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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 20:00.

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

This program is supported in part by the Hemera Foundation with thanks to our presenting partners Sharon Salzberg, the Interdependence Project and Parabola Magazine.

Related Artwork
Butter Lamp; 18th century; Metal, silver; Rubin Museum; of Art Gift of Ralph Redford; C2008.27 (HAR 57010)
Butter Lamp; 18th century; Metal, silver; Rubin Museum; of Art Gift of Ralph Redford; C2008.27 (HAR 57010)
Theme: Ritual

Rituals can serve as powerful vehicles for us to connect to others. Using Himalayan butter lamps as starting point, this episode of our Mindfulness Meditation podcast with Sharon Salzberg continues to explore the role of ritual in a mindfulness practice.

This Week’s Work of Art

Butter lamps are essential ritual objects in Tibetan Buddhist temples and monasteries.

Although these lamps traditionally burned clarified yak butter, Buddhists now use ghee or vegetable oil. By providing lamp oil or offering lamps themselves, pilgrims gain merit, which serves them in their quest for enlightenment. Burning the oil creates light and illumination, which also translates to the search for enlightenment. Light symbolizes the awakened mind, as light combats the darkness of mental obscurations. Butter lamps remove the darkness of ignorance in the quest to attain wisdom.

This butter lamp is currently in the Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room at the Rubin.

About the Speaker

Sharon Salzberg, cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, has guided meditation retreats worldwide since 1974. Sharon’s latest books are Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connections and Real Happiness at Work: Meditations for Accomplishment, Achievement, and Peace. She is a weekly columnist for On Being, a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, and the author of several other books including the New York Times best-seller Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation, 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.