Bodhipaksa, and most of the guest teachers we have on Wildmind, are members of the Triratna Buddhist Order, the organization of committed Buddhist practitioners that is at the heart of the Triratna Buddhist Community. Triratna is a traditional Buddhist word meaning “Three Jewels,” and it signifies the Buddha (the ideal of Enlightenment), the Dharma (the path and practices making Enlightenment attainable, and the Sangha (the community of those pursuing the path, and especially those who have had an experience of Enlightenment).
The Triratna Buddhist Community is a Buddhist movement founded 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.
The Triratna Buddhist Community was founded by Urgyen Sangharakshita, an Englishman who had returned to the West from Asia with twenty years experience as a Buddhist monk and scholar. While in Asia he studied under teachers of the Theravada, Chinese Ch’an, and Tibetan Vajrayana traditions. His understanding of the teachings of Buddhism and his solid grounding in Western culture have enabled him to present a body of teachings that are particularly suited to Western practitioners.
At the heart of the Triratna Buddhist Community is the Triratna Buddhist Order (WBO), an association of more than 1500 men and women who have formally committed themselves to wholeheartedly pursuing their own spiritual development and facilitating that of others. Order members, Mitras (people who are deepening their contact with Buddhism and the Order), and Friends (those who participate in Triratna 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 centers, some working in team-based right livelihood businesses, and many living in Buddhist residential communities.
The Triratna Buddhist Community is a remarkably diverse organization, including people of many nationalities, from all walks of life, and living a wide range of lifestyles, both lay and monastic. Practice within Triratna 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.
Those involved with the Triratna Buddhist Community are encouraged to study widely in the Buddhist tradition, and Theravadin, Mahayana, and Vajrayana texts are regularly studied. The Triratna Buddhist Community draws inspiration from all but does not identify itself exclusively with any one of these traditions. We tend to regard ourselves simply as "Buddhists."