"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 the foreword by Rebecca Solnit
Standing at the Edge is an evocative examination of how we can respond to suffering, live our fullest lives, and remain open to the full spectrum of our human experience.
Joan Halifax has enriched thousands of lives around the world through her work as a humanitarian, a social activist, an anthropologist, and as a Buddhist teacher. Over many decades, she has also collaborated with neuroscientists, clinicians, and psychologists to understand how contemplative practice can be a vehicle for social transformation. Through her unusual background, she developed an understanding of how our greatest challenges can become the most valuable source of our wisdom—and how we can transform our experience of suffering into the power of compassion for the benefit of others.
Halifax has identified five psychological territories she calls Edge States—altruism, empathy, integrity, respect, and engagement—that epitomize strength of character. Yet each of these states can also be the cause of personal and social suffering. In this way, these five psychological experiences form edges, and it is only when we stand at these edges that we become open to the full range of our human experience and discover who we really are.
Recounting the experiences of caregivers, activists, humanitarians, politicians, parents, and teachers, incorporating the wisdom of Zen traditions and mindfulness practices, and rooted in Halifax’s 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.
Reviews and Endorsements:
"[A] wise exploration of the search for meaning...Clear, detailed, and profound, this remarkable book will be appreciated by anyone seeking a framework for a meaningful life."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"This book is an invitation to dive deeper into those uncomfortable places and learn new skills to navigate them.... Through a lifetime of contemplative practice, Roshi Joan Halifax inspires us to be present and to remember our humanity regardless of circumstances. What seems impossible becomes possible if you’re willing to go to the edge with her." —Tara Well, PhD, Psychology Today
“Reflecting on her decades long experience as a social activist, medical anthropologist, Zen Roshi, and wise elder, Joan Halifax introduces us to Edge States—qualities of mind that invite optimal balance. Through the extraordinary example of her own remarkable life, and her re-telling of the stories of many others, this book is a must-read to help us navigate these turbulent times, regain our footing, and recognize the balance that is our true nature.” —Richard J. Davidson, New York Times-bestselling author of The Emotional Life of Your Brain and Altered Traits
“Roshi Joan Halifax embodies what she teaches: equanimity, dedication to benefiting others, and putting compassion into action. Her no-nonsense approach to the emotions that push us to our edge—and can also propel our greatest good—truly inspires. In Standing at the Edge she offers us all a fascinating read and a practical roadmap to fulfilling our personal good work.” —Daniel Goleman, New York Times bestselling author of Altered Traits and Emotional Intelligence
“Joan Halifax knows of what she speaks. Standing at the Edge is powerful, honest, wise, and personal.” —Sharon Salzberg, author of Real Happiness and Real Love
“Standing at the Edge is a moving contemplation, a guidebook of how to be a caring human being, filled with practical advice, rich experience, tenderness, wisdom and courage.” —Jack Kornfield, author of A Path With Heart
"Roshi Joan Halifax’s new book, Standing at the Edge is a reflection of her enormous courage, compassion, and wisdom. In her willingness to cozy up to the great mystery she transforms fear into wonder. But most of all it is her great love that shines through the pages of this wonderful book and gives us a clear path to a graceful life.” —Ram Dass
“This book is a gift to anyone who seeks to serve others. With unwavering honesty and startling clarity, Joan Halifax examines the potential pitfalls of our virtuous intentions, taking on issues that concern people who are drawn to service. With characteristic intellectual precision, scholarship, and real-world experience, Standing at the Edge is food for the soul.” —Ira Byock, MD, author of Dying Well and The Best Care Possible
“Reading Standing at the Edge, I am struck by Joan Halifax’s honesty and hard-won humility. This is an unusual, courageous, and inspiring work, a true guide to keeping one’s footing in these unstable and perilous times.” —Mark Epstein, MD and author of Advice Not Given: A Guide to Getting Over Yourself and Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart
“In this moving and timely reflection on embracing life with passionate care, Roshi Joan shares her insights from Zen Buddhism, social engagement, and neuroscience but, above all, from half a century of living fearlessly.” —Stephen Batchelor, author of After Buddhism
“In this beautifully-written volume, Joan Halifax combines a spiritual master’s depth, the insight of a psychologist, and the vision of a prophet to help us fulfill our humane duty towards others while maintaining respect and care for our own body, mind, and soul.” —Gabor Maté, MD, author of In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction
About the Author:
Roshi Joan Halifax, Ph.D., is a Buddhist teacher, Zen priest, anthropologist, and pioneer in the field of end-of-life care. She is Founder, Abbot, and Head Teacher of Upaya Institute and Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She received her Ph.D. in medical anthropology in 1973 and 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, and was a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the Library of Congress. 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.