Sensei Al Genkai Kaszniak serves as spiritual director of Upaya Sangha of Tucson, an affiliate sangha of Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, NM. He received both Jukai and dharma transmission from Roshi Joan Halifax, Ph.D., and he presently also serves as President of the Board of Directors of Upaya Zen Center.
The Upaya Sangha of Tucson (AZ) is a lay Zen Buddhist practice group and is an affiliate sangha of Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, NM. In addition to teaching and guiding practice in this sangha, Al teaches periodically at Upaya Zen Center (e.g., in the recurring Zen Brain retreats, the annual Being with Dying training for end-of-life care clinicians, and Rohatsu Sesshin).Al’s work that is most closely allied with the mission of Zen Peacemakers includes teaching and writing about the intersection of spiritual and clinical issues in geriatrics, hospice, and palliative care (example references below), and work with the Mind and Life Institute, aimed at helping bridge science and contemplative practices toward the goal of reducing suffering and enhancing flourishing for as many as possible.
He is a member of the Lay Zen Teachers Association and the White Plum Asanga. Al received his Ph.D. in clinical and developmental psychology from the University of Illinois in 1976, and completed an internship and postdoctoral training in clinical neuropsychology at Rush Medical Center in Chicago.
He currently serves as Director of the Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium Education Core, Director of the Neuropsychology, Emotion, and Meditation Laboratory, Faculty and Advisory Board member of the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute, and a professor in the departments of Psychology, Neurology, and Psychiatry at The University of Arizona (UA). He formerly served as Head of the Psychology Department, and as Director of the UA Center for Consciousness Studies, and Chaired the Steering Committee for the inaugural International Symposia for Contemplative Studies (April, 2012, Denver, CO). He also previously served as Chief Academic Officer and interim CEO for the Mind and Life Institute, an organization dedicated to dialog and collaboration between science and contemplative traditions.
He is the co-author or editor of seven books, including the three-volume Toward a Science of Consciousness (MIT Press), and Emotions, Qualia, and Consciousness (World Scientific). His research, published in over 155 journal articles and scholarly book chapters, has been supported by grants from the U.S. National Institute on Aging, National Institute of Mental Health, and National Science Foundation, as well as several private foundations and institutes. His work has focused on the neuropsychology of Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related neurological disorders, cognition and emotion in healthy aging, consciousness, memory self-monitoring, emotion, and the psychophysiology of long-term and short-term meditation.
He has served on the editorial boards of several scientific journals, and has been an advisor to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, Department of Veterans Affairs and other governmental agencies, and has served on the Boards of Directors of several voluntary health organizations, professional organizations, and institutes.
He previously served as President of the Section on Clinical Geropsychology, Division of Clinical Psychology of the American Psychological Association (APA), and is a fellow of the APA and the Association for Psychological Science (APS).