Thursday, October 16, 2008

If you see your avatar on the road, kill her.

Suffering happens in the gap between reality and our beliefs about what is (or should be) true -- what is true about the world, other people and ourselves. Our conception of Self is the delusion we cling to most tightly.

Constructing a pseudonymous online persona has the potential to give us a glimpse into the empty nature of atomic identity and free ourselves to some degree from erroneous attachment. Unfortunately, many of us become so deeply identified with and attached to a virtual identity that we end up suffering in two lives instead of one.

I certainly fall into that trap from time to time, so I want to share a remedy that can greatly reduce negative thoughts, actions and emotions related to attachment and identification with your virtual persona. Best of all, this process can positively transform your human life and help free you to some degree from the root cause of suffering.

I've organized this method into five steps. Many of you reading have already accomplished step one:
  1. Spend enough time in a virtual form to develop a distinct persona that you become strongly identified with;
  2. Notice stressful thoughts and feelings related to the belief that this persona is in some way who you are, not something you constructed;
  3. Take action to uncover the erroneous nature of such ideas through a practice such as Byron Katie's "The Work,"or analytic meditation;
  4. Begin to act in virtual life from the new, freer perspective you developed through your efforts in step three. This is an ongoing cycle of attaining some expanded level of realization through practice, going out into the virtual world and bumping into some deeper pain-producing identification, and then taking it back to your practice.
  5. Apply this experience in your human life.
If your virtual life is all good and does not conflict with your human life to any strong degree, then congratulations and please give us some tips on how you do it. But if your virtual life includes a fair amount of negative emotions within the virtual or physical worlds, why not give these steps a chance? Please let me know if you would like any additional information.


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A beautiful thought experiment personified through the imagined perspective of a self-aware avatar. My creator's site can is at