Is Lifestyle Secondary Part 2: Questionnaire

The InterKula.Net’s recent post ‘Is Lifestyle Secondary’ opened up for exploration the place and experience of parents and families in Triratna based on the Adhisthana Kula’s statement that:

“…the idea that single people are spiritually superior to those in relationships or with families…forms no part of Triratna teaching today ”

As promised in that post the InterKula is now publishing a follow up questionnaire  further exploring this topic which you can find here.

This questionnaire is relevant for  anyone involved in Triratna in any way – including OMs, Ex-OMs, Mitras, Friends, Ex-Mitra/Friends or anyone else connected with Triratna. So please encourage as many people as possible that you know to fill it in.

It is divided into five sections and, as well as some general and introductory questions, it contains questions specifically for non-parents, parents and those who have parents who are or have been actively involved in Triratna. So it is extemely unlikely that you will need to answer all the questions!

The completed Questionnaires will only be looked at by members of the InterKula and none of the information gathered will be made available in the public domain except in a collated and anonymised form unless explicit permission has been obtained from the author by the InterKula.

Please tell as many people as you can about this questionnaire and encourage them to fill it in.  The more information that we are able to collect the more useful it will be, allowing us more accurately to know how Triratna is doing in relation to parents and families at present and what improvements can be made.

Is Lifestyle Secondary?


In our previous post, we referred to a statement from the Adhisthana Kula. On this occasion, we would like to discuss the last of their four points, as it is perhaps the least explored of the four:

“… we would like to take this opportunity to make it clear that the following ideas form no part of Triratna teaching today:

“…that single people are spiritually superior to those in relationships or with families”

One of the issues that seems to have dogged the Order over the years is the place of family members within the community. Sangharakshita took a radical step when he founded an Order that was neither Monastic nor Lay and based on the principle that Commitment is Primary and Lifestyle Secondary. So how come there appears to be an issue?

When you come along to Triratna the suggestion is that, through commitment to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, we can be happier and freer from suffering, and that we are the right context for doing making that commitment. We are totally dedicated to that and we are open to men and women equally and are neither ‘monastic’ nor ‘lay’.

However as people get more involved, they often meet people living and advocating a ‘quasi monastic’ lifestyle that is very different from the family life they themselves may be living. It can feel that, to progress one’s engagement with Triratna, you need to take on practices or even a lifestyle that don’t make sense or fit with a family life.

Even though Triratna has undoubtedly benefited many, and continues to do so, some parents have attested that this expectation or assumption has had a detrimental effect on their engagement and in some cases their children. Are we making the changes we need to in order to make sure this doesn’t happen? Is there more we can do to make Triratna a healthy place of practice for those with families?

Some Short Stories

Upayavira writes:

“I spent the 1990s active within the institutions of the movement – working for the Karuna Trust, whilst active in the local Buddhist Centre and living in communities. Soon after my ordination in 2000, I became a father. I was shocked to find that pretty much nothing I had learned about how to practice seemed to apply any longer.

It took me some 10 years to form my own approach to practice, that worked for me as a parent. In the process I found a range of approaches to collective practice within a Sangha that seem to have value to local situations that have tried them, and I would love to see these approaches shared more widely within Triratna, so that parents can take a more active part in the future life of our community.”

The daughter of an Order Member, writes:

I had the most exposure to Triratna when my mum was involved with the LBC and the ordination process during the mid 90s to the 2010s. This was from when I was 12 onwards.

I have never had the best impression of the movement. At the beginning it was clear that there was not a lot of space (physical or mental) for children at the LBC. If I hadn’t been as old as I was the fact that my Mum was raising me as a single parent on limited income would have made attending the classes and being involved nearly impossible.

There weren’t any child related activities at the LBC and the limited community of parents mainly had much younger children (or their older children were not involved at all). So I didn’t really have much direct exposure to the LBC at the start.

The indirect emotional effect of the LBC and the mitra/ordination process was very strong. Being an older only child of a single parent we discussed what happened in our lives and the unhappiness, stress and doubt caused by the senior order members running both the mitra process and later the ordination process crossed over into my life. This was despite my mum keeping many specifics from me while I was young. I was of no consequence to any of these order members and their ability to dehumanise a child to such an extent is frankly appalling.

