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Theme: Fear

The protector deity Tara defends us from danger of all kinds, from elephants and ghosts to self-delusion and fear. Inspired by a thangka of Tara, Kimberly Brown discusses how to confront and master our fears and anxieties.

About the Mindfulness Meditation Podcast

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. The guided meditation begins at 18:27.

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

This program is presented in partnership with Sharon Salzberg, the Interdependence Project and Parabola Magazine.

Related Artwork

Tara Protecting from the Eight Fears; Kham Province, southeastern Tibet; late 19th
Tara Protecting from the Eight Fears; Kham Province, southeastern Tibet; late 19th”“early 20th century; pigments on cloth with silk brocade; Rubin Museum of Art; gift of Dr. Michael Henss, Zurich; C2014.8

Tara is the female embodiment of compassion and the great savioress of Tibetan Buddhism. While the ways she helps human beings are vast and varied, her primary activity is protecting humans from the Eight Fears, which are vividly illustrated in this painting. Unfolding amid a lush, hilly landscape, each vignette depicts Tara intervening and preventing an imminent tragedy. Clockwise from the upper-right corner, the perils Tara prevents are: elephant stampedes, bandits, drowning, false imprisonment, illness (represented by a rampaging demon), snakes, fires, and snow lions.

Though the Eight Fears have deep religious meaning, their more worldly manifestations are evidence of Tara’s universal accessibility as a savioress and her culturally specific powers as a Himalayan deity. Devotion to Tara is widespread in Tibet, and the presence of luxurious offerings and donor figures reveals that this painting is meant to ensure her protection.

Tantric Buddhism commonly presents an interpretive model having three and sometimes four levels of meaning: 1. Outer, 2. Inner, and 3. Secret. The outer meaning of the Eeight Ffears are exactly as described above: real threats experienced in ancient times and even now in the present day, which can harm a physical person in the material world. The inner meaning relates to passions, ego, and the negative emotional characteristics of the mental world. The secret meaning relates tohas to do with tantric techniques and philosophies to transform these negative mental states into enlightened Buddhist states.

About the Speaker

Kimberly Brown is the executive director of The Interdependence Project and a graduate of its Meditation Teacher Training Program. She leads mindfulness and compassion classes, workshops, and retreats for groups and individuals in New York City. Kim studies American and Tibetan Buddhism and practices loving kindness meditation. Her teaching methods integrate depth psychology, compassion training, and traditional Buddhist techniques as a means to help everyone reconnect to their inherent clarity and openness.

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