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Theme: Generosity

This thankga of the Buddha Shakyamuni is flanked by Manjushri and Maitreya, then further surrounded by the 16 great aharts. Farther out in the perimeter are cells depicting scenes of the Buddha’s previous lives before he attained his awakening. Known as the Jataka tales, these stories present the Bodhisattva in many different forms. Each one of these tails extolls a particular virtue that the Buddha perfected in order to become enlightened. Many Jataka tales focus on generosity, but one of the most powerful stories tells of how he found a starving tigress who was so hungry that she was on the verge of eating her cubs. In order to feed the tigress, he sacrificed his body by jumping off a cliff, letting the tigress feed on him instead of her cubs. The painting depicts this scene on the 2nd row from the bottom, in the fifth square from the left.

Image credit: Buddha Shakyamuni and Stories of his Previous Lives Tibet; mid-late 14th century Pigments on cloth Rubin Museum of Art Gift of Shelley and Donald Rubin C2003.50.4 (HAR 230)

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