Our policies

Preamble

The Triratna Buddhist Order has been defined by its founder, Urgyen Sangharakshita, as a ‘free association of individuals’. All Triratna Buddhist Centres aim to support the awakening of the individual[1], in an atmosphere of kindness, safety, and positive spiritual stimulation.

These guidelines are a re-statement of the Buddhist ethical precepts with a view to how those precepts may be practised in the context of public classes and events at the Birmingham Buddhist Centre. Therefore they are of particular relevance to all those who are engaged in teaching, leading, supporting or administering Buddhist activities at the Centre, although we hope and recommend that they be observed by anyone attending the Centre in any capacity.

FIRST PRECEPT

I undertake to abstain from harming living beings.

With deeds of loving-kindness I purify my body.

We welcome all human beings at the Birmingham Buddhist Centre, regardless of gender, race, caste, sexual orientation, or any other category.

We aspire to treat one another and all living beings with kindness, practising together in a spirit of kalyana mitrata or spiritual friendship.

We affirm that physical violence and displays of anger have no place among us. As far as possible, conflicts will be resolved through discussion and, if necessary, with mediation.

We acknowledge and respect all those who play a part in the Centre’s work of spreading the Dharma. We value consensus, both as an ideal and as a method for collective decision-making. As far as practicable we will attempt to reach collective decisions by means of a consensual process.

We will buy only vegan products and ingredients as far as possible, and serve or permit to be served only vegetarian food at the Centre. This expresses an attitude of metta and non-harm towards all living beings and towards the entire natural world, consistent with Triratna’s practical approach to ethics.

The Birmingham Buddhist Centre is part of the Triratna Sustainable Centres scheme. We are committed to protecting the environment and reducing our carbon footprint by following the ten-point plan outlined in our ‘Sustainable Centre’ certificate, which is displayed at the Centre.

SECOND PRECEPT

I undertake to abstain from taking the not given.

With open-handed generosity, I purify my body.

The worldwide Triratna Buddhist Community depends upon the generosity of everyone involved with it.

We operate a ‘dana’ economy, an economy based on generosity, at the Birmingham Buddhist Centre. Teachers undertake to share their understanding of the Dharma in a spirit of generosity, making the Buddha’s teachings available to all regardless of financial circumstances.

We value openness, transparency and accountability. Those with responsibility for collecting or administering the Buddhist Centre’s financial or material resources will do so with the utmost care and respect for the generosity of donors who support the Centre financially.

The Birmingham Buddhist Centre is also part of the broader community and the natural world. We undertake to make responsible and ethical purchases. We try to avoid taking the not-given in relation to the environment by minimizing the Centre’s consumption of natural resources, in accordance with the Triratna Sustainable Centre Scheme.

THIRD PRECEPT

I undertake to abstain from sexual misconduct.

With stillness, simplicity and contentment I purify my body.

With the prevalence of a consumer ethos in society, at the Buddhist Centre we seek to create an atmosphere of stillness, simplicity and contentment through our individual and collective practice of these values.

We encourage everyone in the Triratna Buddhist Community to conduct their sexual relationships ethically, whether with people of the same or opposite sex. People in teaching roles at the Birmingham Buddhist Centre, or otherwise helping to lead Centre activities, are expected to model good practice in the area of sexual ethics.

Sexual relationships have developed between members of our sangha, including between members of the Order and people for whom they were formerly teachers. Whilst we recognise that such relationships can be healthy and beneficial, we also know from experience that this is a matter requiring careful consideration. With this in mind, we recommend that those wishing to enter into such a relationship follow a set of guidelines that have been agreed amongst the Trustees and other Order Members in positions of responsibility at the Centre (see appendix: Recommendations before Starting a Sexual Relationship’).

FOURTH PRECEPT

I undertake to abstain from false speech.

With truthful communication, I purify my speech.

In all our dealings with one another, we are committed to truthful, meaningful and harmonious speech which encourages spiritual growth and creates community.

We affirm that swearing and harsh language have no place among us.

We agree to hold and share information carefully and respectfully.

Through skilful communication we seek to create in our Centre an atmosphere of friendliness, co-operation and trust. Recognising that these values may be expressed differently across the many cultures in our worldwide movement, we aspire to practise the speech precepts with sensitivity for different cultural norms.

FIFTH PRECEPT

I undertake to abstain from intoxication.

With mindfulness clear and radiant I purify my mind.

The Birmingham Buddhist Centre aims to provide a context for the development of wisdom and compassion through deepening awareness and the practice of mindfulness. Intoxicants, by their very nature, undermine and hinder the development of awareness. Therefore we will not serve, or permit to be served, alcohol or other intoxicants at the Birmingham Buddhist Centre or its events elsewhere.

Wishing to support those attempting to live without intoxicants, the Charity members would recommend that these guidelines be followed in all venues and institutions associated with the Birmingham Buddhist Centre, including the communities.

In the spirit of exemplification, those engaged in teaching, leading, supporting or administering activities for the Birmingham Buddhist Centre are also expected to demonstrate a responsible attitude to alcohol and other intoxicants.

General Remarks

The inspiration for these ethical guidelines has been a process currently taking place across the wider Triratna Buddhist Community to clarify thinking in these areas.

The guidelines are to be kept under review by the Management Team of the Birmingham Buddhist Centre. Any recommended changes are to be referred to the Council of Trustees.

 

If at any time there is a perceived breach of these guidelines, the Trustees ask that it be made known in the first instance to the Chair of Trustees or to one of the two Mitra Convenors.

Chair of Trustees:  Singhamati  singhamati@gmail.com

Men’s Mitra Convenor:  Dharmashalin  dharmashalin@gmail.com

Women’s Mitra Convenor:  Maitrisara  maitrisara1@gmail.com

 

Appendix: Recommendations before Starting a Sexual Relationship

(i) In general, we hold it to be inadvisable for any Order member or person in a teaching or supporting role at the Birmingham Buddhist Centre to enter into a sexual relationship with someone for whom they are that person’s main point of contact with the Dharma. This is particularly the case in the early stages of someone’s involvement with Triratna, before they have established any connections or friendships with other Order members. Therefore, those in teaching roles are expected to avoid developing a sexual relationship with anyone in those circumstances.

(ii) If over time, a mutual interest in such a relationship does develop, we would expect the person in the teaching role, before pursuing the relationship in any way, to discuss the situation with a peer group such as a chapter, community, other teachers, or with their kalyana mitras or preceptors (as applicable), and to seek advice from such friends before taking any further steps towards the development of a sexual relationship. They would also try to ensure that the less Triratna-experienced person has adequate opportunity to meet with another Order member, preferably of the same gender as the newer person, who can offer some support or guidance.

(iii) Before pursuing the relationship, the person in the teaching role would also have ceased to be the other person’s main point of contact with the Dharma, and they would no longer be attending the same public class in a teaching role. If the people involved do wish to pursue a sexual relationship, they are advised to observe a gap of some months, during which they are not attending the same class at the Centre, before they actually begin it.

 



[1] The individual can described as someone who is aware and conscious, who is emotionally positive, generous, and able to cooperate with others, who is responsible, who is aware of their needs and the needs of others, and who is prepared and willing to act in accordance with that awareness [see Sangharakshita: A New voice in the Buddhist Tradition p.119].