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

When surfers in Bali ask me if I recommend any books on Buddhism or Zen, I usually refer them to this book. If monk asked me for a good book on surfing, I would probably recommend this book too, but so far, I haven't had the opportunity to do so. So this book is about how much surfing is like Buddhism and Zen.

I thought I'd read this when I was at Oxford -- the time "I want to go surfing, but I can't". , but when I looked it, up I found I'd bought it in April 2012. That was just a few months before my father died, and at a time when I was trying to figure out what to do about work.

The book is all about what the author says: "When you're surfing, you can't think about anything." When you're concentrating on the moment of riding the wave, any regrets or worries about what might happen on land disappear. And of course, being in the water, there are no incoming WhatsApp messages from your phone or temptations to read the internet news. This living in the moment, in the Buddhist Nirvāṇa, is what I love most about surfing.

Bali is in lockdown at the moment, and people need to stay home. Last year, the lockdown lasted about ten weeks. Since then, I have been sketching at home, and my daily routine is to do 15 minutes a day of croquis, which is a quick sketch of the human body, between 1 and 5 minutes. Croquis is an art done in a limited amount of time and, like surfing, is focused on the present moment. It's a very comfortable and Zen-like situation because, at this moment, regrets and worries disappear. When I'm croqueting, it's hard to make a good drawing if I'm disturbed by surroundings or thinking about my work.

This routine reminded me of Saltwater Buddha, and I remembered that the author had written that he wanted to make a movie out of this book, so I checked it out on YouTube.

So the author made it into a movie as promised. If you see the film and are interested in Buddhism or surfing or both, why not buy the book... a book that you sometimes remember, even after almost ten years, is a book that will influence your life.

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