A Sangha For Soun-Ja

“Sangham saranam gacchami

Dutiyampi, Sangham saranam gacchami

Tatiyampi, Sangham saranam gacchami”

When my car broke down back in 2008, I did not recognize the event as the catalyst of my journey toward enlightenment.  It simply struck me as an inconvenience.  My Dad provided the jump and implored me to “drive around awhile” or the car would not start again once I turned it off.

So I drove aimlessly… and discovered a Theravada Buddhist temple about 7 min from my house.

This post is not about Buddhism, though I did eventually convert.  Instead this post is about a word I learned under the compassionate tutelage of the resident Thai Buddhist monks.

This post is about the importance of finding a Sangha.

This word has an overtly religious definition. It is a community of Buddhist monks, nuns and laypeople. But I think that it can be uncoupled from its religious baggage.

An agnostic definition for the word Sangha would be “a group of like minded people who freely decide to meet together to pursue a common goal or interest.”

Think of the television show Cheers.  I never actually watched this show myself, but I love the theme song.  In particular I am thinking about the part that says:

“Where everybody knows your name

And your always glad you came….”

When you find a place like that, with people that make you feel like that, you have found your Sangha.

When it comes to programming, I have been journeying alone without a Sangha.  I have no one to ask questions and no one to encourage me.  It is true that my bootcamp will start on June 8th, but until then I found myself thinking that it would be nice to have some community along the way that could aid me in my endeavor.

This sentiment, that I need mentors, friends and colleagues, in short that I need a programming Sangha led me to check out a website called meetup.com.

Let me be clear.  This is not a dating website.  Rather it is a repository for interests.  It works like this.  You go the site, type in an interest like “pottery” or “cats” and the site brings up groups of people that are devoted to that particular interest.  There are bookclub meetups, and running meetups, and sewing meetups, and spanish language meetups.  A meetup exits for just about any interest you can image.  The site tells you when the groups are meeting in your area and provides directions to the meeting destination.

I decided to try a Web Developer Group meetup.  So on April 16th, I drove downtown even though I hate driving downtown and found the destination.

I would be lying if I said that the group was overly welcoming.  I walked in the door and no one even flinched to acknowledge the obvious new-comer in their midst.  My introverted awkwardness began to scream for me to RUN!

But I beat back my panic and entered the room.  I saw a lot of people milling about talking in groups.  I saw a couple people typing something cryptic onto computer screens.  Everyone in this meetup already seemed to know one another or they had brought a friend with them.

Darn! Why didn’t I bring someone with me!

Determined, I walked straight to the front of the room and took a seat.  A lecture was scheduled about something called UI/UX so I decided if there is no one I can talk to, I could at least get a good seat for the talk.

Once the lecture started, things got a lot better.  Pizzas and sodas were passed around and I was able to make a little small talk with some of the more experienced developers.

I learned that UI/UX stands for user interface and user experience respectively.  I learned how people in the industry test a design for a website to ensure that it will be user friendly.

I totally enjoyed the talk as I picked up cool new design words for me like “affordance” and “signifier.”

After the lecture, the group decided to start a programming book club!  Reading and Programming!  I was on cloud 9.  I signed up right away and that should be starting next week or the week after that.

I left feeling content and pleased that I had learned so much in such a short period of time.

Since then I have signed up for another meetup that is going to teach the Python computer language from scratch!  This is a new group that is just forming so hopefully I will be able to get in on the ground floor and not feel like such an outsider.

I have not found my programming Sangha yet.  Maybe it will be my fellow bootcampers.  Maybe in time it will be one of these meetups.  I’m not sure, but the importance of networking with those that share your common interests in undeniable.  I will keep seaching.

I go to the Sangha for refuge.

A second time, I go to the Sangha for refuge.

A third time, I go to the Sangha for refuge.”

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7 thoughts on “A Sangha For Soun-Ja

  1. Great post. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

    P.S. Walking into a group setting like that is my worst nightmare!

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  2. I love this post! I, too, am part of Meetup.com but have yet to find any groups in my area. There are a lot in the next state (NYC) but it’s to much to travel there all of the time. I hope you find your Programming/Web Dev Sangha soon.

    Oh and I’m actually just beginning my journey into Buddhism – Mahayana. I’m looking for a temple in my area as we speak.

    It’s so funny because the more I learn about you, the more I realize we have so much in common.

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  3. You are too cool. I’ve been getting your updates in my inbox and finally caught up to today’s post just as you posted it! All the feels and snaps and whatever other hipster meta hashbrown thing people say.

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  4. I know you will find your programming Sangha. I sure enjoy reading your posts

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