Bringing Buddhism to the West: Life of Sangharakshita
Londoner Dennis Lingwood realized at the age of 16 that he was a Buddhist. Conscripted during World War II, he went on Army service to India, where he stayed on to become a Buddhist monk with the name Sangharakshita. As hippies flocked eastward in the Sixties, he returned to England to establish the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order. This book, written by one of his leading disciples, tells Sangharakshita’s story.
The phenomenon known as “Buddhism” embraces an uninterrupted process of communication through which the Buddha’s followers have been guided and inspired for 25 centuries. Communication is a living, evolving thing, and for all its continuity the Buddhist tradition presents the modern student – and practitioner – with a bewildering array of cultural, philosophical and practical forms. This work describes and correlates these diverse manifestations – in Buddhism’s homeland of India, and in its spread across Asia, from Mongolia to Sri Lanka and from Japan to the Middle East. Drawing on recent historical and literary research, the author explains the basic concepts of Buddhism from all periods of its development, and places them in an historical framework.
In this approachable handbook, Sangharakshita guides the reader through the complex tradition of Buddhism. In part one he tackles the theory of the religion in sections devoted to the Buddha, his teachings, and the spiritual community, while in part two he discusses the practicalities of trying to lead a Buddhist life. For those wishing to deepen their knowledge and experience of Buddhism, this is a complete map of the Buddhist path. Sangharakshita is the founder of the Triratna Buddhist Community. He has a lifetime of teaching experience and is the author of over forty books
Imagine a world without beauty, myth, celebration or ritual. It seems that to feel fully and vibrantly alive, these experiences are essential to us–helping us to feel in touch with all levels of our being by engaging our emotions, senses and imagination. Devotional ritual also speaks this language of the heart and can bring us closer to our highest ideals, but it can be a confronting aspect of Buddhism for some people in the West. However, for the Buddha’s teachings to have a real impact on our lives we need to have a deep feeling for the Buddha’s teaching, a clear understanding is not usually enough. Skilfully steering us through the difficulties we may encounter, Sangharakshita leads us through the sevenfold puja, a poetic sequence of devotional moods found in Tibetan and Indian forms of Buddhism. Within this he discusses the use of chanting, offerings, recitation and other activities in creating ritual space and moods. Engaging in this way can help us commit ourselves to the spiritual journey with all our heart.