The boundaries between technology and religion have never been so thin. In fact, it was born in Japan Teraverseand truly immersive Buddhist metaversecomplete with a digital version of the Buddha. A way to bring tradition into virtual and augmented reality.
The metaverse becomes Buddhist: here is Teraverse
The project was born at the‘Institute for the Future of the Kyoto University Societyeven if the startup is already born Teraverse Inc. to manage it. And it has a specific goal: to bring Buddhism to the modern world (even in the virtual version).
The name Teraverso comes from the word “tera“, Which in Japan means the temple Buddhist. And he really wants to host digital branches of real Japanese temples in a virtual space. So each congregation can build a virtual structure of any size and geometrythen inviting practitioners from all over the world to visit them.
But in the first images it seems that digital avatars also have other ‘powers’: it seems that it is possible connect your own mind to that of othersthe means of laser beams (which we suppose symbolize the sharing of enlightenment?).
A modern solution to an ancient problem
The ability to visit temples in the Buddhist metaverse might seem like an in antithesis to meditative calm that these places embody. But the truth is that many of these temples are located in remote locations and far from the main cities. And with one declining population and centralization in cities they are increasingly difficult to reach.
The Buddhist teachings of temples, on the other hand, can reach anyone, when space becomes virtual, without the need for long journeys. Even if we don’t know if the meditative effect will be the same.
The professor Seiji Kumagai of Kyoto University explains that “With the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukrainian-Russian war, more and more people are feeling the pressure of the real world. The Buddhist metaverse that we started are new ways to blend traditional knowledge and science. As an option in today’s diversified society, we hope they can bring understanding and enjoyment to people, creating new vitality and hope, and building a more vibrant society. ”
Buddhabot, the bot to find enlightenment
If in itself the idea of finding Buddhist temples online is very original, it is not the main attraction of Tera Platform AR 1.0. In fact there is a truly unique artificial intelligence: Buddhabot. A real virtual Buddha who has studied Buddhist scriptures like Sutta Nipata e Dhammapada. And he did it using the machine learning algorithm of Google BERT.
Users can do a Buddhabot one question and he will be able to answer based on the teachings of religion. Illuminating us from the metaverse.
Unfortunately at the moment both Teraverse and Buddhabot are in private beta and they are not testable by anyone who is not part of the development team. Also because we expect that, given the sensitivity of the subject, they will work hard on security to avoid desecrations and attacks that would risk affecting the sensitivity of the faithful.
But it could soon debut, perhaps ushering in a new phase in metaverse also for other religions. Could the virtual world be a resource or just a distraction? And do you really need a VR headset to find inner peace? Let us know what you think in the comments.