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Thursday’s Fictions in Second Life

Prayer for the Burmese Dead
Click here to view entire reading
Click here or scroll down to view excerpted 'machinima'

To honour the souls of Buddhist monks and others who have perished in Burma, Jivamukti Yoga Teacher Dr Richard James Allen (inworld in Second Life: RichardJamesJiva Allen) read from The Tibetan Book of the Dead in Thursday’s Fictions in Second Life on Friday October 5, 2007 at 8pm Second Life Time.

The Bardo Thodol
, or The Tibetan Book of the Death, is a text traditionally read to the dying and the dead as a guide in their passage through the ‘bardo’ or intermediate state before they are reborn. The reading of this funerary text was intended to invoke that ancient tradition in the most contemporary of contexts. Thursday’s Fictions in Second Life, an online 3D immersive space that explores ideas about reincarnation and karma, offered a safe haven for people from all over the world to meet virtually, to pray and to meditate on the terrible events that have passed.

The reading of The Tibetan Book of the Dead in Second Life was a unique event, a drawing together the past and the future in a particularly charged moment in the present. “It speaks optimistically to the potential of online immersive environments such as Second Life as media for the enrichment of the hum
an experience,” comments Dr Richard James Allen, who read the text.

Allen had the idea for the reading when he heard about the closing down of the internet in Burma. “I realised that we had created, in Thursday’s Fictions in Second Life, a spiritual space where people from all over globe could gather virtually to show their support for the people of Burma and to pray for the dead. This new technology provides us with unique opportunities for human connection. And it is our duty to use that potential for positive ends.”

“There is something particularly poignant,” he notes, “about reading, in a technology as ‘newfangled’ as Second Life, a text as ancient and transformatively profound as this one. We tend to think of ourselves as so up-to-date and knowledgeable, but the insights in this work are far in advance of what most of us will ever think.” As one of the 35 or so avatars in attendance commented, “It was a good session. It made me think a little bit more about thinking a bit more. Our thoughts are indeed powerful.”

“In an age of short attention spans,” Allen continues, “there is a lovely irony and poignance, and undoubtedly some kind of world first, in presenting in this context, the whole of a master work like this, in its traditional form, as an aural transmission over one hour and forty minutes.” He concludes, “It was particularly brave of SLCN.TV to go beyond their usual parameters and record of the whole of this journey through the afterlife, from dying, to wandering in the ‘Bardos’ or intermediate states, to being reborn.”

The full ninety minute reading of The Tibetan Book of the Dead, which was broadcast live by SLCN.TV, is now available for viewing from their website. Gary Hayes
(inworld Gary Hazlitt) has also created a popular seven minute 'machinima' on You Tube: click below to view, and taken some lovely photos on Flickr (some of these are included on this page).

Thanks to all who supported the Prayer for the Burmese Dead in Thursday’s Fictions in Second Life (click here to visit).

Click here to find out about other Thursday's Fictions in Second Life Machinimas.

Photos: Gary Hayes