Meeting the Triratna Sangha

As part of their Module on Buddhism with Francis, Year 2 Undergraduate students tke part in two field-trips.  Here is Dominic’s thoughts about the recent visit to the Triratna Buddhist Sangha in Manchester:

Today was an insightful opportunity to learn more about a very much westernised branch of Buddhism. Our ordained Buddhist speaker began our tour by explaining about the key aspects of Triratna Buddhism and how it differs from many other Buddhist traditions. This is mainly due to the fact it has moved away from monastic, Asian traditions of clothing and not promoting the word of Dharma to people of the world. This therefore laid the foundations for my understanding of actually how far westernised Triratna Buddhism is. As you enter the Buddhist centre it is clearly apparent that opposed to just a place of worship this is a community centre which promotes spiritail along with health sessions to assist every aspect of your well being.

When speaking to the ordained Buddhist we covered various points regarding male and female communities, Triratna views on monogamy, marriage, Right Livelihood and even mental health. However one quote intrigued me greatly,

“give what you can, take what you need.”

This quote for me summed up the ethos of Buddhism and of the Triratna movement as a spirituality that wants to live a life of peace following the middle way.
We also learnt much about how the Triratna Buddhists practised Right Livelihood in a unique way compared to other Buddhist traditions. This was through opening various cafés and ethical businesses that seek to make a modest income and contribute to Post-modern Britain. Furthermore they run a lot of meditation sessions to provide social work and benefit those with mental health problems through mindfulness and loving kindness which were two key teachings of the Buddha.

To return back to the key aspects of Triratna Buddhism, it is useful to know that some members live in single sex communities in order to avoid distraction. Moreover, in terms of what attracts people to Triratna Buddhism in post-modern Britain, it is very much focused on rational questioning with a more rational attitude towards Dharma. This therefore fits more with modernity. Moreover they don’t present Dharma as a set of beliefs but infact present it as an enquiry which actually fits with the UK education system as we encourage children to question and enquire in their studies, especially in GCSE RE. Overall it encourages people to think for themselves and not just mindlessly follow as it is not a belief orientated path. The Buddha even asks us to look and see if things are true for ourselves.
Overall today was a very educational experience to learn more about a prevalent Buddhist tradition in our society. Moverover I very much look forward to carry on learning more about the Triratna tradition and Buddhism as a whole.