Manchester Buddhist Centre is part of the Triratna Buddhist Community
The Triratna Buddhist Order and Community are a worldwide movement, founded by Sangharakshita in 1967. Triratna is a Sanskrit word meaning three jewels. Traditionally there are three jewels at the heart of a Buddhist life: the Buddha as example, his teachings (the Dharma), and the Sangha, or community.
About Sangharakshita and Triratna
For many people Sangharakshita has brought the riches of the Dharma to life, synthesising the essential elements of what it means to be a committed, practising Buddhist, transforming both ourselves and the world around us.
He has been a translator between east and west, tradition and the modern world, emphasising the value of spiritual friendship and community, the link between religion and the arts, and the need for contexts that support our practice and values.
He is the author of over fifty books. In 2016, Windhorse Publications began publishing his Complete Works project.
Sangharakshita was born Dennis Lingwood in London in 1925. He developed an early interest in Eastern philosophies, and, aged 16, read the Diamond Sutra, realising that he was a Buddhist. He became involved in wartime London’s small Buddhist world, until conscription took him to India. After the war he stayed on, eventually being ordained as a Theravadin monk and given the name Sangharakshita – “protector of (or protected by) the spiritual community”. He lived for fourteen years in Kalimpong, studying intensively under leading Buddhist teachers. Throughout this time he wrote about and taught the Dharma, playing a key part in the revival of Buddhism in India, through his work with the followers of Dr Ambedkar.
In 1967, Sangharakshita returned to the UK, and set up the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order – a new Buddhist movement for the modern West. The first ordinations into the Western Buddhist Order took place in 1968.
“Sangharakshita was one of the pioneers of Western Buddhism who, along with other teachers such as Shunryu Suzuki and Chogyam Trungpa, was able to communicate with this young counterculture and create one of the first actively practising sanghas in the West. Like many of those first Buddhist teachers he was unconventional, not to say controversial, willing to experiment and break out of the old Buddhist modes of organization and lifestyle. The time was right for a radical break, for something new and creative to emerge.”
The Triratna Story
Things grew rapidly throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s. The Order now numbers two thousand members worldwide, and a third of the Order is in India. In 2010, the FWBO/WBO changed its name to Triratna – Three Jewels – to reflect its internationality.
In the late 1990s, Sangharakshita handed on his responsibilities to a College of Public Preceptors made up of some his most senior disciples. Their main job is overseeing the Triratna ordination process, but they also see their role as developing and communicating Sangharakshita’s presentation of the Dharma. Now in his nineties, Sangharakshita lives at Adhisthana in Herefordshire. Though old and frail, he still has personal contact with friends and disciples.
The College of Public Preceptors at Adhisthana
At fifty years old, Triratna is a new and developing Buddhist tradition. Reconsidering how Buddhist practice is lived, fully, in the modern world has not been without its difficulties.
“It’s the story of a circle of friends dreaming a dream, and working to make it a reality. They were, by necessity, working out what it was they were trying to do as they went along. It’s the story of how a community evolves…of idealism and naivety, growth and growing pains, hard work and burnout, friendship and fallout.”
The Triratna Story
Criticism and Controversy
A huge amount was achieved in a very short time. However, mistakes were made, especially in the early days. For example, there has been controversy surrounding the sexual activity of Sangharakshita, and things also went badly wrong at Croydon Buddhist Centre in the 1980s.
Triratna has attracted its fair share of criticism, much of it valid and useful. Sangharakshita has recently apologised for hurt he has caused, and the College of Public Preceptors also recently issued a statement welcoming his apology. The issues involved continue to be widely debated within the Order. There are further lessons to be learned and we are actively seeking ways to resolve our past.
You can find out more about the history of Triratna on its main website – thebuddhistcentre.com – and by reading The Triratna Story (full text, pdf format). It may help to talk to Order members at the Manchester Centre to hear their perspective on Triratna’s history. You can also read our Centre’s safeguarding policies and ethical guidelines.
Triratna in Manchester
As part of the Triratna tradition, Manchester Buddhist Centre aims to build on and be part of developing Sangharakshita’s vision of communicating the Buddha’s teachings.
For those who want to commit themselves to the Buddhist path, we have a clear path of training to help you develop and deepen your understanding, in the context of a lively sangha of friends helping each other take their practice deeper, sharing the joys and challenges of spiritual life.
Our community isn’t perfect, but we believe we are actively engaged in working out how to put the Buddha’s teachings into practice in a rich, complex and diverse city and world.
Whatever has the nature of arising has the nature of ceasingThe Buddha
Manchester Buddhist Centre
16-20 Turner Street
Northern Quarter, M4 1DZ
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Fri: 10am - 5.30pm
Sat: 10am - 5pm
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