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Thank You and Okay! - An American Zen Failure in Japan Paperback – 30 Jun 2007

4.4 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 454 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala; 1st edition (30 Jun. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590304705
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590304709
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,296,406 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

" Hats off to Chadwick. . . . His writer's skill is evident in everything from skin-crawling descriptions of mukade (dreaded scorpion-like insects) to a benevolent look at takuhatsu, formal monks' begging." -- Publishers Weekly" Written down with good humor and keen observations. . . . This book is not a serious examination of Zen Buddhist practices nor a major study of East-West relations but a rollicking, anecdotal mishmash of incidents about the foibles of monks, abbots, ' housewives, ' and fellow students of the author' s. Read with this understanding, this book is good entertainment." -- Library Journal" Vivid, lighthearted, and unself-consciously profound." -- Kirkus Reviews

“Hats off to Chadwick. . . . His writer’s skill is evident in everything from skin-crawling descriptions of "mukade" (dreaded scorpion-like insects) to a benevolent look at "takuhatsu," formal monks’ begging.”—"Publishers Weekly"
“Written down with good humor and keen observations. . . . This book is not a serious examination of Zen Buddhist practices nor a major study of East-West relations but a rollicking, anecdotal mishmash of incidents about the foibles of monks, abbots, ‘housewives,’ and fellow students of the author’s. Read with this understanding, this book is good entertainment.”—"Library Journal"
“Vivid, lighthearted, and unself-consciously profound.”—"Kirkus Reviews"
"The" Catch-22" of Zen."—Daniel Leighton, author of "Faces of Compassion "
“Asked why Zen was brought from India to China, master Zhao Zhou replied, 'The oak tree in the garden.' This is exac

"Hats off to Chadwick. . . . His writer's skill is evident in everything from skin-crawling descriptions of "mukade" (dreaded scorpion-like insects) to a benevolent look at "takuhatsu," formal monks' begging."--"Publishers Weekly"
"Written down with good humor and keen observations. . . . This book is not a serious examination of Zen Buddhist practices nor a major study of East-West relations but a rollicking, anecdotal mishmash of incidents about the foibles of monks, abbots, 'housewives, ' and fellow students of the author's. Read with this understanding, this book is good entertainment."--"Library Journal"
"Vivid, lighthearted, and unself-consciously profound."--"Kirkus Reviews"
"The" Catch-22" of Zen."--Daniel Leighton, author of "Faces of Compassion "
"Asked why Zen was brought from India to China, master Zhao Zhou replied, 'The oak tree in the garden.' This is exactly what Chadwick gives us here--no grand sweeping statements about the 'real' nature of Zen or Japan--just specific experience rendered with a peculiar intensity that lingers in your memory. The writing is excellent. The artistic integrity is the very finest."--Robert Pirsig, author of "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"
"Totally delightful--fantastic couch potato Zen. Chadwick saves you the trouble of going to Japan by making all the mistakes for you."--Jack Kornfield

From the Author

Happy to find my book on Amazon.com
Dear Readers, What a treat to come on Amazon.com and find my own book. And thanks to those readers who had such kind things to say. My wife and I miss Japan. We loved it. But we love it here in Sonoma County California too. I miss studing Zen in Japan too, but I meditate on a cushion and on everything else and enjoy being a alumnae of the San Francisco Zen Center. I love Zen but... well, I once wrote a song called "I Hate Zen" so there are at least two sides to my feeling. I have a new book Suzuki (who's mentioned a bit in TY&OK!) Amazon.com sells it next door. I'm also starting a web site (cuke.com) for the new book. But while I'm at it I think I'll set aside a section for TY&OK! I could put on a bunch of reviews, add some background data, and answer any questions. Whatever - we'll see. Anyway, it's been very well received and has been a rewarding experience having written it. I invite you to buy one and read it and I'll be here or on my web site to answer any questions.

Nuff said. Take care.

