Virtual Reality Training 2002

Below is an article from 2002 on the topic of Virtual Reality Training. It was tempting to update the article to reflect current games and even remove the typos. But, I figure any positive gain in grammar would be more than offset by the negative of losing the original flavor of the piece.

So here’s the problem.

When you’re in the unbridled states of the bardos you are free, totally free to be who you are, to run the race guided by nothing more than you in the highest — without change, unedited, you without the plain brown wrapper, nothing more nothing less.

You will move through the bardos unshackled by anything other than your own body of habits. That’s either the good news or the bad news depending upon the work you have or have not done.

In thermodynamics ‘work’ is a measure of change — specifically force over distance. Hence pushing on a brick wall or other stationary object does no work. Or, introducing a slightly different analogy, pushing a car with the emergency brake firmly locked in place may tire one out and make for a lively look of trying — it does not, however, accomplish any work. And, furthermore, pushing alternately from the front then the back of the car might move it a few feet this way and that — still no real work is done.

To move a stalled automobile any significant distance requires first releasing the emergency brake, second picking a strategy (such as pushing from the rear of the car), third sticking with that strategy, and final forth a lot of pushing.

Work on Self is not work on personality, nor it is work on appearance, or work on any number of worldly attributes we may wish to change in vain attempts to make our lives slightly less painful. You know the kinds of things that fit this category — virtually everything that every self-improvement guru throughout the industry promises. And, don’t kid yourself it is an industry. They are packaging promises for sale to an eager audience desperately looking for some way to quiet the unease we each live with.

This lack of quiet is caused by many things serving many different masters. For example, each of us are slaves in varying degrees to the master known as genetics. Our genes have been programmed with a “hell bent for leather” desire to spread our genetic make-up throughout time and space. Thus giving rise to a profound unease anytime we are not spreading — so to speak. This small but mighty voice yelling up to us from the depth of our genetic code keeps repeating the same commanding mantrum: procreate, procreate, procreate.

There are other voices. Voices driven by the demands of the body cells for nutriment, water, salt, air, sugars, proteins, and a good proper frothed cappuccino. In addition, our heritage as members of a social order divided into families and tribes has generated other equally compelling voices yelling at us to socialize. Evolutionarily speaking we have programmed into us the importance to survival of friends and social standing. Hence part of the choral cacophony of voices are screaming about making friends, submitting to bullies and every other basic social form held necessary for enhancement of the all important need to survive and procreate.

As a being living within a human biological machine we have the possibility of something more. That doesn’t mean we can turn-off the basic voices associated with life as a human. But is does mean we have the chance to listen for and learn to discern voices coming from our essential self and with proper training awaken the machine rendering its power over us mute.

What do these higher voices want? You can bet they are not involved with weight, fashion, or social status. And, you can be equally assured the higher voices have no interest in climbing watch towers with high-powered sniper rifles or putting on new tennis shoes and stuffing our pockets with rolls of quarters.

The needs and wishes of this essential self would mathematically speaking be involved in subjects outside the domain of mind, body, space and time. Since the essential self has existence beyond the limitations of creation.

What are those wishes? This question whether we realize it or not carries the implication that there is one answer to this question applicable to all. While it may be that we each share common wishes, even those coming from our deepest self, let’s still take it as a homework assignment for independent study to explore what these wishes might be for each of us individually.

Yes, it is a good idea to read up on what others have to say on this issue. Just allow yourself the possibility that your true answer may not necessarily be equal to those you read about.

This is not the kind of test where one can sneak into the Dean’s office and grab a peek at the answer sheet. This is more like the kind of test that hardens and tempers the tool by the testing.

But enough said about things we shall choose not to discuss. What about those issues we fully intend to explore? Referring back to the analogy of pushing a car, we’ve already admitted we shall not be addressing the issue of the emergency brake. We’ve just finished disclaiming any intention on our part to assign direction. Hence we are left with a situation in which it is presumed the emergency brake is released and a direction to push is already designated, leaving us with two points: how to push in a consistent direction and the every famous “pushing, pushing, pushing.” Did we remember to add “pushing?”

There are many traditions and many answer to the above two issues. Everything from Yoga to shamanism to esoteric Christianity back to Zen with bridge and scrabble thrown in for good measure.

Throughout history any time an essential self has managed to break the deafening identification with the machine sufficiently to hear the quiet inner voices a struggle for liberation has ensued.

Thousands of books have been written on the subject from antiquity to present. Do yourself a favor and become at least passingly familiar with the literature.

That said, it is important to underscore an opportunity which presents itself through the guise of these pages before you, that is VRT Virtual Reality Training.