Even without those specifics it was clear that Mum was meant to be a lot more wealthy and a lot more childless to be ordained. The process relied on retreats which were financially inaccessible and almost impossible as a single parent and of course this would in theory end with an ordination retreat of six weeks it would be completely impossible to do as a sole carer (at this point in time ordination in country was unusual and counted against you). They also wanted you in a community. My relationship with my mum meant I never thought I was a burden but frankly with a less secure parent/child relationship that would be a likely outcome.

The absolute insistence and stubbornness from the order members involved on these sorts of points were clearly actions causing direct harm to more than one person and not at all of benefit to the movement or the dharma.

I offer this in the hope that it is useful to the Triratna community. I do not particularly want to be contacted about it.

Where Now?

A common response when a parent asks for additional support from Triratna institutions, is the suggestion that they organise something themselves. In practice, this often turns out not to be effective. Why might this be so? Could it be because the structures have an implicit bias built into them?

Responsibility for broadening out our community rests with the whole community. What we want to see is discussion amongst parents and non-parents alike about how we all practice, and how it suits, or doesn’t suit us all.

Feedback and Questionnaire

We are putting together a questionnaire that we will be publishing shortly which we hope will help unpack the compact statement by the Adhisthana Kula. Responses to this will only be published in aggregate, or quoted without names attached. 

Your Stories

Whether you are a parent, know a parent, or are a (grown up) child of a member of the Triratna community, we would like to hear from you. If you would like to share a story direct with us about your experience relating to parents and parenting in the Order or community, feel free to send an email to  We won’t share anything in public without your permission.

Online Communication

Whether forums or threads on The Buddhist Centre Online, on Facebook groups, or in smaller groups, we’d love to see the topics we raise being discussed widely.

Of particular relevance in this case might be the Triratna Buddhist Parents Network on Facebook. When joining, please do answer the forum’s introductory questions as it really helps the forum admins recognise your involvement in Triratna and get you into the group quicker.

Face-to-Face Meetings and Existing Facilities for Parents

First of all a request to facilitators…. please ensure that children are welcome at such gatherings! They don’t necessarily require specific childcare, although that would no doubt be tremendously helpful. There is a wealth of experience within our movement about how to facilitate gatherings where children of various ages are present. If you would like a assistance, please contact us at and we will be most willing to help you establish a beneficial environment for all present.

We would really appreciate hearing any feedback about how such sessions go, and any content, or ideas that were raised. You can either share feedback online, or mail us directly at

There are various parent friendly activities around Triratna, be it Buddhafield family friendly retreats in Devon, Suffolk, North England, Sussex, etc, and events at local Centres such as the LBC Sunday School. If you want to know more, we suggest you join the Triratna Buddhist Parents Network on Facebook and ask there.

Spreading the Word

If groups do not occur at your centre, please do discuss these questions with friends in Triratna, and with local Order members – we really hope that discussion is broad and far-reaching.

Please do share this post with any parents or people in positions of responsibility within Triratna – including those with whom you disagree, as that is when the discussion will be most fruitful.


We sincerely hope that the questions raised in this post lead to useful discussion, and look forward to hearing how it all goes. Whilst we’ve got many ideas and bucketloads of useful material to share about practice as a parent, as have many others, we wanted to hear from others before we share.

Interact, Interconnect, Interrelate: the Inter Kula

Our Starting Point

In December 2016, Sangharakshita made a personal statement in which he wrote:

Triratna sometimes bears the mark not of the Dharma but of my own particular personality. That personality is a complex one and in certain respects I did not act in accordance with what my position in the movement demanded or even as a true Buddhist. I am thinking in particular of the times when I have hurt, harmed or upset fellow Buddhists, whether within Triratna or out of it.”

Following this, the Adhisthana Kula introduced themselves to the world on 28 February 2017 with a statement that included:

“… we would like to take this opportunity to make it clear that the following ideas form no part of Triratna teaching today:

  • that sex is an aid to kalyana mitrata (spiritual friendship)
  • that men are spiritually superior to women
  • that any sexual orientation is spiritually superior to another
  • that single people are spiritually superior to those in relationships or with families”

This was a valuable clarification, that naturally opens up questions and leads to a need for further discussion.

