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Triratna Buddhist Community

The Triratna Buddhist Community is the Buddhist movement founded by Sangharakshita in London in 1967. It seeks to create all of the conditions needed for the effective practice of Buddhism in modern society, and has grown into a varied and energetic tradition of practice.

Drawing on twenty years' experience in Asia, studying under teachers of the Theravada, Chinese Ch'an, and Tibetan Vajrayana traditions, since his return to the UK, Sangharakshita has spent the last forty years drawing out the essence of these teachings as a guide to the Buddhist path for today's Dharma practitioners, wherever they live. The Triratna Buddhist Community draws inspiration from many Buddhist traditions but does not identify exclusively with any of them, preferring to consider its approach as simply "Buddhist".

There are Triratna Buddhist Community centres in twenty countries worldwide, including Mexico, Venezuela, and a number of locations in North America, and also India. Centres teach meditation and Buddhism through classes, courses and retreats, as well as celebrating Buddhist festival days and acting as a focus for the local Buddhist community. There are a number of Triratna Buddhist Community retreat centres, and activities in many fields, including the arts, health, and social activism. At the heart of the Triratna Buddhist Community is the Triratna Buddhist Order, a community of men and women who have formally committed themselves to pursuing their own spiritual development and supporting that of others. Preparation for ordination is undertaken with the support of the Order's network of spiritual friendship, and ordination is conferred on women and men on the same basis. Order members, Mitras (people who are deepening their contact with Buddhism and the Order), and Friends (people who participate in Triratna Buddhist Community activities but have made no formal commitment to practicing the Dharma within the context of the Triratna Buddhist Community) often live, work and practice together — some of them running public Dharma centres, some working in team-based right livelihood businesses, and may living in Buddhist residential communities.

The Triratna Buddhist Community is a diverse organisation, including people of many nationalities, from all walks of life, and living a wide range of lifestyles, both lay and monastic. Practice within the Triratna Buddhist Community does not require a monastic lifestyle, and many Order members, Mitras and Friends are married or have children. The essence of membership of the Order is simply a commitment to put Buddhist principles into action in one's life.

For more information about the Triratna Buddhist Community see www.thebuddhistcentre.com.

Sangharakshita

A Brief Biography of Sangharakshita

Sangharakshita is one of the founding fathers of Western Buddhism.

He was born Dennis Lingwood in South London, in 1925, and had a Church of England upbringing. But from an early age he developed an interest in the cultures and philosophies of the East. Aged 16, after reading the Diamond Sutra, he had a distinct realisation that he was a Buddhist.

He became involved in London's germinal Buddhist world in wartime Britain, and started to explore the Dharma through study and practice. Then conscription in the Second World War took him to Sri Lanka as a signals operator, and after the war he stayed on in India. For two years he lived as a wandering mendicant, and later he was ordained as a Theravadin Buddhist monk and named Sangharakshita ('protected by the spiritual community'). Sangharakshita lived for 14 years in the Himalayan town of Kalimpong, where he encountered venerable Tibetan Buddhist teachers — so he had the opportunity to study intensively under leading teachers from all major Buddhist traditions.

All the while he taught and wrote extensively. He is now the author of over 50 books. Most of these are expositions of the Buddhist tradition, but he has also published a large amount of poetry and four volumes of memoirs, as well as works on aspects of western culture and the arts from a Buddhist perspective. After 20 years in India, Sangharakshita returned to the UK to teach the Dharma. In 1967 he set up the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order — a new Buddhist movement for the modern West. The Friends of the Western Buddhist Order has recently changed its name to theTriratna Buddhist Community (Triratna meaning the three jewels that Buddhists hold most precious- the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha).

Sangharakshita has been a translator between East and West, between the traditional world and the modern, between timeless principles and relevant practices. His clear thinking, depth of experience and ecumenical approach have been appreciated around the world. He has always emphasised the decisive significance of commitment in the spiritual life, the value of spiritual friendship and community, the link between religion and the arts, and the need for a 'new society' that supports spiritual values. Sangharakshita played a key part in the revival of Buddhism in India, particularly through his work with the followers of Dr Ambedkar (formerly known as Untouchables)and around one third of the Triratna Buddhist Community is in India, Throughout his life Sangharakshita has been concerned with issues of social reform.

Now in his 90's, Sangharakshita has handed over his responsibilities for the Triratna Buddhist Community to a group of senior members of the Order. From his base in Birmingham, he is now focusing on personal contact with disciples, and on his writing.