Read Thank You and Ok!: An American Zen Failure in Japan by David Chadwick Online


David Chadwick, a Texas-raised wanderer, college dropout, bumbling social activist, and hobbyhorse musician, began his study under Shunryu Suzuki Roshi in 1966. In 1988 Chadwick flew to Japan to begin a four-year period of voluntary exile and remedial Zen education. In Thank You and OK! he recounts his experiences both inside and beyond the monastery walls and offers insigDavid Chadwick, a Texas-raised wanderer, college dropout, bumbling social activist, and hobbyhorse musician, began his study under Shunryu Suzuki Roshi in 1966. In 1988 Chadwick flew to Japan to begin a four-year period of voluntary exile and remedial Zen education. In Thank You and OK! he recounts his experiences both inside and beyond the monastery walls and offers insightful portraits of the characters he knew in that world—the bickering monks, the patient abbot, the trotting housewives, the ominous insects, the bewildered bureaucrats, and the frustrating English-language students—as they worked inexorably toward initiating him into the mysterious ways of Japan. Whether you're interested in Japan, Buddhism, or exotic travel writing, this book is great fun....

Title : Thank You and Ok!: An American Zen Failure in Japan
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781590304709
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 480 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Thank You and Ok!: An American Zen Failure in Japan Reviews

  • Barnaby Thieme
    2019-03-22 01:08

    Of all the books I've read on Buddhism, this completely unassuming memoir by David Chadwick is by far the closest to my own experience. After training for many years at the San Francisco Zen Center and Tassajara Chadwick moved to Japan for a few years to study in the traditional training. He herein recounts his experiences with seemingly limitless reserves of alertness, humor, warmth, and accuracy. He masterfully conveys the heart of his practice along with its inevitable bewilderment, and gives an evocative and entertaining portrait of the life of a gaijin wayseeker in Japan. When Eihei Dogen said "The life of practice is a continual mistake," he surely didn't mean that with a wink, like "It's not REALLY a mistake." The essence of Zen is falling short, and by that metric this American Zen failure is a spectacular success.

  • Solomon
    2019-02-28 04:27

    This book is just fantastic. It's equal parts Buddhist travelogue (well, a travelogue that takes place within a temple) and Japanese cultural analysis. The author seems clear-eyed and willing to question his own conceptions (except when it comes to some silly Buddhist orthodoxy) and it makes for wonderfully entertaining prose. Makes me want to live somewhere that I don't understand...

  • John
    2019-03-27 05:16

    Interesting memoir of the author's time in Japan; I wasn't particularly interested in the zen-specific aspects, but much of the story is concerned with his own life, as well as the folks (and situations) he encounters in Japan. Recommended, although his jumping back and forth between his pre and post-marital periods was a bit disconcerting.The influence of his teacher Katagiri Roshi plays a significant role in the narrative. I'd encountered "Roshi", as she refers to him (Chadwick calls him "Katagiri") in the autobiographical novels by Natalie Goldberg; her latest one The Great Failure specifically deals with her feelings about him after his death.

  • MQU
    2019-03-25 09:21

    I am not sure what I expected from this book, after I read the back cover and decided to read it. Maybe a travelogue, maybe an exploration of Zen Buddhism and how it’s practiced in Japan. It wasn’t particularly a travelogue and it was sort of an exploration of Zen Buddhism in Japan. Rather, it was a deeply personal series of vignettes that highlighted the author’s four-year stay in Japan, part of that time in a Zen monastery. The author’s tone is simple and very neutral and took me quite a while to sink into. It helped when I remembered that a key precept of Buddhism is to observe without judgement - which is exactly what he was doing in written form. In the end, I got to know some characters whose humanity grew on me, and I learned a little more about the author than when I started. A sentence late in the book rang so true that it brought tears to my eyes: I think we’re all just plodding along - and that is the true light.

