Compassion is often associated with religion. It is also believed to be at times the cause of distress in those who experience it. And yet, recent research suggests that compassion might be a source of hardiness, resilience, and well-being. It is as well an important feature of our collective well-being. This evening, we explore a new model of compassion that is nonlinear, context sensitive, and practical, and a unique process that cultivates compassion when we interact with each other.
Joan Halifax Roshi is a Buddhist teacher, Zen priest, anthropologist, and author. She is Founder, Abbot, and Head Teacher of Upaya Zen Center, a Buddhist monastery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She received her Ph.D in medical anthropology in 1973. She has lectured on the subject of death and dying at many academic institutions, including Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Medical School, Georgetown Medical School, University of Virginia Medical School, Duke University Medical School, University of Connecticut Medical School, among many others. She received a National Science Foundation Fellowship in Visual Anthropology, and was an Honorary Research Fellow in Medical Ethnobotany at Harvard University. From 1972-1975, she worked with psychiatrist Stanislav Grof at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center on pioneering work with dying cancer patients, using LSD as an adjunct to psychotherapy. After the LSD project, she has continued to work with dying people and their families and to teach health care professionals as well as lay individuals on compassionate 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. For the past twenty-five years, she has been active in environmental work. She studied for a decade with Zen Teacher Seung Sahn in the Kwan Um Zen School. She received the Lamp Transmission from Thich Nhat Hanh, and was given Inka by Roshi Bernie Glassman. A Founding Teacher of the Zen Peacemaker Order and founder of Prajna Mountain Buddhist Order, her work and practice for more than four decades has focused on engaged Buddhism. 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 her forthcoming, Standing at the Edge: Finding Freedom Where Fear and Courage Meet to be released on May 1, 2018.
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