Virtual reality and Dharma, many doubts about what to do

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
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Alvinetleschipmunks3
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Virtual reality and Dharma, many doubts about what to do

Post by Alvinetleschipmunks3 »

Hi everyone,

I used to pass the last years in a state of spiritual fight with the modern world. Technology is now everywhere and everything is changing, it is fascinating but also extremely scary. I see myself and other people changing more and more everyday with the advancement of new tech and i am not optimistic about any real good result for our mental and physical health.

The internet is basically a place where ego and intellectual mind are strengthen and it drains a lot of energy. There are many many things to say about that but i will now discuss specifically the subject of virtual reality.

Virtual reality is growing and becomes more and more popular and powerful, and one day or another we will see no more differences between reality and virtuality in everyday life. Also, life and love/sex with robots/cyborgs is the future of humanity. You know what i mean.
I wonder if all these social and spiritual changes are good or bad for people who want to live in harmony with the ancient teachings of buddhism, mahamudra, dzogchen etc.
We have been not prepared for such changes and incredible technology. Buddha and other teachers never spoke about such things. We have to be honest with that. The prophecies of the ancients don't talk about anything like that. There is only the Bible who talks about something like that in the Revelation but we can't even be sure.

I used to be very anti technology and wanted to live out of this kind of society for keeping purity of mind. I used sometimes technology for a while and finally quit for another period when i was bored or affraid of addiction. It has been a vicious circle of periods of addiction and total renouncement for the last years. I fighted litteraly against the spell of computers, phones, tv, games etc

But now i tend to have a new view about that. I was thinking about the fact that resistence is a kind of suffering and is finally useless with cosmic changes. I am interested by taoism and to live in harmony with the Tao is to go with the flow. Today the flow lead us to a technological and intellectual world and searching to escape that is resistence and suffering. There are many cosmic and celestial influences who want these changes (big magnetic planets like Neptune influence the spiritual atmosphere of our world) and to go against these changes is to take many risks. It seems even dangerous. But in the same time this new world of technology is scary...

I wonder everyday how great ancient taoist, mahamudra or dzogchen masters could live in such a modern society. We can think that to accept everything and going with the flow, losing all sense of difference between nature and virtuality is the solution but what if we are finally lost into a trap of demons and non-enlightened beings who want to enslave us in a lower state of consciousness through all this technology ?

I am afraid and don't know what to think and what to do about that. It is morally very painful to be lost like that. It can makes me cry. Not just for me but for all humanity. We live an incredibly hard world change, it is not easy to adapt ourselves.

Please comment and share your feelings about that.

Thanks.
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Dechen Norbu
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Re: Virtual reality and Dharma, many doubts about what to do

Post by Dechen Norbu »

It's a matter of balance. You can use technology without getting hooked. It's only a problem when you lose your mental health and become paranoid about such things. Sure, all this new technollogy is alluring, but hardly becomes a problem unless there's some pre-existent condition left unchecked. It's meant to help (and make profit too, but that's not always incompatible). If people are balanced, it improves their lives. I think things like famine, poverty, war, racism (xxxism) are way more problematic. Don't stress over that. If you do, perhaps you should do a check up to see if everything is fine with your health.
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Virgo
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Re: Virtual reality and Dharma, many doubts about what to do

Post by Virgo »

Alvinetleschipmunks3 wrote:
I wonder everyday how great ancient taoist, mahamudra or dzogchen masters could live in such a modern society. We can think that to accept everything and going with the flow, losing all sense of difference between nature and virtuality is the solution but what if we are finally lost into a trap of demons and non-enlightened beings who want to enslave us in a lower state of consciousness through all this technology ?
...
Thanks.
actually I think you are making a big deal out of nothing.

Kevin
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Virgo
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Re: Virtual reality and Dharma, many doubts about what to do

Post by Virgo »

Dechen Norbu wrote:It's a matter of balance. You can use technology without getting hooked. It's only a problem when you lose your mental health and become paranoid about such things. Sure, all this new technollogy is alluring, but hardly becomes a problem unless there's some pre-existent condition left unchecked. It's meant to help (and make profit too, but that's not always incompatible). If people are balanced, it improves their lives. I think things like famine, poverty, war, racism (xxxism) are way more problematic. Don't stress over that. If you do, perhaps you should do a check up to see if everything is fine with your health.
I think he is just holding some strong ideas about renunciation that may or may not be accurate or helpful.

Kevin
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Wayfarer
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Re: Virtual reality and Dharma, many doubts about what to do

Post by Wayfarer »

Alvinetleschipmunks3 wrote:I am afraid and don't know what to think and what to do about that. It is morally very painful to be lost like that. It can makes me cry. Not just for me but for all humanity. We live an incredibly hard world change, it is not easy to adapt ourselves.
Agree. Unlike the above, I think it's a big deal. But if you recognise it's a problem then at least you're aware of the dangers, when so many are not. There are already big social problems around many kinds of internet behaviours involving sexuality, child-grooming, child porn, internet infidelity, and other forms of cyber-sexual activity. Many men are realising that it is a slippery slope that leads to debilitating habits which undermine basic morality. But even if they know it, the pull can be irresistible.

I think internet technology can be used for good purposes but one has to be ever mindful of the traps and dangers also. Perhaps a good approach is to try and limit internet activities to certain times of day. Make use of internet products like OpenDNS that provided protection against phishing, spamming, porn and so on. Try and avoid getting drawn into flame wars and useless debates. And keep a lot of practical interests away from the screen.

