The Triratna Buddhist Community


The Triratna Buddhist Community (formally known as the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order or FWBO) are men and women from all walks of life and from around the globe. We are an international movement dedicated to communicating Buddhist teachings in ways appropriate to the modern world.

At the heart of the movement is the Triratna Buddhist Order (formally the Western Buddhist Order). It was founded, along with the wider community of practitioners, by the Englishman Sangharakshita. He was ordained a Theravadin Bhikkhu in the 1950's and whilst living and practising on the Indo-Tibetan border he met many Tibetan Lamas who were fleeing the Chinese invasion of Tibet. He went on to take initiations from some of these great teachers. Now in his 80's he has already handed over all of his administrative and spiritual responsibilities so that the movement is run by his first and second generation disciples. It is now entering a new phase of growth and consolidation; learning from, and building upon its history. Developing into a broad-based, mature and experienced spiritual community.

When the movement was formed in the 1960's it was a clear attempt to break away from two main problems: the stuffiness of British Buddhism at the time, and the formalism so evident in much of the traditional Buddhist world. These factors were at the forefront in the 1960's although since that time the scene has changed considerably. Sangharakshita has created a spiritual movement which draws from all traditions, seeking what is essential and leaving out what is simply cultural. The central core of his philosophy, which informs every aspect of the movement is that Going for Refuge to the Three Jewels (representing Buddha, Dharma and Sangha) is the primary Buddhist act. Going for Refuge is what makes one a Buddhist, and is the factor that unifies all Buddhist practices and teachings. The movement ordains men and women on an equal footing, and has created residential communities of Buddhists, retreat centres and right-livelihood businesses.

The Indian wing of our movement mainly draws from the Dalit (lit. oppressed) communities. These people have long suffered the abuses of the caste system of India. In 1956 their great leader Dr Ambedkar having come to the conclusion that no advancement was possible for his people as Hindus, lead them in converting to Buddhism. At that time Sangharakshita was in contact with many of the Dalit groups and met Dr Ambekar shortly before his untimely death just 7 weeks after the conversion ceremony. These links were maintained over the years and when Sangharakshita returned to India in the 1970's he was greeted with such enthusiasm that he asked several of his disciples to stay on and establish Buddhist activities there. Today it is a vibrant and growing Sangha.


The emblem of the Triratna Buddhist Order is the Three Jewels set on a red lotus, and surrounded by a halo of flames which represents the potential inherent in every being and the fires of transformation .

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