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The Rubin Research

This conversation between film director Khyentse Norbu and renowned neuroscientist Dr. Richard Davidson followed the world premiere of Looking for a Lady with Fangs and A Moustache as part of the Brainwave series at the Rubin Museum of Art.

Set and filmed on location in Kathmandu, Looking for a Lady with Fangs and a Moustache is an existential mystery drama that tells the story of Tenzin, a modern Tibetan entrepreneur, utterly skeptical of ancient, mystical beliefs, who is suddenly haunted by frightening dreams and hallucinations. A sage tells him these are omens of his imminent death. Tenzin has seven days to save his life, leading to an unconventional, sacred journey into feminine energy.

Following the film, Khyentse Norbu and neuroscientist Richard Davidson discussed the mindsets at play in the film from both a spiritual and scientific viewpoint.

About the Speakers

Khyentse Norbu, known in the Buddhist world as Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, brings a profound and subtle mastery and understanding of Buddhist philosophy and practice to his films. He studied and trained with some of the leading Tibetan Buddhist masters of the 20th century, graduated from secular schools in India and Europe, and teaches Buddhism on five continents. He is the author of several books on following the Buddhist path in the contemporary world, including the best-selling What Makes You Not a Buddhist.

Norbu also oversees the nonprofit organizations Siddhartha’s Intent, Khyentse Foundation, 84000, and Lotus Outreach, as well as contemporary teaching and practice centers in different parts of the world. He is responsible for the care and education of 1,600 monks in six monasteries and institutes in Asia and is head of Dzongsar Monastery and College in Tibet, Dzongsar Khyentse Institute in India, and Chökyi Gyatso Institute for Buddhist Studies in Bhutan.

Norbu’s first film, The Cup (1999), became an international sensation after its premiere screening at the Cannes Film Festival’s prestigious Director’s Fortnight, going on to win considerable acclaim and popularity. Travellers & Magicians (2003) was the first full-length feature film shot in Bhutan. It premiered at the Venice International Film Festival. Vara: A Blessing (2013), based on a short story by Bengali author Sunil Gangopadhyay and filmed in Sri Lanka, won the Best Feature Film award at the Tribeca Online Film Festival. Hema Hema: Sing Me a Song While I Wait (2016) marked a return to Bhutan, winning the audience choice award at the 2016 Golden Global Awards at the Malaysian International Film Festival and honorable mention at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival.

Richard J. Davidson, PhD, is the William James and Vilas Research Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry and Founder and Director of the Center for Healthy Minds, University of Wisconsin–Madison.

He received his PhD from Harvard University in psychology and has been at Wisconsin since 1984. His research is broadly focused on the neural bases of emotion and emotional style and methods to promote human flourishing including meditation and related contemplative practices.

Dr. Davidson has published more than 440 articles, chapters, and reviews and edited 14 books. He co-authored The Emotional Life of Your Brain with Sharon Begley and Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body with Daniel Goleman.

He is the recipient of many awards for his research including the William James Fellow Award from the American Psychological Society. He was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine in 2006. In 2017 he was elected to the National Academy of Medicine, and in 2018 appointed to the Governing Board of UNESCO’s Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP).

Dr. Davidson is on the Advisory Council of the Rubin Museum of Art.


Lead support for Brainwave is provided by Science Sandbox, an initiative of Simons Foundation, and by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Major support is provided by Gerry Ohrstrom with program support provided by Cheryl Henson.

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