According to the movement’s founder, Sangharakshita, Triratna has six distinctive features, which constitute its particular individuality among the many Buddhist Orders and movements around the world – an individuality which has developed as a result of practicing the Dharma under the conditions of modern, industrialised, urbanised, secularised, living; conditions which are fast becoming worldwide.
Firstly, the Triratna Buddhist Community is an ecumenical movement, signifying that in principle it accepts the whole Buddhist tradition as it has developed over the centuries in the East. Specifically it bases itself upon the principle of
critical ecumenicalism, trying to understand what the various texts and traditions really mean – and to apply that meaning to the living of our lives as Buddhists.
Secondly, it is a unified movement in the sense that membership of Triratna is open to all regardless of nationality, race, colour, education, class or caste, cultural background, gender, sexual orientation, or age: it seeks to welcome and value all as individuals. More specifically, the Triratna Buddhist Order is open to both men and women on fully equal terms: this is revolutionary compared to traditional Eastern Buddhism, where ordination (or its equivalent) is generally not open to women.
Thirdly, it holds the act of Going for Refuge to the Three Jewels (the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha) to be the central and definitive act of a Buddhist.
Fourthly, it places great value on spiritual friendship or kalyana mitrata.
Fifthly, it promotes team based right livelihood, where it has been a pioneer in the field.
Sixthly, it emphasises the importance of the Arts for the spiritual life, seeing them as potentially bearers of spiritual values, which can help people to transform their lives.