On Wednesday Evening I had dinner at Cholo with Dafna Yachin, the director of Digital Dharma, the movie about E. Gene Smith‘s work. Cholo is an eclectic Indian restaurant on East 58th Street. To complete the Manhattan experience Woody Allan sat at the next table.
Thursday Morning I went to the MoMA – I am a member and go just about every time I am in New York – to see the Tim Burton exhibit, the Bauhaus exhibition, and a member-preview of a new Gabriel Orozco exhibit. All three exhibits were most captivating. Orozco seemed like an urban version of Andy Goldsworthy to me. Very mercurial, creative, working in sculpture, photography, video, installation, and drawing. If any of you visit the city in the coming weeks, the current exhibits are all fantastic.
In the afternoon I went to the gallery on the eighth floor of a building on 17th Street, one floor below TBRC. We checked sound and video. For this occasion I had put together a slideshow using only images from my 2006 Tibet journey.
Afterwards I was introduced to Gene Smith, upstairs. The work of TBRC is quite amazing. They scan every Tibetan book they can get their hands on, over a million pages so far. In a hundred years they hope to have everything available on the internet, translated into five or six different languages. Already a huge amount of material is available, albeit mostly in Tibetan.
Later, at the reception preceding the Digital Dharma movie previews, the speeches and my performance, I spoke to a man from TBRC about mind. Once we thought that the brain was mind. Plenty of sci-fi stories from the Fifties and Sixties described brains, separated from their bodies and kept alive in some kind of fluid, hooked up to speakers etc…. then we discovered that brain + body = mind (I wrote about the gut brain)… In my opinion eventually science will show that mind extends beyond our physical body. Mind is also a shared space, influenced by each person, and I think I should say by the bio-sphere, the landscape, the animals, the plants. Standing next to some people I can experience crystalline clarity and others just muck up every thought. Some landscapes inspire and others dull the mind. Once it becomes clear that mind is a shared space, we have nowhere to hide. Everything is interconnected. We know that. But how different it will be to eventually show how two people create a third space, the shared mind-space.
I am not sure I am very clear about this. I don’t mean that people can talk about something and arrive at a shared view. Talking about bicycling is still not moving. I mean actual brainwaves interweaving. Interesting patterns, I bet.
Here are some related links. This one is about Manhattan:
Worldchanging: Bright Green: Confirmed: New Yorkers Reap Health Benefits From Walking and Biking
The NYC Department of Health announced the results of a citywide survey today [PDF] assessing the health benefits of regular walking and biking. Based on telephone interviews with more than 10,000 New Yorkers, the health department reveals that people who incorporate walking and biking into their daily routine are significantly more likely to report good physical and mental health than those who don’t. The report concludes with recommendations to encourage walking and biking, including steps like building safer infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists.
The next link is interesting. I found it among Eric’s public Delicious Bookmarks. He remarked:
Buddha and these guys are saying the exact same thing, just in different language and context. And with a 2500-year gap between them. Also for the record, Buddha didn’t intend to start a religion – he just wanted people to meditate for their own happiness (and thus the happiness of all). Any Buddhist who considers his/her meditative practice “religious” is missing the point.
The last part of the quote I selected below is very interesting to me. It regards meditators being able to differentiate more easily between narrative and experiential information. I find that very important.
The neuroscience of mindfulness | Psychology Today
You can experience the world through your narrative circuitry, which will be useful for planning, goal setting, and strategizing. You can also experience the world more directly, which enables more sensory information to be perceived. Experiencing the world through the direct experience network allows you to get closer to the reality of any event. You perceive more information about events occurring around you, as well as more accurate information about these events. Noticing more real-time information makes you more flexible in how you respond to the world. You also become less imprisoned by the past, your habits, expectations or assumptions, and more able to respond to events as they unfold.
In the Farb experiment, people who regularly practiced noticing the narrative and direct experience paths, such as regular meditators, had stronger differentiation between the two paths. They knew which path they were on at any time, and could switch between them more easily. Whereas people who had not practiced noticing these paths were more likely to automatically take the narrative path.