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4.4 out of 5 stars18
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 2 June 2010
first of all, i don't hate this book, the quality of writing is great, i like to surf too, so that appealed to me, i know a bit about buddhism and meditation, so i get that and i also like to travel a bit too, so on paper this book ticks all the boxes, i'm just not sure there is enough to go at with this book to make it a worthwhile exercise.

yogis biographical telling of his youth, surfing and spiritual enlghtenment always seemed to be too vague, i would've preferred him to write more, not skipping over details, more insight into his family life, upbringing, motivation etc. the book is over 200 pages, but there are too many chapters, sub-chapters, massive margins and text around 14 point with huge spacing. really this book is probably 50 pages or less at a typical 10 point novel text size. this alone makes me feel there's an element of insecurity and a lack of professionalism about the book and gave the impression it was aimed at a young audience, though i don't think it is.

yogis story is slightly predictable in terms of the links between spirituality and surfing, a touch of localism, a sketchy father/son relationship, he just doesn't go into enough detail about these things. it has all the potential of an exciting journey, years of travelling and surfing, searching out the very depths of yogis soul, his calling in life, but in the end becomes a list of places, a quick delve into buddhism, learning some surfing, then off to the next destination.

the thing with a sport like surfing is it's almost impossible to put into words without doing it, hence there being so few interesting surfing books. they rarely get past the stage of explaining to a non-surfer what surfing is like. you find this with other sport/lifestyle related books, that the author's exuberance and love for what they're doing doesn't quite translate through the writing in an interesting way, almost as if they think that what they're feeling will instantly be inpregnated into the ink. for this reason the book feels slightly thin of any real content, slightly like you've just skipped though 10 years of things happening over the space of 15 lines of text.

all in all, it isn't that i can't see the merits of this book, it's more that i can see yogis potential as a writer and as someone who has taken a unique path to their goal, just the book didn't give me enough of this to really find it that enthralling or exciting.
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on 13 July 2009
I'm not entirely sure how I came across this book; to emulate Jaimal's use of analagies, my memory on the subject is like the many waves of the sprawling ocean, rising and falling with no clear definite beginning. But I'm pretty sure Jaimal Yogis (the author of this wonderful book) added me on Facebook, probably through the many Buddhist-related facebook groups I am a member of (and yet fail to contribute to...). I had no idea who he was. I went on his profile, curious as to who this strange, Hawaiian-looking guy with long curly hair was. Turned out he was a journalist who had just written a book called Saltwater Buddha. Now, I am no surfer; I live in Surrey, which is not exactly surfing territory (the lack of a coast line probably contributing towards that fact). I've never surfed in my life. But I am a Buddhist (well, I say that, I'm really just extremely interested in Buddhism and try to follow its key tenets. In fact, I'm probably a lot like Jaimal was at my age in terms of my spirituality-intrigued, excited, but not too keen on sticking to one thing for longer than a few months!).

To cut a long, pointless story short, I eventually bought Jaimal's book (it was, and is right now, my summer holidays, and I had completely exhausted every single book, film and video game in my house. I needed something new and different) and I am glad I did. It's a very small book, split into absolutely tiny sections which each act as an individual pearl of wisdom. However, these often self-contained reasonings on the relationship between Zen and Surfing, or on turbulent or important times in Jaimal's life all come together to form a fascinating coming-of-age story about a young guy who didn't know who he was, what he wanted to do, or what he believed in. What he did know is that he was not going to spend his life in the neverending cycle of suffering that is ordinary, suburban living. (Of course, I think he eventually realised that there is only one escape from that cycle of suffering, and running away to Hawaii certainly isn't it!).

It's an easy-to-read book; it's written in a very conversational way, as if Jaimal himself were sitting there chatting to you about his life. It's constantly funny and, at times, absolutely laugh-out-loud hilarious. It oozes with unbelievable passion for both meditation and surfing and, by the end of the book, I got the impression that if I ever had the chance to meet Jaimal, he would be a lovely guy. He's done the sorts of things in his life that many of us have dreamt of doing, but he had the chutzpah to actually go ahead and do it-he followed his dreams, regardless of the consequences.

