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Sharon Salzberg

Mindfulness Meditation

Wednesday, June 12, 2019
1:00 PM–1:45 PM

This Week’s Work of Art

One of the main protector figures of the Gelugpa school of Buddhism, Begtse is distinguished by his “coat of mail,” which is wonderfully portrayed in this sculpture, stretching over the vast expanse of his corpulent torso. He brandishes a flaming sword in his right hand and the fresh heart of an enemy in his left hand. Though these seem to be fearsome objects, they all symbolize the defeat of ego-centered conceptions and the empowerment of individuals.

He wears the garb of Mongolian generals, including felt boots, flaring skirts and sleeves, and dragon-headed emblems on his chest, stomach, tight sleeves, and openings of his boots. As he is a dharmapala (protector of the faith), he also wears the icons of the wrathful deities: the 5-skull crown and garland of 50 severed heads. His locks of hair fly out to one side and still bear the original red pigment, as does his curling tongue.

This sculpture is a superb, large, and rare example of a protector deity from the Zanabazar School of sculpture that flourished in Outer Mongolia in the late 17th century and first quarter of the 18th century. Zanabazar was not only a master sculptor but also an incarnate lama who was the head of the most powerful clan of the Khalka Mongols in Outer Mongolia. From around the late 16th century, Mongolia turned strongly to Tibetan Buddhism and ultimately became a stronghold of the Gelugpa.

About the Program

The Rubin Museum of Art presents a weekly meditation session led by a prominent meditation teacher from the New York area, with each session focusing on a specific work of art. This podcast is recorded in front of a live audience, and includes an opening talk, a 20-minute sitting session, and a closing discussion.

If you would like to attend Mindfulness Meditation sessions in person or learn more, please visit our website at

This program is supported with thanks to our presenting partners Sharon Salzberg, the Interdependence Project and Parabola Magazine.

Theme: Empowerment

“Learning to be more concentrated is the path of power.” The wrathful protector deity Begtse uses his sword to cut through confusion and lies. Inspired by his power, Sharon Salzberg discusses how to move past distractions and center ourselves on truthfulness with clarity of purpose.

About the Speaker

Sharon Salzberg, cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, has guided meditation retreats worldwide since 1974. Sharon’s latest books are Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connections and Real Happiness at Work: Meditations for Accomplishment, Achievement, and Peace. She is a weekly columnist for On Being, a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, and the author of several other books including the New York Times best-seller Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation, Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience, and Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness. Sharon has been a regular participant in the Rubin’s many on-stage conversations.

Image Credit
Protector Begtse Chen; Outer Mongolia, late 18th”“early 19th century; gilt copper alloy with pigments; Rubin Museum of Art; C2005.12.3 (HAR 65414)