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Societal ideas about identity, gender, and sexuality have changed dramatically in recent years, allowing new possibilities for expression. Yet power structures embedded in religions with long-standing spiritual traditions present complex challenges to these new ideas for practitioners and teachers alike. This spring at the Rubin, Buddhist lama and Harvard-trained theologian Lama Rod Owens met with meditation teacher Kate Johnson as a part of our Compassionate Action series. Together they explored how we can use this cultural moment as an opportunity to liberate our collective conditioning around power, pleasure, gender, sexuality, and consent. Read adapted excerpts of their conversation below and watch the full talk in our media center. On forging your own spiritual path Kate Johnson: You don’t call yourself a Tibetan lama but a lama who trained with Tibetans. What’s the distinction there? Lama Rod Owens: I have gone…

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The Rubin Museum of Art by Mromero@rubinmuseum.org - 2M ago

Power surrounds us and is an inescapable part of life. But its nature can be a little hard to pin down. Where does it come from, and how can it work for us? To better understand power, we asked our Compassionate Action speakers Jungwon Kim of the Rainforest Alliance, author Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, and series host Kate Johnson what power means to them and how we can move through life more powerfully. Meditation teacher Kate Johnson on Power: “Greed has power, hatred has power, and fear has power. But so does love, so does generosity—and these are the kinds of powers that can fuel profound social change. I think part of our [mindfulness] practice is to look within and notice what is powering our actions in the world. If we know strategies and tools to shift our power source from fear…

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To some viewers, Netflix’s hit series Russian Doll is a sexier, edgier, video-gamer update of the 1993 movie Groundhog Day. But for a practicing Buddhist, this new show offers a particularly rich trove of allusions to Buddhist ideas. In truth, for Buddhists, such ideas are everywhere and in everything, but I found Russian Doll particularly good spiritual fun. The show begins (in this case, repeatedly) on our main character’s 36th birthday, a time when the first existentially angsty hints of a mid-life crisis may start to ripen into full bloom. As played by Natasha Lyonne, Nadia faces the issue of death head-on (often actually landing on her head) by repeatedly dying and coming back to life, only to relive her birthday over and over…maybe until she finally gets it right? Spoiler alert: if you haven’t already done so, watch all…

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The exhibition The Power of Intention: Reinventing the (Prayer) Wheel (on view through October 14, 2019) explores how intentions shape our connections with the world. To have an intention is to have a desire to act, but not all intentions truly become actions. Without an intention, on the other hand, our actions become aimless. The gap between intention and reality raises a basic question of right and wrong. Is it more important to have good intentions, or to perform actions that have good results? Buddhism affirms the overarching importance of good intentions. Synonymous with good karma, positive intentions have the power to lead to better future circumstances and the possibility of liberation. Intention in Buddhist PhilosophyIndian Teacher, Vasubhandu Tibet; 19th century; Pigments on cloth; Rubin Museum of Art; Gift of Shelley and Donald Rubin; C2006.66.467 (HAR 928) The Sanskrit word…

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The Rubin Museum of Art by Mromero@rubinmuseum.org - 2M ago

Female deities are revered in many different traditions throughout the Himalayas. While these traditions are not necessarily feminist by contemporary standards, they feature a range of beloved goddesses, bodhisattvas, and dakinis that reflect fascinating ideas about feminine power and have inspired people across time and cultures. The Energy of the Many-Formed GoddessSiddhi Lakshmi; Nepal; dated by inscription 1796; pigments on cloth; Rubin Museum of Art; C2003.38.2 (HAR 65268) Hinduism, the most prevalent religion in India and Nepal, is known for its millions of gods of diverse origins, forms, and abilities, with an equal multiplicity of goddesses. They embody compassionate as well as fearsome forces: Lakshmi delivers good fortune, Parvati embodies the Himalayas and ascetic practice, Sitala cures smallpox and other childhood diseases, Durga fiercely slays the buffalo demon and negative forces, and Kali is even more terrifying. One could not…

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The Rubin Museum of Art by Mromero@rubinmuseum.org - 2M ago

This blog post is written by William Dewey, curatorial fellow at the Rubin. He holds a PhD in Religious Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara and has taught at the Rangjung Yeshe Institute in Nepal. What is the relationship between religion and power? Since, the Himalayan artworks in the Rubin Museum collection are deeply rooted in the religious traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism, they are the perfect starting point to investigating this complex relationship. Religious power systems are deeply intertwined with the power systems of gender, political rule, scholarship, and nature. In Himalayan culture, sacred objects, people, and places are believed to be imbued with capacities and abilities far beyond the world we ordinarily see, and the art at the Rubin reflects this. Buddhism and Political Power The 2019 exhibition Faith and Empire: Art and Politics in Tibetan…

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Are you searching to find the perfect holiday or New Year’s gift? This winter, give someone special a membership to an oasis of calm amid the chaos of New York City, a place where they can expand their mind, explore sacred spaces, and connect with others. A membership to the Rubin Museum is valuable long past the holiday season, with yearlong access to special exhibitions, benefits, and more. Purchase a gift membership now or read on to explore 5 reasons why a gift membership is the perfect match for your inspiration-seeking loved one! 1. Members get free access to the Museum—for two Members can visit the Rubin Museum for free, discovering art from regions across Asia, from centuries past to the present day. As they unpack the ideas and philosophies in Himalayan art, Rubin visitors become equipped to face their…

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Even if you’ve never meditated before, you probably know someone who has. Psychologists, scientists, teachers of religion and contemplative practices, and everyday people around the world are recognizing the benefits of focusing the mind. Meditation has existed in different forms for thousands of years and is well-represented in the Rubin Museum’s collection of Himalayan art. Inspired by our art and the wisdom and practices it represents, this guide will provide guidance for those who are interested in trying meditation for the first time, or those who want to approach their meditation practice from a new perspective. You can also listen to our weekly Mindfulness Meditation podcast for more. The foundation of Buddhist meditation: samathaStupa; Tibet; 13th century; copper alloy with inlays of semi precious stones; Rubin Museum of Art; C2004.17.1 (HAR 65335) The first thing to know is that there…

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We all knows that actions have consequences. We see it in the little things, like heating water to a boil, as well as large-scale events, such as global warming and climate change. The word karma defines this cause and effect that we experience in our lives. While karma is often thought of on a personal level, the world is beginning to feel the collective karma of our actions as the threat of a climate crisis becomes very real. Karma plays a huge role in the art featured in the Rubin Museum’s collection of art from the Himalayan region. Traditionally, Himalayan cultures have had strong connections to their environment, personifying mountains and lakes as gods and goddesses. If these forces weren’t properly respected, the deities would strike back with the power of nature. Below you’ll find examples from our art collection…

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Vocalist, composer, and ethnographer Kavita Shah returns to The Rubin this Friday to present her interdisciplinary work “Folk Songs of Naboréa.” What does the music of a futuristic, post-nuclear society sound like—one in which humans have abandoned technology and national and racial identities have eroded? Kavita answers this question and more as she engages us in understanding the rituals of Naboréa. 1. What about folk music inspires you? Folk music inspires me because it is a reflection of the rituals that we hold sacred as humans. Wherever you go on Earth, you will find songs that mark important events in society and in daily life: birth, coming of age, death, sleeping, harvesting crops, etc. It’s amazing to me that there is a common thread in these songs even if they developed independently and worlds apart. As such, for me folk…

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