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Women Practicing Buddhism


Hilda Ryumon Gutiérrez Baldoquín

Born in Cuba of African and Spanish heritage, Hilda Ryumon Gutiérrez Baldoquín is a Soto Zen priest in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. A student of Roshi Blanche Zenkei Hartman, she is the founder of the People of Color Sitting Group at the San Francisco Zen Center and co-founder of the Buddhist Meditation Group for the LGBTQ community at The Center, also in San Francisco. She leads retreats for People of Color at both Dhamma Dena Meditation Center in Northampton, Massachusetts, and is a practice leader for the Zen Sangha at the Cerro Gordo Temple in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Ryumon is the editor of Dharma, Color and Culture: New Voices in Western Buddhism.

Venerable Thubten Chodron

A graduate of UCLA, Ven. Chodron (then Cheryl Greene) taught in the Los Angeles schools. Ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977, she studied and practiced Tibetan Buddhism under the guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Tsenzhap Serkong Rinpoche, Zopa Rinpoche, and other Tibetan masters for many years in India and Nepal. She has been resident teacher at Amitabha Buddhist Centre in Singapore and at Dharma Friendship Foundation in Seattle and was co-organizer of "Life as a Western Buddhist Nun," an educational program in Bodhgaya in 1996. In 2003, she founded Sravasti Abbey, one of the few Buddhist monasteries in the United States, near Newport, Wash. She is involved in interfaith dialogue, conferences between scientists and Buddhists, meetings of Western Buddhist teachers, and gatherings of Western Buddhist monastics. She teaches Buddhist philosophy, psychology, and meditation worldwide, including in Israel, Latin America, and former communist countries and is active doing prison work. Her books include Open Heart, Clear Mind; Buddhism for Beginners; Working with Anger; Taming the Mind; and Blossoms of the Dharma: Living as a Buddhist Nun. Ven. Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha's teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners.

Rosalyn Driscoll

Rosalyn Driscoll has been a visual artist for 30 years, as painter, photographer, papermaker and sculptor. For the last 15 years her work has primarily explored touch as a way of knowing and how it differs from sight. Her research takes the form of making and exhibiting tactile sculptures, learning from people with visual impairments, gathering viewers’ responses, conducting workshops for educators, writing a book on touch in the visual arts, Whole Body Seeing, and collaborating with touch researchers Christopher Moore and Mandayam Srinivasan at MIT. Her sculpture has been exhibited nationally and received awards and fellowships from the New England Foundation for the Arts, Massachusetts Cultural Council, and Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico. She began practicing vipassana meditation with S.N. Goenka in 1971, and is especially interested in the perceptual implications of the practice.

      Read more about Rosalyn Driscoll's installation >

Jane Hirshfield

Jane Hirshfield is a poet, essayist, and translator, whose poetry has been called “passionate and radiant” by the New York Times Book Review and whose collection of essays, Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry (HarperCollins, 1997), was found by the Japan Times to be “indispensable.” A practitioner of Soto Zen for over 30 years, she is the author of five books of poems, most recently Given Sugar, Given Salt (HarperCollins, 2001), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and winner of the Bay Area Book Reviewers Award. She has also edited and co-translated three now-classic collections documenting the spiritual and emotional lives of women poets from the past. Her honors include fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Among other awards are multiple selection in the Best American Poetry and Pushcart Prize anthologies, the Poetry Center Book Award, and the California Book Award. A former visiting professor at U.C. Berkeley, Elliston Poet in Residence at University of Cincinnati, and member of the writing faculty of Bennington College’s MFA program, Hirshfield has been featured numerous times on Garrison Keillor’s Writers Almanac NPR program, as well as in two Bill Moyers PBS specials. More >

      Visit the Poetry Center's Web site >

bell hooks

bell hooks, a visionary feminist thinker, cultural critic and writer, is a Distinguished Professor of English at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky, and is among the leading intellectuals of her generation. Her writings address a range of topics, including gender, race, teaching, and media in contemporary culture. Her critically acclaimed love trilogy -- All About Love (2001), Salvation: Black People and Love (2001), and Communion: The Female Search for Love (2003) -- boldly and eloquently outline her assertions and questions about a topic that has occupied and inspired human philosophy and art for centuries. Her most recent publications include: The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love (2004), We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity (2003), and a companion to Teaching to Transgress: Education As the Practice of Freedom (1994), Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope (2003). She is also increasingly becoming known as a writer of children's books. Since her first book, Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism, published in 1981 -- which was named one of the "twenty most influential women's books of the last twenty years" by Publishers Weekly -- hooks has written 22 books. More >

Carolyn Jacobs

Carolyn Jacobs is the Elizabeth Marting Treuhaft Professor and Dean of the School for Social Work at Smith College. Her areas of professional interest include religion and spirituality in social work practice, social work research, and statistics. She has written and presented extensively on the topic of spirituality in social work, including presentations within the School's network of field agencies; she is the co-editor of Ethnicity and Race: Critical Concepts in Social Work. Dr. Jacobs received her B.A. from Sacramento State University, her M.S.W. from San Diego State University, and her doctorate from the Heller School of Brandeis University. She is a Spiritual Director trained at the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation. She was also elected as a Distinguished Practitioner in the National Academies of Practice in Social Work in 2001.

