The FWBO (Friends of the Western Buddhist Order) as a whole, and the Western Buddhist Order itself, are to become known as the Triratna Buddhist Community and the Triratna Buddhist Order respectively. ‘Triratna’ will be our common name and identity worldwide.
The Sanskrit word ‘Triratna’ means simply ‘Three Jewels’, and refers of course to the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha to which all members of the Order Went for Refuge at the time of their ordinations. The Three Jewels have long been used as emblems in many FWBO situations, for instance the logo of FWBO News and on the Kesas worn by Order Members.
The suggestion to change the name was made on January 6th 2010 in a letter from Sangharakshita to all members of the Western Buddhist Order. His letter was itself a response to one from a group of Indian Order Members gathered in Pune, in which they requested him to change the Indian name of the Order from the present ‘Trailokya Bauddha Mahasangha’ and also to give a new and unified name to the whole Order world-wide.
Sangharakshita’s letter says in part –
“... I hope that Western Order members will be as moved as I was by the request I received [from India], and that they will join with me in wanting to meet the wish of the Indian Order members for a change of their own name and for a name for the whole Order. Having one name for the whole Order will make it clear to the world not only that we all go for Refuge to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, but that whether in the East or the West, the North or the South, we are one united Order, with a single vision and a single heart and mind.
After much deliberation, the new name for the Order that has come to me is the Triratna Buddhist Order (in Hindi, Triratna Bauddha Mahasangha), and I suggest that all Order members adopt it straight away.
Both ‘Western’ and ‘Trailokya’ had become increasingly problematic for many in the Order over the past decade - ‘Western’ because our Order is increasingly international, with members active in India, Russia, Turkey, and China, as well as other non-Western countries; and ‘Trailokya’ because it is a word not widely understood outside the Indian State of Maharastra, and we are increasingly active in many places all across India. Discussions about changing the name had in fact continued in the Order on and off since 1979, when we first began activities in India and the name Trailokya Bauddha Mahasangha was chosen in recognition of the fact that 'Western' was not appropriate.
We’re delighted to have a single name that we can use world-wide, and to be able to move away from the many sets of initials that seem to have followed us around the world - FWBO, AOBO (in Spain), VWBO (in Holland) TBMSG (in India) - and so on. We’re also pleased to have a name that reminds us of the central values of Buddhism every time we use it."