Monday, May 10, 2010
Avatar as Vehicle of Enlightenment
A comment by Gwyneth Llewelyn on "The Power of Name in Post-Pseudonymous Virtual Identity" revived my interest in the avatar as a vehicle of enlightenment. Here's my first post in what I hope will be a series of brief explorations:
The visceral experience of being embodied in an idealized form within a richly symbolic environment is a foundational Vajrayana Buddhist practice. During meditation, practitioners may visualize themselves as an enlightened being such as the Bodhisattva Tara represented in the image above. This allows an individual to make the perceptual leap to an enhanced recognition of their Buddha-nature and spontaneously transform harmful ingrained mental models.
An avatar-based three-dimensional virtual world has the potential to enhance and support visualization practice through a rich sensory environment. Although the images surrounding a deity in a thangka is painted in a two-dimensional form, the iconic representation is merely a mnemonic device to support what is ideally a deeply imagined three-dimensional visualization. I think that creating a virtual thangka with all of its rich detail would be an invaluable aid in visualization practice. I don't have the building chops at this time to pull that off, but would love to hear from interested builders and artists.
As a matter of fact, I think I'm going to create a two-dimension avatar thangka for my next post on this topic. Should be an interesting journey!