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The Triratna or Three Jewels - symbolising the realities that are the basis of the transcendental unity of all Buddhists

The Triratna Buddhist Order




























Dharmachari Jnanaketu and Dharmachari Anagarika Suvannavira



The Triratna Buddhist Order is a body of men and women who have committed themselves to following the Buddhist path to Enlightenment. They have made that commitment the central point of their lives. In particular, they have chosen to make the Triratna Buddhist Order the context in which they strive to gain Enlightenment.

Are Order Members monks or nuns?

The Triratna Buddhist Order is a radical alternative to the model found in some forms of Eastern Buddhism which regards everyone as either a monk or a lay person. The Order is open to any man or woman who is sincerely willing to commit themselves to the Ideals of Buddhism - to Buddhahood as exemplified by the Buddha Shakyamuni, to his Dharma or Path of Practice, and to fellowship with the Sangha - the community of disciples. The living of a monastic lifestyle is regarded as a secondary or tertiary matter. Order members are therefore 'One hundred percent Buddhists' - fully committed to the principial Path leading to Enlightenment, but are not necessarily monks or nuns. What matters is not so much the life-style that one adopts - though some life styles are more conducive to the development of skilful mental states than others - but the spiritual commitment shaping one's life. Commitment is primary, precepts secondary, life-style tertiary.

If they are not monks or nuns, how do Order Members live?

Some Order members are full-time meditators, living a monastic life in a retreat centre; others live with their families and pursue a career. Others work full-time for a Team-based Right Livelihood business, others again are supported to work full-time at their local FWBO centre.

What rules do Order Members have to follow?

There are no rules in the sense of limitations imposed by someone from outside. Instead there are precepts or ethical principles which one undertakes under one's own steam, as it were, wishing to become a better human being. Rules have a tendency to hinder rather than help - they often have the effect of preventing people from thinking for themselves. So there are no commandments to obey. But it is necessary to have a recognised measure, a yardstick of truly human, civilised behaviour to ensure a common vision, harmony and sense of purpose amongst Order members. So having become convinced that following the ten basic principles of ethical, skilful human conduct which were taught by the Buddha as leading to the happiness and well-being of the individual and of the society in which he or she lives, Order members therefore undertake, in the course of both a private and public ordination ceremony, to follow them. These basic principles encompass all actions of body, speech and mind, and with the help of them, one can work to develop a completely positive emotional and mental attitude in all situations. Men and women Order members take the same precepts, and strive to develop as individuals by means of identical criteria.

Suggested reading : The Ten Pillars of Buddhism , Sangharakshita, Windhorse Publications

How do you become an Order Member?

It takes a number of years - a minimum, usually, of about three, and up to fifteen and even twenty years has been known - to prepare oneself for ordination. Ordination takes place when one's commitment to the Path of Buddhism is seen to be effective. Anyone can ask for ordination as soon as they wish. The request is then considered by those Order members who know the person in question well.

Nurturing the development of men who have embarked upon the Ordination process which culminates in Ordination into the Western Buddhist Order is undertaken particularly by members of the Ordination team who live and work at Padmaloka, and also by other senior Order Members at our Retreat and Study Centres and City Centres.

No one is barred from participation in the ordination process, but everyone is asked to spend time preparing themselves by pursuing the training course until their readiness is acknowledged by consensus of the Ordination Team. Ordination involves a life-long commitment which requires self-knowledge, experience of the Buddhist path and effective friendships with Order members. The actual Ordination consists of two parts - a Private Ordination and a Public Ordination, carried out by Private and by Public Preceptors respectively. The Ceremonies are usually performed in the context of a special Ordination retreat.

The Order includes men and women of all races, and is now approaching a thousand members in over twenty countries. More than a thousand people are currently seeking ordination and are working to prepare themselves for it.


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This page was updated on Tuesday 12 April 2011