Buddha's Digital Dance, Page 2
      Tibetan Buddhist artists conceive their art as rten, a Tibetan word meaning "basis" or "support": a "bridge" that links physical representations with metaphysical qualities. Tibetan artists understand both two-dimensional graphic images (paintings) and three-dimensional structures (temples and statues) as "bodies" that support a specific deity. Written scripture is similarly thought of as a support for "speech," or phonetic embodiments. The Stupa (Originally Shakyamun's reliquary monument) is considered to be the rten of the invisible Enlightened mind.

    Rten along with yeshespa (transcendental existence) and dam tshig pa (the practitioner's inner image, making rten analogous to a mirror image of the practitioner himself) are important keys for solving the riddle of Buddhist logic. Buddhism emphasises the interdependent nature of the phenomenal universe (what Shakyamuni Buddha referred to as the essential analysis of nature: Skt. pratityasamutpada, or dependent arising).

    Compare this with modern computer intelligence. Computers necessarily compartmentalize bits of information as discreet objects, a kind of "objectism," if you will. This grand assemblage of disparate but connected electronic "objects" is, in turn, represented by so-many graphic illusions- icons, menus, charts, etc. Computer intelligence is practically the antithesis of Shakyamuni Buddha's notion of pratityasamutpada, or dependent arising.

    From one perspective, the computer universe is about as idolatrous a creation as one could possibly imagine. The virtual world is not the real world anymore than an image of compassion is the practice of compassion. The computer world, the virtual world, is merely a collection of fictitious icons swimming in a Black Box. I imagine, instead, a new type of art form, a post-religious, post-computer art that incorporates the best of both worlds.

    Any ordinary computer today is little more than a very complicated and clever tape recorder, but the network changes that. Networking individuals to individuals may be in its infancy now, but it demonstrates a thrilling potential for, at least, one possible future. The network of humanity suggests a new dynamic, interactive imagination, a sum greater than the individual parts that make it up. Ultimately, this planetary imagination need not have shape. It need not have a name. Individuals could break away from their stilted obeisance to the altar-like display and, perhaps, achieve a new evolutionary plateau.