The Guardian’s Article on the FWBO
The Context of the FWBO’s Discussions and Teachings
The FWBO is a complex and evolving spiritual movement and it is important to recognise that understanding of the above issues has developed over time. The Guardian fails to do this except to suggest, somewhat cynically and ungenerously, that
There are other parts of FWBO teaching which gained currency in the seventies and eighties from which it is now anxious to distance itself.
The FWBO has been in existence for only 30 years. During those years Sangharakshita and the FWBO have been involved in evolving an approach to Buddhism that remains true to the fundamental principles of the tradition, and yet is effective and applicable to the new social and cultural context of the modern world. This is an ambitious project and the FWBO’s achievements to date are considerable. However it is inevitable that in pioneering such a process there will be difficulties, and the FWBO seeks to acknowledge these when they arise and to learn from them. The evolution of the FWBO — as for any new spiritual community — has passed through various stages. While it is always possible to highlight problems, a fair appraisal must take account of the FWBO today and its evident ability to learn and mature. No-one would claim that the FWBO is complete, but we can point to a considerable degree of maturity. It is fair to say that this maturity has not always been evident in every aspect; indeed it has been hard won.
Because the article does not understand the content and context of discussions and teachings that have contributed to the FWBO’s development over time, there is confusion regarding the apparent discontinuity between theory and praxis. For instance, the evidence of a strong women’s wing contradicts what Madelaine Bunting assumes to be a misogynist teaching. She is left making statements such as:
The FWBO emphasises that not all of these teachings are put into practice, or in a similar vein,
The FWBO argues in effect that the day to day activities and friendships within it have little to do with some of the ideas of Sangharakshita and Subhuti. It is certainly true that the teachings as she understands them bear little relationship to day to day activities, or friendships within the FWBO. But this has more to do with her interpretation, her disregard for the FWBO’s understanding of the teachings, and a very superficial presentation, than to do with the teachings themselves.