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Science and Meditation

Post-VR perceptual distortions and insight

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As VR headsets have started becoming more available, I've noticed reports coming in on regular users that their every day perception is being distorted as a result:

https://www.reddit.com/r/oculus/comments/5ic88l/didnt_think_this_would_happen_as_a_long_time_vr/
https://www.reddit.com/r/oculus/comments/5icqhn/guys_this_might_sound_weird_but_i_was_looking_at/

Common disturbances seem to include:
  • Sudden feeling that your hands are not yours, or are not real in some way after using the motion controllers with gesture recognition
  • Feeling like time is only moving when you are moving, and time slows down when you are still (after playing a game that uses this mechanic extensively in VR)
  • Feeling that you are moving at 2-3m intervals in a jerky motion rather than moving continuously (as many VR games use a 'teleport' mechanic to resolve motion sickness problems)
Now these are within the realm of strange experiences to be ignored in meditation but it makes me wonder, as the effects seem to be related to the content of the repeated experience, would it be possible to somehow induce perceptual distortions that may be useful for insight? Perhaps with the earlier insight stages to do with mind and body or perhaps even initial insights into not self. It may not be a good tool for experienced meditators, but perhaps it could be a tool for safely introducing beginners to altered mindstates in a semi-controlled way to develop equanimity and show the kind of thing the mind is capable of to spur interest in spiritual development.

Here's a video explaining the 'virtual body ownership illusion' and how to induce it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eDBZcpLwfo

This illusion essentially is creating a convincing enough representation of a body in the VR experience that for a while, in the right circumstances, your mind forgets about your 'real life' body and identifies with the VR body - could this illusion be used to show that the sense of self is made up of whatever prominent sensations are nearby and have attention and is not a fixed, single thing? I feel like VR is an interesting metaphor for samsara, and perhaps done in the right way could lead someone to direct insight.

RE: Post-VR perceptual distortions and insight
Answer
12/16/16 11:36 AM as a reply to Lewis James.
I had a similar epiphany about beings born into a realm and mistakenly identifying body and thoughts as self, when I first tried VR. 

RE: Post-VR perceptual distortions and insight
Answer
12/15/16 2:41 PM as a reply to Lewis James.
Some of those are real experiences I have had as parts of insight. Hands not yours, for example, maps nicely onto experiencing "non-doership", for example. Conceptually similar, but I don't have enough experience with today's VR to say if, when those experience occur, they are analogous to what I have seen.

If you could use VR to create the insight of non-doership I'd say that *might* be useful. Maybe. Problem is, I'm not sure insight caused by fundamental perspective shift that allows looking from OUTSIDE this perspective is in any way the same as a perspective change that is caused by conditions that exist INSIDE this perspective.

RE: Post-VR perceptual distortions and insight
Answer
12/17/16 1:27 PM as a reply to Lewis James.
A sin? Who is judging this sin? 

RE: Post-VR perceptual distortions and insight
Answer
12/17/16 4:43 PM as a reply to Edward Prunesquallor.
Edward Prunesquallor:
I had a similar epiphany about beings born into a realm and mistakenly identifying body and thoughts as self, when I first tried VR. 
Interesting! That's it really, I don't know that some kind of VR tech could give permanent insight, but it could possibly pose enough of a philosophical question to someone, experientially, to begin an interest in spiritual development. I would guess that most of us here weren't born into Buddhism or other contemplative traditions, our interest was sparked by some other thing that was weird or interesting enough that we started to question in our everyday experience and start trying to actively examine it.

Stirling Campbell:
Some of those are real experiences I have had as parts of insight. Hands not yours, for example, maps nicely onto experiencing "non-doership", for example. Conceptually similar, but I don't have enough experience with today's VR to say if, when those experience occur, they are analogous to what I have seen. 

If you could use VR to create the insight of non-doership I'd say that *might* be useful. Maybe. Problem is, I'm not sure insight caused by fundamental perspective shift that allows looking from OUTSIDE this perspective is in any way the same as a perspective change that is caused by conditions that exist INSIDE this perspective.
Yes - you may be right there. Did those partial insight experiences drive you on to eventually gain more complete insight? I just wonder if a carefully created, responsive application designed by knowledgable meditation teachers could give both initial glimpses of insight such as the above, giving motivation, and also good quality instructions for achieving actual insight without external conditions. Particularly with the emerging home EEG market, I feel those 'meditation headbands' are very gimmicky and unnecessary right now, but we may well find some very interesting advances in that kind of technology in the near future that could create more ideal teaching conditions for laypeople, particularly if they have limited access to teachers nearby. Your VR meditation teacher could, in effect, look into your mind and assess your state of calmness, concentration, sleepiness etc.

