AD 240 | Natalie Goldberg
“Writing Down The Bones”

Natalie Goldberg is the author of fifteen books, including Writing Down the Bones (Shambhala, 1986), which has sold over one million copies, has been translated into fourteen languages, and started a revolution in the way we practice writing in this country.

She recently co-edited a collection of talks by revered zen teacher Katherine Thanas, The Truth of This Life (Shambhala, 2018). In her latest memoir Let the Whole Thundering World Come Home (Shambhala, 2018), she shares her experience with cancer grounded in her practice of zen and writing. Her other books include The Great Spring: Writing, Zen, and This Zigzag Life (Shambhala, 2016), the novel Banana Rose (Bantam, 1995), and the beloved Long Quiet Highway: Waking Up in America, a memoir about her zen teacher Katagiri Roshi.

Natalie is also a prolific painter. Her book Living Color: Painting, Writing, and the Bones of Seeing (Abrams, 2014), describes painting as her second art form. Top of My Lungs (Overlook Press, 2004) contains forty poems, twenty of her paintings in color, and an essay, “How Poetry Saved My Life.” Natalie’s paintings are available to view on this website.

For more than forty years Natalie has practiced zen and taught seminars in writing as a practice. People from around the world attend her life-changing workshops, and she has earned a reputation as a great teacher. The Oprah Winfrey Show sent a film crew to spend the day with Natalie for a segment on Spirituality that covered her writing, teaching, painting, and walking meditation. She lives in Northern New Mexico.

Topics Discussed In This Episode:
  • Natalie’s first book, “Chicken and In Love” (1979)
  • Being afraid of both success and failure before her book, “Writing Down The Bones,” came out in 1986
  • Having thin values
  • “I shop therefore I am.” - Barbara Kruger
  • Consuming vs. finding meaning
  • Natalie writing two books while undergoing treatment for cancer
  • Accepting suffering
  • Thinking about one’s legacy
  • Zen Buddhism
  • “Writing closes the gap between who you think you are and who you are.” - Natalie Goldberg
  • What writing has revealed to Natalie
  • “Make this moment an occasion to live deeply, happily in peace.” - Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Managing discursive thoughts
  • The pros and cons of the advent of the interview
  • The art of haiku writing

People Mentioned:
  1. Margaret Atwood (Writer)
  2. Amy Tan (Writer)
  3. Katagiri Roshi (Sōtō Zen Priest and Teacher)
  4. Lidia Yuknavitch (Writer)
  5. Barbara Kruger (Artist)
  6. Joan Didion (Writer)
  7. Viktor Frankl (Neurologist, Psychiatrist, Philosopher, Writer)
  8. Carson McCullers (Writer)
  9. Thich Nhat Hanh (Monk)
  10. Masaoka Shiki (Poet)

Books Mentioned That Natalie Goldberg Wrote:
  1. Chicken and In Love
  2. Writing Down The Bones
  3. Let The Whole Thundering World Come Home
  4. The Great Spring
  5. The True Secret of Writing
  6. Three Simple Lines

Books Mentioned:
  1. The Year of Magical Thinking (Joan Didion)
  2. Man’s Search For Meaning (Viktor Frankl)
  3. The Ballad of the Sad Café (Carson McCullers)
  4. 2030 (Mauro F. Guillén)

Posted 7.20.2022


"I started this series as a means for exploration, an exploration of self, and an exploration of the perspectives of other artists.

This series is an unabridged documentation of conversations between artists. It’s a series dedicated to breaking down the barriers we tend to set up in our own minds. I want to inspire future creatives to have the courage to explore and experiment. This is about making dreams a reality and not about letting our dreams fall to the wayside.

My intention is to give my audience a sense of real human connection, something that feels rich and organic.

When I was thinking of a title I thought of the word “movement”.

In relation to the Renaissance period in art, my goal for this program is to signify a rebirth of consciousness towards the way we look at contemporary art."

- Yoshino