Monday, February 29th saw a special event take place at the chapel of Saint Marys Hospital in down town Rochester, Minnesota, when the Dalai Lama addressed Mayo Clinic staff in a special event which was livestreamed on the Internet and into Second Life, using the Mayo clinic’s in-world facilities.
The address, entitled Compassion in Healthcare, followed on from the 80-year old spiritual leader, who has been undergoing period treatment for prostate cancer at the clinic, speaking for 3 hours – twice what had been planned – before a crowd of 3,000 people in Minneapolis on Sunday, February 21st. That event was to mark the Tibetan New Year, and his Holiness’ address, delivered in English and Tibetan, focused on valuing education and compassion.
The February 29th address was introduced by Mayo Clinic President and CEO John Noseworthy, and moderated by Minnesota TV and radio host Cathy Wurzer. As the address began, both Ms. Wurzer and the Dalai Lama were represented in-world by avatars at the Mayo clinic’s Second Life conference centre. In both cases, care had been taken to ensure the avatars resembled their flesh-and-blood counterparts.
While I missed the first part of the session, when I did arrive, some 80 people from across Second Life were in attendance, and the Dalai Lama himself sounded energised and related stories with good humour and aplomb through his address, and responded to questions from the audience at the venue, it was not clear to me if any questions were taken from the in-world audience.
While some be tempted to critique the event on the basis that the avatar in-world was not actually operated by the Dalai Lama, they would actually be missing the point. While his holiness may not have been operating the avatar, being seated in the chapel of Saint Marys Hospital, the thoughts and words steaming into Second Life were his, and as such, the event offered a means for people who might never otherwise get to hear him speak, listen to and appreciate his wisdom in an almost first-hand way.
The address, with a question and answer session, lasted a little over 90 minutes. The livestream is currently being archived by the Mayo Clinic, and the event was also filmed in-world. I’ll update this article when either video is publicly available.
with thanks to Maxwell Graf for the nod!