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Saltwater Buddha: A Surfer's Quest to Find Zen on the Sea

4.06  ·  Rating Details  ·  971 Ratings  ·  106 Reviews
Fed up with teenage life in the suburbs, 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 me ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published May 1st 2009 by Wisdom Publications (first published January 1st 2009)
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Jan 22, 2009 Greensmile rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stephen Hadley
Aug 13, 2009 Stephen Hadley rated it it was amazing
As a longtime surfer, I've often been floating happily atop the ocean, the buzz from my last wave making me feel as though I was in a dreamy, half-state, completely oblivious to life's problems, lost in bliss. That's why Jaimal Yogis' book Saltwater Buddha resonated so much with me. He gets that connection and captures the spirit of surfing and its inevitable ties to complete, unfettered happiness so brilliantly.

While many have written about surfing, this book is the first I've read that really
May 07, 2009 108metaphors rated it it was amazing
Jaimal Yogis's voice is as fluid and inviting as the waves he describes with vividness and eloquence. Saltwater Buddha draws you into itself immediately the way the surf pulls at your heels at the shore. As a collector and connoisseur of metaphors, I was inspired by the transcendent life lessons provided by water, waves, and the sea. It's the most enjoyable book I've read in years. What's more you will learn everything you need to know about Buddhism from reading this accessible work. While livi ...more
Sep 03, 2012 Eric rated it it was amazing
Best one i've read in a while....totally jealous of the author, wish i was ballsy enough to run off to Hawaii with only $800. Also wish i could be as mellow, but in my defense, its tough to be Zen when you work retail in the south......i can actually feel my IQ dropping, and it hurts....
Trina Brown
Jul 22, 2014 Trina Brown rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the stories of this writer. I also appreciated how he didn't get bogged down in every detail but gave us the big picture of what he learned. The book could have been 500 more pages, however he got his story and point across in a very easy to read and easy to understand way. Any of you love the ocean and adventure, this is a fun and enlightening read!
Greg Hills
Aug 15, 2014 Greg Hills rated it really liked it
Interesting memoir of a guy whose teens and twenties focused on buddhism (joining monasteries, etc.) and surfing (repeated snap decisions to drop everything and move to Hawaii). The connection between buddhism and surfing is pretty tight; doesn't seem forced. Waves are a recurring analogy in a lot of buddhist texts & commentaries. I enjoyed it.
David Rooker
Jul 29, 2012 David Rooker rated it liked it
A fun summer read with a simple inspirational message - just be happy being yourself.
Pamela (Lavish Bookshelf)
Apr 21, 2012 Pamela (Lavish Bookshelf) rated it really liked it
Saltwater Buddha by Jaimal Yogis is an autobiography of his life’s journey, as well as homage to his Buddhist beliefs and his love of surfing. Jaimal Yogis was a troubled teen, with a wandering spirit that was drawn to adventure. Leaving home his junior year of high school, Yogis learned to surf and fend for himself on the shores of Hawaii. Once his parents tracked him down, Yogis’ path lead him physically to several diverse places such as France, Northern California and Long Island. Spiritually ...more
Jan 11, 2009 Jaimal rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
This book isn't out until May so customers haven't gotten a chance to review it yet, but here are some of the early reviews.

“Jaimal Yogis has done, in this terrific first book, what every artist
and writer strives to do: he has made something beautiful and
universal from the particulars of his own life. He writes well about
surfing; he writes well about Buddhism; he writes well about what it
feels like to be a person; but mostly, he just writes well. Yogis’s
sentence are clean, clear, and disciplined
May 01, 2009 David rated it it was amazing
I started surfing about 3 months ago. That was also around the same time I started seriously looking at Buddhism. It is amazing that I discovered Jamail Yogis's book while going through a vaguely parallel experience.

