The TRIRATNA BUDDHIST ORDER (the Order of The Three Jewels and formerly The Western Buddhist Order) was founded in 1968 by the late Sangharakshita, English-born Buddhist teacher and former monk.
Sangharakshita had spent 20 years in India involved in Buddhist activities before, on a visit to London in 1964, realized that the West seemed ready and open to take on an appropriate blend of Buddhism. He moved back to England in 1967 to begin the creation of a new Buddhist Order,
The Western Buddhist Order and the associated movement that he created slowly expanded to include many city-based centres and rural retreat centres before newly-ordained members took this particular model of Buddhism to other countries. By 2010, it was no longer a purely Western movement and it took on the new title of the Triratna Buddhist Order, the Three jewels of its title being symbols of the core elements of Buddha (the historical Buddha and our potential for Buddhahood), the Dharma (the teaching of the Buddha and the path to Enlightenment) and the Sangha (the community of those throughout time and space who follow that path).
Sangharakshita spoke often of how he saw himself as a ‘translator’ of the Buddha’s teachings, enabling an understanding to be reached by all and giving emphasis to aspects more applicable to modern (often Western) life. His teachings have found their way full-circle back to India where large numbers of ex-Untouchables have followed in the footsteps of their leader Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar in becoming Buddhist.
The emphases of the TBO are:
· An approach tailored to suit Western society
· Commitment to spiritual practice over choice of lifestyle. To this end, people who join the Western Buddhist Order have the same ordination regardless of gender, occupation or domestic circumstances.
· Openness to all interpretations of the Buddhist tradition e.g. Theravada, Zen, Tibetan.
· Enquiry and discussion in addition to instruction and encouragement of people to take responsibility for their own practice.
· Friendship among those who regularly attend and run our classes.