CREDOS : Lesson in failure - III

Lisa Schneider: Talk more about writing as a religious practice.

Natalie Goldberg: You’re meeting your own mind (when you write). And when I say writing practice — I have developed this whole thing that I have written about in “Writing Down the Bones” — this is rooted in 2,000 years of watching the mind. So it’s not just “some creative thing that Natalie does.”

What it is is you keep your hand going and whatever goes through, you put it down. Just like in meditation: Whatever comes up, you keep sitting with it and you don’t run from it...hopefully. At least, if you’re really doing the work. Writing is a taskmaster because it’s on the page. You can’t fool yourself.

LS: On the one hand Roshi was a revered Zen master, but at the same time he had this less admirable side to him. What did you make of this sort of split or dual personality, once it was revealed to you?

NG: Well, I understood that people are cut off — including me — and that we can cut ourselves off even in meditation. That, you know, we can do meditation in perfect peace but there’s a whole animal roaring at our back that we’re not paying attention to.

So understanding that split helps me to understand what was going on with him.

He was really a wonderful teacher and a wonderful human being. And then like all of us, we have darkness and some of us play it out more than others.

When you bring the darkness to the table, it doesn’t rule you or hurt other people, but when we keep it secret, it’s dangerous.

And I hope that somehow-because we’re all interconnected-that my doing this helped him in some other universe. —