What is Buddhism?
Buddhism is a radical viewpoint on ourselves and the world we live in based on love, compassion and wisdom.
It enables us to live more satisfying, meaningful lives and to help others to do the same.
The basic teachings of Buddhism are straightforward and practical:
- nothing is fixed or permanent
- actions have consequences
- change is possible, there is an interconnectedness at the heart of things
Living a life based on these teachings means to live life from a kind and open heart. Buddhism promotes living an ethical life that will transform our lives and our world. We are encouraged to try the teachings for ourselves and only practice what we find helpful.
Buddhism addresses itself to all people irrespective of race, nationality, or gender. It teaches practical methods (such as meditation) which enable us to realise and utilise its teachings in order to transform our experience, to be fully responsible for our lives and to develop the qualities of Wisdom and Compassion.Buddhism is a path of practice and spiritual development leading to Insight into the true nature of life. The Insight of the Buddha could be described as seeing that all things arise in dependence upon conditions.
Buddhist practices such as meditation are means of changing oneself in order to develop the qualities of awareness, kindness, and wisdom. The experience developed within the Buddhist tradition over thousands of years has created an incomparable resource for all those who wish to follow a path – a path which ultimately culminates in Enlightenment or Buddhahood.
There are around 350 million Buddhists and a growing number of them are Westerners. They follow many different forms of Buddhism. All traditions are characterised by an understanding of non-violence and tolerance, and take their spiritual guidance from the historical Buddha and his Insight.
The Ipswich Buddhist Centre is part of the Triratna Buddhist Community (formerly Friends of the Western Buddhist Order) founded by an Englishman called Sangharakshita in 1967.
We strive to follow the Buddha’s teachings in a contemporary culture.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a way of becoming calmer, open and alive to our moment-to-moment experience. With the increased awareness that this brings we are able to leave behind stressful and limiting states of mind and the suffering they bring.
Awareness brings with it the ability to choose a more satisfying and fulfilling way of being. Whether it is peace of mind that one is looking for, or a deeper insight into our very nature and a radical transformation, then meditation is a profound tool.
A regular meditation practice builds up like drops of water filling a pot. We free ourselves gradually from self-limiting habits and states of mind. Meditation supports us to act and to live the life we would wish.
We teach two simple but profound meditation practices – part of a compete system of practice – that are as old as Buddhism itself:
- Mindfulness of Breathing, which calms our mind and gathers our awareness into the present moment.
- Metta Bhavana, or ‘development of loving kindness’, which helps us to develop friendliness for others and ourselves.
It is much easier to develop a good meditation practice in company with others. Our classes are supportive groups where you can learn how to sit well and overcome the hindrances we all experience.
Our beginner session on Saturday mornings is very popular. Whether you’re interested in learning to meditate, develop mindfulness or would like to learn more about Buddhism, this session is a great place to start.
There is no need to book. Just turn up a few minutes before the session start time. You can be sure of a warm welcome. Everything you need is provided including tea and biscuits. There is no charge but we do appreciate your generosity. (Note: this session is currently online so please supply your own tea & biscuits!)
Also, check out our Tuesday lunchtime meditation sessions which are for all abilities.
Each year we run several Buddhism for Beginners six week courses which are also a great place to start
10:30am to 12:30 noon
NEXT OPEN DAY as soon as COVID19 allows (check for updates)
If you have ever thought about coming to the Ipswich Buddhist Centre then this day will be ideal.
A great chance to get a taste of meditation and an introduction to Buddhist ideas and practice. We introduce how these can be of benefit in a modern life. There will be talks, discussion and practical sessions.
Don’t feel you have to wait for an Open Day. You are welcome to come along to our Introductory session on Saturday mornings where you can sample meditation and take part in a discussion group.
10 AM to 4 PM
10:30am & 1:00pm Introduction to meditation
followed by talks and discussion
Arrange a school visit
The Ipswich Buddhist Centre welcomes booked visits from educational and community groups of all ages, from primary and secondary schools to universities, colleges and teacher training groups.
We are also happy to visit your school or college and will discuss with you, prior to the visit, particular learning needs and interests of your children and students.
There is a suggested donation, for visits to the Buddhist Centre or to your school, of £50 plus any travelling expenses incurred. However these are not set fees and shouldn’t be prohibitive.
To find out more about arranging a school visit, please email us: firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘school visit enquiry’ in the subject line.
Teachers might find useful resources here.
Moving Beyond Newcomers
Once you have been attending The Centre for a while and have become familiar with our two main meditations, opportunities become open to you to learn more and deepen your practice. Most activities include elements of meditation and exploring the Dharma (the teachings of the Buddha).
