I’m curious as to whether you’ve tried VR personally? In any case you’re not the only one with that opinion. Some people (e.g. @Andrew) have opined that VR could either help liberate people or draw them further into samsaric delusion, depending on how it’s approached.
You may be interested in the interview Andrew did with Joran Quaglia: The Exciting Future of VR, “Virtual Lucidity”, why Deepak Chopra said VR will “Change the World” and Much More! | Interview with Jordan Quaglia
In this interview Andrew talks to the cognitive neuroscientist Jordan Quaglia about their joint study on the relationship of virtual reality to lucid dreaming.
They discuss the exciting future of VR, as well as the many concerns. VR is like a stem cell, which can grow into healthy tissue (all the psychological and spiritual benefits) or a tumor (pornography and raw entertainment). VR, like lucid dreaming, can be used to develop empathy via virtual embodiment and also help us prepare for death via virtual disembodiment.
Andrew and Jordan talk about the phenomenology of non-lucidity, and how we love to be “captured” and swept away by outer displays like movies and VR, as well as the inner display of the mind itself.
They introduce the concept of “virtual lucidity” and its relationship to dream lucidity, and discuss exciting future directions for research. Plus, discover why Deepak Chopra said after his first VR experience, “This is going to change the world.” It’s all here and more!
Quaglia and Holecek coauthored a paper on Lucid Virtual Dreaming: Antecedents and Consequents of
Virtual Lucidity during Virtual Threat
Here we report the first empirical findings on virtual lucidity (VL),
a new construct similar to lucidity during dreaming, but regarding
awareness that one is having a virtual experience. VL concerns the
depth and breadth of this awareness, as well as the extent it affords
regulatory monitoring and control. To study VL, we adapted a
measure from lucid dreaming research to assess whether more VL
predicted lower fear, but not less enjoyment, during a virtual reality
(VR) threat scenario of walking, and being asked to step off, a
wooden plank seemingly high above a city. We examined
predictors of VL and related outcomes across a community sample
and lucid dream trainees at a meditation retreat center. In line with
hypotheses, higher VL predicted less fear, more enjoyment, and
greater likelihood of stepping off the plank. Moreover, a number of
dispositional factors predicted greater VL and lower fear. Lucid
dream retreatants, engaged in a contemplative practice called
illusory form yoga, experienced more VL and less fear compared
to nonretreatants, with marginally higher likelihood of stepping off
the plank. Finally, VL mediated all significant relations between
predictors and outcomes. Results held controlling for presence or
fear of heights. We discuss the potential validity and utility of VL,
its relation to presence, and examples of how it may inform the
development and application of VR and related technologies.
<LINK TO COMPLETE PAPER>
The article Is Virtual Reality Getting Too Real?: As VR technology takes the world by storm, two Buddhist teachers and a cognitive neuroscientist debate its spiritual potential and shortcomings. A conversation with Andrew Holecek, Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel, and Jordan Quaglia, edited by Julia Hirsch may also be of interest
Andrew Holecek (AH): Like any technology, virtual reality is neutral in and of itself and depends entirely on how it is harnessed. I like to think of VR as a kind of stem cell. Depending on what type of environment it develops in, it’ll either grow into a tumor or healthy, new tissue.
As we know, VR is already being used in unhealthy ways. The entertainment and pornography industries are running with it, and Facebook recently invested $2 billion in Oculus, one of the hottest tech companies in the field today.
From a pedagogical view, virtual reality has a lot to offer. When it comes to how we absorb and remember information, the education researcher Edgar Dale has said that we retain roughly 10 percent of what we read; 20 percent of what we hear; 30 percent of what we see; and up to 90 percent of what we do .
There is a strong relationship between virtual reality and lucid dreaming, which is when you realize you are dreaming as it’s happening. It’s a fundamental Buddhist teaching that we have a delusional experience of the world around us, and to study the nighttime dream is to look head-on at a delusion inside of that even larger delusion.
In these vivid 3D systems, you begin to see the dream-like nature of alternate realities and can start to break them down. By extension, we can train ourselves to de-reify this reality. To borrow the language of dream yoga—the practice of using sleeping hours for spiritual development—you can bring insights of lucidity back into the primary delusion, back into this .
When I first did VR, the most transformative and lingering aspect came when I removed the headset. I looked around and thought to myself, Wow, look at the resolution here. What a remarkable app design this is . When the headset comes off, you realize how hung up you get in the “display.”
<LINK TO COMPLETE INTERVIEW>
Anyway, I’m off to the Sundance New Frontier [VR/AR] festival, which has some very interesting pieces scheduled this year.