Message Boards Message Boards

Science and Meditation

Virtual Reality Application for Self Realization

I've been exploring VR as a way to teach emptiness meditation. VR is especially good at making use of our spatial awareness systems. Awareness of space is heavily emphasized in Dzogchen meditations. There are now room-scale VR headsets like the HTC Vive which track your location in space. You can easily manipulate the sense of space in these environments. 

It could be a very effective way to teach emptiness of self and form through guided meditations that play with the visual and somato-sensory systems. Through a guided audio/visual meditation we could explore the non-inherent existence of objects in the virtual world. We can then apply that to the self.  Olaf Blanke's lab is working on some really interesting VR stuff where they can induce out-of-body experiences through VR. The emptiness of time, is another thing I think can be explored through VR. Time dilation is very evident in VR in very immersive experiences. 

I believe that emptiness of time, space, and self can be pointed to through VR. I'm just starting out on building a VR application to do this type of pointing out. Anyone else have thoughts on this?

RE: Virtual Reality Application for Self Realization
Answer
6/23/16 12:49 PM as a reply to Lincoln Nguyen.
Regard this phantom world,
as a star at dawn, a bubble in a stream,
a flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
a flickering lamp – a phantom – and a dream.”
~Vairacche dika 32; Diamond Sutra

since everything is but an apparition,
perfect in being what it is,
having nothing to do with good or bad,
acceptance or rejection,
you might as well burst out laughing!
~Longchepa

RE: Virtual Reality Application for Self Realization
Answer
6/23/16 3:27 PM as a reply to Lincoln Nguyen.
This shit is cool as fuck.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYkWghdLNJM

Makes me wonder what the reasonable limits of current biometrics are. I'm sure a brainwave scanning add-on wouldn't be too hard for any of these HMDs. Also, a heartrate reader and a more complete breath detector that covers the whole torso. A VR environment or game that uses all these biometrics somehow would have a lot of potential.

I recall Jaron Lanier (VR OG) saying that using VR tends to cause people to notice the constancy between different VRs: the sense of observer/self. This leads me to wonder whether any of the logic behind dream yoga practices could be applied to contemplative VR.

I've only seen projects working towards the mundane aspects of meditation: calm, concentration. Going directly for insight is more exciting. One idea that pops up for me is Dreamwalker's method of "unfixating" the visual field, in a sense. That would be easy.

Btw, do you have any more names or links?

RE: Virtual Reality Application for Self Realization
Answer
6/23/16 6:06 PM as a reply to Lincoln Nguyen.
I believe that emptiness of time, space, and self can be pointed to through VR. 

Of course it can - VR is like anything else, an object, or series of objects, that has the same characteristics as all other objects. It is through the deep exploration of objects that we find emptiness.


emoticon

RE: Virtual Reality Application for Self Realization
Answer
6/24/16 1:30 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
I believe that emptiness of time, space, and self can be pointed to through VR. 

Of course it can - VR is like anything else, an object, or series of objects, that has the same characteristics as all other objects. It is through the deep exploration of objects that we find emptiness.


emoticon

We can find all of that in the current VR, it's true.

RE: Virtual Reality Application for Self Realization
Answer
6/24/16 1:42 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
I believe that emptiness of time, space, and self can be pointed to through VR. 

Of course it can - VR is like anything else, an object, or series of objects, that has the same characteristics as all other objects. It is through the deep exploration of objects that we find emptiness.


emoticon

Yes, yes. All objects are empty.. I'm talking about using VR as a way to point out emptiness by ways of analogy through audio/visual cues. Imagine a scene where we can teach the non-inherent existence of objects, by having people try to find the "thingness" of a giant apple. We rotate the apple, change its color, distort it's shape. 

What about a simulated death experience? Imagine someone having a clearlight experience after simulating a death. We could do some type of bardo yoga. Im sure there are tons of moral, ethical, psychological barriers to doing this. 

RE: Virtual Reality Application for Self Realization
Answer
6/24/16 5:31 PM as a reply to Lincoln Nguyen.
Yes, yes. All objects are empty.. I'm talking about using VR as a way to point out emptiness by ways of analogy through audio/visual cues. Imagine a scene where we can teach the non-inherent existence of objects, by having people try to find the "thingness" of a giant apple. We rotate the apple, change its color, distort it's shape. 


