Buddhist “Teraverse” Under Development for Forthcoming Metaverse

Buddhist “Teraverse” Under Development for Forthcoming Metaverse

Teraverse, a project based at Kyoto University’s Institute for the Future of Human Society (IFOHS), aims to bring Buddhism to the forthcoming “metaverse,” an initiative heralded by Mark Zuckerberg of Meta Platforms (formerly Facebook Inc.) as the future of the internet. The Teraverse project will bring Buddhist art, philosophy, ritual, and practice to a globally available online community in the metaverse.

Associate professor of Buddhist Studies and Tibetan Studies at Kyoto University, Seiji Kumagai explained: “With the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukrainian-Russian war, more and more people are feeling the pressure of the real world.” He noted that the Buddhist metaverse was aimed at offering “new ways to blend traditional knowledge and science. As an option in today’s diversified society, we hope they can bring understanding and enjoyment to people, creating new vitality and hope, and building a more vibrant society.” (Sora News 24)

:anjal:

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Perhaps they should call it the Theraverse

But I’ll stick with reality, thank you very much

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HA. I am with you.

I refuse to even put on a VR headset … I don’t care how cool they may be, and I do enjoy some tech, but I cannot be seen in one of those things. The metaverse sounds like hell to me. The psychological toll these technologies take is so apparent at this point, they are literally “hacks” for the human mind, and it is truly scary to imagine the future.

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Interesting and worth trying out before one decides if it can be incorporated into ordinary practice.

Thanks for posting, Lucas :heart:

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looks like a new samsara…

but SuttaCentral and this forum is already in a virtual environment…

it’s just a new version of the virtual environment

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Yes. You are right. But, this is just like the old argument that the printing press, the phone, the TV, and now “social media and apps” will change society in some major way, or that it will take time for an adjustment to happen, and we just haven’t adjusted properly to things like the metaverse, etc.

Let us just be frank, the printing press, phone, tv … they do not involve algorithms that are designed to hack human brain functions, for example forcing the activation of dopamine reward systems in essentially endless feedback loops–like instagram. The printing press for example was not designed to manipulate the minds of readers in some high-tech way that utilizes professional psychologists, computers, and other tools to actually manipulate the minds of the masses all with the intention of moving either narratives or products.

This website has no “addictive” features or features that are built in to get you to buy things, subscribe to things, vote a particular way, or believe a particular news story. So there really is no comparsion of SC with predatory apps and future “worlds” like this Teraverse or Zuck’s metaverse.

It is cute, but it is dangerous.

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Thanks for sharing. The way Dhamma is taught changes as it confronts different cultures, and based on the technology available. It is impossible to know if this particular technology will or won’t be a helpful tool in advance. But I think it is great to experiment with new technology. Look at how much Zoom use for Dhamma talks and meditation groups increased during COVID. And now Zoom has become an ongoing method of communicating with Buddhists around the world.

I look forward to seeing how this works out.

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seems interesting…

but I think the Buddha with artificial intelligence is an exaggeration

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Probably and hopefully haha :rofl:

I dunno, still not as good as this classic.

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:rofl: what a gem you shared.

Maaannn, I just cannot see this as a good idea. If they want more of the youth to get into buddhism, I think the solution is to just show them the transformative practices of buddhism as they are.

From what I notice, a lot of kids all over the planet other than apparently Japan are increasingly getting interested in Buddhism for this exact reason. I don’t think using metaverse (eyuck) is a good idea to get them more into it, that to me would just be more isolating.

Buddhism is a precious jewel because it has answers to almost anything you could ask. It’s like a marvelous radio manual, it gives details for everything. I think the best part of that being it’s transformative practices.

I feel like if Buddhism isn’t doing well in Japan, then young people aren’t getting out of it what they’re supposed to be. It’s an error on part of the temples, not the dhamma.

I mean, Bhante Yuttadhammo did some great teaching on Second Life back in the day…

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Interesting. The acquisition and implementation of knowledge intersects practices and builds upon the senses to include the mind, consciousness, and forms. Can the metaverse expand on the sensory exploration of the dharma or will it reduce it to crude digital artifacts that deconstruct investigation and understanding of the whole?

The metaverse may represent a multimodal platform for integrating forms, senses, and communities. It may also proliferate their fragmentation. The sangha will remain central to cultivating wisdom and using the platform skillfully.

On its own the metaverse merely represents digital artifacts that can readily be navigated independently within a prespecified container. The contents of that container evolve continuously, often as a result of contributions from the users who have different goals. What arises from engagement of the platform (wisdom, ignorance, ambivalence) is managed through code, automation, design artifacts, and other users.

Marketing for the platform is surely to confuse the technology with the wisdom and insights that come from investigating the dharma and engaging the sangha. The digital platform is a technology stack, and not a spiritual stack. It can be designed skillfully and help clarify one’s understanding or it can be a sensory distraction without sufficient guidance to cultivate wisdom.

These digital tools are another (possibly static) means to investigating the dharma but do not replace close supervision and mentoring. They may in fact become a barrier to sustained practice, attention, and the cultivation of wisdom. Hindrances may proliferate. The technology, their design, and current trends of adoption remain immature. The platform’s design will unintentionally influence what is brought to mind (quality issues, inaccessible content, etc.). The point of concentration. Not a trivial issue.

It will be interesting to see how these tools may influence the future of buddhism, spirituality, and practice. Teraverse, as a learning management system, faces the constraints of other LMS technologies. Considerable funding will be required to transform the use of these technologies to something that qualitatively engages practitioners.

A few technical considerations that are handled easily through human interaction but require considerable technical expertise and design considerations:
Infomation Architecture
User Experience
Workflows
Navigation/Individualized
Administration/Help Desk
Quality Control/Information
Content Management
Account Management
Personas/User Stories/Skill-Practice Levels
Testing/Metrics/Feedback mechanisms
Storage
Security/ Access Management
SEO/Content Optimization
Chatrooms/Categories
Video
Infographics/Images
Documents/Files
VR Devices
LMS tools++

Facebook navigation and recommendation algorithms have recently come to light as emphasizing frustration and hate. Whereas the dharma depends on algorithms that emphasize compassion, equanimity, and mindfulness. An issue comes to mind of how to reconcile these conflicts, skillfully, and without considerable distraction.

The complexity of the above technical specifications is significantly more than the requirements built into the design of sutta central and the dhamappada taxonomies. This is more than just text, and needs to engage all the senses if investigation is to mirror every day in person experience. A reliance on text and crude VR cartoons will likely be insufficient, for most audiences. Funds spent designing and managing the platform will have clear opportunity costs.

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I am inclined to think of mainstream mindfulness apps without the sangha or the dharma. Useful tools if used wisely, but otherwise crude and oversimplified. One tool in the toolbox.

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I’ve been running dharma classes in VR for over a year. Would love to see many of you there. It is in VRChat in the shoshin temple.

You can also see the videos of the classes here:

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Also, this is the first time I’ve shared these classes here.

I would love to hear what you find most helpful, and any thing else you think I should include or change that would be more helpful for the people.

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Nice!

you are already in the future!

Impressive. Looks like fun. I only had a chance to look at one video, but saw you had 4-5 people in the class asking questions. I’m wondering how a VR persona influences investigation of non-self and emptiness?

I would be interested in seeing more of your VR sangha. Looks pretty cool. I found a few sites that may be referring to it, most seem to be in beta?
https://arca.live/b/vrchat/46836607