Gregory Grieve studies virtual clothing in Hoben, a Second Life Zen community. He argues that Second Life residents emerge from their virtual practices where the ability to choose one’s gender, clothing and appearance increases mindfulness and offers a creative alternative to conventional heteronormative roles on both a political and spiritual level.
MLA citation format:
Grieve, Gregory Price "Virtual Buddhist Monk Robes:
Cyborgs, Gender, and the Self-Fashioning of a Mindful Second Life Resident"
Web blog post. Material Religions.
24 February 2016. Web. [date of access]
On February 23, 2010, I logged onto the virtual world of Second Life and discovered that free virtual monk robes were being distributed at the Hoben Mountain Zen Retreat. As I describe in my book, Cyber Zen [i], Hoben is a Convert Zen Buddhist community that practices in Second Life, a three-dimensional, immersive, and interactive virtual world housed in cyberspace and accessed via the Internet [ii]. Often labeled Western, Nightstand, or Convert Buddhists, residents of Hoben typically engage from North America, Europe, or other parts of the developed world, but can also be found in many cosmopolitan centers of developing nations. Convert Buddhism is a diverse and flexible religion, but it tends to focus on several facets of the tradition: the therapeutic, the non-hierarchical, the non-violent, the ecological, and, most importantly, the meditative.
|Female Avatar Wearing Virtual Monk Robes (Second Life Snapshot by Gregory Grieve).|
|Transcript of conversation at Hoben Mountain Zen Retreat (February 23, 2010).|
|Free Buddhist monk Robes from Hoben Mountain Zen Retreat. (Second Life snapshot by Gregory Grieve).|
|Resident as cyborg, hybrid feedback loops of machine and biologic organisms, composed of user and avatar (Drawing by Greg Grieve).|
|Second Life Pose Balls (Second Life snapshot by Gregory Grieve).|
|Examples of Drag in Second Life. (Second Life Snapshot by Gregory Grieve).|
The Buddha's teaching of the Dharma is based on two truths: a truth of worldly convention and an ultimate truth. Those who do not understand the distinction drawn between these two truths do not understand the Buddha's profound truth. Without a foundation in the conventional truth the significance of the ultimate cannot be taught. Without understanding the significance of the ultimate, liberation is not achieved.
(Jay L. Garfield. The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way: Nagarjuna’s Mūlamadhyamakakārikā. [New York NY: Oxford University Press, 1995], 296, 298)