Tag Archives: zen

A book to add to your must-read list

Jamail Yogis contacted me about a month ago asking me to read his book Saltwater Buddha: A Surfer’s Quest to Find Zen on the Sea. He wanted some comments and some coverage in my blog. I got a PDF advance copy of the publication, which became available Amazon and will be officially released on May 1. I started reading it and was impressed with the first 25 pages. But, as might be self-evident from the frequency of posting on this blog, I could not keep up with the reading. I had a couple of books and magazine already loaded into my shoulder bag for reading on the Metro, and other matters (2008 taxes, wife’s birthday, consulting work, and yoga) keep stealing my free time. This lack of follow-through should not be viewed as a judgment on Jaimal’s writing. All you have to do is look at his list of published articles to know that he can string words together proficiently.

As we all know, “anything can be yoga if you focus on your breathing,” so it should be no surprise that surfing can serve as the plot line for self-discovery. There are lots of books on the contemplative side of surfing. It still tough to condense this kind of daily reflection on a board and wave into a book without meandering all over the expanses of the ocean. But Jamail has the discipline to pull it off.

Jaimal will be promoting his book in the coming months, so you may be able to catch him at a bookstore near you — if you live on the West Coast. More info on the book.

I am flattered that Jamail thought of me to read his book, and thinking that my visitors might also benefit from reading the book. I have promised him that I will get around to reading it, but I don’t want to hold up the outreach so I am posting now to give a heads-up and let others now about the book.

Explaining the stillness that nurtures Leonard Cohen’s songs

New York Times Leonard Cohen Returns to the Road, for Reasons Both Practical and Spiritual is about a musician whose songs have influenced me deeply, especially “Suzanne” and “Hallelujah.” Now I learn that he is deeply grounded in Zen Buddhism to the point of spending five years in a monastery.

Roscoe Beck, Mr. Cohen’ s musical director, says that even on the longest flights Mr. Cohen sits cross-legged and straight-backed in his seat, in a monk’s posture. Asked whether he also does yoga to build strength and agility for his stage shows, Mr. Cohen, his demeanor courtly but reserved, smiled and replied, “That is my yoga.”

So now I have a reason to explore the music archives for Cohen songs, and to listen for the intention that inspired them and moved him towards Zen discipline in the latter years of his life.

By the way, the Times journalist Larry Rohter, author of this profile, is an old Latin America hand whom I met in my days in Peru. That goes back 30 years.