  • Travis
    2019-03-25 02:06

    I would have given this book 4 stars if not for the length, it just really slumps in the middle and I took a break from it. However, I do feel that this is an important book for people interested in Zen and Japan, because it gives a very honest, down to earth account of the experience. Often times the west is given a certain view of the east, one that only shows the good (and in fact, romanticizes the east in some cases). Mr. Chadwick is great at illustrating the mundane in what is often shown as fantastical and without fault.

  • Charlie
    2019-02-27 04:17

    Actually 3.5 stars. It's a real flaw in this system that there is no half star option on goodreads, in my opinion.I enjoyed this book in a casual way. It felt a little like reading a blog, or two blogs spliced together, more than a memoir. Mr. Chadwick alternated between two periods of his life in Japan, with little vignettes about either his time at a Zen monastery or his time teaching English and living with his wife. He has a gentle way of writing, and manages to be respectful of Japanese culture while still finding aspects of it absurd (especially bureaucratic aspects). A problem I often have with narratives of Westerners traveling to and living in Asia is their lack of respect for the culture and inability to recognize the absurdity of their own culture, and Chadwick seemed to avoid that. His friend Norman, not so much. I had a hard time with Norman.As for the writing style, it was fine for my purposes. What I mean by that is, I read this book before I went to sleep at night, and the chapters were short enough and lacking in stress and depth enough that I could easily put it down and go to sleep. It's not the kind of book to keep you up reading or thinking all night. As a going-to-bed book, it is excellent. As a book to learn or think about deeper issues, it's just okay.As a solitary Zen practitioner, I do harbor a fantasy of living the monastic life some day, and Chadwick's experience helped me understand the reality of it better, and also the silliness of Western expectations of practicing in the "motherland" of our adopted system.

  • Lisa Gallagher
    2019-03-15 03:30

    Fun little fly-on-the-wall observation of the life of an American zen student living and working in Japan. The first half of the book deals mainly with life at a monastery. Lots of little head-scratching moments as he tries to maintain his natural curiousity and need to comprehend in a setting where nothing makes sense and he's often chastised for trying. The second half deals with life once his girlfriend arrives. The two settle into a home and Chadwick is teaching English as a Second Language to a group of adolescents and young adults. This is where it really picks up. Several laugh-out-loud moments as he tries to explain the obsession that the Japanese have with the English language and the often obscene and hilarious ways our words show up in their lives.

  • Gabriel Clarke
    2019-03-14 09:16

    Look, I liked this book and there's much to enjoy about it but it's a bit of a baggy monster. It's a diary, essentially, and whilst Chadwick is deeply moving about his mentor Katagiri, one does wonder how it is that he managed to get away with an essentially beatnik attitude within the strict Zen monastic system. The best thing about this addition to the small mountain of extant Westerner-in-Japan memoirs is the lack of bitterness in the conclusion. Abruptly thrown out of Paradise (though for reasons that are nobody's fault) Chadwick uncomplainingly gathers up his stuff and goes.

  • Kimberly
    2019-03-25 07:15

    There's something about this book that keeps pulling me back. The writing isn't spectacular, the story isn't gripping, and it's not the kind of thing I'm normally drawn to. However, I have read this book three times now, and I have a sneaking feeling that I'll probably read it again in the future. It's the kind of thing I read when I'm not sure what to read- when I want to read, but don't want to get sucked into a deep, heavy plot. It's just a nice, light read and I'm glad I picked it up all those years ago at Borders.

  • David
    2019-03-10 04:23

    If you aren't interested in what it was like for an American to live in Japan in and out of various Zen Buddhist monasteries during the late 1980s, then this book is not likely to be for you.It's also not really about the 'spiritual' aspects of Zen Buddhism, or a wider commentary on Japan. It's David Chadwick's documentation of his day-to-day experiences living in two different kinds of alien culture, the relationships between him, his wife, his fellow monks, neighbours and language students.An engrossing, friendly and insightful read.

