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Theme: Courage

One of the most popular wrathful deities in the Himalayan Buddhist tradition, Mahakala stands in a warrior pose on top of the beloved Hindu deity Ganesha. He has six arms, blazing orange hair, and skirt of severed heads. With his six arms he holds a skull cup, a curved kartika knife, a trident, a noose, a damaru, and set of skull prayer beads. A wrathful deity, Mahakala is meant to be a wisdom protector helping maintain the Buddha’s teachings. The violent imagery used in this particular piece is a symbol for aggressively attacking one’s ego and the courage needed to undertake spiritual practice.

Image credit: Six-armed Mahakala Mongolia; 18th century Gilt copper alloy with semi-precious stones Rubin Museum of Art C2006.70.1a-f (HAR 65729)

Mindfulness Meditation Series

Himalayan practitioners have, for centuries, used meditation to quiet the mind, open the heart, calm the nervous system, and increase one’s ability to focus. Now, western scientists, business leaders, and the secular world have embraced meditation as a vital tool for brain health. Learn more

Presented in partnership with Sharon Salzberg, the New York Insight Meditation Center, and the Interdependence Project.

About the Speaker

“Each of us has a genuine capacity for love, forgiveness, wisdom and compassion. Meditation awakens these qualities so that we can discover for ourselves the unique happiness that is our birthright.”

–Sharon Salzberg

Sharon Salzberg, cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, has been a student of meditation since 1971, and guiding meditation retreats worldwide since 1974. Sharon’s latest book is Real Happiness At Work: Meditations for Accomplishment, Achievement, and Peace. She is weekly columnist forOn being, a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and is also the author of several other books including the New York Timesbest-seller, Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation: A 28-Day Program, Love Your Enemies, 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. This is her first formal meditation session at the museum. For more information, please visit