Recently we had an awesome event at work. All of the developers had a chance to present one of the projects they’ve been working on before they joined the team or one that they're particularly proud of. It was really interesting to see the different involvements. I thought it was a great idea to have an event like that among people that spend a lot of time together.
I presented a project I’ve been working on since 2011. It’s an iOS application that receives buddhist lectures of a particular school (Diamond Way Buddhism) from all over the world to practitioners’ iOS devices.
Diamond Way Buddhism is a form of Buddhism that originated in the 1970s by the so called Karma Kagyue transmission lineage which was one of the four main buddhist schools in Tibet for more than 1500 years. Lama Ole Nydahl is one of the few western buddhist teachers who met the main teachers of that Buddhist tradition in Nepal during a honeymoon with his wife Hannah Nydahl in the 1970s. Both were deeply inspired during this trip and decided to stay and become students of the Karmapa*. Karmapa asked them to find out if there is an interest in the western world for the teachings of that particular school.
What started with a couple of friends in several living rooms developed into a non-profit organization with over 600 DWBN Buddhist center’s all over the world. The network is based on friendship, inspiration and the motivation to obtain a fresh and modern access to these ancient Buddhist teachings. Nowadays the meditation centers is an address for thousands of practitioners.
After 3 years of intense studying, Lama Ole Nydahl (together with his wife Hannah who died in 2007) started traveling around the world in the 1970s. He leads meditation courses, giving people the opportunity to dive deeper into the mediations and methods, answering question and spends time with his students. Those courses are at times attended by several thousands of people and often get streamed to the internet so that people, who do not have the opportunity to witness on site, can be a part of that event by tuning in on a website.
Part of the infrastructure has already been there for several years. Therefore the idea to this project came naturally. It would be great if we could connect our phones and listen to the lectures on the go, waiting for the bus or riding in the train. We then released a first version in 2012 and just recently launched a completely revamped application available worldwide.
Well, to cut it short - bad news first: You can’t use it unless you have login credentials. Those login credentials can only be obtained by visiting one of the buddhist centers. The reason for that is, that the application is not intended to be the first contact people should make with Diamond Way Buddhism. If you’re curious about meditation, the smartest thing you can do is visiting a public mediation or introduction lecture (btw all of these events are for free). This gives you an excellent opportunity to get an idea of how the mediations work and more experienced meditators will welcome you and answer any question that may arise.
Once you have access, the application will then provide you with a schedule of the next lectures and gives you a chance to set reminders so you don’t risk missing an event. Since those courses and lectures are always at different locations all over the world it also converts the start dates into your local time zone. First and foremost you can then tune in and either watch the current event or listen to it while choosing one of the available translations.
Now that the app has been launched I dedicate approx. 3-4 hours per week into that project. I work on new features, fix bugs and communicate with other team members. It’s a challenge sometimes to work on a project with very asynchronous development cycles. Some technologies exist forever, other’s haven’t been developed yet.
This should give an idea of what I’m working on whenever I have time and feel like I should do something that’s rewarded by a lot of gratitude and warm words. Those rewards keep me motivated to keep up the work and make it even better while having the great benefit of learning something new.
*Karmapa is the highest teacher of the Karma Kagyue school. You can compare his position to the role of the well known Dalai Lama of the Gelugpa tradition.