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About Natalie Goldberg
Goldberg has painted for as long as she has written, and her paintings can be seen in Living Color: A Writer Paints Her World and Top of My Lungs: Poems and Paintings. They can also be viewed at the Ernesto Mayans Gallery on Canyon Road in Sante Fe.
A dedicated teacher, Goldberg has taught writing and literature for the last thirty-five years. She also leads national workshops and retreats, and her schedule can be accessed via her website: nataliegoldberg.com
In 2006, she completed with the filmmaker Mary Feidt a one-hour documentary, Tangled Up in Bob, about Bob Dylan's childhood on the Iron Range in Northern Minnesota. The film can be obtained on Amazon or the website tangledupinbob.com.
Goldberg has been a serious Zen practitioner since 1974 and studied with Katagiri Roshi from 1978 to 1984.
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A haiku is three simple lines. But it is also, as Allen Ginsberg put it, three lines that “make the mind leap.” A good one, he said, lets the mind experience “a small sensation of space which is nothing less than God.” As many spiritual practices seek to do, the haiku’s spare yet acute noticing of the immediate and often ordinary grounds the reader in the pure awareness of now.
Natalie Goldberg is a delightfully companionable tour guide into this world. She highlights the history of the form, dating back to the seventeenth century; shows why masters such as Basho and Issa are so revered; discovers Chiyo-ni, an important woman haiku master; and provides insight into writing and reading haiku. A fellow seeker who travels to Japan to explore the birthplace of haiku, Goldberg revels in everything she encounters, including food and family, painting and fashion, frogs and ponds. She also experiences and allows readers to share in the spontaneous and profound moments of enlightenment and awakening that haiku promises.
This thirtieth-anniversary edition includes new forewords by Julia Cameron and Bill Addison. It also includes a new preface in which Goldberg reflects on the enduring quality of the teachings here. She writes, "What have I learned about writing over these thirty years? I’ve written fourteen books, and it’s the practice here in Bones that is the foundation, sustaining and building my writing voice, that keeps me honest, teaches me how to endure the hard times and how to drop below discursive thinking, to taste the real meat of our minds and the life around us."
Any writer may find himself or herself with an abundance of raw material, but it takes patience and care to turn this material into finished stories, essays, poems, novels, and memoirs. Referencing her own experiences both as a writer and as a student of Zen, Natalie provides insight into the struggles and demands of turning ideas into concrete form.
Her guidance addresses ways to overcome writer’s block, deal with the fear of criticism and rejection, get the most from working with an editor, and improve one’s writing by reading accomplished authors. She communicates this with her characteristic humor and compassion, and a deep respect for writing as an act of celebration.
This ebook features an illustrated biography of Natalie Goldberg, including rare photos and never-before-seen documents from the author’s personal collection.
“The truth and joy of this life is that we cannot change things as they are.” The import of those words can be found beautifully expressed in the work of the woman who spoke them, Katherine Thanas (1927–2012)—in her art, in her writing, and especially in her Zen teaching. Fearlessly direct and endlessly curious, Katherine’s understanding of Zen was inseparable from her affinity for the arts. She was an MFA student studying painting with Richard Diebenkorn, the preeminent Californian abstract painter, when she met Shunryu Suzuki, author of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, in the sixties. Soon thereafter she decided to drop painting to dedicate herself to Zen, which she did for the last forty years of her life. In these essential teachings taken from her dharma talks—which make up her only book—her love of art and literature shine through in her elegant prose and her vast references, from poets William Stafford and Naomi Shihab Nye to the Zen teachings of Dogen and Robert Aitken. Ranging on subjects from the practice of zazen to the meaning of life, Katherine urges us to “develop an insatiable appetite for inner awareness, to become proficient with this mind.” This slim volume is an important contribution by a well-loved and revered teacher.
The True Secret is for everyone, like eating and sleeping. It allows you to discover something real about your life, to mine the rich awareness in your mind, and to ground and empower yourself. Goldberg guides you through your own personal or group retreat, illuminating the steps of sitting in silent open mind, walking anchored to the earth, and writing without criticism. Just as Goldberg cuts through her students’ resistance with her no-nonsense instruction—“Shut up and write”—the True Secret cuts to the core of realizing yourself and your world.
