DhammaTime » All Posts https://www.dhammatime.com/community/forum/dhammatime/news/feed/ Tue, 20 Feb 2018 12:17:36 +0000 http://bbpress.org/?v=2.5.14-6684 en-US https://www.dhammatime.com/community/topic/the-theoretical-part-of-the-dhammatime-book-is-complete/#post-988 <![CDATA[The Theoretical Part of the DhammaTime Book is Complete]]> https://www.dhammatime.com/community/topic/the-theoretical-part-of-the-dhammatime-book-is-complete/#post-988 Sat, 03 Feb 2018 10:19:30 +0000 Markus Echterhoff I'm happy to announce that the theoretical part of the DhammaTime book is now complete. It consists of a summary of the book as a whole, an analysis of the world we experience, a chapter on the nature of suffering, a description of liberation from suffering / spiritual enlightenment, and a chapter on the theoretical foundations of a meditation practice that can transform a human mind in a way that ends suffering and leads to enlightenment.

I'm looking forward to your feedback! :)

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https://www.dhammatime.com/community/topic/archived-news-from-dhammatime-versions-1-0-and-2-0/#post-933 <![CDATA[Reply To: Archived News From DhammaTime versions 1.0 and 2.0]]> https://www.dhammatime.com/community/topic/archived-news-from-dhammatime-versions-1-0-and-2-0/#post-933 Sun, 15 Oct 2017 18:48:51 +0000 Markus Echterhoff It's DhammaTime, Version 2.0 (2016-04-28)

The DhammaTime online course [2017-10-15: link removed because the course is now the book] has received a complete do-over, it is no longer just a meditation course, but a fully fledged Dhamma course, delivering the pragmatic essence of the teachings of the Buddha and his contemporaries in a modern and secular format. This initial release comes with the first five lessons of the new course, with more to come.

Here are the details:

All lessons are now free to watch, as I have integrated all planned special lessons into the free course. This is because when I was working on lesson 11 of the old course, I realized that the teaching was incomplete without the information that I previously deemed optional. I don't want to spoil the fun of finding out for yourself, so suffice it to say the new course doesn't just teach you how to meditate, it takes you on a personal journey of discovery.

The course now accommodates the times we live in, in which many of us feel too busy to sit down and meditate before we can see the value in that. Instead of teaching you how to sit properly in meditation, the new course teaches first how to train your mind in daily life, so that you can get some practice time without changing your busy schedule. From now on, any time can be DhammaTime.

The old videos contained some Pali terminology, the new ones are held in plain English. I realized that I had to explain all of these Pali words anyway, so I might as well use simpler ones. For those interested, I have moved all the Pali nomenclature and other non-essential information from the videos to attached notes.

There are three main types of notes that come with the new video lessons: A transcript, tradition notes and science notes. Every video now features a transcript to increase accessibility and so that you can just use the Web's most time saving keyboard shortcut ctrl-f to find what you're looking for instead of having to skip through the video. The tradition notes are where all the Pali went and where you can find further reading on traditional accounts of the Dhamma. The science notes contain further reading of a scientific nature and scientific research related to the topics discussed in the video, complete with proper academic references.

The "a letter for you" user guidance has been filed under "it seemed like a good idea at the time" and made way for a pretty overview of all lessons and guided meditations, complete with an animated timer indicating when the next lesson is available.

There have been numerous other little tweaks and improvements to make the site more easy and fun to use.

I hope you enjoy the update. Check out the new course introduction [2017-10-15: link removed because the course is now the book]. I've distilled it down to about 5 minutes of pure, undiluted awesome.

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https://www.dhammatime.com/community/topic/archived-news-from-dhammatime-versions-1-0-and-2-0/#post-931 <![CDATA[Reply To: Archived News From DhammaTime versions 1.0 and 2.0]]> https://www.dhammatime.com/community/topic/archived-news-from-dhammatime-versions-1-0-and-2-0/#post-931 Sun, 15 Oct 2017 18:48:38 +0000 Markus Echterhoff It's DhammaTime (2015-09-23)

This blog post marks the official public release of DhammaTime.

I announced DhammaTime to be scheduled for release in late summer. It's a close call, on the day of the equinox, the astronomical end of summer and beginning of autumn. But, it's done! Thanks to everyone who participated in the pioneer program and helped polish the experience. DhammaTime is now open to the world, including the free meditation course [2017-10-15: link removed because the course is now the book]. Over the next months there are plenty of more video lessons and recordings of guided meditations coming your way.