What Might be Next?

We have seen meetings happening at various Centres within our community, where people have come together to share of their histories, which has, by all accounts, been very healing. We’ve seen discussions on various online forums that have also opened up topics to a wider range of people than were able to engage previously.

Having discussed how we might respond to the need for ongoing exploration The Inter Kula would like to add an element of co-ordination to these otherwise organic interchanges.

We will initially seek to seed conversation through publishing simple discussion posts around a topic. Rather than state a single opinion, our plan is simply to open up the topic and offer questions that we hope will draw out greater clarity and mutual understanding than would be possible on our own.

To assist with this, we may publish simple surveys alongside each topic that will help us all gauge opinion as we explore these areas.

Multi-Venue Discussions

Seeing the variety of venues in which controversies have been explored over the last year, shows that is there is no longer a single exclusive venue for such discussion. We feel that as we move into an age where the Internet has embedded itself deeply into our society, as a community we must adjust and take this into account.

Face-to-face conversation will always remain the most immediate form of communication, whether one-to-one, or in groups. We hope our posts will be explored in many face-to-face situations.

Face-to-face meetings are by their nature limited by time and geography. What online communication brings to the picture is the possibility to meet with members of our community regardless of geography, health and income. What we lose in immediacy, we gain in breadth of communication.

Neither form will capture everything, therefore it is important that we use as many means as we can, so as to be accessible to as many people as possible. Our immediate aim is to facilitate and hopefully help coordinate these ongoing discussions.

Getting Feedback

As part of this coordination effort we would love to hear outcomes from discussions, whether ‘anonymised’ summaries, or personal stories, or suggestions that might be shared with other groups meeting around the same topics. We won’t share anything in public without your permission.

Helping Out

There are only so many hours in the day, and all members of the Inter Kula are volunteers. It is our sincere hope that people will feel willing to step forward and help with shared projects in areas that we raise.

Contacting Us

If you wish to communicate directly with the Inter Kula, please feel free to mail us on Please bear in mind that we are all volunteers, and will do our best to respond to messages as and when we can. A more effective way to communicate is likely to be on the various online forums where our material is discussed – you can expect Kula members to be active on these forums.


As we head into the second 50 years of Triratna, we, the Inter Kula look forward to doing our small part to make our community even more of a force for good in the world than it is already.


Introducing the Inter Kula

The InterKula initially formed in response to a letter from Lokeshvara of the Adhisthana Kula in April 2017 outlining a proposed Reconciliation process requesting help and assistance with this project.

We started as an offshoot of the Triratna Order Member Facebook Group. A working group open to anybody who was interested in actively responding to that request and contributing to the unfolding process of debate, discussion and resolution in the Order that the Adhisthana Kula were trying to manage.

While still keen and happy to fulfil this role and continue to assist the Adhisthana Kula with their work it soon became apparent that there was scope for a wider contribution to the current debates, discussions and issues within the Order. As we started meeting and discussing what our role could be we quickly started to feel that we could also contribute by working independently to produce a number of exploratory posts opening up the questions being raised by the current debate about our troubling history and also the ramifications of Sangharakshita’s .confession that:

Triratna sometimes bears the mark not of the Dharma but of my own particular personality”

Rather than being didactic in style presenting a fixed and finished conclusion to the topics under discussion, our intention is that these posts should be more the starting point and catalysts for exploration of the topics. They will include questions and suggestions for ways of moving the discussion forward rather than just presenting answers. In this spirit we also hope to invite and include others who may have particular interest or experience in an area we are investigating not just to participate in the the subsequent discussions and explorations of the issues but also in the development of the catalyst posts themselves.

Why “Inter Kula”? We started looking for a Sanskrit name, that fitted with our use of the Internet, particularly playing on Indra’s Net. Eventually we landed on the name “Inter” because it has so many references, whether to the “internet” itself, which is facilitating so much conversation that wasn’t possible before, or because of its suggestions of ‘interaction’, ‘interfacing’, ‘interconnectedness’, all of which are suggestive of some of the qualities that we deeply appreciate in the Triratna community.