3 Sangharakshita’s Teachings in Theory and Practice
I Sangharakshita’s Actual Teaching
A substantial part of The FWBO Files is devoted to an account of
the doctrines of the FWBO. As the summary published on the Internet alongside The FWBO Files says:
The actual goal of the Order which controls these Charities is the dissemination of a specious, non-Buddhist ideology, invented by Sangharakshita, which, inter alia, attacks family values and promotes homosexuality. Essentially, Sangharakshita has conflated traditional Buddhist teachings with his own personal views, to produce an amalgam which could be described as Lingwoodism. [ 86 ]
However The FWBO Files’ account of FWBO teaching and Sangharakshita’s approach to Buddhism is largely fallacious. Those wishing to know what Sangharakshita actually teaches should consult his principal works: A Survey of Buddhism, The Three Jewels, and The Eternal Legacy. [ 87 ] These works by Sangharakshita were published to critical acclaim, [ 88 ] and The Survey has been used as a study text by Buddhists of various traditions. [ 89 ] Subhuti’s Sangharakshita: a New Voice in the Buddhist Tradition [ 90 ] is an authoritative presentation of Sangharakshita’s teaching as a whole. However, none of these works is cited in The FWBO Files and the author does not appear to have read them.
This Response will not attempt to summarise Sangharakshita’s oeuvre, although it will seek to correct the misrepresentations that appear in The FWBO Files, and to offer a context for those aspects of his work which are controversial. [ 91 ] We shall also not attempt to persuade readers that Sangharakshita is right, or that his teaching is the correct interpretation of Buddhism, this being far beyond our present scope. In any case, these are perhaps matters of opinion on which there will never be complete agreement. The point is simply that what Sangharakshita says is a reasonable interpretation of the Dharma which is offered in good faith and on the basis of considerable knowledge and understanding of Buddhism.
[ 88 ]
For example, The Eternal Legacy received the Buddhist Society’s 1985 Christmas Humphreys Book award; Edward Conze said of the Survey:
I recommend Sangharakshita’s book as the best survey of Buddhism.
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[ 89 ]
A Survey of Buddhism has been a recommended study text at Naropa Institute (Shambhala) and in the Arya Maitreya Mandala. See Ken Winkler A Thousand Journeys: The Biography of Lama Anagarika Govinda, Element, Shaftesbury, 1990 p.153.
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[ 91 ]
This material draws substantially on the FWBO’s response to The Guardian’s recent critical article on its work The Guardian’s Article on the FWBO, FWBO Communications Office, 31/10/97.
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