So are you trying to invoke the intellectual experience of emptiness... or? I don't think what you're describing about the apple being used in VR quite gets at the core of emptiness (pun intended). That comes from understanding at a deeper, visceral level how the process of perception works, and that the apple is a mind-created object whatever it's shape, size, color or other attributes, "real" or in VR.

Maybe I'm wrong - can you convince me?

RE: Virtual Reality Application for Self Realization
Answer
6/29/16 11:03 PM as a reply to Lincoln Nguyen.
VR terminology seems like a mess given that scientists keep saying we already have a biological VR. Someone needs to sort that out. I think the world isn't ready for terming day-to-day reality as virtual in normal speech. The term VR seems to, even further, cement in place the convention that our perceptual world is real - and once the money really starts to come in on the tech then it's going to be harder to change.
So what should it really be - Super-virtual ? Supra-virtual ? Extra-virtual ? Meta-virtual ? Tech-virtual ? Sumfing like dat ? emoticon

What would happen if you wear a VR set from birth, and read a VR neuroscience textbook saying that reality is a construction of the brain, but you cannot see the brain anymore, and don't know what it is ?

RE: Virtual Reality Application for Self Realization
Answer
6/30/16 3:38 AM as a reply to Lincoln Nguyen.
I tried the Oculus Rift prototype a few years back. Using the device just for 10 minutes and then taking it off was enough for me to get a deep sense (deeper than usual) that this "normal" everyday reality is also a simulation. A simulation with no one perceiving it, perception is the simulation. I've had those shifts in perception with ganja and mushrooms before (I don't recommend trying them necessarily) so that's probably a big factor in my case. I don't know how to induce it in other people with no prior glimpses into emptiness of phenomena. And I don't know if it's necessary even. I'd play around with the vr stuff just for my own fun, and people who are interested in it and understand the implications could try it out if they feel like it.

RE: Virtual Reality Application for Self Realization
Answer
6/30/16 10:18 AM as a reply to Robert.
If someone wanted to show how the mind creates "reality" then a full immersion experience that shows "change blindness" , optical illusions,  selective attention, etc. would be very mind blowing.

RE: Virtual Reality Application for Self Realization
Answer
7/1/16 11:28 AM as a reply to shargrol.
I think VR can be useful and can point to various aspects of experience. I'm skeptical that VR experiences can lead to path-like realizations, which I assume is obvious from my previous posts. One of my sons has a prototype Oculus Rift and I've used it pretty expensively. My conclusion from those times is that one just knows while using it that one is using VR. It's just not realistic enough (yet?) to invoke the same experiences that non-VR (otherwise known as "real") experiences invoke.

YMMV, of course.

RE: Virtual Reality Application for Self Realization
Answer
7/7/16 2:48 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Yes, yes. All objects are empty.. I'm talking about using VR as a way to point out emptiness by ways of analogy through audio/visual cues. Imagine a scene where we can teach the non-inherent existence of objects, by having people try to find the "thingness" of a giant apple. We rotate the apple, change its color, distort it's shape. 


So are you trying to invoke the intellectual experience of emptiness... or? I don't think what you're describing about the apple being used in VR quite gets at the core of emptiness (pun intended). That comes from understanding at a deeper, visceral level how the process of perception works, and that the apple is a mind-created object whatever it's shape, size, color or other attributes, "real" or in VR.

Maybe I'm wrong - can you convince me?
I'm talking about doing an analytical meditation of emptiness. In Tibetan Buddhism, there is the Sevenfold Reasoning on Selflessness. We examine the designation of an "apple" to an assembly of it's parts. In the traditional example, Chandrakirti uses a chariot:
  1. There is no chariot which is other than its parts
  2. There is no chariot which is the same as its parts
  3. There is no chariot which possesses its parts
  4. There is no chariot which depends on its parts
  5. There is no chariot upon which the parts depend
  6. There is no chariot which is the collection of its parts
  7. There is no chariot which is the shape of its parts