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04-14-17 Compassion, Empathy, Caring, and Healing: A Conversation With Roshi Joan Halifax

Joan Halifax and I were a part of that rich broth of creativity and humanism that was exploring new dimensions of healing, personal growth, and spirituality at Esalen Institute back in the 1970s. Roshi Joan Halifax is an anthropologist and an activist, a wild child of the sixties and a celibate Zen priest.

She is the founder, abbess, and head teacher of Upaya Zen Center, a Buddhist monastery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is best known for sitting at the bedside of terminally ill patients and pioneering a form of contemplative care, known as the Being With Dying project, now in its seventeenth year. One of her core messages is “Strong Back, Soft Front”, a concept she will share with us during this hour.

We will examine the similarities and the differences between empathy and compassion, and why the Dalai Lama has said that love and compassion are not luxuries, that actually they are necessities, if human life is to survive on this planet. Roshi Joan will also share with us the essence of the GRACE process and other insights on developing our ability to experience both the power and the vulnerability of compassion.

Joan was born in 1942. At age four a serious virus caused her to go legally blind, from which she recovered two years later. Central to her recovery was the care of a black woman who was the daughter of slaves. You will learn the incredible gifts she received through the loving, selfless, humble, soulful care rendered by this woman, and how being blind taught her so much about the inner life.

She went on to become a civil rights activist and a protester against the Viet Nam war, then went on to receive her Ph.D in medical anthropology and psychology. She went to Mali, where she studied and learned from the indigenous Dogon tribe, and to Mexico, where she studied the Huichol Indians.
Don’t miss the wise words and the indomitable spirit of this wise woman!

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