“Mandala: A Brief Moment in Time” Offers an Immersive Spiritual Experience

Still from “Mandala: A Brief Moment in Time” courtesy of FilmGate

While most people know the story of the Buddha as a spoiled prince who gained enlightenment after fasting and sitting under a Bodhi tree, “Mandala: A Brief Moment in Time” offers a different side to the mythos of Buddhist philosophy, combining traditional Asian imagery and storytelling with innovative technology. In this VR experience, 3-6 players are transformed beyond their physical forms to become floating, hungry ghosts. Tickets for “Mandala” are available here

As an immersive experience, the participants enter into the space of the Superblue Gallery, asked to put all their items, fears, anxieties in the gray box before them. With low lighting and ambient music, the participants are given an Oculus headset and headphones to fully place them into the space. With each headset microphone, the participants take on a greater role in the universe of the game, with choices being an integral part of the story. 

The participants are transformed into hungry ghosts in the virtual world, with their hunger representing their greed in human life. At the core of the experience, the Buddhist principle of material want being the root of suffering is meant to guide the actions of the ghosts. As the participants learn of WuKong, the monkey king who steals peaches from the heaven king ErLang Shen, WuKong appears in the temple before the ghosts. WuKong is performed by a live actor in Paris in a motion capture suit, fully capable of speaking to the participants and moving throughout the space. Introducing the participants to the mandala in the center of the room, they are shrunken down into the world of the mandala. 

In the center of the space, the tree of wisdom appears, WuKong details the story of Siddartha Gautama, where the tree is not as literal as humans may have suggested over centuries but a metaphorical tree that sprouts wisdom. As WuKong asks the participants about his own story of greed, ErLang Shen, armed with heaven’s spear, comes to punish WuKong for his crimes. Depending on the participant’s choice to reveal WuKong or not to ErLang Shen, the ending of the experience changes.

“Mandala: A Brief Moment in Time” demystifies the ideology of Buddhist principles through a gamified experience. Running at Superblue in Miami, the VR experience ends Mar 22 with tickets available here

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