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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2012 3:37 pm 
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Last year I read Tom Boellstorff's book _Coming of Age in Second Life_, which tries to describe what happens to human relations when mediated through certain kinds of technology. He takes Second Life as an environment in which to do ethnography, and there's a way in which he's definitely Gone Native: he finds it useful because it gives people a chance to explore sides of their personality in a way that feels real and is meaningful, but is different from or alternative to one's meat-world life (a woman wants try living as a man or as a raccoon, for instance).

I spent an hour poking around on second life and found some Buddhist spots. Here's one.

http://kannonjiretreat.com/about-kannonji

I'm trying to figure out of this follows the pattern I described above: is this a virtual space in which someone can explore life as a Buddhist, much as one might try life as a furry, as a dom or a sub, or what have you? Or...

***

This is going to come up eventually, so I might as well vaccinate the thread with it:

Dwight wrote:
Second Life is not a game. It is a multi-user, virtual environment. It doesn't have points or scores. It doesn't have winners or losers.


Jim wrote:
Oh, it has losers.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2012 3:44 pm 
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Part of being a Buddhist has to do with dropping all the roles (something that usually is difficult to achieve outside retreat conditions).
As a taste, perhaps Second life or forums like this can have a sort of utility. As a taste, I think. More than that, I really don't think so.


PS- A woman living as a raccoon? How crazy is that? :rolling:


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2012 3:50 pm 
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Yes. People who are into it take their fursonas really, really seriously.

http://en.wikifur.com/wiki/Fursona

I'm wondering if or to what extent online Buddhist activities are analogous to that. Just speculating. You're correct on the dropping-all-roles and seeing through all pretenses front, which would put conventional Second Life roleplay activities in direct contradiction.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2012 3:56 pm 
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This is from the Kannonji second life blog thing:

Quote:
Zen is not a belief system as we might understand it. One needn’t reject professed religious leanings in order to benefit from the practice of meditation at all. Sitting quietly in reflection is something anyone can do, allowing the one meditating to see the nature of their own thoughts and desires without feeling a need to identify with them or follow them blindly. Zen meditation, also known as zazen, is a simple body practice that allows us to see the world more clearly, without the DVD commentary imposed on us by our monkey mind.

What does any of this have to do with Buddhism in virtual reality? I’m sure some of you might be wondering about that. If, as has been argued, meditation is above all else a body practice, how then can having a pixelated version of ourselves sitting down on a meditation cushion that exists only on a computer monitor be of any real benefit to people? It’s an important question. The short answer is community. We invite people from all over the world to come take a moment out of their day to sit with others, all in an atmosphere that helps symbolize what we’re all doing at that moment in our homes.


The bolded bit is the counterargument to my speculation above. This is intended as a way to build community among isolated meditators. There must be value in that if it works.

You can deduce what sort of practice is promoted in this context: meditation, Zen, and Buddhism are conflated as identical.

Quote:
We even have a Christian church located on the sim inspired by the Christian contemplative and monastic traditions, traditions which have meditation exercises similar to those found in Buddhism

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2012 4:17 pm 
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I'm not very sure if meditating together has much value. If they gathered to discuss subjects, it would seem more appropriate. There are a lot of things people can do together, but meditation doesn't seem to be one of them, at least with a significant value. Chanting, making offerings and other more ritualistic practices, plus debating subjects and so on is fine, but meditation? An "atmosphere" suitable to meditation? Silence and a cushion to the point where not even these are needed is all the atmosphere we need. Otherwise when we lack all those conditions, what will we do? We should get rid of that, not cultivating it. I think people risk basing their practice in artificialities, if you get my meaning. Plus, it may lead these fellows to postpone their trip to a real sangha with all the interaction it entails.

If they met for discussion and then did a session, it would seem cool. Just meeting to do some meditation seems a bit worthless. I guess it boils down to individual preferences. If that is what makes them sit...


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2012 4:21 pm 
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There is also the Buddha Center in SL:

http://www.thebuddhacenter.org/

I have flew into their virtual temple a few times - interesting place, but its mostly quiet. I have never been there during one of their talks/sermons, so maybe there is greater participation at those times.