Diana Lion

Diana Lion is the founding director of the national Buddhist Peace Fellowship Prison Project. She is also a Canadian dharma practitioner and a long-time activist. She has been doing prison dharma work at BPF since 1998. She is a graduate of Spirit Rock Meditation Center's Community Dharma Leaders Program, is a certified trainer in Nonviolent Communication, and is on the teaching team of the first Bay Area Buddhist Chaplaincy program. She is passionately involved in dharma and diversity issues, and has worked in many other activist arenas (peace, women, LGBT, farm workers, and human rights) over the last 30 years.

Eve Myonen Marko

Eve Marko co-founded Peacemaker Circle International with Bernie Glassman and serves as the organization’s vice president. She works in the building of coalitions in the Middle East and Latin America, supervising project directors and training programs. She is a Founding Teacher of the Zen Peacemaker Order and continues to develop the Order. During the 1980s and the 1990s she also worked with the Greyston Mandala, a Buddhist-inspired network of for-profits and not-for-profits working together in Yonkers, New York, and providing housing, child care, jobs, training, and AIDS-related medical services to some 1,200 men, women and children every year.

Meredith Monk

Meredith Monk is a composer, singer, director/choreographer and creator of new opera, musical theater works, films and installations. A pioneer in what is now called "extended vocal technique" and "interdisciplinary performance," Monk creates works that thrive at the intersection of music and movement, image and object, light and sound in an effort to discover and weave together new modes of perception. Her ground breaking exploration of the voice as an instrument, as an eloquent language in and of itself, expands the boundaries of musical composition, creating landscapes of sound that unearth feelings, energies, and memories for which we have no words. She has alternately been proclaimed as a "voice of the future" and "one of America's coolest composers." During a career that spans more than 35 years she has been acclaimed by audiences and critics as a major creative force in the performing arts. More >

Susanne Mrozik

Susanne Mrozik is Assistant Professor of Religion at Mount Holyoke College, where she teaches courses on Buddhism. Mrozik earned her Ph.D. in religion from Harvard University. Her research focuses on Buddhist ethics, especially Buddhist perspectives on body and gender. Mrozik is also a member of the conference planning committee.

Roshi Wendy Egyoku Nakao

Wendy Egyoku Nakao is the abbot of the Zen Center of Los Angeles. After studying with Taizan Maezumi Roshi for seventeen years at the Zen Center of Los Angeles, Egyoku moved to Yonkers in 1995 to complete her formal Zen training under Roshi Bernie Glassman. Glassman empowered her as a teacher in 1996. In 1997, she returned to Los Angeles to take over the abbotship of the Zen Center. She reorganized the forms and focus of practice at the Zen Center to incorporate an organizational training model of shared stewardship and the social awareness emphasized by Glassman. She received the final seal of approval from Roshi Glassman in June, 2004, granting her the title of Roshi.

Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara

Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara is the abbot of the Village Zendo in Manhattan. She received priest ordination from Maezumi Roshi and Dharma Transmission and Inka from Roshi Bernie Glassman. The example of her teachers encourages her work in the ordinary running of an urban temple, and in peacemaking activities. Much of Enkyo’s activism is in the world of HIV/AIDS. An ongoing exploration for her is articulating a Zen Buddhist approach to issues of difference around race, class, sexuality and health. Working with Bernie Glassman, Roshi is involved in the design of the Maezumi Institute, a study center for Zen and peacemaking. Roshi Enkyo was Associate Professor at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and taught video and interactive arts for twenty years. A special thrust of her temple at the Village Zendo is the value and importance of authentic expression.

Virginia Straus

Virginia Straus is executive director of the Boston Research Center for the 21st Century (BRC), a peace and justice institute founded by Buddhist teacher Daisaku Ikeda, President of the Soka Gakkai International. Straus has directed the Center since its founding in September 1993. The Center is committed to social change through dialogue and education aimed at cultivating an inclusive sense of community, locally and globally. Its current programs focus on women's leadership for peace, global citizenship education, and the philosophy and practice of community building. In addition to public forums, BRC produces multi-author books that have been used in over 220 college and university courses to date. Before joining the Center, Straus co-directed Pioneer Institute, a Boston-based public policy think tank, which she helped to establish in 1987. During the 1970's, she worked in government in Washington, DC, where she served as a legislative researcher and publisher in the House of Representatives, a financial analyst in the Treasury Department, and an urban policy aide in the Carter White House.

