Notable Living Contemporary Teachers

Awaken Woman Teacher

Home Base
Sierra Madre, California

Foundation of Teaching
Zen Buddhism

Example of Teaching
“We can only love the world we wake up to.”

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Karen Maezen Miller

Karen Maezen Miller is a wife and mother as well as a Zen Buddhist priest at the Hazy Moon Zen Center Los Angeles, California.

She writes about spirituality in everyday life. Her latest book is Paradise in Plain Sight: Lessons from a Zen Garden (New World Library, May 2014). She also wrote  Hand Wash Cold: Care Instructions for an Ordinary Life (New World Library, 2010) and Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood (Shambhala, 2006) Her writing is also included in several anthologies. The most recent are Buddha’s Daughters (Shambhala 2014),The Best Buddhist Writing 2013 (Shambhala, 2013), The Mindful Way Through Pregnancy (Shambhala, 2012),  The Mindfulness Revolution (Shambhala, 2011) and Right Here With You: Bringing Mindful Awareness into Our Relationships (Shambhala, 2011).

Her middle name is pronounced “May-zen” and it is her dharma name, or Buddhist name. She is happy to speak to community groups, schools, churches or conferences – any group that wants to be transported to a realm of calm assurance and infinite patience in 90 minutes or less. I also lead retreats around the country.

Karen lives with her husband and daughter in Sierra Madre, California, where they have a century-old Japanese garden in their backyard.



  1. “You don’t have to wait for happiness, because there’s no time but now to be happy. You don’t have to go somewhere else, because there’s no place but here to find it. You don’t have to do something else, because there’s nothing more to it. You don’t have to get something else, because everything you already have is enough. You just have to be happy. …”
  2. “Your life is your practice. Your spiritual practice does not occur someplace other than in your life right now, and your life is nowhere other than where you are. You are looking for answers, insight, and wisdom that you already possess. Live the life in front of you, be the life you are, and see what you find out for yourself.”
  3. “The life of a mother is the life of a child: you are two blossoms on a single branch.”
  4. “You are just love.”
  5. “On a perfect day in your perfect little world (and it’s always perfect) there is breakfast time, playtime, lunchtime, nap time, snack time, dinnertime, bath time, story time, and bedtime. There is time for everything when you are the timekeeper.”
  6. “When you go into labor you see that you are not the captain of the ship. You are the ship. There is no captain. There are only the waves.”
  7. “What you call your life is not yours at all–not yours to plan, manipulate, or control, at least not very often. . . . In fleeting moments of deep satisfaction and insight, I saw the absolute truth of life: the unbroken line of love that had led to my existence and would lead on through my daughter. My mother’s love, her mother’s love, her mother’s love, and back and back forever ago. Love that is no mere word, love that goes beyond feeling, love that is life itself. . . .”
  8. “Like the road that got you here, the road through parenthood is unmarked. You can’t cruise through it. Sometimes decisions are quick and instinctual, but often they’re not. Doubts and dilemmas block every straightaway. There’s only one directional sign along the way, and it reads, “Why not?””
  9. “At the moment of giving birth to a child, is the mother separate from the child? You should study not only that you become a mother when your child is born, but also that you become a child. —Dogen Zenji, Mountains and Waters Sutra”
  10. “We can handle anything when we exchange our worries and fears for alertness and spontaneity when we focus solely on what is in front of us, and when we leap into the sheer wonder of the unplanned life.”