Rethinking Religion

Decentralized religion: a complete Buddhist and secular meditation ecosystem on the Ethereum blockchain

Buddha envisioned a new society

with student-teacher communities

and an egalitarian government.

The Buddha envisioned a new society in his discourse The City. The City symbolizes a flourishing communal life based on the principles of Buddhism. His “assembly” (Pariṣā) of students and teachers offer a model for how such a society can operate. In this community, all members are equal in training they receive, regardless if they are men or woman, monks or laypeople.

This is a far cry from what is normative in most Buddhist traditions today. “The current state of affairs contradicts and distorts what appears to be Buddha’s original intent and flies in the face of the values of equality and human dignity that characterize the modern age”. Lotos is a project to explore and realize Buddha’s vision in modern times.

On the Blockchain

Lotos is built on the Ethereum blockchain. From borderless transactions between students and teachers to an immutable audit trail for temples, the blockchain is essential to executing our vision.

Corruption

Transparent and immutable financial records eliminate corruption and preserve trust

Buddhist Economy

An alternative to corporate capitalism, users lower desire for consumption by meditating

Religious Persecution

Anonymity for users, transactions and ensuring certain records are never destroyed

Governance

Users vote on policy and software direction; mindfulness is applied to a system-wide level with a DAO

Karma Tokens

Karma Tokens (ERC20) is the sole medium of exchange on Lotos. The accumulation and usage of Karma are compliant with the Noble Path.

Temples

A community of students and teachers governed by a smart contract

A high degree of flexibility allows for a full range of temple structures. From temples that are traditional, authoritative and secretive, to experimental egalitarian temples with equally distributed wealth.

Smart Contract

The beliefs of followers are encoded in a temple’s smart contract.

Positions

Positions, ranks, or claims of attainment can be hidden, or publicized, determined by votes of algorithmically.

Proof of practice

A student’s practice is verified through written, audio, or video submissions or automatically through account activity.

Admissions

“Ordination” requirements range from public and open for everyone to invite-only or requiring an application.

Incentives

Temples decide whether to provide extrinsic Karmic incentives to students, teachers or to donators to reward good action.

Students

Physical temples can be hard to find and hard to travel to. Digital temples on Lotos are easy to find and easy to join, from anywhere in the world. With digital classes, you can bring teachers from the other side of the world inside your house without needing to travel anywhere.

Today, it is nearly impossible to compare temples meaningfully. You can get recommendations from friends, or read reviews (when they exist) online. Lotos creates a public universal reputation system. Not only that, on Lotos all aspects of a temple (for example how authoritarian vs. egalitarian they are, how much teachers are paid, etc.) are transparent and easily comparable.

While there are some good services for guided meditations (podcasts), there are none that focus on live community interactions. When you join Lotos, you are joining a community of real people just like you. The social benefits of joining a Sangha were stated by Buddha many times.

Corruption in temples is common. To fight this, we make all economic records transparent and recorded forever on the blockchain. Trust in organizations and teachers is critical for student progress. After all, doubt in teachers (vicikicchā) is one of the five hindrances in Buddhism.

Teachers

Don’t pay expensive bills for a physical location or your own digital infrastructure. Do everything you would normally do with a physical temple, but online for free.

Teachers are paid instantly, without middlemen, anywhere in the world. Accepting payment for both on-demand content and live classes takes no extra effort. This makes is delightfully easy for teachers to earn a living without needing their own infrastructure.

Hosting live classes, finding the right platform, coordinating times etc. with students across different timezones is a hassle. Lotos makes these processes as easy as possible for teachers.

Traditionally temples have erected golden Buddha statues and done other expensive things to recruit students. On Lotos, you only need a good reputation score, and students will automatically find and join you. Focus on student progress rather than marketing.

To practice right mindfulness

we need the right environment,

and that environment is our sangha.

THICH NHAT HANH

The sangha (community) is so important that the Buddha said it is the “whole of the holy life”

Lotos focuses on community and live interaction. Buddhism is often seen as a solitary path, however, practicing with a healthy community and making wholesome friends is incredibly important for developing Buddhist qualities.

