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“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.
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"Katherine Thanas stands firm and tall amid this generation of early American Zen pioneers." —Norman Fischer, from the foreword