International Member of the EBU
The Triratna Buddhist Order and Community
The Triratna Buddhist Order and Community began in 1967 as the Western Buddhist Order and Friends of the Western Buddhist Order. Founded by the Venerable Urgyen Sangharakshita in London, UK, Triratna has become a worldwide community.
Drawing selectively on the teachings of the three historical phases of Buddhism, we exist to enable women and men to Go For Refuge to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.
Neither lay nor monastic, we have around 2,300 ordained women and men throughout the world, including 1,293 in 16 European countries (580 women and 713 men, of whom 478 women and 590 men are in the UK). We recognise these numbers include a small number of Order members who identify as non-binary but trained for ordination as women or as men.
(Figures correct at September 2019.)
An Englishman, Sangharakshita was ordained a Theravadin monk in India in 1950 and studied with teachers from several other major Buddhist traditions. Returning to the UK in the mid-1960s, he began to develop new forms of teaching and practice suitable for modern westerners. He founded the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order in 1967 and conducted his first ordinations to the Western Buddhist Order in 1968.
There are now Triratna Buddhist activities in 28 countries around the world, including China and Russia, and among the very large numbers of “new Buddhists” in India, mostly 'Dalit' people formerly known as "Untouchables".
No longer purely western, the WBO and FWBO changed their names in 2010, becoming the Triratna Buddhist Order and the Triratna Buddhist Community, respectively.
Drawing on the whole stream of Buddhist inspiration, Triratna is aligned to no one traditional school. Our founder sees Going For Refuge to the Three Jewels (triratna in Sanskrit) - Buddha, Dharma and Sangha - as the definitive act of a Buddhist, and the basis for unity among all Buddhists.
At our Buddhist centres we teach meditation, study the Buddha’s teaching, engage with the arts, support each other, and engage in our local communities. We also promote residential communities and Right Livelihood businesses, in which Buddhists can live and work together.
Anyone who attends a Triratna class is a Friend. Anyone wishing to make a deeper commitment to Buddhist practice with Triratna may ask to become a Mitra (‘friend’ in Sanskrit). Those wishing to deepen their practice further may wish to ask to train for ordination.
Women and men are ordained equally, women by women and men by men. Neither monastic nor lay, the Order is open to anyone sincerely and effectively committed to the Buddhist path, regardless of caste, class, ethnicity, sex, gender-identity or sexual orientation. However, though Triratna as a whole includes non-binary people we do not yet have the resources to offer a full non-binary system of Dharma training or a non-binary ordination training course.
Addressing ethical misconduct in Triratna
Ethical misconduct is a common concern in many sanghas today. Triratna takes very seriously allegations of misconduct by any of its members, no matter how senior, and will make every effort to address such concerns. Where a concern may be criminal it is our policy that it is reported to the police, without exception. Anyone with concerns is welcome to email our Safeguarding team at firstname.lastname@example.org.