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For the first entry of our year-end blog series, we’re looking back at the most insightful and exciting speakers that graced the Rubin’s stage in 2015. This year began with the spring talk series Brainwave 2015: The Attachment Trap and is winding down with the fall series, Karma: Cause, Effect and the Illusion of Fate.

In both of these series and throughout the year, personalities from many walks of life have come to the Rubin to share their views on life, nature, science, and the human condition. Below is a selection of guests who have shared especially intriguing ideas.

1) Chris Martin of Coldplay with Ashtanga yoga master Eddie Stern

Chris Martin

In September, ashtanga yoga master Eddie Stern welcomed musician Chris Martin of Coldplay to the stage to address the issues of global warming and help define the role of the global citizen. The biggest takeaway: playing with Coldplay is a lot like social organizing in that “a group of like-minded people are all becoming something bigger than themselves,” says Martin. Watch the video below and check out this article from Huffington Post for more on Chris Martin and Eddie Stern’s talk at the Rubin:

2) Top Chef Tom Colicchio and neuroscientist David J. Linden

Tom Colicchio (left) and David J. Linden (right)

Our first Brainwave event of the year starred Top Chef Tom Colicchio and neuroscientist David J. Linden. Things got “touchy-feely” as the pair discussed the sense of touch and how important it is to our human experience.

The speakers experimented with a red hot pepper (hot to the touch) and the audience got to participate by rubbing mint on their hands (cool to the touch). Colicchio explained why touch was a crucial element to enjoying culinary delights and Linden echoed its importance, saying, “Touch as a sense is intrinsically emotional. Why are our feelings called our feelings?”

Audience members feel the mint leaves

3) Neuroscientist David Eagleman with actor Whoopi Goldberg

Whoopi Goldberg (left) and David Eagleman (right)

Whoopi Goldberg had a lot on her mind when she met the host of PBS’ The Brain at the Museum in October. “What makes me me?” she asked superstar neuroscientist David Eagleman. His reply: “A lot of brain activity is in relation to other brains”¦.Half of us is other people.” If this is the case then why do we struggle to show more compassion to others? Watch the video below and check out this article on Huffington Post for more on David Eagleman and Whoopi Goldberg’s conversation at the Rubin.

4) Artist Genesis Breyer P-Orridge with psychologist and philosopher Jesse Prinz

Genesis Breyer P-Orridge

Psychologist and philosopher Jesse Prinz explored plasticity of the self with avant-garde performance art and underground legend Genesis Breyer P-Orridge in February. “Who are we really? Are we made, biologically determined, or constructed?” These are the questions they asked themselves and the audience.Genesis Breyer P-Orridge’ ideas have proven so bold and intriguing that the Rubin is presenting an exhibition with the artist in March 2016. In some regards, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge: Try to Altar Everything is an exploration of questions about gender, performance, and ritual, echoing h/er conversation with Jesse Prinz earlier this year. Learn more about the exhibition.

5) Damien Echols of the West Memphis Three with Sensei T. Kenjitsu Nakagaki

Damien Echols

As a teenager Damien Echols was convicted of murder, sentenced to death, and spent eighteen years in prison until he was released in 2011 on a rare Alford plea. On stage at the Rubin, he described the advice he received on his very first day in prison from an inmate who was to become a Buddhist priest: “You can either turn this cell into a monastery and learn and grow, or you can sit in here and go stark raving nuts.” He subsequently put into practice a meditation skill that became his lifeline, and allowed him to perceive a world beyond the cell walls. “You can go through life being a victor or you can go through life being a victim. You are still going to have to face your karma,” he affirmed. Play the video below and check out this article on Huffington Post for more on Damien Echols and Sensei T. Kenjitsu Nakagaki’s conversation at the Rubin.

Honorable Mention: Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo

Although technically from summer 2014, the allegory Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo presented at the Rubin not only captivated her audience, it also inspired the premise of Brainwave 2015 : The Attachment Trap. Play the video below to hear her story:

The best may still be yet to come! There’s still time to hear more speakers at the Rubin before the year ends. Check out upcoming speaker programs at the Rubin.

(photo credits: Lyn Hughes)