As A Training Ground
Tiratanaloka was set up to provide training for women who wish to take ordination into the Triratna Buddhist Order. The project started in 1992 and since then the number of Dharmacharinis has grown from around 100 to over 810. We believe that the work we have done at Tiratanaloka has played a significant part in this growth, and that we still have an important role to play in training, both leading up to ordination, and beyond.
This is fundamentally a training in confidence. Confidence in the Order, which is based on Sangharakshita’s vision, and confidence in the Buddha Dharma and our ability to follow it effectively.
We are an Order team who live, work, study, meditate, and run retreats together here at Tiratanaloka; As a group we have a surprisingly wide range of experience within the Order. Over a number of retreats you develop a relationship with us, and with Tiratanaloka as a mythic space. This continuity supports your deepening Going for Refuge.
Tiratanaloka can be an ongoing context for your ordination process. We have a depth of experience in helping women to prepare for ordination. Our team has 6 Private Preceptors, 1 of whom is a Public Preceptor. Some women come here regularly as part of their ordination process, using Tiratanaloka as a training ground where they can focus on what is of most significance in their lives, and find this reflected back by others. Coming back regularly on retreat to Tiratanaloka helps build friendships that will carry on into the Order, and can also work as a yardstick for your practice. We also maintain strong links with Dharmacharinis all over the world, and so can assist women whose context for the ordination process is elsewhere. We have visiting team members on some of our retreats, giving us a taste of the richness of the movement, and of practice in different cultures and languages.
Bhante created this Order as part of his Bodhisattva vow to reach out with compassion to all beings, and we see our work at Tiratanaloka as an extension of this vow.
The Triratna Buddhist Order, Bhante’s Radical Vision
Our Order is based on traditional teachings that are finding modern international forms, relevant to us as contemporary practitioners. In Sangharashita’s vision of a ‘new Buddhist movement’ the age-old Buddhist practices of study and meditation are held within a broader mandala of themes: friendship, ethics, teamwork, art, altruism, devotion and the mythic dimension of spiritual life.
At Ordination we take the 4 lines of acceptance:
- With loyalty to my teachers I accept this ordination.
- In harmony with friends and brethren I accept this ordination.
- For the attainment of Enlightenment I accept this ordination.
- For the benefit of all beings I accept this ordination.
These 4 lines of acceptance form the framework for our retreats. Together they cover the broader mandala of principles and practices, allowing us to develop confidence in our spiritual potential, and to discover how our personal myth coincides with that of the Order.
In this way we provide a modern version of the traditional Buddhist context for practice: a place where Kalyana Mitrata can develop.
Our practice and friendships inform the retreats we run, and they are being continually developed. However there is an underlying continuity in the material covered, so that they can be used as a progressive training. Each retreat also stands alone as a context in which to explore what effective Going for Refuge is.
The themes are linked to the standards for ordination currently being discussed by the Public Preceptors. These imply
- Understanding our lineage, the refuge tree, and Bhante as our teacher.
- Having a good grasp of the basic teachings of the Buddha.
- An understanding of the principles of ethical practice.
- The ability to work on one’s own mind, through meditation and awareness.
- Becoming part of a network of friendships.
- Letting oneself and one's practice be seen by others
- Being able to live out the altruistic dimension of Going for Refuge.
- Having an experience of the breadth and diversity of the Order.
- Understanding the significance of the mythic dimension.
Beyond Ordination, Making Effective GFR Real
We hope you’ll continue your connection with Tiratanaloka after joining the Order. We regularly run a post ordination retreat, and retreats run by the private preceptors for their preceptees. We have retreats for Dharmacharinis, covering material that we have a lot of experience in, such as the first chapter of 'A Survey of Buddhism', and in-depth exploration of conditioned co-production. We also encourage Dharmacharinis to come on GFR retreats here with women they have connections with.