The areas of practice that are taught at every triratna centre and followed by all Order members and Mitras are ethics, meditation, devotional ritual, and study of the Dharma.
Buddhism has developed many methods for working on the mind, but meditation is probably the most important. Buddhist meditation practices are ways of developing concentration, clarity and emotional positivity. Meditation teaches one the patterns and habits of the mind, and serious and regular meditation is a way to cultivate new, more positive states such as calm, concentration and awareness, and emotions like loving-kindness (or metta), compassion and equanimity. With discipline and patience the positive, calm, and focused states of meditative awareness can become profoundly tranquil and energized. Using the awareness developed in meditation it is possible to gain a fuller understanding of oneself, other people, and life itself.
Over the millennia countless meditation practices have been developed in the Buddhist tradition. All of them may be described as ‘mind-trainings’, but they take many approaches. The foundation of all Buddhist meditation, however, is the cultivation of a calm and positive state of mind.
Each year thousands of people learn meditation at triratna centres. They learn two basic meditations that develop these qualities: the mindfulness of breathing and the loving-kindness meditation or metta bhavana.
As techniques, these meditation practices are very simple. However, reading about them is no substitute for learning from an experienced and reliable teacher who can offer guidance in how to apply the technique and deal with difficulties. Perhaps most importantly, a teacher can offer the encouragement and inspiration of their own example.
Because Buddhism is a path of transformation it is not enough to understand it intellectually. Buddhism is reasonable, but practicing it effectively demands a response to its ideals and a willingness to put its teachings into effect. Emotional and imaginative engagement are also essential.
Buddhist devotional rituals or pujas offer a focus for cultivating such faith, and pujas are important within the triratna community. They include three main elements: reciting verses, chanting, and making offerings. The verses are associated with the principal tenets and ideals of Buddhism, and give expression to the spiritual aspiration that makes someone a Buddhist. Several liturgies have been drawn from traditional sources or composed more recently. Pujas are a regular feature of the life of triratna centres, a focus for the sangha to come together in collective expression of their shared aspirations.
For the Buddha’s teachings to take you to Enlightenment, Buddhist tradition says you must do three things: listen, reflect, and meditate on them.
First it is important to know what Buddhism teaches. The Buddha had a radical and distinctive approach to life, which underlies ethical behaviour, meditation and other Buddhist practices. Talks and courses, which are held at every triratna centre, are opportunities to hear the Dharma in this way. Many centres also have bookshops or lending libraries with texts from across the Buddhist tradition.