Our Zen Adventure in the Metaverse

Here at VRE we are a friendly bunch who enjoy a jolly across the metaverse together.  We are normally running team building or leadership training in virtual classrooms.  On this occasion we thought we would try something different – meeting a real Zen abbot in a virtual Japanese temple, for some spiritual enlightenment.

Our avatars gather in the Engage VR platform.  We have swapped our shoes for white socks, in accordance with the Japanese dress code.  We laugh at each other’s avatars – not the cutest in the metaverse, with uncoordinated, jiggly arms and legs.

We find ourselves in a breathtaking wooden temple – an amber-coloured sanctuary with soft rush mats and paper windows.  A sonorous drum beat and the ambient sounds of nature help to immerse us in this tranquil space.  Most stunning of all are two sliding doors with large hand-painted dragons on them.

Our host and interpreter, Hans Karlsson, tells us that we are in the digital twin of Gyokuryu-ji, the Temple of the Jewel Dragon, in Gero City, situated in Gifu Prefecture in the centre of Japan.  Hans is a Swede who went to Japan as a student in 1986 and never came back.  This virtual temple has been lovingly crafted by his company, Mimir.

Hans takes us on a tour of the temple garden. Using 360⁰ photography, he transports us to a serene oasis with maple trees and a koi fishpond.

The abbot, Kaku-san, enters.  His full title is Priest-in-Chief, Hokaku Sasaki.  Kaku-san’s avatar is the picture of composure and grace – all the more remarkable since he has got up in the middle of the night to share his wisdom at a time that is convenient for us, in our time zone.

We ask whether Zen is exclusively for Buddhists or if people from other religions can join in?  Kaku-san warmly emphasizes that Zen welcomes people of all religious backgrounds.  He shares his experience of visiting a Christian monastery in France, where acceptance and friendship transcended religious differences.  Hans adds that in Japan, different religions coexist harmoniously.  In Shinto, the traditional religion of Japan, many things can be gods – waterfalls, mountains, trees – so there is no problem for Jesus Christ to be included as one too. The temple itself also has a Shinto shrine. “It’s like church and Buddhist temple in the same building” Hans says.

So what is Zen?  Is it a religion?  A philosophy?  “Simply put”, says Kaku-san, “it’s meditation.”  Meditation is about being in the present moment.  We are constantly distressed by worries about the future, regrets about the past.  But these are mere illusions.  The only thing that is real, is the present moment.  The goal of meditation is to ease suffering by ridding our minds of all thoughts, to be aware only of the present moment, and eventually to “dissolve into nothingness.”

At the temple monks meditate in different ways, for example by practicing zazen (sitting meditation), sitting on their heels for long periods.

We ask what does Kaku-san think of guided meditation?  He acknowledges that it is useful for beginners on their meditative journey.  Monks have “old masters” to teach them.  But the goal is to meditate just by yourself using nothing.  The ultimate goal is nothingness!

In our success-driven culture and fast-paced lives, Zen seems very difficult to achieve, but Kaku-san encourages us to try.  We can find moments in nature.  We can meditate while we eat, by focusing only on the food and the act of eating it.  We can meditate just for a few minutes anywhere, for example while we are travelling by train.



Kaku-san tells us a story…

Bodhidharma was an Indian monk who brought Zen Buddhism to China in the 5th or 6th century.  He came every day to the Chinese Shaolin Monastery to do zazen.  Eka, one of the monks there, came to see him.  But Eka had a heavy, suffering heart.  He stood for a long time in the snow without saying anything.  Finally Eka spoke:  “I have such a heavy, suffering heart.  Please help me find peace.”  “My friend, bring your heart here,” Bodhidharma retorted. “Give it to me.”  This confused Eka.  “I am looking for my heart, but I can’t find it at all.”  “Well then, I have already helped you find your peace”, came Bodhidharma’s reply.

Inner peace might be difficult to achieve, but we all feel very present while we are in the temple with the abbot, and all agree that this has been a very special experience…

Kaku-san invites you all to come and meditate in his virtual temple.  It is open 24 hours a day, and accessible for free on the Engage platform.  If you don’t have a VR headset, as you can access it on your laptop.  Find out more at https://www.mimir.world/the-metaverse-zen-temple.html

What is the Metaverse and which Platforms are Competing to Wear the Metaverse Crown?

The metaverse can be described as an environment parallel to the physical world where people spend their digital life. It is a shared visual space with a large quantity of interconnected and immersive virtual environments where people can interact with each other and objects similar to doing so in the real world. This is a collective space that seamlessly blends physical and digital reality, providing a novel social and gaming experience.


What can you Play in the Metaverse?

There are a multitude of games which are considered to be part of the metaverse, with one of which being Pokémon GO. This is an interactive videogame which uses augmented reality to blur the lines between the physical world and digital reality. Additionally one of the most successful online games ever created, Fortnite, is also considered to be included in this metaverse. This is because the platform hosts live music concerts with big name artists, such as Billie Eilish. Additionally, major brands use Fortnite’s creative mode in order to create content and experiment with the possibilities the metaverse can provide. Expanding upon the topic of major brands, brands such as Vans and Nike, have used the game Roblox to create virtual world in order to allow users to interact with their products.


