Some argue that the strongest thing in the world must be unyielding. When they say so, they’re perhaps indicating a solid object. But, haven’t we already heard of the phrase “faith can move mountains”?

To conjecture that the strength of some good old fashioned faith tops that of everything else is quite right. Also, we know that religion directly contributes to the advance of faith (more or less).

So, how would a virtual reality enthusiast feel if they heard that VR is actually helping promote a particular religion? Imagining VR influencing the strongest thing that binds every human together is a tad unreal of itself!

Religion And VR

Buddhism, as we know, is a more liberal religion than others. It’s more focused on allowing the preachers to attain inner peace and freedom from suffering. It requires an ability to visualize differently which demands concentration (or Samadhi, as it’s known in Pali Canon) rather than wisdom.

Now, VR has a reputation of being great with the dreamers. We all know Inception was just a movie that loosely (in fact, VERY loosely) toyed with the idea of another reality. That’s sort of a given when we talk of VR, isn’t it? It’s in the name!

There’s how people sort of made a connection between VR and Buddhism. You see, VR is quite like lucid dreaming (as confirmed by sleep science researchers). This information was extremely vital for ensuring that VR can find its way into Buddhism.

So, it started. The Buddhism and Technology conference in Shanghai introduced people to VR games that actually stimulate the idea of simulation.

The Virtual Enlightenment

The creator of SoundSelf, one of the many games available for consumer sampling at the Buddhism and Technology Conference, Robin Arnott implies that he created the simulation to allow people to terminate mental process and also acknowledge them (quite cheeky, isn’t it?).

SoundSelf replicates shapes in the simulated reality which can be controlled by the user’s voice. So, singing, chanting and speaking causes the shapes to grow, change and move. It’s not only aesthetically pleasing but also, because plunging into VR is quite easy, SoundSelf is like a practice visualization process which is required in meditation.

Other games available for tryouts also engaged the user’s body as a medium of expression. This particular trance requires the active participation of your body (so, know you know what Arnott meant by shutdown of mental processes!).

VR’s For The Wise

Buddhist teacher Andrew Holecek thinks that a proper measure of lucid dreaming and VR when blended together can help one discover wisdom! He envisions that someday VR will act as a learning aid for all those interested in dream yoga so that users can learn to wake up easily and meditate in their dreams as well.

Moreover, Holecek isn’t the “mad scientist” in this aspect. MIT researchers believe that virtual reality can become the forefront for teaching mindfulness (which, in Buddhism, means total awareness without judgment or interference).

Well, the rate at which VR is expanding, who knows, maybe wisdom is approaching near by the minute!


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