What is an Order member?

Local Order members and visitors from England and India

The Triratna ("Three Jewels") Buddhist Order is a spiritual community of people who have committed themselves to the Buddhist Path. 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 2000 Order members all over the world---most in the UK and in India.

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 live with spiritual friends, and some live alone---not that this exhausts the possibilities! The point is that in this community 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 TBO aims to be a free association of individuals 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.

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. Though there are two dedicated retreat centers in the UK, these retreats are held around the world including in the U.S. 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.