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I've been attending a Triratna Buddhist centre for half a year now, and have learned a lot about Buddhist teachings from there. I'm curious, however, about how Triratna is seen from other schools such as Mahayana and Theravada, Zen, Tibetan Buddhism etc.

In particular:

  1. Is there any strong disagreement from other schools about the particulars of Sangharakshita's teachings? Or are they quite compatible?
  2. Do other schools tend to regard Triratna as a serious tradition, or is the "Westernisation" of Triratna's teachings seen as a detriment?
  3. Is the view of Triratna from other schools generally positive, neutral or negative?
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  • The only reference I can find to Triratna as a sect or sangha is here, but this seems to be a relatively recent thing — young even in comparison to some of the other 'modernist' movements in Buddhism — so it seems unlikely that millennia-old traditions like Zen or Theravada would have taken much notice of it. Interesting perspective, from the little I read on the page, but I can't speak to the soundness of its worldview. Sep 5 at 20:31
  • @Max - I'm not sure where you get that from, but let me know and I can edit the question accordingly. My interest is in the differences between Triratna's interpretation of Buddhism and other schools', and whether Triratna is regarded seriously as a school of Buddhism by other schools.
    – Lou
    Sep 6 at 17:15
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    It looks like I might have misread your question then. My apologies. Triratna draws upon a number of different traditions, Zen, Theravada, Tibetan, Mahayana and perhaps a few others. From my brief experience with them, their system seems geared towards the recognition of the individual and their path, rather than dispensing a one-size-fits-all method, which makes sense as a movement situated within society. I never paid attention to Sanghrakshita's teachings. It was the various Buddhist schools of thought that intrigued me most.
    – Max
    Sep 6 at 20:44
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    With regard to your questions: most Buddhists schools from time to time will jeer and poke each other for whatever reason. So I guess if you search, you will find.
    – Max
    Sep 6 at 20:50
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I've been part of the Triratna Community for maybe 15 years. I do know that people can find it controversial but that's more from a secular perspective - some ethical stuff that was going on early on in the movement wasn't great.

Regarding how other schools regard it - I would point you to this book

The thought of Sangharakshita. A critical evaluation

There's a lot in this but the basic theme is that Sangharakshita (founder of Triratna) is revered within the movement and basically unknown outside of it. The author says there should be a middle way with this and a he deserves to be more widely know. He has ideas that the author feels have wider merit. Conversely people within the movement could do with a more critical analysis of his work. It also really digs into his ethical lapses if that's of interest.

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  • Hmm... Sounds a bit like what happened with the Shambhala Buddhism organization. Sep 7 at 23:11
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The Guardian Article mentions a problematic past early in the Triratna movement.

That story will be read by other Buddhists who also understand that:

SN42.8:9.1: ‘In many ways the Buddha criticizes and denounces sexual misconduct …

The Triratna history may cause some concern among other Buddhists. But those other Buddhists will also reflect on their own past mistakes. For example:

SN42.8:10.3: That’s not right, it’s not good, and I feel remorseful because of it. But I can’t undo what I have done.’
SN42.8:10.4: Reflecting like this, they give up lying, and in future they refrain from lying.
SN42.8:10.5: That’s how to give up this bad deed and get past it.

Personally, I would have no issue at all with going to a Triratna center and practicing there as long as that center did indeed take refuge in the Buddha, the Teachings and the Sangha, since those are, after all, the Triratna

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Allegations of ethical misconduct by members of the monastic order, may be proven or unproven.

In any case, orthodox Buddhists, on hearing such allegations, would be reminded of the Buddha's warning on the five future dangers.

Monks, these five future dangers, unarisen at present, will arise in the future. Be alert to them and, being alert, work to get rid of them. Which five?

“There will be, in the course of the future, monks desirous of fine robes. They, desirous of fine robes, will neglect the practice of wearing cast-off cloth; will neglect isolated forest and wilderness dwellings; will move to towns, cities, and royal capitals, taking up residence there. For the sake of a robe they will do many kinds of unseemly, inappropriate things.

“This, monks, is the first future danger, unarisen at present, that will arise in the future. Be alert to it and, being alert, work to get rid of it.

“Furthermore, in the course of the future there will be monks desirous of fine food. They, desirous of fine food, will neglect the practice of going for alms; will neglect isolated forest and wilderness dwellings; will move to towns, cities, and royal capitals, taking up residence there and searching out the tip-top tastes with the tip of the tongue. For the sake of food they will do many kinds of unseemly, inappropriate things.

“This, monks, is the second future danger, unarisen at present, that will arise in the future. Be alert to it and, being alert, work to get rid of it.

“Furthermore, in the course of the future there will be monks desirous of fine lodgings. They, desirous of fine lodgings, will neglect the practice of living in the wilds; will neglect isolated forest and wilderness dwellings; will move to towns, cities, and royal capitals, taking up residence there. For the sake of lodgings they will do many kinds of unseemly, inappropriate things.

“This, monks, is the third future danger, unarisen at present, that will arise in the future. Be alert to it and, being alert, work to get rid of it.

“Furthermore, in the course of the future there will be monks who will live in close association with nuns, female probationers, and female novices. As they interact with nuns, female probationers, and female novices, they can be expected either to lead the holy life dissatisfied or to fall into one of the grosser offenses, leaving the training, returning to a lower way of life.

“This, monks, is the fourth future danger, unarisen at present, that will arise in the future. Be alert to it and, being alert, work to get rid of it.

“Furthermore, in the course of the future there will be monks who will live in close association with monastery attendants and novices. As they interact with monastery attendants and novices, they can be expected to live intent on storing up all kinds of possessions and to stake out crops and fields.

“This, monks, is the fifth future danger, unarisen at present, that will arise in the future. Be alert to it and, being alert, work to get rid of it.

“These, monks, are the five future dangers, unarisen at present, that will arise in the future. Be alert to them and, being alert, work to get rid of them.”

AN 5.80

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