Sangharakshita, founder of Triratna Buddhism, dead at 93

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Sangharakshita, founder of Triratna Buddhism, dead at 93

Post by kirtu » Wed Oct 31, 2018 1:32 am

Sangharakshita, founder of Triratna Buddhism, dead at 93
The sometimes controversial Buddhist teacher founded Triratna — one of the most popular sects of Buddhism in England — and helped established Ambedkarite Buddhism, which has millions of followers in India. Sangharakshita, Buddhist teacher and founder of the Triratna Buddhist community, died this morning in Hereford, England. He was 93 years old.
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Re: Sangharakshita, founder of Triratna Buddhism, dead at 93

Post by Grigoris » Wed Oct 31, 2018 12:44 pm

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Re: Sangharakshita, founder of Triratna Buddhism, dead at 93

Post by WuMing » Wed Oct 31, 2018 7:18 pm

Namu Amida Butsu
Now, observing with the eye of the Buddha, both the Buddha and ordinary beings are in the same liberated state. There is neither this nor that: there is only non-duality and identity.
- 空海 Kūkai in Unjigi 吽字義 The Meaning of the Letter Hūṃ
- Kūkai on the Philosophy of Language by Takagi Shingen and Dreitlein Eijō
Śrī Singha said to Padmasambhava:
Since buddhas and sentient beings are inseparable and the same, it is necessary to respect all sentient beings as being on the same level with the buddhas. Can you?
- translated by Malcolm N. Smith

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Re: Sangharakshita, founder of Triratna Buddhism, dead at 93

Post by Knotty Veneer » Fri Nov 02, 2018 10:31 am

Sangharakshita was an interesting character. Quite an important figure in the history of Buddhism in the UK - less well known in the US.

He was one of the first British people to ordain as a Bhikkhu in India in the 40s or early 50s, I think. However, he was extremely eclectic and studied with several different traditions while in India and always promoted, to my mind, a rather colonialist/orientalist view of Buddhism.

The Triratna Community (originally the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order) he founded draws on many of the extant Eastern traditions but does not have any real lineage connections to any of them, and indeed, interprets the original teachings through its own lens – even going so far to create its own refuge tree. It is, from the POV of those of us in orthodox traditions, something of a mixed bag of teachings.

When Sangharakshita returned to England in the early/mid-60s, he probably new more about authentic Buddhist practice than anyone else. This was just before the likes of Trungpa R, Ajahn Sumedho, or Jiyu Kennett had arrived in the country. One wonders if his influence on Buddhism in the UK would have been so significant if he had arrived after these.

In England at the time, the Buddhist Society (an offshoot really of the rather woo-woo Theosophical Society) and small Theravadin groups funded by wealthy Buddhist dilettantes, were the Buddhist establishment. Originally a guest of these groups, he soon scandalized them with his non-traditional take on the teachings and his homosexuality. He soon split from these groups and founded his own organization which was more in tune with counter-culture arising at the time.

Sangharakshita’s sexuality has, to a significant extant, overshadowed his other work. He did engage in relationships while still professing to be fully ordained. He did create an atmosphere in the FWBO where gay men could feel welcome, but also where some were coerced into gay sex and told it was a part of their spiritual practice. He certainly slept with some of his students as did many of his senior students. This led to the closure of at least one FWBO centre in the 80s.

When these scandals broke in the 90s, Sangharakshita retired from full time control. The Triratna Community, I suspect, will not be much impacted on a day-to-day basis by his passing. In fact, for any organization that has had a scandal-prone founder, the Triratna Community’s example in taking over control from the founder without imploding in the process, would be one to study.
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