Thanks to our friends at Shambhala SunSpace for running this excerpt of Jaimal’s fantastic book.
With all that talk about “balance” — not to mention films with titles like Zen and Zero, or a kazillion other occurrences of Zen and surfing colliding (whether for dubious reasons or not) — it’s tempting to make tenuous connections between the practice of Zen and the practice of paddling out, standing up, and riding a wave.
There are real connections between the two — but it helps to be a surfer and a Zen-head if you want to know what you’re talking about. Author Jaimal Yogis is both, as his new book Saltwater Buddha: A Surfer’s Quest to Find Zen on the Sea makes plain. (You’ll find a review of the book in our May 2009 issue, on stands now.)
Here’s an excerpt; drop in and enjoy.
By Jaimal Yogis
I usually liked to think of the sea as a nurturing mother, a giver of life. But as we rounded the lava rocks that divided Second and Third Bay, as the swell transformed from manageable turquoise into blue open-water surges that exploded against the rock, I began to resonate with how Hawaiian legends described Kanaloa, the sea’s ruler: a sea monster-god of death and darkness, the king of the underworld.
It was my first venture into Third Bay, a treacherous break even most of the local Hawaiians avoided. And I trembled as I paddled.
One of my favorite verses, a song by the spirit Ariel in Shakesepare’s The Tempest, popped into my head. It’s one I’ve always thought illustrates the beautiful notion that, because everything is interconnected, death may be more like trading in your old rusty parts than a definitive end. Given the circumstances, however, the words failed to comfort:
Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes;
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
As we paddled deeper, monsters from my childhood storybooks – the ones I stared at obsessively for hours on end – began to flash: rhino-like turtles as big as islands, giant squid with tentacles the size of redwoods, krakens, and leviathans. I heard them all warning me: “We will kill you. Go back.”