Meditation Node

Lotos will work on desktop, tablet, and phone. The node is an optional bundle of pre-existing hardware. It provides an easy to use, distraction-free, dedicated space to interact with the network.

A dedicated touchscreen eliminates distractions and creates a space condusive to meditation.
A tablet stand promotes posture, proper alignment, and comfort while meditating or attending a class.
A meditation cushion supports the body in a comfortable seated position while meditating.
1

Join a Community

Find, compare, and move easily between temples. Join the community best suited for your style of practice.
2

Live Group Classes

Take part in guided meditations, discussions, lectures, and other community events.
3

Live 1 on 1 Classes

Get personal guidance and instruction from teachers anywhere in the world.
4

On-demand Content

Watch, listen or read content at any time while waiting for your next live class.
5

Solo Meditation

Track your progress, incentivize your meditation, and submit progress reports to your teachers.
Lotos Labs
Reputation scores

Universal reputation scores for temples and teachers focus efforts on student progress

Biometric feedback

Wearables like heartbeat monitors and EEG headsets can provide feedback to students and teachers

Opensource data

Data is made public with the MIT License to promote the scientific study of meditation

BuddhaBrain

A scheduling and knowledge base chatbot to assist teachers and answer common questions

Join the Lotos Community

We need your help.

Lotos is early-stage and experimental. We need your feedback to shape the ecosystem. This project will only grow to succeed with help from people like you. Please share our project and contribute by joining the discussion.

Whitepaper

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Ethereum Testnet

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Feasibility Study

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Crowdfunding

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Minimum Viable Product

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10,000 Users

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Meet Our Team

We are a group of “Buddhist geeks” that believe technology and science can improve Buddhism for the benefit of humanity.

Anton Doos

Cofounder

Anton is a self-taught polymath and Buddhist meditator for over 15 years. He started a successful web design company at age 14. After six months exploring the Amazon, at age 20 he took a job as a university professor in China. In 2014 his trivia game was endorsed by the United Nations. Since 2015, the firm he co-owns with Michael has worked on products ranging from CubeSats to DARPA robots, featured by Forbes, BBC and others.

Mike Hogan

Cofounder, Science

Mike is a former neuroscientist, a serial entrepreneur, and practicing Buddhist. After working for one year in Duke University’s Purves Lab, he spent several years starting and running companies. His interests include Philosophy of Mind, the neural correlates of consciousness, and using EEG to explore the neural bases of meditation and perception. Mike is responsible for the research and scientific side of Lotos.

Jefferson Davis

Blockchain Project Manager

Jefferson is an accomplished project manager, blockchain developer, automation specialist and practicing Buddhist. From 2010 to 2015, he was responsible for the design, development, and maintenance of critical operations systems used by heavy machinery in oil well completions. Since 2015, he has consulted and developed distributed applications and smart contracts in the private and NGO sectors worldwide.

Vincent Horn

Advisor

Vincent is part of a new generation of meditation teachers translating age-old wisdom into 21st century code. A computer engineering dropout turned modern monk, he spent his 20s co-founding the ground-breaking Buddhist Geeks project while doing a full year of silent meditation practice on retreat. Vince has been called a “power player of the mindfulness movement” by Wired magazine and was honored to be featured in Wired UK’s “Smart List: 50 people who will change the world.” He got into the crypto space in 2012 when one of his most important domains was stolen by Ukrainian Domain Pirates and held for ransom in Bitcoin (thanks pirates!). He also supported the ICO of Ethereum, because it sounded like a ground-breaking technology, and is excited about the potential for decentralized applications to transform the way we live & practice together. Vincent lives in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina with his partner Emily Horn and their son Zander.

About Lotos

Isn't economic activity and Buddhism an oxymoron?

The popular opinion that Buddhism is a religion of austerity is misleading. In the origins story, Buddha only became enlightened when he accepted wealth by rejecting asceticism, and wealth is often encouraged and praised in the Pali Canon. Buddha was an astute businessman, economist, and lawyer, with early Sanghas functioning like modern banks, even advertising their business activities. Monks practiced writing loan contracts, endowments, deposits, negotiable securities, and even issued health insurance. Chinese Buddhist temples had huge treasuries and were the world’s first genuine forms of concentrated financial capital. Buddha himself said that avoiding wealth was deplorable, and one should circulate it in a noble way.

