About Joan Halifax

Joan Halifax Roshi, PhD, is a Buddhist teacher, Zen priest, anthropologist, author, and founder, abbot, and head teacher of Upaya Zen Center, a Buddhist monastery in Santa Fe (New Mexico, USA). She has studied under the Korean Zenmaster Seung Sahn and she received transmission from both Thich Nhat Hahn and Bernie Glassman Roshi.

Joan Halifax Roshi has enriched thousands of lives around the world through her work.

Over many decades she has collaborated with neuroscientists, clinicians and psychologists to understand how contemplative practice can be a vehicle for social transformation― how our greatest challenges can become the most valuable source of our wisdom, and how we can transform the experience of suffering into compassion for the benefit of others.

She has lived among indigenous people in Mali and Mexico and she has worked extensively with the dying and with prisoners. Every year she goes by foot into remote areas in Nepal with a medical clinic.

Her workshops are frequented by social workers, activists, health care workers and people from all kinds of other fields.


In her new book Joan Halifax is recounting the experiences of caregivers, activists, humanitarians, politicians, parents, and teachers, incorporating the wisdom of Zen traditions and mindfulness practices, and rooted in her groundbreaking research on compassion. Standing at the Edge is destined to become a contemporary classic. A powerful guide on how to find the freedom we seek for others and ourselves, it is a book that will serve us all.


Others about Joan Halifax:

“Joan Halifax is a clearheaded and fearless traveler and in this book…she offers us a map of how to travel courageously and fruitfully, for our own benefit and the benefit of all beings.” — (From Rebecca Solnit‘s foreword of Standing at the Edge: Finding Freedom where Fear and Courage meet.)

Dolpo Tulku Rinpoche: “Roshi Joan Halifax stresses the importance of understanding when and how positive, nurturing emotions like altruism and empathy turn toxic, causing more harm than benefit and how we can stay on the sane side of these mental qualities. Another way to put it is to use the terms skillful altruism and skillful empathy. These states of mind become skillful, when we take into account the time period and environment we are in, the religious and cultural context as well as our own mental and physical health. Roshi’s book is essential for anyone dedicated to enhance wholesome emotions whilst staying vigilant not to fall over the edge.”

Professor Christopher S. Queen writes—in the book Westward Dharma (edited by Charles S. Prebish and Martin Baumann), “She teaches the techniques of ‘being with death and dying’ to a class of terminally ill patients, doctors, nurses, lovers, family, and friends. She speaks calmly, with authority. In a culture where death is an enemy to be ignored, denied, and hidden away, Joan physically touches the dying. She holds them, listens to them, comforts them, calms them, and eases their suffering by any means possible. She shares their thoughts and fears; she feels their last shuddering breaths, holding them in her arms. She travels easily from church to synagogue, hospice to hospital, dispensing techniques and training born of Buddhist traditions and beliefs in a culturally and spiritually flexible manner.”