The exhibition Sacred Spaces opened at the Rubin Museum on October 23rd, with the intention of immersing visitors in the sacred art of the Himalayas. The centerpiece of the exhibit, an expanded Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room, is filled with the scent of incense and sounds of monks chanting. Flickering butter lamps add to the many elements that make up a traditional shrine in an elaborate private household. Included in the room are paintings, sculptures of deities, musical instruments and many other objects that hold aesthetic, historical and religious significance.
The new larger shrine room, which now has seating, can accommodate educational groups and programs such as the NY YOGA + Life Magazine , which will be holding their celebration within this space on November 6 with a meditation led by Ally Bogard from The Path Meditation. The Rubin Museum has set up a crowdfunding campaign through Razoo in support of the new shrine room.
At the entrance to the shrine room is the Wheel of Life, which is said to have been designed by the Buddha. You will notice that it has an illustration of fundamental insights into the nature of existence. The details within the painting remind Buddhists of the benefits of positive actions – and the dangers of accumulating bad karma. It is typically painted near the entrance to temples.
In a separate section, you will find a reflecting bowl. You will notice the paper and pencil holder on the wall behind. All are invited to contribute by leaving a personal note. There were a lot of lengthy notes already in the bowl early Sunday morning. Every message will be documented and displayed in the Museum and online. If you would like to add to the bowl, but you’re not in the Museum, use the hashtag #SacredSpaces to add to the collection.
A video installation of an Indian ritual, created by Deidi von Schaewen, is part of the exhibition. The video showcases a Jain communal ritual where devotees pour offerings over a stone sculpture. The figure is anointed every twelve years over the course of four days. This is one of many devotional acts, which also include ablutions, blessings, and prayers.
On view is a panoramic photograph taken in the province of Mustang, in northern Nepal, by Jaroslav Poncar. It is said that the high mountainous landscape of Tibet is full of life and power – from the water to the rocks, trees and mountains. The impressive panorama gives us a view of where Tibetan Buddhism developed, and still flourishes today.
Close-up view of the center of the panoramic photograph
All three spaces within this installation show the various devotional activities that are practiced in that particular region. It is said that sculptures, like those of Jina below, render the space around them sacred.
In the spirit of Sacred Spaces, The Rubin is holding meditation every Wednesday. Mindfulness Mediation is for every level from beginner to skilled, and is a 45 minute weekly program designed to fit into your lunch break. The program is presented in cooperation with Sharon Salzburg and New York Insight Meditation Center from 1:00 to 1:45 pm
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