The vajra: cutting through to the truth

3 Sangharakshita’s Teachings in Theory and Practice

II. The Teachings of the FWBO

a | “Higher and Lower Beings”

Sangharakshita and Nietzsche

Notwithstanding this The FWBO Files suggests that this idea derives from Sangharakshita’s conflation of Buddhism with

The romantic super-humanism of Nietzsche and Nazi Aryanism... Sangharakshita’s theory of evolution of the higher individual is unarguably Nietzschian. [ The FWBO Files, 17 ]

The author cites three sources for this view. First there is an apparent verbal resonance between an aphorism of Sangharakshita’s and one of Nietszche’s, which can perhaps be set aside as a literary curiosity. Second is the publication by Windhorse Press [sic] of Order member Sagaramati’s work Nietzsche and Buddhism. [ The FWBO Files, 17 ] Sagaramati’s book, based upon his successful doctoral thesis, was published by Oxford University Press, and is a comparative study of the two traditions. As its sub-title suggests, this book is A Study in Nihilism and Ironic Affinities, a judicious examination of the relationship between the Dharma and a philosopher who has been perhaps the most important intellectual influence on the late Twentieth Century. [ 103 ] Sagaramati’s book reflects Sangharakshita’s own critical approach to Nietzsche. Sangharakshita’s discussion of the German philosopher amounts to a single lecture given in 1969 and is a sceptical assessment of Nietzsche’s thought. [ 104 ]Nowhere does Sangharakshita use Nietzsche’s ideas as a validation for his own exposition of Buddhism, and Nietzsche is a minor presence in his thought. The reference to Nazism is plainly gratuitous, an attempt to malign Sangharakshita by a most tenuous strand of association. [ 105 ]

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Footnotes

103 ]
Robert G. Morrison Nietzsche and Buddhism: A Study in Nihilism and Ironic Affinities (OUP, 1997). The author concludes: as the Buddhist notion of citta-bhavana has been thoroughly worked out as a practical method, there is much that Nietzsche could have learned and borrowed from the Buddhists that would have helped him in his quest for a practical answer to nihilism. p.224. Above all it is a critical examination of Nietzsche’s view of Buddhism, (which Sagaramati finds to be largely mistaken), and which has been influential in the West.
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104 ]
Sangharakshita, Buddhism Nietzsche and the 'Superman', The Higher Evolution of Man lectures. Dharmachakra Tapes No.82. Sangharakshita concludes that, while Nietzsche points in a general way toward a path of transcendence, he fails to provide any indication of how that can be achieved.
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105 ]
And, incidentally to malign Nietzsche, whose work has underlain philosophical movements from existentialism to post-modernism, and whose work was appropriated by certain Nazis. One might equally malign Maurice Walshe as a scholar of medieval German literature which was similarly appropriated.
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