Karma At The Rubin

This fall The Rubin Museum of Art is educating patrons about karma though a series of discussions and films. It's a flashy buzzword these days, but its intricacies are ancient and complicated. The series is cleverly structured to help the audience navigate what can be complex material.

Talks are conversations between an expert and an interesting—often famous— second participant. However, not all the experts are experts in karma, or the actions that affect our conditions. For example, the series featured talks with film makers Noah Hutton and Jonathan Demme. Coming up is playwright David Hare paired with novelist Michael Cunningham (11/4). Still, there’s ample opportunity to learn about karma from Buddhist scholars and teachers including Sharon Salzberg, George Dryfus, and Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel.

YogaCity NYC’s Megan Mook caught up with Tim McHenry, Director of Programs and Engagement at The Rubin, to find out more about both the complexities of karma and The Rubin’s broader mission.

Megan Mook: Why karma? Does this stem from a personal interest, or you did feel there was something in the air?

Tim McHenry: Oh, there’s definitely something in the air! The responsibility we share to bring about collective change is pressing, especially concerning the environment. With the Paris meeting at the end of November, there's an increased awareness in the environment just now. It’s possible to link this awareness to something particularly prevalent in Buddhist culture, which is karma. The Rubin’s role is to speak about what’s relevant today, specifically issues that affect us all, and then help to uncover the principles behind the theory.

MM: In the description on The Rubin’s website, it says that many cultures equate karma with destiny. Can you explain?