Who? In 2008 the Development Team, responding to the lack of young adults entering our community, ran a weekend exploring how to inspire more young adults in the Dharma. Out of that weekend the Triratna Young Buddhists’ Project emerged, with the setting up of activities specifically for young adults facilitated by young Mitras and Order Members.
The project has grown significantly over the last 6 years with Young Buddhists’ activities now thriving at many of our centres and with annual single sex and mixed retreats. Our annual large mixed retreat, now at Adhisthana, is an inspiring event at the heart of the project. To help further this project In march 2014 Singhamati became the Triratna Young Persons’ Coordinator, working in the Development Team, and funded by the European Chairs’ Assembly.
Why? In February 2014 Singhamati undertook some research exploring: why is the Young Buddhists’ Project important and how could we better attract and support young adults to go deeper in Triratna? Here are some of the results of this research which included: 3 focus groups, 5 interviews and an extensive online survey of 250 young adults (18-35) who’ve had some contact with Triratna.
“I might not have stuck around if it wasn’t for contact with young people, it made all the difference.” 73% of those surveyed attend Young Buddhists’ activities, a great reflection of the growth, success and popularity of Triratna Young Buddhists’ events.
Young Buddhists’ events provide a place for friendships to form and offer an alternative social contact which is essential to going deeper: “if there wasn’t a community of young people, I don’t think I would be as far down the path as I am, because I would have stayed with my old friends and way of life, rather than developing friends and my practice in the Sangha.”
Exploring the Dharma with other people at the same stage in life is important: “the topics discussed at Young Buddhists’ events seem different, more relevant”.
Young Buddhists’ activities, led by committed young Buddhists’, are invaluable in helping young people commit to practicing the Dharma: “things really took off when I met young Order Members as I saw it was for young people too”
Increasingly Young Buddhists’ activities are attracting new young people to Triratna: “I started going to other Buddhist groups but the people were all much older. Then I heard about the Young Buddhists and the prospect of younger people I could share life ideas with is what drew me here.”
The Young Buddhists’ Project is helping young people go deeper, with a visible increase in the number of young Mitras and GFR Mitras since the beginning of the project and 90% of those surveyed saying they felt they had gone deeper. It is adding to the life of the main Sangha, rather than creating a separate young Sangha, with 90% of those going to the centre regularly attending both Young Buddhists’ activities and other Sangha events. It also enables young Mitras to work together and contribute through facilitating events for young people.
What Next for Attracting and Supporting Young People in Triratna? The research identified a whole range of projects that would be beneficial, including:
more events for young people as well as engaging projects and right livelihoods
increasing the visibility of young Buddhists through: them working or supporting events at our Centres; and going out to young people, e.g. festivals, universities
developing material on Buddhism aimed at the younger generation
events for 16-25 year olds, including summer holiday and gap year projects.
This information can also be found in the attached booklet. Please contact Singhamati at youngtriratna [at] gmail.com if you have any questions about this booklet or Triratna Young Buddhists.