Koshin Paley Ellison: Zen and the Art of Caregiving
In this episode of the Wisdom Podcast, we meet Koshin Paley Ellison, innovative cofounder of the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care and author of Wisdom’s recently published book, Wholehearted. Koshin tells us about how he was drawn both to Zen practice and caring for the dying early in life and how the AIDS epidemic, beat poets, and Zen teacher John Daido Loori had an impact on him. He shares with us moving stories of how he cared for his grandmother Mimi at the end of her life and how this relationship helped him to deeply integrate his Buddhist practice into his life. Koshin relates to us how facing our fears can help us respond to others more compassionately and how letting go of our clinging can open up new ways of being. We also learn how for Koshin, study, meditation practice, and caregiving are intimately connected to each other.
About the Interviewee
Koshin Paley Ellison, MFA, LMSW, DMIN, co-founded the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care, the first Buddhist organization to offer fully accredited chaplaincy training in America. The organization delivers contemplative approaches to care through education, direct service and meditation practice. Koshin is the director of the Zen Center’s Certificates in Contemplative Studies. In order to bring the work to a broader audience, he co-developed the Foundations in Buddhist Contemplative Care Training Program. He teaches in the University of Arizona Medical School’s Center for Integrative Medicine’s Integrative Medicine Fellowship. Koshin is the academic advisor for the Buddhist students in the Master in Pastoral Care and Counseling at NYZCCC’s education partner, New York Theological Seminary. He is the co-director of Contemplative Care Services for the Department of Integrative Medicine and serves as the chaplaincy supervisor for the Pain and Palliative Care Department at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center, where he also serves on the Medical Ethics Committee.
Koshin is a dynamic, original, and visionary leader and teacher. His public programs have introduced thousands to the practices of mindful and compassionate care of the living and dying. 30,000 people listen to his podcasts each year. His groundbreaking work has been widely featured in the media, including the PBS Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, and in numerous print publications such as the New York Times and Los Angeles Times. He is the co-author of the chapter “Rituals and Resilience,” in the book Creating Spiritual and Psychological Resilience (Routledge, 2009). He also authored the chapter “The Jeweled Net: What Dogen and the Avatamsaka Sutra Can Offer Us as Spiritual Caregivers,” in the book The Arts of Contemplative Care: Pioneering Voices in Buddhist Chaplaincy and Pastoral Work (Wisdom Publications, 2012). He is a Senior Zen Buddhist Monk, Dharma Teacher and student, ACPE Supervisor, and Jungian psychotherapist.