I think besides the sense of community and camaraderie that can result from a successful SL group, one benefits of a virtual 3D community is on visualization work - creating 3D mandalas and maybe even transforming one's avatar into a tantric deific form during sadhanas or practice workshops. Of course, this would require rather sophisticated knowledge in working with the 3D engine.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2012 4:40 pm 
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I think if it gets people to practice (or practice more, or practice more completely...), then some good must come of it.

More specifically, who is involved in leading and running the Kannonji site? It appears this person is (see link below) but who else?

http://sweepingzen.com/2010/02/08/jiun- ... interview/

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2012 4:58 pm 
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Second Life... reminds me of one of the funniest episodes of The Office (short clips):







:rolling:


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2012 6:05 pm 
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Ah you already mentioned The Office Jikan (so you definitely called it on that one); :emb: I initially read your first post only down to somewhere between the Kannonji link and the three asterisks. :lol:


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 7:19 am 
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Can you go around punching people?


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 8:39 am 
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Nighthawk wrote:
Can you go around punching people?


Yeah, but weapons are better!

Your Avatar enters your personal Mandala and then you have to accumulate things called 'Merits' by harvesting 'Jhanas' from the Forest People's huts.

You can then exchange these for your weapons.

My favourite is the 'Bhumi Gun' which you can use to blast the Demons, but you can't get a 'Vajrabolt' unless you trade in ten 'Bhumi Guns' - then you get a bonus Rainbow Body and get to sleep with anyone - even the Goddesses!

:rolling: :crazy:

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 9:40 am 
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That makes grand theft auto look like a kid's game.

Sign me up! :rolling:


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 3:34 pm 
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Lhug-Pa wrote:
Ah you already mentioned The Office Jikan (so you definitely called it on that one); :emb: I initially read your first post only down to somewhere between the Kannonji link and the three asterisks. :lol:


:twothumbsup:

Even though this is a fairly light-hearted thread so far, I do hold out some optimism that online media can be a means to make some kind of auspicious connection to the teaching, to stabilize practice for those who are isolated geographically, and so on. Not sure Second Life is the right medium though...

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 4:34 pm 
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Blue Garuda wrote:
Nighthawk wrote:
Can you go around punching people?


Yeah, but weapons are better!

Your Avatar enters your personal Mandala and then you have to accumulate things called 'Merits' by harvesting 'Jhanas' from the Forest People's huts.

You can then exchange these for your weapons.

My favourite is the 'Bhumi Gun' which you can use to blast the Demons, but you can't get a 'Vajrabolt' unless you trade in ten 'Bhumi Guns' - then you get a bonus Rainbow Body and get to sleep with anyone - even the Goddesses!

:rolling: :crazy:

:rolling:
This is so good!


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 10:46 pm 
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I tried Second Life for a couple of months, and ironic to the OP my SL character was a Buddhist monk. Quite simply, I thought about ordaining when I was 20, decided against it, so the SL gave me an opportunity to indulge the fantasy. I found almost 30 temples or Dharma centers, and it was fun to linger there. I even attended some of the Dharma talks. Ultimately I concluded that my time was better served attending Dharma talks in the real world, so I pulled the pulled the plug on the experiment.

I also had a second character, who was a porn star. I think that is a good metaphor for the problem with SL as a substitute for anything in the First Life, it's an environment where "anything goes".


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 9:40 pm 
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You can do some interesting things in some games. Take World of Warcraft for instance. I once decided to experiment by create a female character. I very quickly found out how different life can be. Using a very attractive character model, and choosing the most revealing armor available, I found myself with many friends, all of them very kind and considerate and willing to do almost anything asked of them, if they didn't volunteer help unasked. I got so much help I was progressing in the game at twice the normal rate.

Well, I thought, what would happen if.... I made a female dwarf character? The female dwarf model in the game is heavy-built, coarse-featured and the more aged versions are just plain ugly. I put some nerdy looking hairstyle on her, and chose skin tones as dark as possible. I then ventured out into the World of Warcraft and found the world had changed. When I spoke, it wasnt that nobody listened - they didn't even HEAR me. If they did notice me, my suggestions were always shot down, no one ever had time to team up with me, and no help of any kind was ever offered. I really felt that everyone just wanted me to go away, despite the fact that I was a highly skilled player, was in-game wealthy and could be of great benefit to anyone who was willing to play with me.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 9:45 pm 
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Welcome to my world... :smile:


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