January 21, 2008
This book is about working for a more just, compassionate, and sustainable world while cultivating the wisdom that supports and deepens his work.
Charles Halpern is a social entrepreneur with a remarkable record of institutional innovation. He founded the Center for Law and Social Policy, the nation’s first public interest law firm, litigating landmark environmental protection and constitutional rights cases. As founding dean of the new City University of New York School of Law, he initiated a bold program for training public interest lawyers as whole people. Later, as president of the $400 million Nathan Cummings Foundation, he launched an innovative grant program that drew together social justice advocacy with meditation and spiritual inquiry.
In his years of activism, he had a growing intuition that something was missing, and he sought ways of developing inner resources that complemented his cognitive and adversarial skills. These explorations led him to the conviction that what he calls the practice of wisdom is essential to its effectiveness and well-being and to our collective capacity to address the challenges of the 21st century.
With wit and self-deprecating humor, Halpern describes his journey and the teachers and colleagues he encountered on the way – the cast of characters that includes Barney Frank and Ralph Nader, Ram Dass and the Dalai Lama. Making Waves and Riding the Current vividly demonstrates the life-enhancing benefits of integrating a commitment to social justice with the cultivation of wisdom. It is a real-world guide to effectively achieving social and institutional change while maintaining balance, compassion, and hope.
Charles Halpern’s career as an activist and innovator has taken him from the inner circles of the legal establishment to the outer fringes of gritty New York politics, from vision quests in the Adirondack wilderness to the current debates about stem cell research. He is currently the board chair of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, a leading force in bringing meditation and inner work into universities and other mainstream institutions. Halpern lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife, Susan Halpern, the author of The Etiquette of Illness. They meditate regularly and visit the remote waterways of California in their sixteen-foot canoe.