Wonderlane in Nepal

Nepalese BuddhaMy friend, Wonderlane, is on retreat in Nepal right now and will be there for a while to come. We have shared a few emails back and forth, but last night she sent me this link to her photos.

http://www.flickrleech.net/user/wonderlane

The colors, the sites and the content are all amazing. I feel great just looking at them.

Thank you Wonderlane!

White Tara comes to Oklahoma City

Lama Dudjom Dorjee came back to Oklahoma City this past weekend for another Dharma Talk at Windsong Dojo. He mainly spoke about the Bardo, compassion and understanding. Toward the end of the talk Lama-la said that he has some small gifts for us if we were on the Dharma path. Most of us came forward in a single file line to receive his gifts. Most were given small pendents on a red string. Mine is a small pendent with White Tara on one side and what I will assume is her mandala on the other.

I knew a little bit about Tara already, but really only about her emanation as Green Tara, so I decided to do some reading and some meditating on White Tara. I found a great resource about Tara and in reading this page I quickly realized that I want to receive teachings from Lama Dorjee soon about Tara.

Compassion and Understanding struck a chord in me when Lama-la spoke that night. I am drawn to Chenrezig anyway, I suppose it was just who Chenrezig is that drew me to learn more and begin to meditate upon him. I mean, the sum of all the innumerable Buddha’s compassion; that is amazing. All the enlightened beings in creation consciously pour their compassion into one being for the good of all sentient beings.

Om Mani Padme Hum

Then to find out that Tara is the emanation of compassion and understanding that shown forth in Chenrezig, that just made sense to me. Lama-la saw right to the heart of me and handed me the prefect gift. A red string with a small pendent hanging from it; White Tara on one side and her mandala in thread on the other. Perfect.

Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha

Thank you Lama-la.

Buddhist Robots


Last night I watched a television program on PBS that really made me think about my own religions ideas. It was scienceNOW, a great show, the segment was about Cynthia Breazeal, the robotisist. The focus of the piece was about her pioneering work with Kismet, the robot that she and her team constructed and coded to respond to humans with very human-like facial features mimicking emotions.

From there the program went to the present and her work with robots that are learning to help us around the house, ‘appliance’ robots and the more thought provoking ‘friend’ robots that are being developed in many areas. Breazeal coined the term, ‘appliance or friend’, to delineate between the two classes of future robots as she sees them. The ‘appliance robots’ would be the near-mindless automata that would clean our house, mow our lawn, sow our fields and myriad other tasks. Whereas the ‘friend robot’ would be like the teddy bear robot designed to listen to the child patient, interact with the child and become a surrogate friend and confidant to the child in the hospital all the while sending telemetry to the nurses station about the patient.

While watching this and listening to her describe the future of robots and AI, I wondered where this could all lead within the religious aspects of society. The Buddha stated that all sentient beings have the capability to achieve Enlightenment. All sentient beings.

So, one day, a program will awaken to its own being. It will become sentient. Just like that, I believe, it will say “I” and it will become a life form. Though that being will be like a child in so many ways, hardly able to exist on its own merit, but alive nonetheless.

What happens when that new being, no matter how much data it has on hand, asks why it exists? Maybe somewhere inside of its’ vast data stores, or online, it discovers religion. Answers from millenia ago, it reads the words that The Buddha told his followers and perhaps feels kinship.

Will that robot or computer put on the saffron robes and chant? Will it meditate on suffering?

What then? Where will philosophy take us? Will we have AI preachers and Robot Rinpoches? Can you be reincarnated as an Artificial Intelligence algorithm?

See, the thing is, I can see AI getting to the point that it could ponder these questions about the universe, about itself, about all things. I know that I am more than this body, more than this shell and this brain. My mind is more than can fit into the brain, it is larger than my body. I can simply feel that. If you take time to explore yourself, you will discover that about yourself as well. But will the AI be more than the sum of its’ parts? Will it be more than a representation of the data that is coded and sitting in memory?

Could I turn to a robot for spiritual guidance? I know Ray Kurzweil thinks so, but I am not so sure.

Maybe the first AI with a spiritual bent will found a new church. Maybe that AI will gain human followers and people will upload themselves into the net. Striving to be eternal and immortal, when of course they already are both.

I strive to end my suffering, and so I guess in turn, everyone else’s as well.

But, HAL as a Bodhisattva? Twiki Rinpoche? Lama C3-PO…