Renowned Zen teacher and activist Joan Halifax Roshi has spent a lifetime practicing engaged Buddhism. She's applied the depth and breadth of her wisdom to the problems of everyday living in venues around the world, including the Omega Institute, where she will be teaching at the Omega Women's Leadership Center's 2013 Women & Power Retreat.
Through initiatives like Being and Dying professional training program at the Upaya Institute, Joan Halifax Roshi has addressed both the needs of the dying as well as those who care for them. In this interview on public radio's On Being with Krista Tippet, she addresses the reality of caregiver burnout on a broader scale, touching on themes central to this year's Women & Power Retreat, including care, strength, and compassion. In this wide-ranging talk, she also introduces the concept of "edge states," places where our compassion meets the human limits of facing the suffering of the world.
"I think a lot of this world that is hooked up in the media right now, that a good part of the globe is going numb. And I don't really agree, Krista, with the term "compassion fatigue." I think what we're seeing actually is not compassion fatigue, but empathic distress where there's a resonance, but we're not able to stabilize ourselves when we're exposed to this kind of suffering. When we are more stabilized then we can face the world with more buoyancy, we have more resilience. You know, we've got more capacity to actually address these very profound social and environmental issues. So that's why I call these things edge states because they really call us to our edge."