An Order member is a man or a woman who has committed themselves to following the path of the Buddha practising his teachings within the context of the Triratna Buddhist Order. Ordination into this Order is marked by a ritual ceremony usually held on an ordination retreat. Order members take the Three Jewels (the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha) as their main guiding principles and values for the rest of their life.
The Order, founded by Sangharakshita in 1968, is neither monastic nor lay. It is a network of friendships built over time from practising together, and sometimes from working or living together. It is also ecumenical, drawing for its inspiration from all Buddhist traditions. Men and women are ordained on the same basis and are referred to as Dharmachari (men) or Dharmacharini (women) meaning `farer in the Dharma’.
Order members may live in communities with other Triratna Buddhists, or may live in family situations, with a partner, or alone. Some find their livelihood within the movement and others from outside it. This world-wide community is united by a common `Going for Refuge’ or commitment to the Three Jewels: a shared ideal and bond which transcends the more usual divisions of class, race, culture, or gender.
The Buddha’s teachings help people to free themselves from the sufferings of the human condition. This motivation lies at the heart of Order Members activities in the world.