The Rubin is transforming. Read important updates from our Executive Director.

We kicked off our eighth annual Brainwave series on January 28!

A year in the making, the popular series features on-stage conversations, films and experiences that bring together a wide variety of authors, teachers, and other professionals at the top of their fields with neuroscientists to discuss the mind and its connection to a particular theme. This year, the theme is The Attachment Trap.

In India and parts of Southeast Asia, monkeys are sometimes trapped by placing food in a vessel with a hole just big enough for the monkey to reach through with one hand. Sensing the food, a passing monkey will reach in and grab it, forming a fist.

The monkey soon discovers that it cannot pull its clenched fist out of the hole. The monkey will stay that way, with its hand clinging tightly to the food, until someone comes along and captures it. If the monkey would just let go, it could easily free itself. As Buddhist nun Jetsuma Tenzin Palmo says, “Isn’t that our situation?”

This trap is a metaphor for a core Buddhist principle: By holding tightly to external sources of happiness, we prevent ourselves from being truly free.

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 five senses—particularly 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?

“Upcoming Brainwave talks feature actorJake Gyllenhaal, composer Pauline Olivieros, and director Richard Eyre. Our speakers will help us explore how The Attachment Trap figures into our everyday lives, whether through our love of food, our passion for collecting, or even our obsession with finding inner peace. Several talks have already sold out so grab your tickets now!

Didn’t catch last season’s Brainwave series? Lunch Matters, free to members, is now screening highlights from last year’s Brainwave: Mind Over Matter, featuring talks with Breaking Bad actor Giancarlo Esposito, entertainment entrepreneur Russel Simmons, and astronaut Scott Parazynski.You can also watch clips from other Brainwave talks on the Rubin’s YouTube channel or purchase complete talks on DVD from our shop.

We hope to see you in the theater soon!