Buddhist Centre Features

Sangharakshita's Seminars For The Digital Age - Cultivating the Heart of Patience

On Mon, 1 August, 2016 - 12:11
Candradasa's picture

*Updated* Now available DRM-free for ePub and Kindle! 


For over 40 years, we have been producing transcriptions of full-length Dharma seminars by Urgyen Sangharakshita, founder of the Triratna Buddhist Community. This previously unpublished week-long seminar on a key section of Shantideva’s classic text, ‘The Bodhicaryavatara’, is a radical digital re-imagining of what a seminar record can be in the age of the iPad.

We’ve used multi-touch to bring the conversations and commentary to life, animating everything from footnotes and references to the famous text itself, as well as all the historical and contextual material that helps us understand its profound ideas more deeply. With generous audio, video, and image support - and an innovative, meticulously researched internal web referencing system - we hope any reader engaged in the practice of mindfulness, kindness, and patience will experience a sense of deep delight as they explore a valuable Dharma resource that can be used for years to come.

iBooks multi-touch edition (for iPad)

NB. The multi-touch edition of book requires the iBooks app, so it only works on Apple computers, iPads, and later iPhones (bigger screen is better for this format). There is no direct equivalent at present on other platforms. See below for other versions, accessible on all devices.

eBook edition (ePub)

​Kindle edition

​Free edition

The full text of this seminar has been incorporated as text and PDF into the free archive available on Free Buddhist Audio

View the Triratna online transcription archive

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sudaya's picture

I can understand the IOS exclusivity but still feel it’s a shame all the millions of Android users (the less wealthy, usually) are excluded from this.It’s a good start anyway, well done.

Candradasa's picture

Hi Sudaya,

Thanks for your thoughts. Without getting into the Apple v Android thing (both of whose users I’d argue are ”wealthy” relative to the majority of non-smartphone users in the world - Samsung’s Galaxy phones are amongst the most popular and aren’t cheaper than iPhones), we certainly aren’t trying to exclude anyone. Dharmachakra has been giving away the seminars for free since we took over responsibility for them and we’ll continue to do so - including the text of this one, which will be incorporated into the free archive. 

In this case, what we’re exploring and experimenting with (and looking to celebrate a bit!) is how one could make a radically different kind of tool for Dharma study that uses contemporary technology to let people go deeper into the material and understand its context; and to appeal to the next generations of users who use multi-touch, media-rich digital textbooks in education and at home. We wanted to push the boundaries a bit and see what was possible in an age where, whatever one thinks of Apple, new kinds of devices, led by the iPad, have changed the way people learn and play and inform themselves. 

When we looked at the options at the start of this project two years ago, Apple’s technology was a bit more dominant and - crucially - only they offered software that let us build something like this relatively easily. We didn’t then (and don’t quite yet) have the budgets for full-scale app development on iOS or Android, which would be the other way to go. We looked again recently to see if an Android equivalent was available now. Unfortunately there really isn’t. The closest thing to iBooks is Amazon’s Kindle Fire textbook authoring software. We tried to port over the multi-touch content using this but it was such a poor experience for the user we decided to focus on making better ePub versions for all devices, and offer standard Kindle versions for those who don’t use either Apple or Android tablets to do their digital reading (since that’s the dominant platform for digital text).

If you have access to a large-screen Apple device (Mac or iPad) I’d recommend trying the free sample to get a feel for what the technology can enable. We’ll try and make a video of the multi-touch book in action too. 

Of course, we’ll always struggle as a small, under-resourced team to keep up with the demands of producing Dharma content that is both contemporary in its approach and works on (literally) hundreds of variant devices and tens of software platforms / versions of software platforms. But we have to start somewhere, and after a lot of work we’re glad this is out in the world, even if the audience is necessarily limited. 

Bodhidasa's picture

This could not have come at a better time. The additional links and images make the experience of reading the seminar a more intimate one. By following the hyperlinks to seek clarification, I almost feel as if I am present and having my questions answered. Plus the elegance of the design makes reading the seminar and aesthetic experience. Thank you. 

Jinamitra's picture

This is a really excellent - and useful - production. Attractive to read (and enlivened by colour and b/w illustrations), easy to access - it just goes to show how technology can improve the reading/learning process, going beyond the ‘footnotes at the bottom of the page’ or worse ‘at the end of the book’. A great advance on the old paper versions - if you can’t remember what ‘apaya’ means or implies other than ‘downfall’, you have instant access to an internet source. Of course, if you are not online, it is more restricted, though key ‘notes’ (samsara, upeksha, kshanti) are available offline. I suspect it is in process of development because a term such as virya appears adjacent to kshanti, but does not have an off-line explanation. However, that is the beauty of this iBooks format - that it can be updated and improved. Navigation is clear, with contents always accessible on one tap. With ‘period’ photos of the seminar participants themselves - led by Sangharakshita of course - projects the reader even more vividly into a ‘Bhante’ seminar, providing an insight into those rather special events. A production like this involves a considerable amount of work - in academic, coding and creative terms - but it is clearly justified. Hopefully, more to come from Dharmacakra. Jinamitra

Tom Schulte's picture

What a fine idea! Especially for us hearing impaired folks in rural areas! Donation to support the work on the way!

Centre Team's picture

This book is now available for all readers as an ePub and Kindle eBook - either as a full-length seminar or as edited highlights. See above for links.