Because this is such a historic event, I shall now share the origin story of DhammaTime with you. It's a story about me figuring out how things work, from funding to recording videos. I'm personally looking forward to reading this a couple of years from now.

The making of DhammaTime

Early planning

Developing DhammaTime started about two years ago. I noticed during my teaching how often I would repeat myself. Repetition has always been a part of teaching, but when I see repitition, the first thing that comes to mind is automation. Why should teachers have to repeat themselves that often? 2500 years ago, the early Buddhists had to expound the Dhamma verbally, over and over again. Then people started writing things down. I was able to learn what I needed to start meditating from recorded talks and books by many different teachers. These teachers, or in some cases their students, where smart enough to record or write down their words for others to read or listen to. This way I learned from many teachers without ever meeting most of them in person. It has it perks, but it's not a particularly comfortable mode of learning because it requires the student to actively search out content and then weed out what isn't helpful. There is plenty of misinformation out there and learning like this it's not easy for a beginner to tell the good from the bad. So now that I am teaching myself, I figured I would make full use of what technology has to offer today.

I knew it wasn't enough to just put the information out there. Human communication is so fragile, often times what I say is understood in quite surprising ways. I don't want the meaning of what I have to say distorted to that degree. Also, I had to factor in how little people enjoy reading these days. I coupled that with some tricks regarding how people learn best and then mixed it all up into a business model that I hope will sustain DhammaTime in this world as it currently is. This process alone took many months, many ideas, many talks with dear friends. I ended up with a model where I would guide a student through a series of lectures over a couple of weeks. Could be months, could be days, depending on the student. If there were questions, I would be there to answer them. There would also be a community of like minded people that support each other in learning and understanding meditation.

As a person I require what I work for to be something good, something helpful for the world. Ideally, I would like to teach meditation for free, you know, because it's good and good things should be free so everyone can enjoy them. But this isn't how this world currently works. If I want DhammaTime to succeed, it requires money and so do I. So I created a basic meditation course that could turn a person from a newbie to an adept meditator, someone who understands what meditation is about and how to do it properly and I decided that this much had to be free. Advice I couldn't offer for free because it would require so much more time and energy than the course and for the forums I need spam protection, there's no better spam protection than having to pay money, no matter how little. For good measure I added special topics and guided meditations as another incentive for people to support DhammaTime financially. I put all of that in membership package that members pay for on a monthly basis, no strings attached, being able to cancel their memberships any time. Because I wanted everyone to be able to afford DhammaTime, I created a flexible, social payment system in which the wealthy can support the poor (if they want to).

Then I began looking at the technology I would require. I realized that I would need more money to do this properly than I had ever had at any point in my entire life. But that is mostly because I never had a lot of money. I thought maybe I could get DhammaTime crowdfunded.

How (not) to get funded

Funding is difficult to come by and while I generally believe that crowdfunding is a pretty good idea, I had to find out the hard way that it's not for niche projects such as DhammaTime. I only asked for the amount of money I would need to invest into equipment, services and licenses, I didn't even factor in living expenses. At the end of the campaign, I had 5% of the funding I thought I'd need. I told most, if not all of my friends and family about the campaign, as well as all of my existing customers and I even emailed a few select people I didn't know personally, but whose work I respect and of whom I thought maybe, just maybe, they'd be interested in helping out with this project. But, alas, despite my best efforts I came out 95% short of what I needed. Mind you I wasn't asking for millions either, €6500 I asked for and some nice perks where offered too. But 5% is more than nothing and I am grateful to everyone who participated. Using this money I maybe couldn't afford the video equipment I was hoping for, but I was able to pay the most crucial service fees and buy an old graphics tablet on Ebay, this is why in the video lessons you never see me talking, but they have these nice little whiteboard animations instead. I am extremely grateful to my friend Norbert who took me in to live with him rent-free. He made it possible for me, despite being rather poor, to afford to buy middle class audio equipment over the course of a couple of months. As for software licenses, I was able to build DhammaTime exclusively on free open source software. All of it is free as in freedom and most of it is free as in free beer too. There are too many projects to list them here, but I know that as soon as DhammaTime can carry itself financially, I'll start making some donations.

