caught Inside
"The book is honest and authentic and I appreciate Jaimal writing a book like this. I look forward to reading more him and to going back to Saltwater Buddha when I need a little extra inspiration."
"Bored by his cool-kid, suburban life, sixteen-year-old Jaimal Yogis left his mom a note: “Please do not worry. I am somewhere in the world and I will call you when I get there. Saltwater Buddha, his memoir of the adventures that followed takes readers first to Hawaiian communes and then later to French monasteries and to the chilly New York shore. But this isn’t just a tale that travels the compass directions; it also goes surprisingly deep. In this, his first book, Yogis offers us his Zen insights, which he melds with surf wisdom. Water, however, is at the heart of it all—that substance that sustains all life, that is both perfectly yielding yet strong enough to grind rock. Surfers and Zennies alike will want to catch this wave."
"An open love letter to life on the road."
"Yogis reminds us that we can let go of anger and fear by simply living in the present and breathing in the beauty of what surrounds us. He feeds us sweet little extras by sharing historical quotes, proverbs and poetry that pack a soulful punch into his personal story, and brings a full comprehensive explanation of what “Zen” truly is. If you’re a newcomer to the term, this book is a perfect introduction into something that today’s world could truly use more of. This book will appeal to everyone on a journey, adults and teens alike. Jaimal’s reflective ability to make the reader slip into a different state of being is truly a gift."
"Yogis truly nails it with his insight that 'in between', where discontent dwells, is the oh-so-important concept of paddling...the space between those moments when it really matters how you cope with the world. Where life happens and we make decisions. Experience it through the eye's of the teller and drift with him through the unique journey of a true Saltwater Buddha."
—All Clear Productions
"Jaimal demonstrates such a tenacidy and passion for life in his story, be it charging head first a huge walls of Hawaiian surf before even learning what the hell a duckdive was...paddling into waves that were well over his skill level...or jumping both feet first into uncharted territory with in his own life...Jaimals story inspires."
—Your Local Surf
"As a surfer, Saltwater Buddha is a reminder to focus on the positive even in difficult situations. Whether it's fierce localism, cold water, or endless big waves, we could all use a little more Zen positive focus."
—Holly Beck, professional surfer
"A delightful narrative in the genre of Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance."
—Jack Ricchiuto, host of Jack/Zen
"As Jaimal gains hard-won spiritual lessons with a teenager's eagerness and a surfer's passion, we cannot help but see our own spiritual life with fresh, beginner's eyes. I couldn't put this book down."
—Michael Ellsberg, coauthor of Flirting with Disaster
"Yogis's attractively self-deprecating story offers rich reading for both surfers and spiritual seekers, who are, we learn, sometimes one and the same." -Thomas Farber, author of The Face of the Deep
"It's the perfect read for those who love the ocean-or for anyone who wants a deeper understanding of the spiritual practice that is surfing."
"An incredibly fun ride."
—Steven Kotler, author of West of Jesus
"Saltwater Buddha will help you appreciate all the days in your life-even when you'd rather be surfing!"
"Thoroughly unique and enjoyable-a wild spiritual journey."
—Wes Nisker, author of Essential Crazy Wisdom
"Vivid and spiritually telling. It was a pleasure to go along on this man's adventure."
"The quality of Yogis' writing is up there with Daniel Duane, Allan Weisbecker, Kem Nunn, and Tim Winton. Surfers and searchers alike will love it."
"Jaimal's story is excellent and very moving. I wish more people saw surfing the way he does!"
—Jose Segundo, pro surfer
"If you enjoyed books like, The Tao of Pooh, Way of the Peaceful Warrior, or The Celestine Prophecy, then hold on - you're in for the ride of your life!"
—Romney Noonan, professional landscape photographer
"The book is motivating, and reminds us to follow our hearts without regard for fear and limitations. Refreshing, easy-to-read and a lot of fun."
—Urijah Faber, Professional Mixed Martial Artist and former WEC featherweight Champion
"One of the greatest lessons I have learned is that the finish line is not ultimate success. This book teaches us that same lesson in a lighthearted and poetic way. The words in this book may be about surfing, but it's true meaning goes much deeper. I couldn't put it down!"
—Jamie Patrick, Iron Man Triathalete
The Tao Te Ching says, "Nothing is more flexible and yielding than water. Yet when it attacks the firm and the strong, nothing can withstand it." In a series of blissful essays, this first-time author sweeps us along in a joyous ride as he learns how to walk on water, how to deal with surf Nazis (and how not to be one), finds a guru in a friend with Elephant Man's disease, teaches Tibetan monks English and almost decides to become a monk after a visit to Plum Village. Even landlubbers will experience a spiritual sea-change as we ask ourselves why we are carrying our surfboard around on our heads, instead of using it to get closer to freedom. The ocean, like life, ebbs and flows and displays impermanence. We need to know how to ride the waves. A book to be shared and re-read."
"His humorous and raw descriptions of experiences touch upon many things that we go through but rarely vocalize. We have all run away to find something better. We all were kooks once. We have all yelled at someone for something no more that a wave. We have all made choices that have taken us away from the ocean for too long (be it a day or years) In his book, Yogis takes these experiences and brings them to light in a way that is truthful and uplifting. He is an experienced surfer, an learned Buddhist and educated writer but he writes like he is a friend sitting next to you telling you about his day. Saltwater Buddha is an awakening and honest description of the lessons learned in seeking spiritual awareness and the ultimate wave reminding you that surfing is made up of a lifetime of small lessons, and I really enjoyed this book."
—The Daily Drop
"Written in a very effective, deliberately fragmented style, Saltwater Buddha draws the reader in with its genial, enthusiastic, and humble tone. The reader sticks around, for the fascinating trajectory of Yogis' life and his remarkably insightful perspective on it all."
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
JAIMAL YOGIS is an award-winning journalist and photographer who spends a good deal of his spare time surfing and traveling the globe. He has a master's degree in Journalism from Columbia University in New York City and his work has been published in The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Toronto Star, Beliefnet, Tricycle, and many more. He lives in San Francisco and is a regular contributor for San Francisco Magazine.