Are human beings hard-wired to be perpetually dissatisfied? It’s a provocative question – and one that was put recently to the author Robert Wright, who teaches about the place where religion meets evolutionary biology and religion. Wright’s answer? In a word, Yes. He says that because evolution rewards the pursuit of pleasure, human beings are almost hard-wired to be unsatisfied: "We are condemned,” he says, “to always want things to be a little different, always want a little more." Wright’s latest best-selling book, Why Buddhism is True, suggests that Buddhist practices can, in effect, rewire the brain, to overcome a host of anxieties and emotional pain that afflict so many people. "I think of mindfulness meditation as almost a rebellion against natural selection," says Wright. "And Buddhism says, 'We don't have to play this game.'"
It’s a fascinating book, a fascinating argument, and a fascinating nexus of neuroscience and ancient religious practice.
As part of the Asia Society “Buddhism and Beyond” season, join us for a special event with Robert Wright, in conversation with Juju Chang, ABC News Anchor.
Robert Wright is the New York Times best-selling author of Why Buddhism Is True, The Evolution of God, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Nonzero; The Moral Animal; and Three Scientists and Their Gods, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has taught at the University of Pennsylvania and at Princeton, where he also created the popular online course “Buddhism and Modern Psychology.” In 2009, Foreign Policy named him one of its Top 100 Global Thinker. He has written for a variety of publications, including The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Time, Slate, and The New Republic.
Juju Chang is an Emmy Award-winning co-anchor of ABC News “Nightline”. She has covered several high-profile stories, from interviewing transgender soldier Chelsea Manning to the Orlando nightclub and the Boston Marathon Bombing. She has also profiled newsmakers including Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, former Vice President Joe Biden and Oprah Winfrey. She joined ABC news in 1987 as a desk assistant and has since risen as a correspondent and anchor for the network. Chang graduated with honors from Stanford University with a B.A. in political science and communication. She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a founding board member of the Korean American Community Foundation
Nowruz, the Persian New Year, marks the beginning of spring. Discover the spirit of Nowruz with traditional music, dance and crafts from Central Asia and Iran.
Co-presented by Pardis for Children
The U.S. and North Korea have faced off in an uneasy truce since the end of the bitter Korean War that caused 1.2 million combat deaths.
Today, Kim Jong Un’s headlong pursuit of nuclear missiles capable of striking the continental U.S. has put him on a collision course with the U.S. and its allies, alienated China and frightened the world.
The Trump administration has sent mixed signals on negotiating with North Korea. In September, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. is exploring talks with Pyongyang, and in December, declared “we’re ready to talk any time North Korea would like to talk,” and “to have the first meeting without preconditions.” However, President Trump has questioned the value of negotiations, saying Tillerson is “wasting his time” exploring possible talks with North Korea.
Washington has never had formal diplomatic relations with Pyongyang. Occasional high-level visits -- by Secretary of State Madeline Albright in 2000, and former Presidents, Jimmy Carter in 1994 and 2010 and Bill Clinton in 2009 -- produced no lasting improvement in relations. South Korea’s sunshine policy -- a decade of economic engagement by successive progressive governments -- failed to achieve a lasting thaw in relations with Pyongyang. And most analysts are skeptical that the North-South “Olympic Talks” and joint women’s hockey team are harbingers of a diplomatic breakthrough on the nuclear issue.
In 1994, as tensions on the Korean Peninsula neared a crisis point, Robert Gallucci negotiated a landmark “Agreed Framework” deal with North Korea that halted its plutonium enrichment program and allowed U.N. inspectors into the country.
A decade later, after the revelation of a secret North Korean uranium-based nuclear program, Christopher Hill helped negotiate a Six-Party Joint Statement in 2005 that combined a North Korean commitment to abandon its nuclear program with an American security guarantee not to attack or invade North Korea.
Why did these deals not work out? What is it really like to negotiate with North Korea? Is diplomacy a viable option for dealing with a millennial dictator armed with nuclear weapons? How have recent nuclear negotiations, particularly those with Iran, impacted potential talks with North Korea?
Join us for a special program with two distinguished diplomats who have each negotiated key agreements with North Korea. The Asia Society Policy Institute is pleased to host a discussion with Ambassadors Robert Gallucci and Christopher Hill, moderated by Daniel Russel, who as President Obama’s Special Assistant for Asian Affairs and later Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia Pacific Affairs dealt extensively with the North Korea challenge. Based on their extensive firsthand experience, the panel will discuss lessons learned, and review the prospects and pitfalls of negotiating with North Korea in 2018.
Executive Editor of Foreign Affairs Daniel Kurtz-Phelan will be speaking about his new book, The China Mission: George Marshall’s Unfinished War, 1945-1947, which deals with the tumultuous aftermath of WWII, frantic U.S. engagement with China, and what led to the moment America “lost” the Middle Kingdom. He will be in conversation with Arthur Ross Director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations Orville Schell.
This exploration of one of the most devastating moments in U.S.-China relations comes at an urgent moment. Policymakers, the business community, and others both in the Unites States and elsewhere worry about deteriorating American resolve to uphold an international world order it has championed since WWII. These changes are occurring just as a more assertive China seeks to sell its own brand of authoritarian rule to a largely leaderless world.
This ember state is a voice and sound performance work created by Samita Sinha in collaboration with Dean Moss and Cenk Ergün. This ember state deconstructs Indian classical music using the myth of the self-immolating Hindu goddess Sati and the idea of dark matter. Moving fragments of tradition through voice and flesh, the work sculpts and dissolves forms at the physical and psychic border between inside and outside.
Composer and vocal artist Samita Sinha combines tradition and experiment to create sound and performance work that investigates the experience of being a body in the world, and psychic charges past and present. Cenk Ergün is a composer and improviser based in New York. His music has been described as "intense," "haunting," "ominously throbbing" (NY Times), "psychedelically meditative" (New Music Box), and as showing "conceptual rigor" (The Wire). Dean Moss is a choreographer and director who investigates the fluidity of self and perceptions of other through multidisciplinary performance collaborations.
This performance contains nudity and is not suitable for children.
This performance is presented in Asia Society’s Aron Gallery, an intimate setting with a maximum capacity of 25 people per performance on the following days:
Saturday, April 14, 7:30 pm
Sunday, April 15, 6:30 pm
Monday, April 16, 6:30 pm
Thursday, April 19, 7:30 pm
Saturday, April 21, 7:30 pm
Sunday, April 22, 6:30 pm
Keynote Address: Moving Borders: Tibet in Interaction with its Neighbors
Andrew Quintman, Yale University, gives the Keynote Address prior to a day-long symposium which will focus on the topic of the moving borders of the Tibetan cultural zone across the centuries, from the Imperial period to the present, including the Western exploration of Tibet.
The symposium will take place at Asia Society on Saturday, May 5, 2018 from 9:30am-6:00pm
Click here for further details and to reserve tickets.
In conjunction with the exhibition Unknown Tibet: Buddhist Paintings from the Tucci Expeditions on view through May 20, 2018