For more information read our Medium post “Can money and Buddhism mix?”

Why does Lotos need its own currency?

Karma tokens are the first effort to instantiate “Buddhist Economics” on the blockchain, offering an alternative vision to standard corporate capitalism. Lotos’ underlying values guide the economic programming of the platform so that accumulation and usage of KRM are in accordance with the Noble Path. In economic terms, people are guided to allocate their time between consumption and meditation—with optimal allocation occurring when meditation lowers the desire for consumption with no change in satisfaction. Furthermore, in Lotos, some “successful” consumers (students) are transformed into to producers (teachers).

For more information read our Medium post “Why does Lotos depend on a new token to execute its vision?”

Could Lotos' goals be executed without the blockchain?

The blockchain offers many advantages that are core to our vision. For example, the elimination of corruption is an otherwise insurmountable problem, with the blockchain’s transparent and immutable financial recording being the only feasible solution. Decentralization also allows true egalitarian communities to emerge which is the Buddha’s original vision for a healthy society. While digitization can help us achieve many of our goals, decentralization completes the vision.

Isn't cryptocurrency a barrier-to-entry for students and teachers?

Lotos starts with the belief that blockchain technology will continue gaining market acceptance, and barriers to entry will continue to decrease over the next three to five years. Until then, we will employ free case managers that will facilitate Karmic transfer to make the transition as seemless as possible. We plan to use API calls to an exchange so users can make Karmic transfers to fiat without leaving the Lotos Network.

What problems does Lotos solve?

Lotos solves many problems and makes other aspects of Buddhist practice more efficient. We purport to solve corruption and religious persecution. We address temple accessibility, comparability and the movement between them, and interactivity with them. For teachers our goal is to automate processes so they can focus on student progress, for example, we automate class hosting and scheduling, facilitate borderless and micro payments for ease of earning a living, the monitoring of student progress, eliminate costs associated with physical temples, and automate recruitment. Having all student-teacher interactions on one ecosystem also allows us to collect data to aid the scientific understanding of meditation. The sum of these improvements is intended to increase the rate of student acquisition and progress (depth of understanding). Lotos is attempting to get more people to meditate, and allow them to gain benefits from meditating faster, with the ultimate goal of improving these two aspects by several orders of magnitude.

Why do you need special hardware?

Lotos will begin as a web app which works on all desktop, tablet, and mobile devices.

We plan to offer optional hardware in the future. A dedicated physical space frees a student from distraction and helps establish a routine which improves consistency and duration of meditation. For teachers, it offers a ready-to-go video and audio streaming solution that will meet the quality requirements of our network.

Buddhism is fine how it is--why do you think Lotos can improve it?

If there were no improvements or changes to Buddhism, where would we be? There would be no Mahayana Buddhism, no Vajrayana Buddhism, and no Zen Buddhism which all developed long after the death of the Buddha. Some people value tradition over novelty and wish to keep Buddhism as close to the original teachings as possible. All these beliefs are possible on the Lotos platform. The ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to practice is solely determined by temples and teachers, and not by Lotos. What does the future of Buddhism look like? And how will adapt? What will Buddhism look like in 50 years, 100 years, or even 100,000 years? If it is to survive it must embrace some level of change, for example utilizing the blockchain to eliminate corruption.

Can users earn Karma from meditating?

Lotos does not inherently reward Karma for meditation, this is determined by temple structures and user choices.
One way to earn more Karma than you have originally put in is to get a donation (receive alms) from another user or philanthropic organization that wishes to sponsor your practice. A trusted friend, for example, could lock a certain amount of Karma, that you can only unlock by meditating. Verification can be done with video, audio or written records, or automatically through account activity.
A second way to earn more Karma than originally purchased is if the structure of the temple permits that. For example, if the temple requires followers to pool their Karma and then distributes it unevenly to reward exceptionally good deeds.

I'm a student or teacher, how do I sign up to be an alpha tester?

Please use the contact form and submit a message, or write to us at lotos-network@protonmail.com

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