Triratna Buddhist Centre in Helsinki
What Is Triratna?
A Triratna Centre is a place for Buddhist teaching and practice which is open for all. You can come to the Centre to meditate, discuss Buddhism and to find out what practising Buddhism would mean in the 21st century, in the world and in Finland.
The Triratna Buddhist Community consists of many kinds of people: different ages of men and women who may be very new to the practice, or who may belong to a regular study group, or who have received ordination into the Triratna Buddhist Order and are leading events.
The Centre arranges courses, retreats, workshops etc. The best way to find out about us is to come to our Open Night, which happens every Monday at 6pm where you are given an introduction to meditation and Buddhism. Attending classes at the Centre does not imply that you are expected to make a commitment – you may do so at some point if you really want to get involved.
The Triratna Centre in Helsinki is part of a worldwide Triratna Buddhist Community, which has centres in 27 countries. It was founded in 1967 by Sangharakshita who had lived in India for many years as a Buddhist monk. He wanted to found a Buddhist movement which would focus on the core teachings of the Buddha and which would give Westerners an opportunity to follow “the ancient path to awakening”. He wanted to emphasize the importance of community and friendship on the spiritual path.
What Is Buddhism?
The Sanskrit word Triratna means ‘Three Jewels’. They are Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.
Buddha refers to the historical person who lived 2500 years ago and became enlightened: he woke up to Reality. ‘Buddha’ also refers to the potential for Awakening or Enlightenment in each human being.
Dharma means the teachings and practices which help to realize that potential in ourselves.
Sangha refers to those people who have seriously begun to explore themselves and practise the Dharma.
The main ideas in Buddhism are simple and practical. Nothings is final or permanent. Actions have consequenses. Change is possible. The teachings of the historical Buddha are always asking: What are the reasons for life’s unsatisfactoriness and limitations? How can one become free from limitations? All Buddhist teachings and practices try to answer
this basic enquiry, but everyone will have to find the answer through their own experience.
Is Buddhism a Religion?
For some people Buddhism is a religion, for others not. It is not a religion in the sense that one would have to believe certain dogmas, live in a certain way or follow certain rules. One could say Buddhism is a spiritual tradition, a vision of Reality, a path of practice. However, it is good to remember what Sangharakshita has pointed out: ’path’ is only a symbol. Ultimately, we ourselves are the path.
What Is Buddhist Practice?
Buddhist practice is about expanding our vision and our experience. How do I see and understand myself, others, reality? How much am I driven by reactive patterns which are due to subconscious fears and desires? How much mental space do I have to respond creatively to stimuli and sensations? Am I taking responsibility for my mental states, my actions and my attitudes towards others?
A traditional way of describing Buddhist practice is to divide it to ethics, meditation and wisdom. These are not separate things – they are interdependent working grounds. Ethical practice helps to deepen meditation, and meditation provides opportunities for exploring and challenging one’s behaviour.
Reality is not random. Buddhist practice is based on this idea. The attitude to life I have now will determine the direction of my life in the future. The Buddhist ethical precepts are based on this principle. They are an expression of the principle that positive, generous and wise deeds have good consequences and self-centred, greedy and deluded deeds have bad consquences. Consequences are not always immediate and easily seen of course. Buddhist ethics is not based on cause and effect. The quality of mental states and intentions is essential. Two actions may look the same outwardly but the mental states and intentions behind it can be completely different.
Buddhist meditation aims to develop awareness, clarity and positivity. Meditation means seeing what life is really about. When meditation deepens and the awareness of your experience becomes clearer, it is time to ask: Who am I? What is experience? What can I trust? What is true?
What is Aware Life?
Buddhist practice happens here and now. It happens at home, at work, during free time, in solitude and among other people. It means facing your current experience. It means living in your own physical and emotional experience. It means finding the power of awareness.
Of course it is not always easy to face your own states of mind consciously and responsibly. It can mean pain and stress at first. Therefore it is important to find in oneself the trust that turning towards experience is worth it. Ultimately it is always a better alternative than avoidance and running away.
Turning towards reality brings actual experience of these words of the Buddha: ’All my teachings have the same taste, the taste of Freedom’.