Roshi Joan Halifax

Upaya Zen Center

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 taught anthropology at the University of Miami Medical School. Halifax received a National Science Foundation fellowship in visual anthropology and served as an honorary research fellow in medical ethnobotany at Harvard University and as a distinguished visiting scholar at the Library of Congress. From 1972 to 1975, she worked with psychiatrist Stanislav Grof at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center with dying cancer patients and has continued to work with dying people and their families, teaching health care professionals and family caregivers the psychosocial, ethical, and spiritual aspects of care of the dying.

Halifax is director of the Project on Being with Dying and founder and director of the Upaya Prison Project, which developed programs on meditation for prisoners. She studied with Zen teacher Seung Sahn, received the Lamp Transmission from Thich Nhat Hanh, and was given Inka by Roshi Bernie Glassman. A founding teacher of the Zen Peacemaker Order, her work and practice for more than four decades has focused on applied Buddhism. Her books include: The Human Encounter with Death (with Stanislav Grof); The Fruitful Darkness; Simplicity in the Complex: A Buddhist Life in America; Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Wisdom in the Presence of Death; and Standing at the Edge: Finding Freedom Where Fear and Courage Meet.