Rist Ei:
Going to buy a VR and use it is already a sin most likely, Why you buy it? Does normal computer games and effects not enough anymore?
Not all books are novels, and not all videos are for entertainment alone. VR may be most well known at the moment in the gaming market, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have other more useful applications. Hospitals have started using these headsets for surgeons examining brain scans, for example. I see your point, but I don't think investigation isn't warranted. There are billions of people out there who have no idea that liberation is even possible, or don't care because they've never so much as glimpsed it, so  if some new medium can inspire people towards it even slightly, it'd seem to be worthwhile.

Rist Ei:
The insights you get there really don't cause you to become more sensitive to the former things like plane old wooden boardgames or playin in a sand building castles with real sand.

Im not against VR, but is it to kill boredom then those guys are far from cultivating positive traits.

Aren't rollercoasters try to do same thing to induce you some feelings or disorient you someway or another?

Or when you drive with a car with high speed longer time then slowing down to lower speed it feels like so slow that i could step out of the car but in truth it is still fast.
When someone tries to design a rollercoaster that aims to aid insight, let me know. There may well be such a rollercoaster possible, but building rollercoasters has a lot of overhead compared to programming a machine. It's not really a fair comparison in any case, as above, VR isn't just for entertainment and shock.

Rist Ei:
Just you get thsose same stuff with VR more faster and effective? to me it is a failure from a beginning if you think the insights are tehre somehow relevant if you don't change your thinking to the base truth of dharma and what enlightenment is, fetters model etc.
That's true enough. VR could be a method of explaining and teaching those views though, this is the key thing here. Yes, there are weird perceptual tricks that can be played which are mildly amusing, but is it possible that there is a way to carefully craft certain types of these tricks, which along with careful instruction within the VR environment, could produce some form of insight? I don't think there's a way to say for certain either way, but it's an interesting prospect and I'm not sure you should shoot it down so quickly.

RE: Post-VR perceptual distortions and insight
Answer
12/17/16 5:07 PM as a reply to Stirling Campbell.
Stirling Campbell:
A sin? Who is judging this sin? 
you, you can't stop doing it. If you feel an urge to buy stuff it is too late for you, you will go to the opposite of qlimax bit by bit it will eat your soul, pure unsatifactory relived only by higher power, heaven who can remove it at your request.

so sinning less you will reach that state sooner, but for that to happen you actually need to see urge as it requiers definite sequence to go through, so there is.

i have read here some others see urges too. So they can tell you how real unsatisfactory is, you don't have to go search for it and it is not the ordinary teenage suffering or the anxiety before a job interview. Because urges aren't yours, so why you would want to follow them, are you a slave?

RE: Post-VR perceptual distortions and insight
Answer
12/19/16 1:25 PM as a reply to Banned For waht?.
Rist Ei:
Stirling Campbell:
A sin? Who is judging this sin? 
you, you can't stop doing it. If you feel an urge to buy stuff it is too late for you, you will go to the opposite of qlimax bit by bit it will eat your soul, pure unsatifactory relived only by higher power, heaven who can remove it at your request.

so sinning less you will reach that state sooner, but for that to happen you actually need to see urge as it requiers definite sequence to go through, so there is.

i have read here some others see urges too. So they can tell you how real unsatisfactory is, you don't have to go search for it and it is not the ordinary teenage suffering or the anxiety before a job interview. Because urges aren't yours, so why you would want to follow them, are you a slave?

I don't think anyone was discussing anything like that were they? In any case, couldn't someone buy something without attachment to that act? 

RE: Post-VR perceptual distortions and insight
Answer
12/20/16 6:24 AM as a reply to Banned For waht?.
I got some emails that some posts of random gibberish typing were made here, and your name has also been changed to a similar string of characters. I hope I haven't frustrated you with my hedonistic ways!

RE: Post-VR perceptual distortions and insight
Answer
12/20/16 7:13 AM as a reply to Lewis James.
I wanted to hide what i wrote, and didn't see initially that there is delete button so started filling them with random stuff and some with offencive language.
Total noob mistake. Didn't realized that everyone got mailnotifications.

So well anyway the point what i tried to made is in the philosophy range and in a language what is aquired. Sometime i have heard someone go philosphical in reallife and how the mesage feel is goodtasting, you can feel its juice.

Also to protect myself there is a jhana where you see a smile it can satisfy all you lower needs.