Every culture around the world has their own beliefs around what happens to us after we die, and virtual reality may be a great medium to explore all of these different rituals and mythologies. The Tibetan Book of the Dead contains descriptions of the various bardo states that the Tibetans believe our consciousness experiences after we die. NYU instructor John Benton created a Bardo Thogul VR prototype in collaboration with his Tibetan Buddhism teacher as well as with two students from Columbia University’s Spirituality Mind Body Institute, Devorah Medwin & Lia Walton.
Benton’s prototype experience premiered at The Art of Dying VR art show that happened in San Francisco in October 2016. I had a chance to catch up with him to talk about how training for the afterlife in VR, visualizing Buddhist metaphysics, Eastern philosophical perspectives on the malleability of reality, and how VR can be used as a gym to train your awareness to be more potent, available, and present to our every day reality.
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