I’ve been reading accounts from the Buddhist teachers’ gathering at the Garrison Institute this past week, and something that stood out to me was that there was only one teacher of Latino heritage present – my dharma brother, Shinzan Palma, a priest at Upaya Zen Center where I practice.
And I was reminded of an issue of Turning Wheel magazine that I worked on a long time ago. In the Spring of 2001, the theme we focused on was Buddhism en Las Americas… bringing forward voices of Latino/a dharma teachers and practitioners.
One of those voices was from Rev. Ryumon HG Baldoquín, a Soto Zen priest and teacher in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. Ryumon, who was born in Cuba, has been instrumental in the founding of People of Color and LGBTQ Sanghas across the U.S., and has served as a mentor and coach for young social change activists, political organizers, and emerging leaders. She is the editor of Dharma, Color, and Culture: New Voices in Western Buddhism. And though we haven’t connected for a long time, I’m honored to say that Ryumon is my friend (and former apartment-mate!).
Here is an excerpt from Ryumon’s story from that issue of Turning Wheel:
Part of my journey in Buddhism has been connected with my journey as an immigrant. I have always felt like an “outsider.” The experience of “looking in” and being “kept out” has been a great gift, for it has allowed me to learn how to move in and out of multiple worlds, even when I am not expected to exist in that world. The question of what an “outsider” is has been very central to my life, and has a lot to do with the work that I do.
The best way to describe this work is that it is about liberation. I assist individuals and groups to get in touch with the social hurts, personal wounds, and oppression that they have experienced, in order to generate options for moving to a healing place. Because after all, we can’t make change effectively in the world if we haven’t addressed our own healing process.