I think there's a lot of potential for VR for meditation- particularly for inter... | by Nick



about 1 month ago

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I think there's a lot of potential for VR for meditation- particularly for intermediate meditators. By controlling visual and audio sense doors it can provide a laboratory for sensory experimentation. There's nothing magic about having your eyes closed that makes meditation work

Meditation broadly falls into two things: shamatha (concentration) and insight practices. Shamatha is like sharpening your knife before cooking, it quiets and sharpens your mind so you can use it to investigate reality better. Insight is investigating sensory experience

For shamatha, you need a concentration object. We often use breath, but in some ways it's a weird choice. Most Westerners aren't closely in touch with their body, and fixing this is quite reasonably part of what they want out of meditators. Often easier to start with visual field

As EEGs get better you could wear it while you do shamatha practice. As you get concentration the visual field could change in some way. Sort of like the muse headset (which emits audio), except connecting the concentration object (visual field) with what's changing (also visual)

Once you've built up concentration power then you can use it to investigate reality. This often looks like noting things that arise in experience. VR could control this by making objects show up at a certain frequency. You could track the frequency you can keep up with over time

Most of the parts of reality you want to investigate relate to attention, and specifically breaking watching the steps the aperture mechanic that are normally too fast to see (tanha, dukkha), some of which surprisingly and notable lead to ~all the suffering in our lives

Tanha is related to "craving". Maybe you could flash a neutral object (a chair) and watch how your attention reacts, then flash a hot person or money or something else that causes craving, and you can watch how your attention responds

Typically when looking for say tanha, it can be useful to imagine things and experiment that way. But it might be that VR speeds up this process dramatically, and we look back at using imagination for this as a stone aged tool

Another useful example would be studying say 3d audio. By the time you're hearing sound, it's already in your awareness. Most people feel like there's "an arrow" of attention going from their head to the speaker, but there's not, the sound is arising in awareness fully formed

Your mind is doing fancy math to map the sound to a 3d space. There's no delay from when something first arises in awareness and when "you hear it". It's hard to talk about, which is typically a barrier to teaching it, but it could be easily turned into a VR laboratory experiment

Lots of other experiments could be done too, which could conceivably speed up the meditative path quite a bit

Another obvious insight practice that could help is self-inquiry, making the whole environment something neutral (eg a garden or something) then asking for "where is your self". In some sense this is giving a pseudo-jhana-7. And might speed up stream entry

We must build the gigakasina t.co/DyY0kpUfMp

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