It’s easy to despair at all the bad news and horrific pictures that come at us daily. But Roshi Joan Halifax says this is a form of empathy that works against us. There’s such a thing as pathological altruism. This zen abbot and medical anthropologist has nourishing wisdom as we face suffering in the world.
“I think what we’re seeing actually is not compassion fatigue, but empathic distress, where there’s a resonance, and yet we can’t do anything about it. When we are more stabilized, then we can face the world with more buoyancy, more capacity to 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.
“We’re in an era of great breakdown, environmentally and socially and psychologically. And when systems break down, the ones who have the resilience to actually repair themselves, they move to a higher order of organization. And I think that this is characterized by something the complexity theorists call ‘robustness,’ that we can anticipate both a time of great robustness, which we’re in, with tremendous potential to wake up and take responsibility. And, at the same time, we’re in a lot of difficulties and we need resilience to make our way through this change.”
~ Roshi Joan Halifax, Zen Buddhist teacher, anthropologist, ecologist, civil rights activist, hospice caregiver, and the author of several books on Buddhism and spirituality
Listen to the full podcast or read the interview transcript….