Karma Chain

April 30, 2011 | The High Line, north of The Standard, New York City | New York

With Salman Rushdie and Lama Pema Wangdak

Presented in partnership with Friends of the High Line and the Rubin Museum of Art

In Buddhism, Karma is the collective effect of an individual’s actions in forming his or her destiny in the next life. But are words actions? What are the consequences of linguistic actions? And how do words travel and mutate as they pass from on person to the next? Pema Wangdak, a Tibetan lama, explores these ideas by uttering a sutra—an aphorism—into the ear of one person who relayed the sutra to another and another on down a chain of people extending over the length of three city blocks. The message migrates as in a game of telephone until it reached the chair and founder of the PEN World Voices Festival, the venerable Salman Rushdie. Rushdie then relays the original precept and its reinterpretation to the crowd and on Twitter.

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