February 25, 2022
In this episode, Wendy speaks with Zen Buddhist teacher and author Roshi Joan Halifax. A pioneer in the field of end-of-life care, Roshi Joan was instrumental in developing the dialogue between science and Buddhism, and has been an advocate for engaged Buddhism, social activism, and compassion in response to today’s crises. This conversation covers many topics, including:
- the birth of dialogues between the Dalai Lama and scientists;
- how our minds are “enactive”;
- compassion as emergent and dependent on context;
- the trainable factors that set the stage for compassion;
- the importance of embodiment in health care;
- non-referential compassion;
- interdependence, compassion, and climate change;
- working with dying people;
- how letting go is safe;
- clinical use of psychedelics;
- and reflections on the field of contemplative science.
Roshi Joan Halifax, PhD, is a Buddhist teacher, Founder and Head Teacher of Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a social activist, and author. She is a pioneer in the field of end-of-life care. She has lectured on the subject of death and dying at many academic institutions and medical centers around the world. She received a National Science Foundation Fellowship in Visual Anthropology, was an Honorary Research Fellow in Medical Ethnobotany at Harvard University, was a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the Library of Congress, received an Honorary DSc from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. She has received many awards and honors from institutions around the world for her work as a social and environmental activist and in the end-of-life care field.
From 1972-1975, she worked with psychiatrist Stanislav Grof at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center with dying cancer patients. She has continued to work with dying people and their families, and to teach health care professionals and family caregivers the psycho-social, ethical and spiritual aspects of care of the dying. She is Director of the Project on Being with Dying, and Founder of the Upaya Prison Project that develops programs on meditation for prisoners. She is also founder of the Nomads Clinic in Nepal.
Her books include: The Human Encounter with Death (with Stanislav Grof); The Fruitful Darkness, A Journey Through Buddhist Practice; Simplicity in the Complex: A Buddhist Life in America; Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Wisdom in the Presence of Death; and Standing at the Edge: Finding Freedom Where Fear and Courage Meet.
- Roshi’s articles and essays
- Blog on Enactive Compassion
- Plenary Lecture from SRI 2021: Integrity and Moral Suffering in Relation to the Climate Catastrophe and Health
- G.R.A.C.E.: Training in Cultivating Compassion-based Interactions
- Book: Standing at the Edge: Finding Freedom Where Fear and Courage Meet
- Book: Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Wisdom in the Presence of Death