Triratna Buddhist Order

“The not doing of anything evil. 

Undertaking to do what is ethically skilful. 

Complete purification of the mind.

This is the teaching of the Buddhas” 

Dhammapada v. 183 
The Triratna Buddhist Order and Community 

Triratna is a sanskrit term meaning ‘Three Jewels”: the Buddha, the Dharma (his teachings) and the Sangha (the community of all those who follow the teachings).The Triratna Buddhist Order and Community is a worldwide movement of people who try to engage with the Buddha’s teachings in the conditions of the modern world. Neither monastic nor lay, we are simply Buddhists, at varying stages of commitment and understanding, adopting to the best of our ability in our lives the ethical standards of the Dharma. 

The Triratna Buddhist Community is one of the many schools or traditions of Buddhism. It was founded by Urgyen Sangharakshita in 1967. He was an Englishman who had spent 20 years in the India, 16 of them as a Buddhist monk. Having returned to London in the mid-1960s he saw the need for a new Buddhist movement – a vision of something faithful to traditional values while being relevant to the modern world. 

Since then it has spread across the world, not just in the west but also in the east. We now have Buddhist Centres and Groups in 30 countries around the world and a major part of our order and movement is located in India. 

While the Triratna Buddhist Community shares many teachings and practices in common with other Buddhists it also has its own distinctive individuality. An individuality that developed as a result of practicing the Dharma under the conditions of modern, industrialised, urbanised, secularised, living conditions. 

What is Distinctive about Triratna? 

A Non-sectarian Movement because in principle it accepts the whole Buddhist tradition as it has developed over the centuries in the East; but it does not identify itself exclusively with any one Eastern school or tradition. It learns from all, appreciates all, and is inspired by all. 

A Unified Movement as participation is open to all regardless of nationality, race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, education, class or caste, cultural background, or age. 

It is also unified in that membership of the Order, which is at the heart of the movement, is open to both men and women on equal terms. 

Within the context of Traditional Buddhism ordination (or its equivalent) is not open to women in most of the traditions. 

The Centrality of the Act of Going for Refuge.

It is Going for Refuge to the Three Jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, that makes one a Buddhist. To the extent that you Go for Refuge to the 3 Jewels, to that extent you are a Buddhist. Though Going for Refuge is found in all forms of Buddhism, it rarely has a central place in them. That place is taken more often than not by something else – either by monastic ordination for example, or by a particular kind of meditation or some other spiritual practice. 

Members of the Triratna Buddhist Order are neither monk nor lay. 

The Triratna Buddhist Order is ‘neither monastic nor lay’, and order members live a variety of lifestyles. 

The Importance of Spiritual Friendship.

Friendship is a basic human need. Friendship and connection are a vital part of being human, and spiritual friends are vital to a practising Buddhist. Sangharakshita maintains that in practising Buddhism we need other people to learn from. Buddhism, he argues is best ‘caught’ not taught. 

Transforming Economic Life.

Recognising that in the modern world we need to participate in the economic life of the world we endeavour to transform our economic life in line with Buddhist principals. So, as best we can we try to have careers that are in line with the ethical precepts of non-harm, honesty, contentment, non-exploitation and mindfulness. 

The Importance of the Arts for the Spiritual Life.

In Triratna contexts there is an emphasis on the importance of culture: music, literature, drama, painting, sculpture, architecture and so on. They enlarge our imagination; they refine and direct our emotions. 

Triratna Buddhist Community Not about joining 

It’s not about joining something; rather it’s about exploration of the possibilities presented by what we have to offer. There is no expectation that people attending the centre will be Buddhists, nor that they will agree with Buddhist teachings. Classes are an opportunity to learn and test out Buddhist practices in the light of one’s own experience, and in an atmosphere of friendly, encouraging, open communication. 

Of course, at some point you may feel that you are interested in taking your commitment to following this Path more deeply, more seriously. You may even come to realise that you are in fact a Buddhist! If that happens then we can respond and will support you in making that commitment if and when you ever decide to do so. 

Levels of Engagement 

Perfectly ok, actually vitally important, that you relate to the Centre and its activities at whatever level you feel is appropriate for you. Some people are quite happy to relate as meditators. They meditate, they come to classes, go on retreat, do courses and so on. They can explore as much or as little of Buddhism that suits them, at their own pace and as appropriate to where they are in their life. 

For other people overtime they realise that Buddhism makes sense to them as a spiritual path, they come to realise that they are a Buddhist. At that point in their journey they may decide to make a commitment to following the Buddhist Path. Eventually they may even decide to take up the deeper training that leads to joining the Triratna Buddhist Order. 

Go to Triratna Buddhist Community website for more information