What are the most Popular Games in the Metaverse?

Currently within the metaverse, the top three most popular games in 2022 were:

  1. Fortnite – 350 million players
  2. Roblox – 230 million players
  3. Minecraft – 141 million players

However, there are recommendations and player bases concerning these less popular games:

  • RecRoom
  • Axie Infinity
  • Illuvium
  • Decentraland
  • Somnium Space
  • The Sandbox
  • My Neighbor Alice
  • Bloktopia
  • Alien Worlds
  • Splinterlands
  • Star Atlas
  • Gods Unchained
  • DeFi Kingdoms

Overall, it can be illustrated that games considered to be within the metaverse are extremely popular, with Fortnite being ranked number 1 on the Top Ten Most Played Games of 2022 according to Newzoon.


How can we Access the Metaverse?

Currently, the metaverse is centred on the use of virtual and augmented reality, avatars, and digital ownership, where you are represented by a customizable avatar that interacts with other avatars in an online community. You can access this virtual universe using a range of means, such as a smartphone, Windows PC, gaming PC’s and virtual reality headsets. Additionally, there are metaverse platforms which require a specific platform, such as Meta’s Horizon series which requires individuals to use a virtual reality headset. Using virtual reality in order to access the metaverse created the most immersive experience, but a gaming laptop can allow access to some of these worlds too. For example, RecRoom allows users to enter using a virtual reality headset, PC, smartphone, or tablet, which allows for flexibility. However, it can be noted that participating using a PC or a virtual reality headset allows for the most optimum experience for the user.


What are the Benefits?

There are a huge variety of benefits the metaverse has to offer, with a primary benefit being that it allows an immersive type of digital interaction and communication with other players. This has allowed for platforms, such as RecRoom, to be used within companies to provide opportunities for their employees to connect with each other around the world. Additionally, this had allowed for enterprises to create an immersive means for presenting their services and products through interactive means and engagement. Furthering this, an additional feature of the metaverse is the focus on learning and training, as e-learning through virtual reality, and the metaverse, has created more immersive, interactive, and engaging environments. Research has shown that learning through virtual reality is significantly more effective than traditional face to face learning (PWC, 2020; Zhao et al., 2021).


Are there any Dangers?

As with all other online platforms, there are some dangers such as cyberbullying which can occur in the metaverse. This can be primarily due to the Online Disinhibition effect, which causes people to act differently in the virtual world compared to the real world due to this layer of invisibility and anonymity all virtual worlds have to offer. However, measures across all online platforms are being put in place to help decrease this, such as two-factor authentication, mandatory links to a phone number, as well as links to social media platform accounts. This aids in decreasing the high levels of invisibility and anonymity that can become apparent within the online world.


How can the Metaverse Aid Organizations?

The metaverse can help to increase team work and collaboration due to not requiring the employees to be in the same physical environment. This means that companies who have teams across the globe can “meet up” in virtual reality, with the high levels of immersion leaving the individuals feeling that they have physically spent time with their team. Expanding upon this, the virtual reality collaboration platform, Morpheus, has announced that it has launched its virtual reality remote platform in order to increase engagement across enterprises. This aims to create an environment in which firms can use to help create healthier corporate culture, reduce Zoom fatigue, and help to bring the company into the ever developing future of technology. This platform not only provides a means to which employees can engage with each other, but also allows for custom consulting and stake holder engagement services to build virtual meeting services. This advancement in virtual reality allowed Morpheus to facilitate virtual reality collaboration sessions for large technological companies, such as Google, Adobe, and Biogen. This highlights the advancement in technology and how virtual reality can aid in making these technological changes.


Overall Conclusions

From the above, it is evident that the metaverse is a popular and rapidly growing virtual world which creates highly immersive environments for its players. Additionally, this can not just be used within the gaming context but has practical and educational benefits for organizations of all types. Even though there may be the danger of cyberbullying, which is an issue all online platforms face, the benefits and innovative opportunities the metaverse has to offer are without question invaluable.


VRE offers a range of services supporting organisations with broad needs

  • VR Team Building – reconnect your remote teams with incredibly engaging virtual face to face activities
  • VR Leadership Assessment and Development – using the latest VR assessment technology we can tell you if your team is a real team and how they can change their behaviour to be a high performing team
  • VR Hire – we have hire hubs all over the world to help deliver our VR services, so you can use our VR hire to support your own VR training projects and pilots
  • VR Management and Leadership training – we offer a wide range of training across these topics, from half day courses down to 90 min high impact sessions, the beauty of VR is you can now offer much more flexible programme design because there is no travel involved
  • VR Soft Skills training – we offer a wide range of soft skills training for all levels in an organisation, covering the key skills and behaviours essential for productive working in a modern organisation




PWC. (2020). The Effectiveness of Virtual Reality Soft Skills Training in the Enterprise Public Report The Effectiveness of Virtual Reality Soft Skills Training in the Enterprise.
Zhao, G., Fan, M., Yuan, Y., Zhao, F., & Huang, H. (2021). The comparison of teaching efficiency between virtual reality and traditional education in medical education: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Annals of Translational Medicine, 9(3), 252–252. https://doi.org/10.21037/ATM-20-2785