Coming from this perspective, Saltwater Buddha is an amazing book that blends personal memoir with spiritual insight. It is thoughtful, well-written, and an entertaining read. The last point is worth emphasizing - a spiritual journey may be very interesting to the person going throug
Sean Reidy
May 28, 2009 Sean Reidy rated it it was amazing
I just finished reading Saltwater Buddha and it is probably the most enlightening book I have ever read. Jaimal Yogis provided helpful answers to questions I have recently been struggling with. I am finishing my sophomore year in high school and have been starting to discuss college with my parents. I have been considering not going to college which understandably makes my parents very nervous. Many of my friends and high schoolers around the country are stressing themselves out and wigging out ...more
Oct 17, 2013 Sarah rated it really liked it
This book was a Kindle Daily Deal at .99c, and since I love memoirs about spirituality and travel (and also water) I was all over this. Easily, without thinking about it too much, this is the best $1 I spent on a book this year.

Saltwater Buddha is Yogis' memoir of his leaving home in high school, and his intention to pick up surfing, and how he evolved as a surfer and a practitioner of Zen meditation at the same time. A few things saved this book from being a navel-gazing ode to privilege and g
G.L. Jackson
Apr 15, 2013 G.L. Jackson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Strictly speaking, this is not a book about surfing. It's also not a book about Zen Buddhism. Saltwater Buddha is a book about the spaces between, where Zen and surfing coincide and coexist, or more specifically where Zen and the ocean coincide and coexist.

Reading this book is like being in the ocean, insulated and buffered and supported by what is all around. In his quest to find a happy medium, a middle-ground road where he can comfortably live his own life, Jaimal Yogis takes his readers on a
Jun 05, 2015 Ta0paipai rated it liked it
Call it "Eat, Pray, Surf," but Saltwater Buddha is better written, less contrived and therefore more meaningful that other, yuppified book. The author went in a true spiritual journey, then wrote about it, unlike "Eat, Pray, Love" which felt like a journey to write a book about a (therefore contrived) spiritual journey.
Jun 22, 2015 katinameow rated it liked it
I don't surf and am not a Buddhist, but I didn't need to be to appreciate the gentle prose in this book. The comparison between the Buddha's teachings and Jamail's experiences make the material accessible. Jamail's message (in my own words): live a good life, seek out what you live, keep paddling. My reaction: right on.
Jan 13, 2009 Adam rated it it was amazing
I have enjoyed reading Jaimal Yogis’ book Saltwater Buddha. The way he writes made me feel like I was sitting on the beach listening to him share his stories and his insights. Jaimal writes about dreaming, seeking, surfing and self-discovery. He writes about discovering Zen in surfing, and the tension between leading a seeker’s life and the demands of practical reality. The story of Jaimal’s journey into the world of surfing and Zen culminates with his success as he discovers a way to balance hi ...more
Apr 04, 2009 Dani rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to recieve an advanced copy of Jaimal Yogis' book Saltwater Buddha: A surfer's Quest to Find Zen on the Sea..and well for once, it was a book I actually finished, and read twice! The entire time I read this, I felt, wow..I can totally relate to this..and would find myself laughing most of the time thinking, yepp, I am not the only surfer out there that has experienced all the emotions he goes through..trying to find himself out at sea with his surfboard..but there's a lovely t ...more
Aug 20, 2014 Pants rated it liked it
I'm not very savvy on Zen or Buddhism, so I appreciated that this was a very simple book, more about surfing and life than Buddhism. I enjoyed his description of New York to a T, and can agree with the depression that comes with it! Overall enjoyable read, very quick, but memorable.
Oct 17, 2011 Kimberly rated it liked it
Recommends it for: surfers, zen practitioners, people who like good stories
This is a fun and enjoyable book. Yogis is a great storyteller and I liked the parallels he drew between surfing and zen principles/practice. His courageous indomitable spirit is inspiring and the book left me with a ready-for-adventure feeling.

I was hoping the book would have more emotional depth, however. There were places where he talked about his surfing experience as metaphor for his emotional struggle. Although these were very interesting stories, I felt like Yogis was using the stories t
Jun 04, 2012 Nais rated it it was amazing
surf is life. life is surfing. the ocean is the ultimate solution.
each incoming thought is like a wave that comes to shore. there will always be waves. some really small, some really big. each one - is unpredictable, it is a new canvas. Now you as the surfer, the human being, can decide which one of these waves you decide to catch. Some of these waves are bad- like bad thoughts/negativity- you catch it and you wipe out horribly and mope and grope all day about it , or you can move on, and let go
Mark Picketts
Dec 14, 2015 Mark Picketts rated it really liked it
Short and super fun, his connection between water and serenity and his surfing as a focused meditation are things I have been wrestling with for the past while so it was great to have his perspectives.
David C
Dec 30, 2014 David C rated it really liked it
An interesting integration of mindfulness and surfing within a memoir. A good introduction to Buddhist principals without any of the dogma.

