CREDOS : Lesson in failure — II

Lisa Schneider: Do you think it would be harder or easier for you to come to terms with the ugly truths about your father and Roshi if they were alive now?

Natalie Goldberg: I think that in some ways that’s beside the point. It was a path that I would have liked to be able to face them and talk to them, but the people who we love live inside us and so I had to work with that part of me. We carry it around whether we can confront the person or not. And it’s best to deal with it.

It would have been nice to talk with Roshi, but I couldn’t have expected anything. He came from a very reserved society and I don’t think he would have talked to me about it. And I don’t think my father would have either. So ultimately, I would have been left on my own anyway.

LS: At a particularly difficult point in your life, you indicate that you retreated into meditation — but almost as a way of hiding from, rather than dealing with the pain. You write about the “cool illusion of serenity.”

NG: Yes, I was avoiding things then.

LS: I think that’s something a lot of people could relate to. Do you think that sometimes, instead of spirituality being a way to work through a problem, it can become a way of avoiding something difficult?

NG: Yes. We can use anything as a way to avoid things. It’s very tricky. And in a way it’s trickier with religion because you can say you’re sitting but you can be sitting but daydreaming the whole time.

LS: How do you catch yourself, become aware that you’re doing this?

NG: Well, for me, I do a lot of writing. I consider writing pra-ctice a true Zen practice because it all comes back at you. You can’t fool anyone because it’s on the page. —