If I can level any criticism at this book, it would be that I wanted it to be a bit longer. Although I understand that that isn't the point of this book, I felt that it sometimes skimped on the more minor details which, personally, I relish in. But then, I'm used to reading absolute epics; if you are someone who doesn't read much, this book will be perfect. I also felt like, because I didn't surf, some of the descriptions of surfing went a bit over my head. I think if you are a surfer, you will enjoy this book even more than I did (and I absolutely loved it!)

This book is an excellent introduction to Zen and its relationship with surfing, and also how to apply some Buddhist principles to your everyday life. It's also a wonderful coming-of-age story and a compelling read. Thoroughly recommended!
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on 17 July 2010
Jaimal Yogis from an early age had been exposed to spiritual teachings from the East. In particular, Buddhism - with the underlying aim of seeking spiritual truth, found resonance with a young man who had also discovered a love of the ocean and surfing.

Perhaps then it is not surprising that the young disciple begins his quest of adolescent discovery by running away to the promised land of Hawaii.

It doesn't take long, however, for Jaimal to encounter life's trials and tribulations and the young surfer soon turns to meditation to help focus his thoughts and to divine the rest of his life.

From then on the development of Jaimal's spiritual being is inextricably linked to his journey as a surfer. The connection with the ocean is fundamental and proves a fertile proving ground in developing the young mind and body into a Saltwater Bhudda.

The book is written in easy bite-size chunks and is very easy to read. The story develops quickly into a good page-turner, but do stop and ponder for a while in places in case you miss the hidden gems of philosophy woven within. Not as well written as Tom Anderson's Riding the Magic Carpet, but still a good read that will resonate with many a surfer.
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on 27 January 2011
Is it travel lit? Is it a spiritual journey? Is it a surfer's tale? An autobiography?

It's all of the above & more. It's a gorgeous tale of one man's quest to find something deeper & more meaningful. When things seem bad we usually go back to what we know best. For Jaimal those things are Zen, Surfing & Hawaii. These might be considered his anchors in life & he returns to them time & again when things get a bit crazy or seemingly out of control.

Saltwater Buddha is unique in many ways. Its writing style; chapter structure - which is broken into phases for his life, then each short sub-chapter is numbered making it seem an effortlessly fast read; the pearls of wisdom scattered throughout are lovely, relevant & I have copied many of them down. I found while reading that I became more aware of my own anchors & things I find comfort in. Also it made me want to be a little more spontaneous & to get out of my comfort zone more. Perhaps even learn to surf?
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on 11 April 2011
Alright, quick quite easy read. Wish there was more about his surfing and less about zen. I wouldn't recommend to a friend but if you are into this type of fluffy stuff you might like it.
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on 15 December 2015
Simply awesome - this is the fourth of these I've bought now (and I have one signed by the author), the others have been presents for friends and whether you surf or not, whether you meditate or not, whether or not you're religious or just in touch with the universe as a whole, the relevance and value of this book is overwhelming. It also includes many quotes and references to other writers and 'masters' that I have subsequently looked up and found brilliant. The first time I read Saltwater Buddha, I shut the book, wrote an email to the author to say thank you and began reading it again. Thank you Jaimal.
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on 11 June 2010
Loved it, from the first page to the end. You definately don't have to be a surfer to enjoy this book, full of insight, humility and humour - cracking read.
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on 5 December 2009
First of all, forgive my english because I am from Spain.
As you can see the book must be easy to read so a spaniard can understand it.

Ok you can and zen??? YES it is obvious to be well integrated.
What a great book!! ADVISE: Only for surfers!!

If you are the kind of surfer that thinks you have passed the line and got into the world of obsession this is your book.

Its the life of Jaimal. How surfing gets to be the most important part of his life. Maybe the only one. And how he fights against it.

very few zen (just a way of explaining things) and a lot of personal-surfing living life.

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on 26 June 2010
The most refreshing aspect of SWB is that Yogis doesn't get too abstract or lost in nuance. It's almost as if zen permeates his style as well as is words. Very enjoyable read--a book to go back to.
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on 6 May 2014
Loved his descriptions of places and emotions and the easy to read informal style of writing. It transported me away from the hustle and bustle of my tube journeys :-)
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