Barbara Gates is a writer, developmental editor and writing coach. She loves doing her own creative work, conducting and editing in-depth interviews and supporting the work of others.
For 31 years, Gates was Co-Editor in Chief of the Buddhist journal Inquiring Mind, which she co-founded with Wes Nisker. She is now working on a philosophic memoir tentatively titled Taking a Bath in the Milky Way, editing several books, and helping create an Inquiring Mind Digital Archive.
She is co-editor of The Best of Inquiring Mind (Wisdom, 2008) and author of Already Home: A Topography of Spirit and Place (Shambhala, 2003). In the 1970s, as a literature and writing teacher and the co-founder of a community school, Gates co-wrote Changing Learning, Changing Lives: A High School Women’s Curriculum from the Group School (Feminist Press, 1979).
At a gathering of some of the Group School Founders, 2015
Gates’s writing is informed by forty-plus years of Buddhist practice under the guidance of Joseph Goldstein, Jack Kornfield, Sharon Salzberg, and more recently, Ajahn Amaro and Gil Fronsdal. Through preparing talks and interviews for publication, Gates is connected with many of the key voices that have brought Buddhism to the West. She has conducted interviews with Buddhist teachers from Thich Nhat Hanh and Jon Kabat-Zinn to Gary Snyder and Daniel Goleman. She has edited talks of luminaries from Ram Dass and Robert Thurman to Susan Griffin and Allen Ginsberg.
Writing Group: Melody Chavis, Gail Seneca, Barbara Gates, Christine Schoefer, Sue Moon, 2015
In her freelance business as an editor, Gates has worked with many Buddhist teachers, including the Dalai Lama with Dr. Howard Cutler (The Art of Happiness) Joanna Macy (Widening Circles) Jack Kornfield (A Path With Heart), Sharon Salzberg (Lovingkindness) and Tara Brach (Radical Acceptance and True Refuge).
Gates was born in Manhattan in 1946, and grew up between New York City with her mother, and Williamstown, Massachusetts, with her father who taught at Williams College. She received a BA from Bennington College (1967) and an MA in Education from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (1978). She taught high school for twenty years, beginning at the Shady Hill School in Cambridge, co-founding The Group School, a community high school for low-income students in Cambridge, and eventually at the Urban School of San Francisco.
Gates has been happily married to Patrick O'Donnell for over thirty years. She delights in daily hikes in the Berkeley hills with her border collie Roxie, writing and editing, time with friends and phone calls with her daughter, Caitlin O'Donnell, who is studying at Rutgers to be a clinical psychologist.
Rajgir, India. Pilgrimage trip, 2013
Barbara with her mother in her New York City apartment, 2015
Friends gather at the Berkeley City Council meeting proclaiming Barbara Gates Day, Jan. 29, 2009