VRT, as a discipline, is unique to this time and place. At present, and we don’t know for how long, we have an intersection of several things:

  1. computer technology which makes virtual environments possible
  2. the relative degree of religious freedom necessary for the tolerance of VRT,
  3. a limited freedom from the yoke of working to support oneself and family.

All of these requirements for VRT are fortunate accidents not guaranteed. Some of us, not all, have access to them today, with no promise of continued availability in the future.

If the millennium bug had lived up to its promotion, we would have been resigned to banging rocks together not pounding away on keyboards. Give the conservative right a little more power and we may not have the religious freedom to pursue alternative forms of religious practice. And if the current depression gets much worse we may be struggling night and day just to buy a potato for the family soup. Thus leaving fancy computers in the family room a thing of the past.

Yes, there is work that can be accomplished by banging rocks together, hiding out from religious persecution in the few moments between scrambling for a living. But hey, you can find those work conditions during thousands and thousands of years of human history. Incarnate into almost any era and you’ll find oppression, crushing poverty, and a distinct lack of computers.

But since you’ve obviously made the decision to incarnate into one of the few periods of human history on the solar moon Earth offering Virtual Reality Training (VRT), why not take advantage of it?

Which brings us once, and hopefully finally, onto the topic of VRT — Virtual Reality Training.

What is Virtual Reality Training? First let’s establish that it is not gaming nor it it playing — playful perhaps, playing never, not in the colloquial sense of the word. In the local vernacular playing implies a lack of discipline and a lack of aims outside the demands of the game. Gaming typically means an action in place of or instead of “for reals.” As in “it was just a game it wasn’t for reals, it doesn’t count.”

VRT is a training with definite goals and aims and is definitely not pretend — it counts, maybe far more than any of us care to admit. Where else do we have access to deep level training with such ready access and individual control?

“Repetition is the doorway to change.” — EJ Gold

Computers lend themselves to repetition. In fact, if computers had a middle name repetition could well be it. Give a computer a task then ask that computer to repeat that task and it will happily proceed without complaint or tiring forever if need be.

Imagine a situation where you’d like to experience the thrill of popping champagne cork. An odd situation admittedly, but, imagine it any way. Well, if you try this in real life you would soon either run out of unopened champagne bottles or money. In virtual reality there is no such limitation. Virtual champagne bottles come in limitless quantity and they don’t cost a dime. Problem solved, you can now experience popping champagne corks to your hears content. “But, it’s not the same as in real life” you may plaintively wail.

Wail away, plaintive or not you’d be correct, but off the mark. You’d be correct that it is not the same, off the mark in the respect that not being like the real experience is a good thing not a bad thing.

One of the many advantages of VRT is the cartoon quality of the environment. It helps to remove some of the overwhelming identification. When programmers come up with a gaming engine that is just as realistic as “real life” how will we avoid the same profound identification we experience in “real life?” We’d be back to square one in the same old fix. In fact, how do we know programmers have not come up with a game just as good as “real life?” Maybe they did and we are no struggling to liberate ourselves from a video game… spooky music rises in the background and goose bumps rise on the back of the neck, wooooooo. Maybe so….

No problem. If we can learn to deal with identification in one modality then we can learn to deal with identification in another. The lessons learned within one is applicable to another. By the way, identification, in moderation, is your ally. Without some identification where would you be? Floating around formless and void that’s where. And how can you effect change from there? Until someone comes up with an answer to that 64 trillion year question let’s keep working on how to effect change from within creation. And more specifically from within a Virtual Reality Trainer.

Assuming you have made the intention to engage VRT, how to proceed? Fortunately you are not the first. This is not uncharted waters. As a seasoned veteran it is possible to say without equivocation “Start at the beginning” “Jump in and get your feet wet” “The journey of ten thousand steps begins with a single step.”

Yeah, but is it best to start with the right foot or the left foot. Hey this is VR we don’t start with feet, we start with a click of the mouse — problem solved.

The first effort when beginning VRT is learning the simple rudiments of movement through the VR — the fundamentals of interaction with the program.

Right mouse button to move forward, left mouse button to activate selected tool, middle mouse button to jump.

Left and right movements of the mouse alter direction and back and forward movement of the mouse allow you to change the view up and down.

Simple movement skills admittedly but certainly a large part of one’s beginning work. But, that’s nothing new. In theater, painting, carpentry, or spiritual training of the essential self getting to know one’s tools constitutes the first course of work.

To this end several trainers have been constructed on a gradient demanding at first only small degrees of facility then later more mature handling of mouse and keyboard.

Don’t confuse simple with easy or simple with unimportant. These beginning levels of training should not be dismissed as mere tool training and movement orientation. Developing alacrity with one’s tools is never trivial, second it might be fun to note all mustards of future cognitions are buried in the beginning levels. So enjoy and pay attention. There will be a spot quiz later. And yes, this does go toward your final grade.