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Podcast: Author Natalie Goldberg on Haiku

Photo: Mitsue Nagase

Author Natalie Goldberg talks about reading and studying haiku as a spiritual practice.

Natalie Goldberg is the author of 15 books, including the classic best-seller Writing Down the Bones (Shambhala, 1986), which has sold over one million copies and changed many people’s approaches to learning and teaching writing. Goldberg has practiced zen for more than 40 years. She lives in Northern New Mexico and is also a prolific painter.

Of her writing, Rabbi Rami says, “There’s a power to it. You never repeat. You’re not redundant. It never gets old.”

Her newest book is Three Simple Lines: A Writer’s Pilgrimage into the Heart and Homeland of Haiku. A review appears in the January/February 2021 print issue of Spirituality & Health magazine.

She explains that she reads haiku, because, as Allen Ginsberg says, “the true test if is you hear one, your mind has a little sensation of space, which is nothing less than God.” It is not so much about the five-line, seven-line, five-line Japanese traditional form, as a spiritual practice.

When reading haiku, she says, you need a good translation, and deep awareness. “You have to slow down to receive it,” she explains. “It helps us sink into ourselves,” she says. “Another way of being in the world.”

Keep reading: An excerpt of Three Simple Lines appears here in “Making the Mind Leap.”

Keep listening: Rabbi Rami speaks with Goldberg in 2016, “The Zig Zag Life with Natalie Goldberg.”

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