The challenges of creating stuff

After the planning phase and throughout the funding phase, there was the programming. Despite being able to use some pieces of free open source software for this website, there was plenty of programming work yet to be done. And it was done. Then, as the workload on programming lessened, content creation began. And while I know my way around writing software, making videos and recording quality audio was completely new to me. Recording was extremely frustrating at first because most of the recording consisted of retakes that had to be cut and pieced back together. Lucky for me that could be fixed with a little bit of programming. Now I use my presenter, that's a little gadget from my university days to click back and forth between slides during a presentation. Pressing "Previous Slide" cancels and retakes from the last safe point and "Next Slide" creates a new safe point. Recording like that, there's only the clicks from the presenter buttons to remove from the audio.

But I had to do re-recordings of whole lessons quite regularly. I believe I recorded the first lesson in full about 13 times. Each time I found a major flaw just when I thought I was finished. The first thing I discovered was that I couldn't do this live. Even after having taught in German and English many times, speaking freely for a recording didn't work for me. So I wrote a script of what I wanted to say. Then I discovered that hearing someone breathe is much more annoying in a recording than in real life, but that was easily dealt with by quieting each breath in the audio. Then I had trouble with plosives (meaning that every 'p' and some 'b's would cause a very noticeable low frequency thump) because I didn't know how to properly use a pop shield or work the mic. After fixing that as best I could I realized that 'f', 'th', and 's' couldn't be told apart because the microphone I was using wasn't sensitive enough. After having bought a new mic, I found that my mouth makes funny clicking noises that I had never heard in real life but that at times were quite prominent when recording with this more sensitive mic. And then the mic sounded "sandy", so I did a couple of experiments comparing tons short recordings to find the best angle for the mic. After many hours of trial and error and researching voice processing on the web, I found a workflow that perhaps isn't perfect, but seems to be working okay. I'm not completely satisfied, but my recordings are now at least fulfilling the ACX audiobook requirements. Thanks to my makeshift home studio and the fact that I was able to fit parts of Norbert's couch into my window, I now have a noise floor that is low enough to not require additional noise reduction after recording. Pretty decent for a newbie, eh?

The video recording underwent a similar process and my terrible handwriting still makes for a challenge today. Whenever I have to write more than three words, I have to record it about 10 times before I can assume that most people will be able to decipher what I have written. I was very close to use a computer program to create a regular slide show, but whiteboard animations have so much more charme, I'm glad I sticked with them.

Testing, testing, testing

With the first videos recorded and online, it was time to go into Beta. The Beta phase launched as the "5 Minutes to DhammaTime pioneer program", with all backers and a couple of select people invited. While quite possibly the smallest Beta on the planet, we found and ironed out a couple of bugs. We ran out of bugs to fix and so it's time to release, and just in time too!

Have a free membership for scrolling all the way down here

In order to get a nice community started, I wrote a software that enables me to hand out free memberships, so watch the DhammaTime Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus pages closely as there will be some giveaways. My current goal with DhammaTime is to get at least a handful of nice people before autumn is over. To that end, here are 10 codes for 3 month memberships. These codes can be redeemed any time in autumn, that is between today's equinox and the winter solstice at the end of December. They are first come first serve, so if you're interested in DhammaTime, now is probably the best time to join.

Here are the codes:

[2017-10-15: codes removed]

You can redeem them for three months of free DhammaTime membership on this page. Time is up. :) [2017-10-15: link removed because DhammaTime no longer has members-only areas]

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https://www.dhammatime.com/community/topic/archived-news-from-dhammatime-versions-1-0-and-2-0/#post-932 <![CDATA[Reply To: Archived News From DhammaTime versions 1.0 and 2.0]]> https://www.dhammatime.com/community/topic/archived-news-from-dhammatime-versions-1-0-and-2-0/#post-932 Sun, 15 Oct 2017 18:48:30 +0000 Markus Echterhoff 5 Minutes to DhammaTime, Welcome all Pioneers (2015-09-13)

DhammaTime.com is ready when you are. Everything is in place and we are looking for brave pioneers who want to be the first to take our meditation course and have their feedback shape the content that is yet to come.

DhammaTime will officially release when some more content is ready, but if you'd like to be a DhammaTime pioneer, please contact us!

Want to be informed when everything is ready? We have a newsletter, RSS feed and social media profiles, you can find the links just below the main menu.

