Welcome. Let me put the kettle on (fresh coffee, or we’ve got 108 varieties of of tea!) and I’ll show you around the place.
When you visit any new building it takes a little while to orient yourself and suss out how things work, and so we’ll make it easier for you with the instructions below. Follow a few steps every time you visit and you’ll soon feel at home.
Like any community, you’ll receive more if you put more in. Make a weekly appointment to check in, welcome others who post introductions, put short comments on teachings you’ve enjoyed, ask questions and post photos of what you’re getting up to in your life. In this way we’ll all begin to get to know each other and form a real sangha which is based on friendliness, honesty and an interest in living a good life. Some of us already know each other in ‘real life’, some don’t (yet) – all are welcome, regardless of their beliefs or background. We want this place to be warm, nourishing and inspiring to those who spend time here. So, let’s get started!
1. Register. This is like walking through the door for the first time rather than walking past & looking in the windows : ) When you first visit the site, click on ‘register’ on the red menu along the top. This will take you to the Create an Account page where you need to fill in your name, email etc. Do say a little something in the ‘About you’ section even if you want to change it later. Don’t forget to click on the ‘I’m not a robot’ verification. Press ‘Complete sign up’ (bottom right) when you’re done and follow any instructions if you’ve missed anything out (i.e. if there’s an extra space after your email it won’t accept it). It can be fiddly but you’ll only need to do it once… When it’s done you’ll get a page saying ‘Check your email to activate your account’ – the email will have a link on it which you need to click. If you don’t get the email let us know and we can activate it from our end. Now log in with your email and password. There – you’re in!
2. Get your bearings. Along the top red menu is ‘Virtual Rooms’ – this is where you’ll find all the different discussion groups & conversations. You can also enter the rooms through the list on the left hand side. Click on this and you’ll see the whole temple. If you click on a room (try this by clicking on ‘Shrine Room’ now) it’ll show you the different discussion groups taking place in that room with a bit of information about each one (e.g. Buddhist Q&A or Dharmavidya’s Questions in the Sand).
3. Give yourself a face! It’s nice to know who we’re talking to. Click on ‘Profile’ which is on the red menu bar and then ‘Change profile picture’. Drag the squares to crop it and then press ‘crop image’ underneath. If you upload a photo and it looks blurry when you try and crop it, it may be that your image is too big – make it smaller and upload it again. If you get stuck just let us know.
4. Say hello. Go back to Virtual Rooms and click on the Introductions conversation which you’ll find in the Entrance Hall. The most recent person to say hello will be at the top of the list – click on their introduction now by clicking on their name. You can then read about them and make a comment by scrolling down and putting your text in the box and clicking ‘submit’ (only add tags if you want to). Do welcome them even if you just say ‘hello!’. Now, you’ll be back in the introduction – if you scroll up you can go back to Introductions by clicking on it – it should bring up the list of names again. Add your own introduction by scrolling down, putting your name as the ‘Topic title’ and putting your introduction in the box below before clicking submit. Add photos, say whatever you like – and press submit.
5. Go exploring! Explore the different conversations in the Virtual Rooms. Don’t be shy about saying things even if you’re worried they might sound silly or insignificant – in a virtual environment we only know that each other are here if we say something, and so things like ‘enjoyed this’ or ‘thanks for sharing’ it turns this from being a static place where we find information into a community.
6. Check your notifications. ‘My notifications’ is like your mailbox – it’s where you can see who’s left messages for you. Click on the left hand column (e.g. ‘Andrew left you a notification’) to go to the comments, and click ‘read’ or ‘delete’ on the right hand column when you’ve dealt with it. You can also delete them all at the same time by clicking the square to the left of ‘Notification’ (top left) and then changing the bulk action at the bottom and clicking ‘Apply’.
7. See what’s going on in the temple. If you visit ‘Home’ on the red menu bar it’ll show you the latest goings-on, like your feed in Facebook. You can scroll down and add comments, e.g. when you see someone has just joined do say ‘hello’ to them. You can also visit topics people have started by clicking on the red links. This is a good place to check into whenever you visit the temple.
8. Do some reading in the shrine room. If you don’t know anything about Pureland Buddhism it might help to read this page first, and maybe think about taking our lovely Introductory online course or reading Kaspa and Satya’s introductory book. When you’ve done this do go to the shrine room and click on Dharmavidya’s Teachings or Questions for Dharmavidya – Questions in the Sand. There are plenty here for you to be getting on with! If you enjoy a particular teaching do say so in a comment – this will bring it up on the Home screen and will allow other people to read it and share it. Another way to explore the teachings is to click on Virtual Rooms and put a word in the search box at the top – if you’re interested in ‘guilt’ or ‘joy’ you can bring up all the posts on the site including these words, which will probably include some of the teachings. You can also read teachings by other Amida Shu teachers in the shrine room such as Acharyas Sujatin and Modgala, Ananda from Hawaii, and Kaspa, Satya and Jnanamati from Malvern.
9. Consider posting some personal sharing. The only section that is private (i.e. only visible to members of the site) is the ‘Private: personal sharing’ section in the Living Room. New posts here won’t come up on the Home page and so you’ll have to visit it to find out if anyone has written anything. If you’d like to add a diary, use your name as the title and then add each sharing to the same post in the ‘reply’ box. Do respond to others but we generally don’t give advice (unless explicitly requested by the person sharing) – just thank people for sharing or let them know if you identify with what they’ve said. Do keep the things you read in this section confidential, and be conscious of appropriate confidentiality throughout the site – treating others as you’d wish to be treated.
10. Keep coming back! There are places to post recipes, photos of your pets, and your art or creative writing. There are places to ask questions about Buddhism and to read news from the local Amida Shu centres. If there’s a conversation you’d like to start, start it. If you think we could make a new section, write and suggest it. We built the temple but it’s yours now – and we want it to serve the community – you. Enjoy! Namo Amida Bu.