David Chadwick --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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I probably would have given this book 3 stars until I re-read the reviews (to make sure I didn't say the same) before writing this. It was then that I noticed that out of 9 reviews 8 were written by "A Customer" (who had never written any other reviews), were written prior to to the year 2000 and all but one gave the book the full 5 stars. I am always deeply suspicious in these circumstances that these reviews are not genuine, and I wish Amazon would be more pro-active about stopping them.

Only the final review (written 3 years ago)was written by someone I think is genuine, who has written other Amazon reviews and they only gave this book 3 stars. Although other people say they found it "hilarious" I didn't - put it down to my British sense of humour. The book leaps about between the author's time at the monastery in 1988 and his time in Japan with his wife and teaching English in 1989. I couldn't see the point in this and found it rather annoying and confusing.

I'm not sure really what the book was trying to do. didn't get the point of the book at all. If it was to inform you about life in Japan in the 1980s from an American's viewpoint it just about did it, but to ask any more from it, or to expect to learn much about Zen Buddhism or how it really feels to be in a strict training monastery - forget it! There are much better books out there I would recommend for that eg Janwillem van de Wetering's "The Empty Mirror" (who by the way spent 2 yrs at the monastery, not the 8 months mentioned by a reviewer on the back cover), "Eat, Sleep, Sit" by Kaoru Nonomura (a young Japanese who spent a year in a monastery) and finally (from a feminine western perspective) "The Wild, White Goose" by Roshi Jiyu-Kennett.
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Format: Paperback
American Zen practitioner David Chadwick went to Japan in 1988, lived in a monastery for six weeks, taught English for two years, then went home and wrote a book. His description of monastic life is a fascinating account of a world about which little is written in English, the rest of his life less so. Chronicles of language teachers in Japan fill the cut-out bins of discount book sellers.

There have been some small changes in the twenty years since Chadwick trained at Shogoji, a Soto Zen temple in Kumamoto prefecture (which the author makes a thin attempt to veil by changing the name to Hogoji). A sodo (a dedicated mediation hall) and shuryo (study hall) have been added, and cooking is now done with gas instead of wood. But otherwise life on the mountain remains much the same. There is still no electricity, the kitchen is dangerously dark, poisonous centipedes are hunted with murderous intent, and practice remains remarkably sterile.

One of Chadwick's Zen mates, an American monk with a decade of Japanese Zen experience, confides that "the purpose of training in Japanese Zen temples isn't to help you along the path to enlightenment - it is to cultivate you into a refined and obedient Japanese priest for Japanese temples." Having attended the 2008 training at Shogoji, this reviewer can verify that the purpose of the training remains precisely the same. (See my blog, FullThangka, for more on that experience.)

Chadwick's memory of an incident at the San Francisco Zen center is particularly revealing of the decline in Zen training. A gathering of senior American priests requested Katagiri-sensei, an important player in the introduction of Japanese Zen to the United States, teach them how to do dokusan, the practice of private interviews with students.
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Format: Paperback
This was a lovely book that drew me in slowly, without my being fully aware it was happening, the same way Zen has. Chadwick shows that one can be a very imperfect practitioner yet still . . . what? As Lao Tzu said, "Those who know do not talk. Those who talk do not know." Chadwick does not describe enlightenment, but without entirely meaning to he gently and humorously points the way (the story of his experience obtaining a Japanese driver's license will leave any American reader in stiches). I will think about this book for months and years to come. Its memory will always bring a smile.
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At one time I trained in the same Zen lineage as David and have often considered going to Asia to study. This book helped me to rethink both my reasons and especially my expectations about training in Japan. It is one of the funniest titles I've read in some time, as well. In addition, I have used it for three years now as my official 'Dog-Naming' bible. I have one named "Shuko" and another named "Koji". I loved it!
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David Chadwick is a bumbling bodhisattva with a wicked sense of humor. In Thank You and OK! he offers us both an hilarious travelogue and the poignant journal of an enthusiastic spiritual aspirant and Zen student in Japan. With his light-hearted approach Chadwick reveals the heart of enlightenment in the midst of daily life.
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