Sharon A. Suh

Sharon A. Suh is the Director of Asian Studies and Assistant Professor of World Religions at Seattle University. She received her Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from Harvard University in 2000 and is the author of Being Buddhist in a Christian World: Gender and Community in a Korean American Temple published by the University of Washington Press in 2004. She is currently working on a project entitled Sacred Seattle that looks at the role of Buddhism in Seattle’s Asian American communities. She is particularly interested in the transmission of the Dharma to the younger generations. Prior to moving to Seattle in 2000, she worked as the Executive Director of the Korean American Museum in Los Angeles and as a researcher for the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at the University of Southern California.

Tara Dhatu

Tara Dhatu is an international organization dedicated to empowering and uplifting humanity through the sacred arts. The organization was formed at the request of His Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche, an accomplished and revered Tibetan Buddhist master. He had witnessed the Dance of the 21 Praises of Tara, choreographed by one of his students, Prema Dasara. He asked that an organization be established to protect the dance's integrity as a Vehicle of Liberation. He rejoiced in witnessing the devotion and peace transmitted by the dance and encouraged it to be broadcast, in video and in communal celebrations. Since 1985 the dance has traveled throughout the world and the organization has grown to sponsor workshops and trainings in the Tara Dance and other Dharma Dances, offering celebrations, pilgrimages of citizen diplomacy, and an array of Charity Projects seeking to benefit the Tibetans-in-exile. More >

Venerable Karma Lekshe Tsomo

Karma Lekshe Tsomo's doctoral research focused on death and identity in China and Tibet. Her primary academic interests include women in Buddhism, Buddhism and bioethics, religion and cultural change, and Buddhism in the United States. In addition to her academic work, she is actively involved in interfaith dialogue and in grassroots initiatives for the empowerment of women. She is president of Sakyadhita: International Association of Buddhist Women ( and director of Jamyang Foundation (, an initiative to provide educational opportunities for women in the Indian Himalayas. More >

Helen Tworkov

Helen Tworkov grew up in New York City and studied Anthropology at Hunter College and the City University of New York. From 1964 to 1966 she traveled extensively in Asia, and taught English for six months in both Kyoto and Katmandu as well as working in a Tibetan Refuge Camp in Nepal. Her Buddhist Studies have been primarily with teachers of the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism and with Maezumi Roshi and teachers within his Soto Zen lineage. Helen Tworkov is the author of Zen in America: Five Profiles of American Zen Teachers (published by North Point Press in 1989; reprinted by Kodansha in 1994); in 1990 she founded Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, an independent quarterly which she edited until 2001. Currently she works as a consultant to Tricycle, and divides her time between upstate New York and Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

Arinna Weisman

Arinna Weisman has studied Insight Meditation for 20 years and has been teaching for 12. Her root teacher is Ruth Denison who was empowered by the great teacher U Bha Khin. She has also studied with Thich Nhat Hanh in the Zen tradition, Punjaji in the Advaita tradition and Tsokney Rinpoche in the Dzogchen tradition. She teaches insight meditation throughout the United States and is the founding teacher of the Dhamma Dena Meditation Center in Northampton. She is co-author of A Beginner's Guide to Insight Meditation. Her dharma practice and teaching have been infused with her political and environmental activism. She was the first Theravadin teacher to lead insight meditation retreats for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community. She also leads retreats focused on racism and multiculturism. More >

Carol Wilson

Carol Wilson was introduced to Buddhist meditation in Bodh Gaya, India, in 1971. She has been involved in practicing and studying Theravada Buddhism steadily since that time, including ordaining as a nun in Thailand for a year in the early 1980's. She began leading intensive meditation retreats at the Insight Meditation Society, in Barre, Massachusetts, in 1986. Currently she leads both vipassana (insight meditation) and loving kindness, or metta retreats, both at IMS and around the world. While a great deal of her practice has been in the West, Carol also feels deeply connected to the roots of the forms of Vipassana that come from Burma (Myanmar) and Thailand, both places where she has had the good fortune to connect with inspirational teachers, such as Sayadaw U Pandita and Achaan Buddhadasa. The meeting of ancient and more structured forms of transmitting the Dharma with forms appropriate for modern western practitioners is an area of ongoing interest for Carol. She is presently serving as one of the Guiding Teachers of the insight Meditation Society, as well as being on the board of directors for the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, and the Dharma Seed Archival Center. In the past two years, she has been inspired to be a part of the MettaDana Project, founded by Steven Smith, which assists the people of the Sagaing Hills, in Burma, through support of education, health care, and the support of their monasteries and nunneries.

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