Spiritual events in NYC: Buddhism, art, yoga and more
Recharge your spiritual batteries with our Zen guide, featuring our pick of enlightening events in NYC.
Wed Oct 2 2013
We love the socks off our crazy city, but sometimes New York gets a little—well, crazy. For those seeking serenity in Gotham, we’ve gathered together the best spiritual events in NYC. Massage your mind at an exhibition of Thich Nhat Hanh's calligraphy, or watch celebrities grapple with the big philosophical questions in conversation at the Rubin Museum. If you’re trying to kick-start a meditation practice, the city’s top teachers are only a click away. Get busy, people! Just do it calmly.
Most of us have a friend who’s fond of posting spiritual tidbits on social media, and more than likely yours has quoted the Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh a few times. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967 by Martin Luther King Jr., whom he urged to denounce the war in Vietnam, and has been praised by the Dalai Lama himself. This exhibition hosted by Blue Cliff Monastery and ABC Home comprises 88 pieces of calligraphy, composed by the lifelong peace activist and renowned speaker at his hermitage in France. The phrases are written in English: “No mud, no lotus,” reads one. “Breathe, you are alive,” reads another. The exhibition is showing at Deepak Chopra’s community space at ABC Carpet & Home—bringing the message to the shopping masses.
- Price band: 2/4
- Critics choice
The Rubin Museum of Art launches its latest series of talks inspired by Buddhist thinking, and this time the subject is ignorance. As ever, the program features some very starry guests in conversation with renowned scientists and thinkers: Nov 12 features Neil LaBute chatting with Alec Baldwin ("Ignorance in the Information Age"); Nov 15 finds Neil Gaiman talking to Laurie Anderson; and Dec 16 has the author A.M. Homes discussing faith with Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum. See Film for the Rubin's Cabaret Cinema listings, and Music for its Naked Soul concerts, also tied to this theme. Full schedule at rmanyc.org/ignorance.
- Price band: 1/4
- Critics choice
Prayer beads come in a wide variety of sizes and materials, but some of the strands on show here are unbeatably strange. One set, made from the vertebrae of a snake, was likely used in Himalayan shamanic rituals. Another is made from a human skull and was probably employed in wrathful tantric practices. Taken as a whole, though, this exhibition gives essential and visually lovely insight into the ritual use of these unusual pieces.
While we can’t promise you David Bowie and Sir Didymus, this walkable labyrinth does offer you the chance to get truly centered (rather than completely lost). While we tend to think of labyrinths as elaborate follies created by very rich people, these mazes have been used as meditative tools for thousands of years. The indoor marble creation at Marble Collegiate Church (itself established in the 17th century) echoes a medieval design found in the Chartres Cathedral in France. Walking the route, you’re instructed to clear your mind and focus on your breath; the center is a place of meditation and, if you like, prayer. The church has some pretty stunning stained glass windows too, perfect for reflection of all sorts. Call ahead to confirm.
- Fifth Ave, (at 29th St)
If you’re constantly being told to chill out, it may be time to check out this Park Slope meditation haven. Whether you’re simply curious about the practice or are a lifelong Buddhist, the BZC aims to accommodate you in its community, offering daily meditation meetings (zazen), stacks of courses covering the basics of Zen Buddhism and practical workshops. The center also hosts concerts in addition to classes and talks.
- 505 Carroll St, (between Third and Fourth Aves)
- Price band: 1/4
This meditational mainstay was founded in NYC in 1971 by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche—the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader who revolutionized the way Buddhist meditation was taught in the ’70s in the West. Besides running meditation classes on every level, the center has a positively enlightening talks program, the Tuesday Weekly Dharma Gathering (“Queer Dharma,” “Sex, Love, and Compassion”), and guest speakers include the spiritually starry likes of Pema Chödrön.
- 118 W 22nd St, sixth floor, (between Sixth and Seventh Aves)
An eight-foot golden statue of the Buddha glows in the center of the meditation room at Kadampa Meditation Center, a serene space in Chelsea. Originally founded in 1994 by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, the studio was first located in a graffiti-covered dance studio, two blocks away from its present home, which opened in 2012. Besides daily meditation classes (it only costs $4 for a spot at lunchtime), the center offers a variety of retreats and courses with such promising titles as "How to Have a Wonderful Life," plus a Sunday session for children called "Dharma for Kids."
- 127 W 24th Street, (between Sixth and Seventh Aves), 10011
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