Standing at the Edge: Finding Freedom Where Fear and Courage Meet

Joan Halifax. Flatiron, $26.99 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-10134-1
In this wise exploration of the search for meaning, Halifax (Being with Dying), an anthropologist and Buddhist teacher, lays out a philosophy of life through a central metaphor of “edge states” (interpersonal qualities “where opposites meet”), which she deems key values necessary for a life worth living. These include altruism, empathy, integrity, respect, and engagement. Halifax notes that those who pursue them risk suffering burnout or other emotional distress if they concentrate on one attribute above others. She delves deeply into each value, explaining the ideal and how to achieve it through a combination of personal stories, quotes, and lessons from Buddhist teachers (such as Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama) and scientific research. For instance, when talking about respect, she gives an example of the Dalai Lama pausing a lecture to help an insect escape the room, then later contrasts such deep conscientiousness with disturbing statistics about bullying, which she considers a reaction to a perceived lack of respect. Halifax’s personal stories resonate deeply, particularly with regard to her work with incarcerated people in New Mexico and poor communities in Nepal; her life experiences as a scholar, activist, and nun have much to teach any reader, and her generous honesty invites reflection. Clear, detailed, and profound, this remarkable book will be appreciated by anyone seeking a framework for a meaningful life. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/14/2018
Release date: 05/01/2018
Compact Disc - 978-1-4272-9688-7
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