A distinctive feature of the Triratna Buddhist Order is that it is a unified spiritual community, in the sense that it does not make artificial divisions between its members. Membership is open to all, irrespective of age, sex, race, class, caste, or any other such criterion.
People are involved simply as individuals. In particular, an order in which men and women are members on the same terms and with equal status, though not unique, is something of an innovation in Buddhist history.
Men and women Order members take the same precepts, vows, and practice on an equal basis.
Sangharakshita is the founder of the Triratna Buddhist Order and Triratna Buddhist Community. He was born in South London in 1925 and given the name Dennis Lingwood. In his youth he was very interested in the cultures and philosophies of the East, and at the age of sixteen realized that he was a Buddhist after reading the Diamond Sutra. The Second World War took him to India.
Following the war he stayed on and was eventually ordained a bhikhu (a Buddhist monk) at which time he was given the name Sangharakshita which means ‘protector of the spiritual community’. He spent over twenty years in India studying with teachers from the major Buddhist traditions.
On returning to England in the sixties, Sangharakshita founded the FWBO and the WBO. His aim was to help Buddhism take firm root in the West in a form unburdened by the cultural accretions of any particular nationality or tradition. It is a translation of the universal principles of Buddhism for modern, secularized societies. Sangharakshita, now in his 80’s, is no longer involved in the day-to-day activities of the Triratna Buddhist Community.