The vajra: cutting through to the truth

3 Sangharakshita’s Teachings in Theory and Practice

II. The Teachings of the FWBO

b | Support for Sangharakshita’s Approach

Sangharakshita would have great difficulty in finding any bona fide, knowledgeable Buddhists who would concur with his interpretations of the meaning of Buddhism... Such Buddhist would see through him and would be able to point out ways in which he distorts and falsifies traditional Buddhist teachings. [ The FWBO Files, 7 ]

Sangharakshita’s disciples are not the gullible, ill-informed, ignorant and cloistered people the author of The FWBO Files appears to take them to be (as the many Buddhists and others outside the FWBO who meet and make friendships with Order members will testify). As has been said, FWBO practice includes a strong emphasis on study of both canonical and commentarial texts, and the encouragement of a searching, critical engagement with them — as, indeed, with Sangharakshita’s own work.

Sangharakshita’s approach has been appreciated by many who acknowledge the need for a new expression of Buddhism in the West. There is, for example, the “full support” that Christmas Humphreys gave the FWBO , while Edward Conze, the leading western scholar of Mahayana in his day, described Sangharakshita in his autobiography as the only English Buddhist leader so far who has understood Buddhist doctrine.110 ] Far from being absent from the FWBO there is a growing and well documented body of people now practising in the Order and FWBO who have previously been serious practitioners of other Buddhist traditions. [ 111 ]

Of course these testimonials do not prove that Sangharakshita or the FWBO are right. They must stand on their own merits. But they do suggest that The FWBO Files’ characterisation of them is wrong: that the FWBO’s approach is reasonable, will withstand critical scrutiny, and is compatible with the Dharma in general.

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Footnotes

110 ]
Edward Conze, Memoirs of a Modern Gnostic (Samizdat Publishing Co., 1979), p.71.
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111 ]
See for example the accounts by members of the FWBO of their extensive non-FWBO Buddhist experience: Alan Sponberg “A New World Buddhist Odyssey”, Golden Drum 34, August 1994; Tim O'Brien, “Adoration of the Magi”, Dharma Life 4, March 1997; Richard Hayes, Land of No Buddha (Windhorse Publications, 1998).
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