The Buddha Center
Buddhist Teaching and Meditation Center
In 2008 Delani Gabardini and Zino March (Yuri Marcus), the founders of the Buddha Center, concluded, upon evaluating Buddhism in second life(1), there was no one sim(2) that provided a true sense of Buddhism in a virtual reality environment. They concluded that providing true Buddhist teachings of various traditions was sorely needed, desirable and feasible. Additionally, a growing concern of the founders was that information was being disseminated incorrectly at various Sims. They also found that the few Buddhist Sims, that were in existence, were specific to a certain tradition and tended to provide a more myopic view of Buddhism, rather than a universal one, thereby not allowing participants the ability to experience both the similarities and the differences among the traditions. As a result, it was decided to start a small Buddhist sim with a few validated monastics of several traditions, hire experienced meditation leaders and then grow the center over the years, expanding traditions and the program. Monastics who shared this vision were discovered and recruited into second life to spread the Dharma. Although this was a nonprofit and religious virtual Buddhist center, it was decided that it would best work based on a business model. It was believed by the founders that this particular concept would best fit a virtual Buddhist Center. And so, the Buddha Center was born. Delani is from the USA and Zino is from France. In 2010, a management team was founded, consisting of the founders, a spiritual advisor (ordained monastic) and a leading staff member.
Delani and Zino had a strong vision regarding how the Center would grow. With patience and intense interviews they were able to obtain exceptional teachers and meditation facilitators, learning from their mistakes as they grew. The objective has always been and will always be to provide superb teachings by the best teachers and they have not varied from that vision. Strategic intent is, in this case, nothing but, the influencing of an organization’s resource potential and core competencies to achieve what at first may seem to be unachievable goals in the virtual environment. A well expressed strategic intent guides and steers the setting of goals and objectives. This requires that all of organization’s competencies be controlled to maximum value; a concept adhered to be the founders.
Strategic intent includes directing organization’s attention on the need of inspiringpeopleby telling them that the targets are valuable; encouraging individual’s and staffs’ participation as well as contribution; and utilizing intent to direct allocation of resources. This has always been diligently adhered to.
The Buddha Center mission statement is very simple and concise. We will assure to the best of our abilities that Buddhism will be unequivocally and purely taught by experienced monastics and lay people in Second Life. This is a non-profit organization that allows all individuals the opportunity to gather and hear Buddhist monastics and lay people speak of various Buddhist practices. Weekly Dharma discourses will be held, as well as occasional forums where the audience can present questions regarding all aspects of Buddhism. The Buddha Center provides a virtual reality Sangha for all who are interested regardless of faith, or creed. In this day of superb technology, the center has become a fully functioning Buddhist community with open doors to all. The founders have found over the past five years, that the mission statement is feasible, attainable and achievable. Emphasis had been placed on hiring superior staff, assuring their commitment and guaranteeing that the staff shares in the belief system of the center.
The shared vision is to comprehensively expand the center using all the available technology of today– websites, Facebook, twitter and various social media with the intent of reaching out to a more vast audience. In recent years, Zino has spent considerable effort availing the Buddha Center available to those not on second life. The website and other social media are continually updated with interesting information on Buddhism, upcoming events in both second life and real life and many teachings by great masters.
An effort to constantly empower the staff has always been a goal of the founders. Staff is encouraged to participate in planning and being a major part of decision making. To support the business model, a management team was formed to finalized important decisions regarding the center. The founders feel confident that the vision is deeply instilled in the staff organization, and that the Center is “owned” and operated by all staff members as well as the Sangha at large. Communication lines are kept wide open using email, Second Life instant messaging, and available message and suggestion boxes for all to access. Everyone is encouraged to provide ideas toward the growth and wellbeing of the Center
The center affirms a policy of non-discrimination in its admissions and educational policies. No qualified person shall be denied entrance to the center or be subjected to discrimination in recruitment, educational policies, financial assistance, or any other Buddha Center administered program on the basis of race, national origin, sex, religion, age or physical disability.
(1) Second life – Second Life is an online virtual world developed by Linden Lab. It was launched on June 23, 2003. A number of free client programs, or Viewers www.wikipedia.com
(2) Sim node (or sim host), the physical server machine simulating one or more regions.