Karen Maezen Miller: Author + Zen Buddhist Priest

Karen Maezen Miller. Photo by Stacy de la Rosa.

Karen Maezen Miller. Photo by Stacy de la Rosa.


How do you start your day?

With coffee. There is no Zen without coffee.

What do you do when you are overwhelmed or stressed?

 Breathe. Paying complete attention to even one breath brings me back to the here and now and out of the craziness in my head.

What gives you the feeling of true bliss within?

Not knowing.

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading this, but when I'm otherwise reading a book I am absorbed in "The Overstory" by Richard Powers, a magnificent novel about the wisdom of trees, our oldest living ancestors, and the irreversible destruction of the old-growth forests around the world and right here in California.

What are you listening to right now?

The hum of the air conditioner and the click of my fingertips across my computer keyboard.

What does nourishment look like to you?

I know nothing to be as nourishing as sitting still in silence. Pure presence is truly healing, and our best hope for mending our broken world.

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How do you make space for play?

We might be overworking the idea of play. What isn't play? What isn't pretend? Why do we distinguish between work and play? A wise man, or maybe a wise woman, once said "When you can do anything as though you work at nothing, you have the best days of your life."

What are some favorite mantras you cling to?

Sentient beings are numberless; I vow to save them. 

Desires are inexhaustible; I vow to put an end to them.

The dharma are boundless; I vow to master them.

The Buddha Way is unsurpassable; I vow to attain it.


Not knowing is most intimate.

Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes and the grass grows by itself.

Not my way, the Way.


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Karen Maezen Miller is a Zen Buddhist priest and author of three books, including Momma Zen, Hand Wash Cold and Paradise in Plain Sight. She practices at the Hazy Moon Zen Center in Los Angeles and leads meditation retreats around the country. Find her online at her website, on Twitter, and on Facebook.