How Buddhist Compassion uses Delight to bring home Buddha’s teachings of wisdom and compassion
Buddhist Compassion is a leading Buddhist media non-profit.
Using Delight’s technology, Buddhist Compassion launched a virtual spiritual assistant on Google Assistant.
The spiritual assistant is able to push daily subscription content to believers around the world in multiple languages, empowering them to better tune in to Buddha’s teachings and mantras every day.
In the new normal, where the faithful is often resorted to practicing religion at home rather than at places of workshop, receiving religion-themed content daily at your home smart speaker or phone will continue as a trend.
Buddhism is the 4th most popular religion in this world, with over 520 million believers thus 7% of the global population.
Buddhism Compassion is a leading Buddhist non-profit media organization in Asia. Originally founded 20 years ago by Wendy Ma and Patrick Ng, it began by publishing a magazine twice a month, now tallying at over 546 issues published. Today, Buddhist Compassion is a multimedia organization publishing online content, DVD’s and books, covering various aspects of Buddhist life.
The Need for Digitization — Reaching More Young People
20 years of published content is a trove of content, both in volume and variety.
There are spiritual-themed articles such as life stories and journeys of believers, as well as video interviews of monks and practitioners. There are corporeal-themed content such as recipes for Buddhist vegetarian cuisine and tips for Buddhist lifestyle.
Still leading Buddhist Compassion today is its original founders Wendy and Patrick. A few years ago, Wendy began noticing more and more young people are joining their Buddhism travel immersion trips. In a complex world where more entertainment options and distractions are available than ever, a growing segment of young people are seeking alternative paths by focusing on spiritual wellbeing.
“Buddhism has the ability to inspire compassion and calm the soul. To help more people, we must reach a younger demographic, so leveraging technology is vital,” said Wendy Ma, co-founder of Buddhist Compassion.
“The past few years, we grew our YouTube footprint. Given the rising popularity of voice assistants, now is the time we grow our presence in voice,” she added.
So, Wendy decided to work with Delight to build the first multilingual, voice assistant for Buddhism.
The Innovation Journey
Before Wendy began, she asked the Delight team the following questions:
- Can this work beyond Google Assistant? Yes. Name all the voice assistant platforms Buddhist Compassion wishes to be on.
- Can this spiritual assistant work across both phones and home devices like smart speakers? Yes.
- Can this support both English and Cantonese Chinese? Yes.
- What sort of content should the assistant deliver? It is up to Buddhist Compassion— Delight supports a wide range of multimedia content through a simple dashboard.
Next steps involved using Delight’s SaaS dashboard to create the assistant. Wendy was surprised how easy and seamless the whole creation process was.
“My team didn’t have to know programming or understand natural language processing,” said Wendy. “It was as simple as using a spreadsheet to enter the data and upload the content that we want.”
The content is a mix of Buddhist mantras and words of wisdom, delivered in a multimedia format, to believers. In addition, the Buddhism Compassion team took advantage of a feature that Delight made seamless to integrate: the ability for users to subscribe for daily content delivered via Google Assistant. Subscribers receive daily nuggets of Buddhist wisdom that they can reflect on, practice at and calm their souls with.
Religion in the New Normal
Wendy believes voice interfaces have a significant role to play in how believers engage with their religion at home.
“If your hands are busy counting Buddhist prayer beads, it does not make sense to go to your phone and swipe for the next mantra or chant,” said Wendy.
“Similarly if you are a mother taking care of a newborn baby, or a dad doing the home-cooking — you really need a hands-free way to interact with devices. That’s voice.”
While COVID-19 has made it difficult for followers of various religions to congregate at places of workshop, Wendy thinks this is the time to keep deepening your relationship with your spiritual self by practicing your faith at home.
“It is precisely times like these when we need our faiths to give us the strength to pull through,” remarked Wendy.