Virtual Zen?

I’m used to being marketed to on Facebook based on some of my stated preferences. (Shame on me for handing over so much info about myself. I removed much of it, but apparently Facebook still has it on file, and it still informs which ads show up on my profile page.) Some of the Buddhist-related items that show up there have actually been interesting. But this latest one is, to me, laughably absurd.

Some outfit called Second Life has created a virtual world that users can log into and apparently live out a completely different life on line, in idealized settings with other users, in idealized virtual bodies. And they appear to have created virtual houses of worship and contemplation for every denomination imaginable.

The pictures of the virtual zendo look like Zen Mountain Monastery on steroids. And it’s advertised as if it were an actual, physical place to go for meditation, Buddhist discussions, even — get this — tai chi.

Now some may say this is a perfect example of the illusion of life. Not me. My approach to Zen has always been to remove the delusion of separateness so I can better be in the world. I won’t deny that some online resources have been beneficial, like ZMM’s Cybermonk and various discussion forums, but this Second Life thing just seems so antithetical to Zen practice. It’s just one more way to run away from, rather than run to, one’s life.

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