Six Week Beginner Courses
The two six week courses ‘Buddhism for Beginners’ Level 1 and Level 2 provide the perfect step up from attending the drop-in Introductory sessions that we offer on Saturday mornings. Browse courses for dates and details of the next course.
There are five important festivals in the Buddhist calendar. On these days there is generally a day-long event at the Centre which will normally include meditation and puja (Buddhist ritual). We also share a vegan lunch on these days.
- Parinirvana Day (Feb) – to mark the end of the Buddha’s earthy existence and an opportunity to reflect on the life and death of our teacher and our own experience of impermanence.
- Buddha Day (May) – to celebrate the day that Siddhartha Gautama achieved enlightenment in India 2500 years ago and become the Buddha whose teaching we follow.
- Dharma Day (July) – to mark the day that the Buddha started to deliver his teachings.
- Padmasambhava Day (Sept) – Padmasabhava is a semi-legendary figure who overcame malicious local deities to introduce Buddhism to Tibet in the 8th Century. We draw inspiration from Padmasabhava for our own effort to follow the Dharma.
- Sangha Day (Nov) – the support of a Sangha (spiritual community) is more or less essential to following the Dharma and is the third of the three jewels of Triratna. This day is an opportunity to celebrate and strengthen our spiritual community in Ipswich.
We host regular Friends Nights (also know as Sangha Nights) mostly attended by people who have been attending the Centre for a little while. Their format varies but they will often include meditation, puja (Buddhist ritual) and time for socialising.
Becoming a Mitra
People who have been attending The Centre for a while often decide that they want to make a public commitment to Buddhism by becoming a Mitra. Mitra simply means ‘friend’. There is a beautiful ceremony in which the new Mitra is welcomed into the Sangha (our spiritual community) and they declare a commitment to Buddhism and to following the five main ethical precepts which will support their spiritual development within the Triratna Buddhist movement.
Most new Mitras are motivated to learn more about Buddhism and follow four year programme as part of a study group.
We support each other in our practice and spiritual development through forming study groups that meet regularly together to progress their understanding of the Dharma (the Buddha’s teachings). Groups tend to be either men or women and are generally lead by an Order member.
Foundation Study Night is a good place to start. Topics are taken in 6 week modules and together form the first year of the four-year Mitra Study programme. Bodhivamsa can give details.
Going on retreat
The conditions of a retreat usually help you to make rapid progress with your meditation, mindfulness and Dharma practice. The Centre organises several residential weekend retreats each year. So long as you have some experience of our two main meditation practices, these retreats are a great way to deepen your involvement. You can also attend retreats organised by the many Triratna retreat centres around the UK. Check the calendar for dates our our next Sangha retreat.
Almost all of the work of the Centre is delivered by volunteers. Working alongside others as part of an event ‘Team’ or ‘Kula’ not only helps the Centre but is also a really good way to develop the spiritual friendship that will support your practice. There are lots of opportunities to participate. How to volunteer.
We are fortunate that the four day camping retreat Buddafield East is held every summer on the Norfolk/Suffolk border. This is a more informal retreat with a family-friendly atmosphere and festival-like flavour. Buddhafield East on Facebook.
Our Centre is led by members of the Triratna Buddhist Order. Anyone can ask to become an order member however it represents a very serious life-long commitment to Buddhist practice and involves a significant programme of training. You can speak to any Order Member about ordination but at our Centre, Swadipa (men) and Carumani (women) have specific responsibility for those who have asked for ordination. The two retreat centers that support ordination training are:
Sangharakshita, the founder of Triratna, taught us an approach to Buddhism that is uniquely suited to the conditions of the modern world. We recommend these resources if you would like to find out more. We also have a small shop at The Centre which sells books and products to support your Dharma practice.
Free Buddhist Audio – A superb resource of talks and lectures from Triratna’s early days in the 1960’s to today.
The Buddhist Centre – a central resource with information about the Triratna Buddhist Order and Community.
Clear Vision – image and video archive for the Triratna Buddhist movement.
Recommended Reads – books recommended by members of the Ipswich Sangha.
IBC YouTube – the Ipswich Buddhist Centre YouTube channel
Going on Retreat – an essential guide to going on retreat with links to Triratna retreat centres in the UK and Europe.
Windhorse Publications – a charitable company based in Cambridge which publishes and retails books and resources on Buddhism.
Clear Vision Education – image and video resources for teachers.
Triratna Resource Pack for Newcomers – all the basics in one document
IBC Resource Library – archived video and other resources from the Ipswich Buddhist Centre.