What is an Order member?
The Triratna Buddhist Order is a spiritual community of men and women who have committed themselves to working toward Enlightenment. In more traditional terms, Order members have made Going for Refuge to the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, the central point of their lives. There are over 1,000 Order members all over the world—about 500 in the UK, 250 in India, 50 in North America, and others in many different countries.
Order members are not necessarily ‘teachers’, nor do they engage in any particular prescribed lifestyle. Some Order members work in the nonprofit community, some in business, some are artists, some are given partial support to work full- or part-time at a center, some are married and live with their families, some are celibate, some are gay, some live with spiritual friends, and some live alone—not that this exhausts the possibilities! The point is that in the Triratna Buddhist Order, the emphasis is on spiritual commitment, not lifestyle. It is neither monastic nor lay. Order members wear a white neck sash called a “kesa”.
Buddhism is a path of collective and individual practice which means acting for the good because one has taken responsibility for one’s own thoughts and actions. The Triratna Buddhist Order aims to be a free association of individual men and women working toward a common goal. There are no rules per se. Part of accepting ordination, however, entails the voluntary practice of ten precepts in order to reduce suffering in one’s own life and in the world. The heart of Buddhist ethics is non-violence or loving-kindness. Men and women Order members take the same precepts, and practice on an equal basis.
Anyone who feels they would like to orient their life around Buddhist practice in this context can ask for ordination, and then attend the retreats that make up the ordination training course. These retreats are held around the world, though there are two dedicated retreat centers in the UK. Presently there are over a thousand people around the world who have requested ordination and are engaged in the ordination training process. It usually takes several years to become ready for ordination.
More information about the Triratna Buddhist Order and the Triratna Buddhist Community: www.fwbo.org