The Birmingham Buddhist Centre is part of the Triratna Buddhist Community
What is the Triratna Buddhist Community?
The Triratna Buddhist Community is a worldwide movement, founded by Sangharakshita in 1967. You can read more about the history here. Triratna is a Sanskrit word meaning Three Jewels. Traditionally there are three aspects at the heart of a Buddhist life: the Buddha as examplar, his insight into the way things are (the Dharma), and the Sangha, or spiritual community.
Are there monks or nuns at the centre?
We are actively engaged in working out how to put the Buddha’s teachings into practice in a rich, complex and diverse world. We are not a monastic tradition, so the people leading the Centre and events are not celibate monks and nuns, and many have families and jobs. As do many of the wider community involved in the Centre. This is one of the differences of the Triratna tradition, compared with other schools of Buddhism.
Most Order Members don’t wear robes but will wear a Kesa, which is something around their neck to signify their commitment to Buddhism.
What is a Mitra?
The Sanskrit word ‘Mitra’ simply means ‘friend’. Becoming a Mitra is a deepening of your friendship with the Triratna Buddhist Order, which can occur when your commitment to its ideals, values and practices has reached a certain level.
Mitras are people who have made a ‘provisional’ commitment to practising the Dharma within our
spiritual community. This involves a commitment to Buddhism, to practising the Buddhist path as taught within our tradition, and to the Triratna Buddhist Community as the main context for your practice. We call this level of commitment ‘provisional’ because it is for the foreseeable future, rather than the more once-and-for-all dedication of an Order Member.
You are ready to become a Mitra when you decide that, as far as you can see at the moment, you want to practise this path, with this spiritual community. You are saying that from where you are now this looks like the path for you, and you are willing to give it a good wholehearted trial.
Becoming a Mitra is a significant event in our spiritual lives, so it is marked by a significant public ceremony, which is a special event at the Buddhist centre, and to which many people invite their friends and family.
What is an Order Member?
Order Members have made a commitment to following the Buddhist Path – traditionally known as Going for Refuge to the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. And in particular, they have chosen to make the Triratna Buddhist Order the context in which they are trying to live ever more deeply imbued by Wisdom and Compassion.
Every Order Member undertakes to practise a traditional set of ten ethical precepts. These point to basic principles applied to all actions of body, speech and mind. All Order Members take the same precepts, and practise on an equal basis.
In the centre we have multiple spaces to meditate in, a big main shrine room, a cafe area with free tea and coffee facilities, yoga studio, and a beautiful garden. You are welcome to visit the centre during the daytime between 10am and 4pm and use the space, do your own meditation practice, be in the shrine room or the garden, or any other room providing it’s not booked for another event. We also have a small shop selling items which may relate to wider practice.
ABOUT THE BOOKSHOP
In our little shop we usually have:
– Books and booklets on Buddhism, meditation, mindfulness, vegan cookery and more
– Meditation equipment, including cushions, mats, stools and malas (meditation beads)
– Buddha statues of various styles and sizes
– Incense of various kinds, sticks and cones and a variety of incense holders
– Essential oils and fragrances
– Buddhist Ritual items, including singing bowls, bells, cymbals, vajras, offering bowls, shrine cloths and prayer flags
– Yoga equipment including mats, carry bags, blocks, bolsters, straps and bricks
– Greeting cards and post cards, Buddhist and non-Buddhist images
– Soaps and shampoo bars
– Bags and purses
ABOUT THE GARDEN
Our contemplative gardens offer additional space for activities at the Buddhist Centre, as well as somewhere just to sit and relax or reflect. Green – the colour of growth and development – predominates, but with many points of interest. The gardens are maintained with the help of volunteers.
Do head down the corridor at the back of the building and enjoy the gardens when you visit the Buddhist Centre.
The first part of the garden is designed to reflect the Mandala of the Five Buddhas, a traditional representation of the different aspects of the Buddha’s Enlightenment. You will notice the colour yellow to the south, red to the west, green to the north and blue to the east, with white in the centre. Given the variety of conditions around the garden, maintaining this colour scheme presents something of a challenge and, as you will see, we have not always been successful!