Also, be aware that commenting the dangers of the internet on a forum is a little like commenting on the dangers of alchohol in a pub. :smile:
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi
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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Virtual reality and Dharma, many doubts about what to do

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

I actually feel very similarly in some ways, but I think you need to check yourself a bit.

Technologies can't be separate from the the Karma that spawns them, in this case a belief in materialism, and consumerism..which is also a kind of materialism.

Technology can change as people's attitudes towards it change, which IMO will come one day as we see the results of environmental devastation, confusion, lack of personal freedom, etc. as a result of our insatiable desire for new and pleasant experiences, and our desire to monitor and control everything. Like the Devas at the end of their life span, our skin will start to get old, we will lose our beauty..and we will fall to the lower realms. It's outside our paygrade for this lifetime I think though, all we can do is practice as best we can. One fringe benefit is that technology enables one to take Buddhist teachings that one would otherwise be unable to attend.

So, it's clear that this technology CAN be used (and in fact IS used) for very meritorious things sometimes, it's just that in it's present form it is mostly designed to titillate, control, and to make money off the titillation and control. If/when people get more of a clue, technology can be different.

On a personal level, just manage your own relationship with it as well as you can. You can also support groups like the EFF, EPIC, and the ACLU to some degree, who are trying to create a legal framework for some aspects of technology. In other areas there are groups doing positive things with technology, perhaps those are worth looking into. Privacy actually plays into this question quite a bit, because the people who design technology today don't want you to have any, because it's part of their business model that you don't. That means less control for users, and more control for giant multinationals in terms of what you can see, create, and access. The present result of this is social media platforms that limit scope and content of talk, advertising being beamed at us nonstop, isolation, etc. So it's not so much only the technology, as the philosophy behind it.

I have not tried virtual reality headsets... but as someone who grew up playing games, and occasionally still does, I can say that I will be surprised if it is anything more than a continuation of what's already been here for a while. You can ask anyone who has ever been addicted to an online game, visuals don't necessarily have to do with how "real" it feels, or the reactions it provokes. Some of the most addicting games of all time have been visually pretty blah..so again, you have to peek under the hood a bit to understand how and why something is addictive or dangerous.

Also: take one day a week off from technology, it is worth it.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low
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Tsongkhapafan
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Re: Virtual reality and Dharma, many doubts about what to do

Post by Tsongkhapafan »

I think the question is, can technology be of spiritual benefit? if not, the it would be right to abandon it but we couldn't be having this conversation without it. If technology helps us to develop our Buddhanature then it's a good thing, but if it hinders because it causes delusions to increase, then it's harmful. It depends on our intention and what we are using it for. Regarding virtual reality, I think we are already removed from reality because of our delusions so this is not such a good development, but perhaps there are ways in which it could help our spiritual life.

My feeling is that it can be either helpful or a hinderance depending on our mind.
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Virgo
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Re: Virtual reality and Dharma, many doubts about what to do

Post by Virgo »

What about life support. Is that evil?

Kevin
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Virtual reality and Dharma, many doubts about what to do

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

this discussion is happening on computers linked through the www
EMPTIFUL.
An inward outlook develops outward insight.
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Grigoris
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Re: Virtual reality and Dharma, many doubts about what to do

Post by Grigoris »

Well, realistically speaking, all reality of virtual as long as we are clouded by ignorance, so...

I believe that of one can overcome ignorance then the idea of virtual vs real loses it's significance.

So why not focus on practicing for enlightenment (and quit worrying about things) and develop a serious tool to deal with "reality"?
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
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Karinos
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Re: Virtual reality and Dharma, many doubts about what to do

Post by Karinos »

I think well done 3D or virtual visualisation support for some tantric sadhanas can be of huge benefit for practitioners. Instead of spending hours explaining and memorizing details of mandalas, one can be hooked up to such virtual display and have a "tour" inside. We've already saw some attempts in building 3D models of mandala palaces. But there is still place for more improvements.
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Re: Virtual reality and Dharma, many doubts about what to do

Post by muni »

Hi ! :smile:

It is dependent on ourselves whether we are conditioned by technology or it is a helpful source. It can be great to actually look better to each other and so work on patience, care and discover the reason why the Buddha taught at least 84000 methods ( but much more as this is actually a way of expressing only is there told) to cure as many as that confusions. We obviously all see a bit different world.

We can feel the heartless cold technology, or see the possibility to continue to practice along it, that depends on ourselves. Masters as well can reach people, guide to learn to look within like Buddha did and therefore not looking out to find a solution for our conditioned life into the pc, as it can also be we look on the pc to run away from our painful conditioned self, just like we do in games, tv. And also children should more play away from the pc...

I understand you somehow, as I often am surprised by the kindness I see in people when you just go on the road, plane or wherever. People offering help with luggage, people showing the way, people caring about their fellows around them very much. This can also along technology, but it offers no hands to help and comfort, it offers no warm voice and no smile.

I finally again think, it is upon us, what we do with it and how it is for us.

But good to notice! :smile:
Monk0054
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Re: Virtual reality and Dharma, many doubts about what to do

Post by Monk0054 »

Does anyone have any VR helmet?
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PuerAzaelis
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Re: Virtual reality and Dharma, many doubts about what to do

Post by PuerAzaelis »

Yes, unfortunately I am unable to take it off.
Generally, enjoyment of speech is the gateway to poor [results]. So it becomes the foundation for generating all negative emotional states. Jampel Pawo, The Certainty of the Diamond Mind

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