Thank You and OK!: An American Zen Failure in Japan

Thank You and OK!: An American Zen Failure in Japan

by David Chadwick
     
 

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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

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Overview

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 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.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“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

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Hats off to newcomer Chadwick for his engaging account of a nearly four-year stay in a rural Buddhist temple and subsequent adventures in Japan. A stickler for detail, he jots down minutiae as he tries to make sense out of the mix of tradition and change--such as the ancient temple altar where 500-year-old scrolls sit next to a large matchbox bearing a picture of a grinning, winking Japanese man and the English advertising slogan ``THANK YOU AND OK!'' Chadwick, who studied Zen for more than 20 years to little avail before heading to Japan, tends to lean over backward to stare at his belly button, but 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. Several chapters are rib-tickling Abbott and Costello-type routines with Chadwick as straight man. None is finer than Chadwick's day at the Driver's License Test Building--a remarkable commentary on human endurance, the unflagging courtesy of bureaucrats in the face of ``what cannot be helped,'' and sheer lunacy as when the bureaucrat asks about the written test he had taken in California `` `And what language was the test administered in, Japanese or English?' '' The book is long and the confusing interweaving of Chadwick's stay at the temple Hogoji with accounts of life in the Japanese 'burbs is unnecessary. But whenever the reader begins to think about putting the book down, the writing picks up and one is hooked again. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Of the many books concerning a Westerner's perplexing yet revealing exploits in Japan, i.e., Oliver Statler's Japanese Pilgrimage (Morrow, 1983) and David Mura's Turning Japanese (Atlantic Monthly, 1991), Chadwick's book is not particularly better or worse. It tells of the author's four years in Japan and his attempts to further his studies in Zen Buddhism, a field in which he had been deemed a failure by previous teachers. The author's experiences are written down with good humor and keen observations, and the book moves all over the cultural map of Japan. 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. Recommended for public libraries.-Glenn Masuchika, Chaminade Univ. Lib., Honolulu

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590304709
Publisher:
Shambhala Publications, Inc.
Publication date:
05/08/2007
Pages:
480
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.00(d)

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Meet the Author

David Chadwick, a Texas-raised wanderer, college dropout, bumbling social activist, and hobbyhorse musician, began his Zen study under Shunryu Suzuki Roshi in 1966. Chadwick now lives in Northern California where he reads, writes, walks, and continues to dabble in Buddhism and related matters.

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