Pushed to the brink of teenage angst, Jaimal Yogis ran away from Sacramento at the age of 16. He will return on Saturday July 1, as an author, teacher and journalist with more than half a lifespan of Buddhist teachings and an ever-waxing love for the open sea. His latest book, “All Our Waves Are Water,” will be on sale Saturday at the Avid Reader Bookstore, where he will be signing copies in the same evening his feature documentary, based on his first novel “Saltwater Buddha,” will be screened for free.
Yogis’ disgruntled view of his hometown is one familiar to many youths’ in Sacramento. At the time of his escape, he was a junior at Rio Americano High School. His mind ran amuck and his only solution was to run away from the physical. However, guided by the lessons of Buddhism and meditation, he would discover that he had all he ever needed, within himself.
“You know, the Buddha had no Buddhism and he found it,” said Yogis. “Other philosophers and sages have stumbled on similar things with their own inquiry process – what really interests me is the similarities and common links, and how we’re often talking about the same things, with different terms and different language.”
Together with his Zen teachings, Yogis’ fluent depictions in the language of surf are able to bring a non-surfer closer to trying the sport, while bringing a surfer closer to their “happy place.” His easy-going voice carries from his origins in “Saltwater Buddha,” to searching for a further truth in “All Our Waves Are Water.”
In all of their essence, his stories are yours as much as they are mine, but the one person who could narrate the truths best would be his mother, Janice Klar.
Klar, a counselor at American River College, recalls moving to Sacramento in the early 90s with an eye on the city’s education system. However, in the years that would form him, Yogis would endure his parents’ divorce and a strained relationship with his father. Klar believes on a very deep level that Yogis escaped as a teenager to reconnect with his dad, leading to a significant step in becoming the great father he is today with his own children – a hidden tale within the novel and feature documentary film.
“The cool thing about the film is that, unfortunately, his dad passed away last September,” said Klar. “But fortunately, his dad was able to be in the film and it’s very touching and it’s a very, very poignant part of the whole story for me. It’s the most poignant part for me – it’s the part about family.”
As Yogis goes on to explain the process of turning “Saltwater Buddha” into a film, he clarifies that every detail is “obviously” not included. However, joined by Sacramento filmmakers, Lara Popyack and Mike Madden, Yogis and company followed the book chapter by chapter in order to capture its spirit.
“There are some things you just can’t do,” said Yogis. “My dad comes over to Hawaii and we’re kind of recreating some of the scenes but um, anyway, you just have to see it to really get it.”
See it, or read it, the truth is, for all the “dreams that needed answers,” Yogis found peace and a newfound love where he once felt disdain.
“I’ve just really come to love Sacramento,” said Yogis. “It’s not on the ocean which is a strike against it, but as a city, I guess I think it’s really coming to its own, in the sense of having its own character, having a real kind of Americana friendliness, but also a California openness to new ideas.”
Saturday’s book signing and movie screening will take place at the Avid Reader Bookstore on Broadway at 7 PM.
For more information on Jaimal Yogis and his work, visit JaimalYogis.com.