Sharon Salzberg – Metta Hour – Ep. 74 – Roshi Joan Halifax

Sharon Salzberg - Metta Hour - Ep. 74 - Roshi Joan Halifax

For the 74th episode of the Metta Hour Podcast, Sharon speaks with Roshi Joan Halifax about cultivating the qualities of a compassionate life found in her newest book: Standing at the Edge.

Roshi Joan 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, where she and Sharon teach together annually. In this conversation, these two friends speak candidly about Roshi’s newest book in detail, which is now available to purchase everywhere. Learn more at

Show Notes

At the Edge (Opening) – Roshi Joan and Sharon talk about the ups and downs of cultivating the qualities of a compassionate and courageous life. Beginning with altruism, they look at the role each that these “edge states” play in our journey of awakening and our ability to serve others.

“Edge states are five internal and interpersonal qualities that are keys to a compassionate and courageous life; without which we cannot serve, nor survive.” – Roshi Joan Halifax   

In the Shoes of Others (16:00) – Looking at empathy, Sharon and Roshi Joan examine how we resonate and cognitively relate to others. Roshi Joan talks about some of the extreme forms of empathy and imagines what the world might look like without this quality.

Moral Suffering (24:25) – Roshi Joan discusses with Sharon ways that the edge state of integrity can be mobilized through the experience of moral suffering. They talk about four specific areas of moral suffering that can foster integrity.

“Without integrity, our freedom is compromised.  I have seen that integrity can have a fragile edge, perhaps more fragile than any other of the edge states. By this, I mean that it often takes an experience of moral anguish; a push, a slip or a tumble over the edge of the chasm of suffering to affirm or reveal integrity.” – Roshi Joan Halifax  

Map of Compassion (31:40) – How can we move away from the toxic expressions of edge states towards the healthy qualities that can transform how we engage with the world? Sharon and Roshi Joan look at the important role that compassion plays in eliminating negative expressions of these five states.

Listen to more insight from Roshi Joan about navigating the edge states and getting real with our personal practice on Ep. 229 of the Mindrolling Podcast
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