Joan Halifax

Roshi Joan Halifax, Ph.D. is a Buddhist teacher, Founder and Head Teacher of Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a social activist, author, and in her early years was an anthropologist at Columbia University (1964-68) and University of Miami School of Medicine (1970-72). She is a pioneer in the field of end-of-life care. She 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, was a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the Library of Congress, received the Pioneer Medal for Outstanding Leadership in Health Care by HealthCare Chaplaincy, the Sandy MacKinnon Award from Covenant Health in Canada, Pioneer Medal for Outstanding Leadership in Health Care, received an Honorary DSc from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. She has received many other awards and honors from institutions around the world for her work as a social and environmental activist and in the end-of-life care field.

From 1972-1975, she worked with psychiatrist Stanislav Grof at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center with dying cancer patients. She has continued to work with dying people and their families, and to teach health care professionals and family caregivers the psycho-social, ethical and spiritual aspects of 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. She is also founder of the Nomads Clinic in Nepal.


Recent Articles

A meditator sits in practice at Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp in Poland

How the Three Tenets Help Us Live Wisely

Roshi Joan Halifax reflects on the guiding principles of the Zen Peacemaker Order, and why we all might benefit from putting them to the test.

The Dalai Lama, lifting his arms with palms together in front of the US Capitol building.

The Dalai Lama: A Long Life Lived for All

Why is the Dalai Lama an inspiration to so many people of such diverse backgrounds? Roshi Joan Halifax explains.

Practice for a World at Risk

It’s the concept of “other” that drives the evils the world suffers from, says Roshi Joan Halifax. The contemplation we need now is that in reality there is no separation.

Man with baby on his back, with Roshi Joan Halifax.

Cómo Ayudar Cuando se te Rompe el Corazón

Cuidar de las personas que sufren es una vocación amorosa, e incluso heroica, pero pasa factura. Roshi Joan Halifax comparte este método de cinco pasos para cuidar de ti mismo mientras cuidas de los demás.

Watch: Roshi Joan Halifax’s Two Prayers for Now and Our New Year

Roshi Joan Halifax shares two short prayers to set the intention for the new year.

Yes, We Can Have Hope

Roshi Joan Halifax reflects on the idea of "wise hope" and why we should open ourselves to it.

Man with baby on his back, with Roshi Joan Halifax.

Help When Your Heart Breaks

Caring for people who are suffering is a loving, even heroic calling, but it takes a toll. Roshi Joan Halifax teaches this five-step program to care for yourself while caring for others.

Life on the Edge

Buddhist teacher Joan Halifax describes five “edge states” where courage meets fear and freedom meets suffering.

Bearing Witness to Ukraine’s Suffering

As we bear witness to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we cannot fall into our tendency to turn away from suffering, says Roshi Joan Halifax.

Si, podemos tener esperanza.

Roshi Joan Halifax reflexiona acerca de la idea de la “esperanza sabia” y por qué debemos abrirnos a ella.

La vida al borde

La maestra budista Joan Halifax describe cinco “etapas al límite” donde el valor se encuentra con el miedo y la libertad se encuentra con el sufrimiento. 

Good Death? Let’s Get Real

Most of the time death won’t follow our script, says Roshi Joan Halifax. But amid its messiness and pain, our experience can be respected, and we can learn.

Man with baby on his back, with Roshi Joan Halifax.

Ayuda para cuando se rompe el corazón

Cuidar de quienes están sufriendo es un llamado amoroso y, quizás heróico, pero no nos es gratis. Roshi Joan Halifax nos enseña un programa de cinco pasos para cuidar de ti mismo mientras cuidas de otros.

You Are Already Dying

The most profound meditation, says Joan Halifax, is contemplating the certainty of your own death.

Migrant children in custody.

What Happens When a Government Loses Its Compassion?

Without compassion, everyone is worse off. Zen teacher Roshi Joan Halifax comments on the Trump administration's family separation policy.

a dog named dominga

The Dharma of Dogs

Zen teacher Roshi Joan Halifax recalls her good fortune with four-legged friends.

A New Democracy

Part one of Joan Halifax's teaching, A New Democracy: The Koan of Servant Leadership, which she gave on January 21, 2009 at Upaya Zen Center.