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Quote of the Week: Roshi Joan Halifax

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My dear friend Roshi Joan Halifax spoke at the TEDWomen event last week in Washington, D.C. The subtitle of the two-day event was “Reshaping the Future,” and what an amazing line-up… in addition to Roshi, speakers included Madeleine Albright, Naomi Klein, Eve Ensler, and Hilary Clinton.

The video hasn’t been posted yet, but Roshi was kind enough to give me notes from her talk. Here is an excerpt:

Compassion arises out of our capacity to be intimate, to be transparent, to have a heart and mind that is so balanced that we can perceive the world clearly and realistically. Compassion also makes it possible for us to be perceived deeply by others, to have an undefended heart. It is a fundamental courageous mental and behavioral process that allows us to be more resilient, according to neuroscience research, to be more mentally integrated, the neuroscientists have discovered, and to even have a greater immune response to the noxiousness around us…

So I want to know why we don’t nourish the seeds of compassion in our children, if compassion is so good for us? Why don’t we train our health care providers in compassion, since compassion is about the commitment to alleviate suffering? Why don’t we vote for our politicians based on compassion, so we could have a more caring world?

Know that it takes a strong back and soft front, equanimity and kindness for us to realize compassion in our lives. We need the strength to uphold ourselves in the midst of any conditions, and at the same time great openness and caring toward the world.


If you enjoyed this post, I invite you to visit my other website: The Liberated Life Project — a personal transformation blog with a social conscience.

About Maia

I've been practicing and studying the Buddha way since 1994, and exploring the question "What is engaged Buddhism?" since the late 90s. As former executive director of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship and editor of its journal, Turning Wheel, I had the honor of meeting and working with many practitioners of engaged dharma, including Roshi Joan Halifax, Joanna Macy, Alan Senauke, and Robert Aitken Roshi. I write about socially engaged Buddhism on my blog, "The Jizo Chronicles," as well as on the theme of personal and collective freedom on my website, "The Liberated Life Project." Through my Five Directions Consulting, I offer support to individuals and organizations who aspire to integrate awareness into their work.

One response »

  1. Judy Worth Friedsam

    Thank you so much for posting this Maria….. I adore the work Roshi does and has been doing. She is one of the most nobel women I know of.
    I look forward to seeing the video once it’s ready to be posted on TED or wherever it might be seen.

    I’m not sure why this world has such a difficult time with giving of ourselves…offering unconditional compassion and loving-kindness…. It remains comforting to know that people like Roshi Joan Halifax and others continue to make a difference.



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