Lifelong learners enjoy Rubin Museum lessons.

Lifelong learners enjoy Rubin Museum lessons.

Originally published Natural Awakenings Magazine April 2017 Issue 

A visit to the Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room at the Sacred Spaces exhibition at The Rubin Museum is an enlarging NYC day trip. The exhibition is entitled The Himala- yan Wind & Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room. The mission of the installation is to acquaint visitors with a traditional alter used for offerings, devotion and prayer in elaborate household shrines. The exhibition offers visitors an op- portunity to experience the sounds of the Himalayas which house the world’s highest elevated monasteries. These sounds include the flapping of prayer flags, the echo of high winds, the sounds of chanting and the interplay
of silence and mountain murmurs. The exhibition runs through June 5th 2017.

According to Wayne Teasdale, in his book The Mystic Heart, more and more people are being drawn to interspirituality as a faith tradition. In other words, as our global community evolves, our spiritual needs also vary during shifting times in our lives. Some- times an engrained spiritual practice takes precedent over philosophical beliefs or learned psychology concepts. Teasdale contends that more people are being drawn to a simultaneous com- bination of faith and belief paths. His coined term does not mean that a practitioner is not committed to any single tradition. They very well may be. He is simply suggesting that according to his research, celebrants are trending toward honoring more than one tradition today. Examples of this would be those that identify as Buddhist-Jews or Hindu Christians. Some blend even more belief systems to describe their spiritual preferences. The important point to note isthat for the first time in history, many feel safe to openly express these evolv- ing and expanding views.

Yoga is essentially a refining of consciousness. Buddhism focuses on living the teachings of The Buddha daily. Yoga and meditation are two of the most common ways to refine our thinking and behaviors to align with the teachings of The Buddha. The end goal is to achieve enlightenment which means to experience nirvana/bliss by ridding the self of the delusion of ego. In order to attain “Samadhi” which is the infinite, pure consciousness that transcends human suffering, one must embrace the Four Noble Truths. These tenants include knowledge of the fol- lowing:

• All life is suffering
• Suffering stems from desire
• There can be an end to desire
• If you follow the 8 fold path

The eight-fold path includes ways to live an honorable and worthy life accord- ing to The Buddha. The eight limbs of “right” living include right speech, right aspirations, right views, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindful- ness and right meditation. These central beliefs are supported by the customs of Buddhism as observed in this Tibetan Shrine Room, multi channel audio and video installation at The Rubin.

The practice of the faithful Bud- dhist includes meditation which can be done daily in the privacy of one’s home or at a Buddhist temple. Devotion ina private shrine room is similar to the experience in a temple in that devotees often have multiple Buddhas on display and signs of offerings on the alters at the shrines. Signs of veneration of The Buddha were evident on the busy alter. Multiple sized Buddhas were placed throughout the Shrine, as were many candles, animal artifacts, and prayer flags. Familiar images of yogis, sitting and standing in meditation were evi- dent throughout the exhibition.

According to Russell Paul in his book The Yoga of Sound, The Buddha was strongly influenced by yogic discipline which subscribes to the ultimate elimination of suffering for all. As we move into a global culture, yoga practitioners must pursue Samadhi or elimination of suffering for all people, not just Buddhists. This notion exempli- fies the true meaning and purpose of yoga, contrary to pop culture’s under- standing of yoga as a practice strictly limited to physical culture.

The founder of Buddhism was Siddhartha Gautama that surrendered family wealth and royal standing at age 29 to live the life of a wandering ascetic to build compassion and connection with all that live and suffer. Buddhism’s additional beliefs in reincarnation and the universal laws of cause and effect(karma) were also on display at the Rubin exhibition in art, sculpture and artifact form. Namaste!