Good insight into the psychology and spirituality of surfing. Not to mention, a very quick read.
Margaret Andrews
Aug 06, 2009 Margaret Andrews rated it really liked it
A Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, only for surfing. But MUCH MORE engaging. At least for me. Rather than a story told from the perspective of a father with his son, this is a coming-of-age memoir of a young man who loves to surf and as much as he tries to run away from his family's identity (his "full-fledged hippie parents" tried to teach him how to meditate. To just sit and breathe.

I laughed and cried while reading Saltwater Buddha.

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing the au
Gary Steinhardt
Nov 14, 2015 Gary Steinhardt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very enjoyable story

I could relate to the surfing addiction and enjoyed the zen stories and teachings. I would this Good quick read.
Jun 21, 2011 Ashley rated it it was amazing
Reading this book has given me some insight on what I want to be doing with my life. I realized that you can't be happy with yourself unless you are happy with the life you lead. It's inspired me to question my decisions and my life's current path, and it has reminded me that there are always options to change my mind to really discover who I am, who I want to be, and what I want to do. It is a book written by a surfer about surfing, but it is not a surfing book. I recommend this for surfers and ...more
Jul 19, 2010 Becky rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who likes the ocean, waves, surfing, zen, buddhism.
Shelves: non-fiction
I had to read a nonfiction book for the summer reading program and this book turned into a really good memoir. Jaimal had a couple good metaphors that I liked: "Surfing is kind of a metaphor for the rest of life; the good stuff or surfing--chocolate, good sex, weddings, hilarious jokes. Paddling--work, paying bills, flossing, getting sick, dying." Another metaphor I found interesting was comparing surfing to human suffering: "...surfers struggle and struggle to get out into the waves. They get t ...more
Oct 22, 2009 Brendan rated it it was amazing
Saltwater Buddha is Jaimal Yogis' (what an auspicious name)coming of age autobiography. The book is simultaneously an introduction to Zen Buddhism and to surfing. Jaimal shares his lessons and personal stories with an open, easy to read writing style. Although he is describing spiritual practice the book flows like a novel. I couldn't put it down after I started and will now re-read the book at a more leisurely pace to focus on particular passages. Although each of us has our own, unique spiritu ...more
Apr 04, 2014 Kevpar rated it really liked it
Excellent read. Good ideas. Apply zen to everyday life, interesting....
Dustin Wells
Jul 15, 2014 Dustin Wells rated it it was amazing
a very good book for a kid who's like . . . 16-23. it's good.
Kelly Horne
Jul 02, 2012 Kelly Horne rated it it was amazing
Brilliant read. If you surf or are a little spiritual (in my opinion if you are the former you are usually also the latter) then this is a book you should read. I've read it a couple of times now and really rate it. It's short, readable and autobiographical. It has some very poignant quotes and reminds you what it’s all about and in my opinion makes a lot of sense, also his travels and antics are very funny at times. As a reader you appreciate Jaimal’s writing for his honesty, humility and humou ...more
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Jaimal Yogis is an author, journalist, and screenwriter. His first book, a best-selling coming-of-age memoir called Saltwater Buddha, was praised by The Times of London, The Age, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and selected as one of E!’s Best Summer Reads as well as one of’s 100 Essentials of all time. It has been translated into Spanish, Italian, German, and Finnish. A feature film bas ...more
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“I guess even the prettiest things eventually end up stinking. Everything does. We all will die and rot and decay and be reborn as dirt or flowers or worms, or polar bears who will drown because their ice is all melting, or presidents of war-torn countries, or whales swimming around acidifying seas. And then we will rot and decay again. And so it goes.” 4 likes
“But I looked out at the waves far below the bluff. They looked violent, erupting against the cliff. I watched them rising - up, up, higher, higher - then falling, crashing, swirling into chaos, passing away. I breathed deeply. I tried to breathe space between my thoughts, find the space between the anger.” 2 likes
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