  • Jennifer
    2019-03-20 05:31

    The writing isn't great, but this is a relaxing read. Another plus is the author's outlook - he is a willing student of Japan, of the Japanese monastary, and of Japanese life, so he rarely (if ever) stands between his reader and the story he has to tell. Don't bump anything down on your list to read this one, but if you happen to, say, be stuck in an airport without a fresh book (last one just ran out), and it's what you come across at Border's, pick it up.

  • Jane Stonebrook
    2019-03-13 01:09

    Inspired by David Chadwick's biography of Shunryu Suzuki ("Crooked Cucumber: The Life and Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki"), I traveled to Japan to visit some of the sights and cities where roshi grew up. While traveling I read "Thank You and OK! An American Zen Failure in Japan" by Mr. Chadwick. It is my feeling Mr. Chadwick is a gifted writer, however it is quite evident he was inspired by his writing material.

  • Teresa
    2019-03-08 07:27

    This book holds my record for longest time between starting and finishing a book. It was like a long book of short stories (1-4 page short stories) so I just kept picking it up and reading a few pages here and there between other books. I lost track of some of the characters by reading this way but was still able to enjoy it. I especially liked the parts about his experiences with Japanese culture as an American, but I would also recommend it to people interested in Zen.

  • Mary
    2019-03-19 09:05

    A total delight. Painless way to learn a lot about Japan, Buddhism-behind-the-scenes, what an interesting melting pot when "our culture" and "their culture" meet and greet in the specialized life of a monastery. Down to earth and accessible on every level from kitchen details to dealing with your guru and with your would-be English-speaking students.

  • Nihal
    2019-03-13 04:24

    At last, I got to finish this book that settled on my night stand for months. It's actually not too bad, it's just sometimes it was too boring to continue. Some of the commentaries on the Japanese culture and its contrast to the American culture were quite interesting, especially as Japan is high on my list of places to visit.

  • Zoe
    2019-03-05 05:18

    I went to the bookstore looking for some Zen Buddhist texts and found this irreverent personal memoir by David Chadwick about the period he spent in Japan in 1988-90 as a Zen Buddhist priest. It was the perfect thing to be reading to let off steam and constantly remind myself that we're all human in the same ways no matter what religion or culture we have.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-03-09 01:24

    Touching, entertaining, philosophical, hilarious, well-written, thought provoking, and infinitely share-able. I have given this book to my teen-aged son, his friends, my friends, my siblings, and casual acquaintances. I re-read it from time to time and savor it's joys.

  • Clintweathers
    2019-03-03 02:29

    At some point, every student of Zen gets really f'n tired of reading about Zen.When that happens, they start reading biographies of Zen practitioners. This is one of the best.Chadwick brings a humanity and practicality to the practice that you won't find anywhere else.

  • Erica
    2019-03-26 02:30

    Really liked this book although it took awhile to get used to his mellow style. Sparked my interest in Zen and Buddhism and encouraged me to keep up with my Japanese language study. A Japan I haven't really read about before. Very interesting!

  • Thibault
    2019-03-05 06:18

    found the book a little dull, maybe an honest representation of zen practice.

  • C
    2019-03-22 09:25

    Compare this perspective on Katagiri Roshi to Natalie Goldberg's in 'The Great Failure'

  • Renate
    2019-03-14 07:13

    interesting insights into Japanese culture and Zen buddhism

  • TCPils
    2019-03-20 06:20

    Good insight to the daily life of a Buddhist monk in training. Contains an excellent and much needed glossary.

  • Martina Röll
    2019-03-01 09:14

    Loved this, even though I got lost in the times and places of the stories. I loved the individual stories and anecdotes. Full of wisdom.

  • J. M.
    2019-03-27 08:05

    great fun

  • Mary
    2019-03-07 08:29

    This book is really annoying.

  • Bruce Lindsay
    2019-03-12 01:26

    This book sucked

  • Chad
    2019-02-25 07:07

    This is a great book about zen in Japan and japanese culture.

  • Brendon Rae
    2019-03-22 04:21

    interesting insights into Japanese life in the late 80's