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Buddhadharma : Spring 2012
24 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY SPRING 2 0 1 2 they feel this isn’t a place for them. Similarly, when there are no female leaders. Or, as is often the case today, no young leaders. When newcom- ers do not see someone in leadership that reflects them, they do not see a place for themselves within the community. This is not a Buddhist thing. This is a community thing. I should preface this by saying that I have been blessed with amazing opportunities. Straight out of college I was hired to serve as the executive director of the Boston Shambhala Center. Look- ing back I think to myself, I wouldn’t have hired me. I had no skills, no management experience, and was naive about nonprofit work. Still, the board of directors took a gamble on me. The other day I received a call from a friend who had run a query on the Shambhala Bud- dhist database looking for authorized teach- ers under the age of thirty-five. There were six of us. When I heard this, I was discouraged. Then I contemplated the fact that this likely wasn’t much different from other Buddhist communities in North America, felt consoled for a moment, and then further defeated. Over the last ten years that I’ve been teach- ing meditation I’ve learned one simple rule about young people feeling welcome at a meditation center: like attracts like. If you have no teach- ers of color, for example, then when a person of color walks in the door and sees no role models LODRO RINZLER is a teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist tradition and the author of The Buddha Walks into a Bar: A Guide to Life for a New Generation (Shambhala Publications). There are many interesting and important voices that aren’t always heard in the mainstream dharma discourse. So in this issue we’re launch- ing a new department—LET’S TALK—welcoming a broad spectrum of writers and readers to share their diverse experiences of American Buddhism. Lodro Rinzler kicks things off with his thoughts on why it’s essential to cultivate and support young dharma leaders. A NECESSARY GAMBLE LET’S TALK VICTORIAGERSTMAN