Thursday, October 16, 2008

If you see your avatar on the road, kill her.

Suffering happens in the gap between reality and our beliefs about what is (or should be) true -- what is true about the world, other people and ourselves. Our conception of Self is the delusion we cling to most tightly.

Constructing a pseudonymous online persona has the potential to give us a glimpse into the empty nature of atomic identity and free ourselves to some degree from erroneous attachment. Unfortunately, many of us become so deeply identified with and attached to a virtual identity that we end up suffering in two lives instead of one.

I certainly fall into that trap from time to time, so I want to share a remedy that can greatly reduce negative thoughts, actions and emotions related to attachment and identification with your virtual persona. Best of all, this process can positively transform your human life and help free you to some degree from the root cause of suffering.

I've organized this method into five steps. Many of you reading have already accomplished step one:
  1. Spend enough time in a virtual form to develop a distinct persona that you become strongly identified with;
  2. Notice stressful thoughts and feelings related to the belief that this persona is in some way who you are, not something you constructed;
  3. Take action to uncover the erroneous nature of such ideas through a practice such as Byron Katie's "The Work,"or analytic meditation;
  4. Begin to act in virtual life from the new, freer perspective you developed through your efforts in step three. This is an ongoing cycle of attaining some expanded level of realization through practice, going out into the virtual world and bumping into some deeper pain-producing identification, and then taking it back to your practice.
  5. Apply this experience in your human life.
If your virtual life is all good and does not conflict with your human life to any strong degree, then congratulations and please give us some tips on how you do it. But if your virtual life includes a fair amount of negative emotions within the virtual or physical worlds, why not give these steps a chance? Please let me know if you would like any additional information.


Anonymous said...

sounds good thanks for a solution. Maybe instead of step three I could put a sticky on my monitor reminding me I am not the cute wee avie I see before me. In Rl I use a touchstone of a moment in my life when I knew I was more than this. The remembering of that moment creates a tiny crack in the shell of beingness that constricts me.

All well and good but for me I can't get close enough to my strings of ownership cause I am too busy projecting them on to everyone else. My path requires I let you off the hook first before I van hope to release it in me.

Anonymous said...

Please excuse my long response.

Why do you think it’s so important to rid ourselves of suffering? Its purpose, spiritually speaking, has been experienced and personified in many of the great spiritual beings of all time. I'm not saying we SHOULD suffer, I'm saying we DO suffer and it has a purpose. Most often, a healthy form of suffering is inside a compassionate way of life. That is, doing things to help those that are suffering more than we are.

As far as having more than one persona, or some process that might project characteristics that we may not normally express; are really attempts at achieving that which we desire. Which ultimately is an experience of feeling connected? It is our Soul that is doing this. It’s not a persona, its not foreign, it’s not outside ourselves. An avatar might be some form of an outward LOOK of what 'that' is. But it is not us or who we are.

To utilize an avatar to express something we are not is not inherently a bad thing. It’s actual a tremendous opportunity to grow spiritually. In that, it frees us to be what we've often wished. But in RL, some form of moralistic code, spoken or not, inhibits this expression.

To try to stay on topic here. Anything we pursue in life has the potential to be obsessive. Obsession of any kind is where we fall. But, the falling may be necessary to help us find our way out of some 'dark phase' we might be going through. An avoidance of suffering is not the way out. You cannot have non-suffering if you don’t experience suffering and visa versa. Negative thoughts aren't necessarily BAD either. They just are what the are, just as positive thoughts are what they are.

Your first paragraph in your post suggests so many nebulous subjects, i.e.; reality, beliefs, truth and delusion. You’re lost before you begin you primary point. Any "attachment" to some persona outside ourselves is potentially a delusion and can be realized as obsession. Reality is relative to any state we are in at a given moment. Beliefs are just what they are and can be rooted in many sources. None of these represent TRUTH. Truth is a feeling deep down and only the individual knows what that is. Facts might be a factor, but ultimately it’s what we feel that has us take action or have a reaction.

The nature of being human is a natural process of reflection, observation and self-enquiry. Some are more conscious of it than others. As your attention or rather instead of looking through the "Lens", you are being the lens. Ultimately, the 'self' is unknowable. It’s inside of the unknown, or emptiness that we gain enlightenment. Most efforts in a search of who we are result in the opposite. The point is to allow these three things, I mentioned above, to take there course. We often do things to escape it, or our ego gets in the way. If we talk less, instead of trying to be a 'know it all' then this awareness increases. Also, it’s inside of not focusing so much on ourselves but focusing on others that support this natural process.

Moreover, there are two primary non-physical evolutionary experiences that really assist us in gaining enlightenment. One is the Soul, which is the part of us wanting/needing to feel connected and often downward into the dark. Then there is the Spirit, which is an upward movement, and a lofty focus. Finding a balance with each of these helps prevent obsession and fanaticism. Both of which are looked at by others as a 'problem' and rightfully so.

Your introduction to your subject or point went way over the heads of many, I am sure. I'm not trying to be negative, but it’s not about what you think, it’s more about speaking to the ears that are listening. You stand a greater chance of being understood this way. You’re obviously well educated. If I may deviate, slightly, from this topic, I've never liked the term AI (Artificial Intelligence). Reason being is that intelligence is most often thought of stemming from our education or book learning. To call that artificial, to me, makes it even sound less than its intended meaning. Perhaps this is due to it being a subject that’s on the scientific side of things. But, science is about attempting to prove something that can only be perceived by the five senses, eyes, ears, taste, touch and smelled. When really true wisdom is not learning from our own mistakes, it’s learning from the mistakes of others. And it’s not our job to say you’re stupid for doing this or that. It’s only, altruistically, our job to compassionately assist others where we can.

Gary Kohime

Botgirl Questi said...

sowa: The post-it is a great idea, although you have to remember to look at the sticky :) Another option is to run mindful clock in a background browser window. It repeats a chime at a user-selected interval. The MotivAider is a similar tool you can use to remind yourself to be mindful when you're away from the computer.

Botgirl Questi said...

gary: Thanks for sharing such a detailed expression of your perspective!

Thousands of texts have been written over the last couple thousand years on the subjects of suffering and the nature of self. There are many different points of view, even within a single religion such as Buddhism or Hinduism. So I realize that my take on things is very limited and that a few hundred words isn't enough room to clearly lay out even my wee understanding.

I suspect that regardless of our philosophical differences, we can probably agree on the worth of a "life examined." My suggestions were meant primarily to encourage self-reflection and mindfullness.

Siobhan said...

My virtual persona is old now... she has several names, but you know her as Siobhan Taylor, the SL avatar. This form is 8 years old, though the character is a lot older... about 22 years maybe... sometimes called Infinitas, or sometimes just unknown.

8 years ago I found SL and my virtual ID mapped itself to an avatar... nothing changed except name permanence... I guess ID. Funny that, thinking about it.

I am not a good one to talk about this, I get emo and I drink... BotGirl is better. But, I need you to know there is nothing less about me. My online identity predates the web.. and therefore predates google.

Who are they to tell me who I can be?

I am sure I have misspelled goggle too in my girlhood... so can I overturn Google's trademark through prior art? Wouldn't that be a thing... force them to change their name...

but my main reasoning to paost was an excuse to say...

If Buddha rides past you on a motorbike, repair it.

Cisop Sixpence said...

I couldn't kill my avatar. We have bonded and are best buds. She has taught me a lot that benefits me in real life. I've got her back, and she's got mine. ;)