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https://www.dhammatime.com/community/topic/archived-news-from-dhammatime-versions-1-0-and-2-0/#post-930 <![CDATA[Reply To: Archived News From DhammaTime versions 1.0 and 2.0]]> https://www.dhammatime.com/community/topic/archived-news-from-dhammatime-versions-1-0-and-2-0/#post-930 Sun, 15 Oct 2017 18:48:12 +0000 Markus Echterhoff hello world (2015-05-07)

Today, DhammaTime.com sees the light of day. For now, you can't see a lot here, except take in the design and sign up for the newsletter. Here is a peek of what is to come, and when.

On this website, the Dhamma will be explored from three major angles. Traditional Eastern views, Western scientific views and the pragmatic view of practice. In case you have no clue what Dhamma (also Dharma) actually means, let me define the Dhamma as a collection of concepts and techniques that help you increase well-being and diminish suffering, in a rather universal way. It is usually taught in the context of Eastern wisdom traditions and seems particularly clearly formulated in the tradition of early Buddhism. Note how this definition naturally allows for the Dhamma to be extracted from tradition and embedded in a new context, one that might be more suitable to the modern world. This is what DhammaTime is about. The mission of this website, in short, is to revisit ancient meditative techniques and ideas from a rational and scientific point of view, to filter out folk belief and superstition, but to keep what is helpful and holds up under scientific scrutiny. From this, a new formulation of the Dhamma emerges, where meditation practice is seen as mental training that shapes your mind and brain. You know how regular exercise is wholesome for the body? Meditation is like that for the mind.

Sometime this summer, if you are subscribed to the newsletter, you will receive an email about the "5 minutes to DhammaTime" program. This is an early access for brave pioneers, who are not shy to contact me when they see something odd on the website, and who enjoy giving feedback on the content. Everything is expected to work fine, but as most programmers would agree, this is an expectation that is rarely met by reality. Once the website is polished, DhammaTime.com will be opened up to the rest of the world, with fascinating content to come your way.

I remain with best wishes for your well-being.

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https://www.dhammatime.com/community/topic/archived-news-from-dhammatime-versions-1-0-and-2-0/#post-924 <![CDATA[Archived News From DhammaTime versions 1.0 and 2.0]]> https://www.dhammatime.com/community/topic/archived-news-from-dhammatime-versions-1-0-and-2-0/#post-924 Sun, 15 Oct 2017 18:48:01 +0000 Markus Echterhoff As of DhammaTime version 3.0, the blog is obsolete. All news and DhammaTime updates are posted on the community forums and other articles become part of the book.

The replies to this topic constitute an archive of the major updates from the first two years of DhammaTime.

Enjoy this trip down memory lane. :)

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https://www.dhammatime.com/community/topic/the-dhammatime-book-is-online/#post-912 <![CDATA[The DhammaTime Book is Online]]> https://www.dhammatime.com/community/topic/the-dhammatime-book-is-online/#post-912 Sat, 14 Oct 2017 14:53:04 +0000 Markus Echterhoff Here is the book and here is the changelog.

The TODO list for DhammaTime 3.0 is getting shorter! :)

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https://www.dhammatime.com/community/topic/dhammatime-is-now-accepting-donations/#post-898 <![CDATA[DhammaTime is now accepting donations]]> https://www.dhammatime.com/community/topic/dhammatime-is-now-accepting-donations/#post-898 Thu, 05 Oct 2017 18:32:07 +0000 Markus Echterhoff Another milestone towards DhammaTime 3.0 is complete. Your donations are welcome! :)

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https://www.dhammatime.com/community/topic/hello-world/#post-869 <![CDATA[hello world]]> https://www.dhammatime.com/community/topic/hello-world/#post-869 Wed, 27 Sep 2017 13:28:33 +0000 Markus Echterhoff As you may be aware, I'm in the process of upgrading DhammaTime to version 3.0 and community is an integral part of this release. In DhammaTime v1.0 and v2.0, there was a paid community. Having to pay for community access is an effective measure against spam and other unhelpful posts, but it turned out to also be an effective measure against having a lively community at all. XD

Just in case you are wondering where your account or your old posts are, I purged them to protect your privacy (I've sent you an email about that). If you wish to be part of the new community, please take a minute and enjoy the new and improved sign-up process. :)

What else is new and improved on the forums? I've added the Inspiration forum (for "Quotes, pictures, motivational one-liners and shower thoughts."), added privacy settings, made all those buttons nicely big and red, laid the groundwork to allow registering via social media accounts, and even programmed a beautiful new editor (bbP Markdown) just for the occasion.

As of this moment, the new DhammaTime community forums are open for business. Enjoy!

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