The capstone to forty years of teaching, The True Secret of Writing is Goldberg’s Zen boot camp, her legacy teaching. Stories of Natalie’s own search for truth and clarity and her students’ breakthroughs and insights give moving testament to how brilliantly her unique, tough-love method works. Beautiful homages to the work of other great teachers and observers of mind, life, and love provide further secrets and inspiration to which readers will return again and again.
In her inimitable way, Goldberg will inspire you to pick up the pen, get writing, and keep going. The True Secret of Writing will help you with your writing—and your life.
Old Friend from Far Away teaches writers how to tap into their unique memories to tell their story.
Twenty years ago Natalie Goldberg’s classic, Writing Down the Bones, broke new ground in its approach to writing as a practice. Now, Old Friend from Far Away—her first book since Writing Down the Bones to focus solely on writing—reaffirms Goldberg’s status as a foremost teacher of writing, and completely transforms the practice of writing memoir.
To write memoir, we must first know how to remember. Through timed, associative, and meditative exercises, Old Friend from Far Away guides you to the attentive state of thought in which you discover and open forgotten doors of memory. At once a beautifully written celebration of the memoir form, an innovative course full of practical teachings, and a deeply affecting meditation on consciousness, love, life, and death, Old Friend from Far Away welcomes aspiring writers of all levels and encourages them to find their unique voice to tell their stories. Like Writing Down the Bones, it will become an old friend to which readers return again and again.
Let the Whole Thundering World Come Home begins at the grave of Katagiri Roshi, Natalie's Zen teacher, in Japan. Twenty years after Katagiri's death and Natalie's return to New Mexico, she is permanently settled in Santa Fe with her partner, Yukwan. Except that, as Buddhism teaches us, nothing is permanent. Natalie learns that she has CLL, a potentially fatal form of blood cancer.
For two years, Natalie dances with her cancer--visiting doctor after doctor, attempting treatment after treatment. Nothing helps; in fact, one of the treatments only feeds the cancer and encourages its growth. Then Natalie's partner, Yukwan discovers that she, too, has cancer--breast cancer--as well as an off-the-charts oncotype score that requires her to have surgery immediately. The cancer twins, as Natalie calls herself and Yukwan, now must each navigate her own illness, carve out her own cancer territory. Each can provide only limited emotional and physical energy for the other. And, somehow, they both need to find a way to stay together, to stay in love--and to heal.
As the title expresses, Let the Whole Thundering World Come Home is so much more than a cancer memoir. Through a direct and grounded narrative, Natalie illuminates a path through illness: that we need to be in love with the lives we have, to embrace the dark and the light in our lives. For Natalie, writing and painting represent the light, and her cancer takes her deeper into her art practices. Balanced with a Zen practice that helps to her face death, this book is a moving meditation on living life in full bloom.
Here, Natalie Goldberg, "a writer both energized and enlightened" (Julia Cameron), shares those vivid moments that have wakened her to new ways of being. We follow alongside her mapless meanderings in the New Mexican desert and her pilgrimages to Bob Dylan's birthplace and to Larry McMurtry's dusty Texas ghost town of rare books. We feel her deep hunger while she sits zazen in a monastery in Japan, and her profound loss when she hears of the passing of a dear friend while teaching in the French countryside.
Through it all, she remains grounded in a life informed by two constants: the practices of writing and of Zen. With humor and insight, Natalie encircles around the essential questions these paths compel her toward: Where does this life lead? Who are we?
This is a book to be relished one awakening at a time. Each story is a reminder that no matter how hard the situation or desolate you may feel, spring will come again, breaking through a cold winter, bringing early yellow forsythia flowers. And the Great Spring of enlightenment—that sudden rush of acceptance, pain cracking open, obstructions shattering—will also burst forth.
One of America's favorite teachers, Natalie Goldberg has inspired millions to write as a way to develop an intimate relationship with their minds and a greater understanding of the world in which they live. Now, through this honest and wry exploration of her own life, Goldberg puts her teachings to work.