Saturday, November 28, 2009

new interview with Sangharakshita

On his website, Sangharakshita published his latest conversation. I found out about it from the FWBO/TBMSG News Website.

Here is a sample quote:

"I find it very easy to venerate, to look up: I enjoy looking up to those who are better or more advanced than me in this or that respect. I found it easy to look up to my own Buddhist teachers and I find it easy to look up to the great religious figures, philosophers, poets, and artists of the past. I am very glad that there are people who have been much greater than me: I would hate to think I was the summit of human evolution – that would be a terrible thought. Of course, I have no problem looking up to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas."

Here is another related quote:

"I am not happy with cynicism and debunking or anything like that and I strongly dislike the tendency to that sort of thing in the Movement and the Order."

In these quotes he expresses his credulity, his receptivity to others, his lack of cynicism, his positivity.

I think a major interest is in his discussing his own homosexuality activity, a word he doesn't so much like to use (I'll let you read why in the interview yourself). Others have accused him of internalized homophobia, which he denies, but he empathizes when others struggle with it. He goes into quite depth in his sexual evolution and can be quite specific at times. He's also sensitive to how this is all perceived in India, where a large part of the movement exists. I was interested in whether he had a relationship with Terry, and he explicitly denies it. But it's much more than about sex, it's also about his rejecting monasticism.

He also discusses his drug use, I'll let you read about that in the interview

He also discusses Muriel Paine, whom he got the communication exercises from.

He has an interesting aphorism: "Where there is trust, explanations are unnecessary. Where there is no trust, explanations are useless." He discusses why he didn't respond right away to the Yashomitra letter. He was sick, and he felt that people judged him quickly and would not listen to him. Earlier in the essay he says he does not even remember an encounter with him, which is certainly interesting.

I love Sangharakshita for founding the order, teaching my friends, writing all those wonderful books. I don't agree that he was equal to his sexual partners, even if that is how he approached people. As humble as he is, he's denying himself as the leader of the order.

He admits people had projections towards him, and insofar as he does that he's not relating to someone as an individual. He says that when you get Sangharakshita you get all of him, not just the good parts, you can't reject the bad parts, it's not helpful to see good and bad sangharakshita. He wants to be met more intimately. It's all from the same person. He never sets himself up as perfect. I think there's a lot of interesting stuff here, but in the end, it's like Subhuti's withdrawn book, a lot of fancy dancing, but for what? In this case, we get to know Sangharakshita quite a bit more, and for that I'm grateful.

More information hasn't really shed light onto the Yashomitra situation, because he can't remember it. It puts it more into a personal context, from his perspective. I don't hear him say it's unfortunate that Yashomitra took things the way he did, and that by no means did he mean for them to go that way. Of course he can't remember the incident, so I suppose it's hard to apologize for something he can't remember. As I say, while I helps one to understand what Bante was doing at that time, it still doesn't really shed light on the incidents that Yashomitra discuss, and the impact it had on him.

He does go on to say that his sexual exploration were a good thing, in that it was an exploration of sexuality within the Dharma life, and that for him the key was not to create children that would distract one from the Dharma life.

You can read Yashomitra's letter and the Guarding article on the FWBO Files, a anti-FWBO website produced by a former member of the order (which I don't feel like linking, but have in the past). I won't go into what is said about the author of the website, either.

Finally there is a lot about the nuclear family. He sees family life as in competition with the full time Dharma life.

I have to admit, children have taken a lot from me, my personal present Dharma malaise is related to my crushing responsibilities, my need for sleep, the need to provide for my family. My single friends are however under a similar crush with their careers, the struggle for self actualization and paying rent. It's not clear in NYC that I'm less committed than the single mitras and friends. Perhaps that's more a statement about the NYC sangha than parenthood and leading the Dharma life. I also wonder about integrations of family and Dharma life. Perhaps that's up to others to explore.

So on the whole a very interesting and informative letter. I recommend it to all those interested in the FWBO/WBO/TBMSG. In many ways it says things that haven't been said before. I am very grateful it's been shared.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I found this through Shambhala SunSpace, which, by the way, has some good articles on prison Dharma. I've been inside for a retreat and correspond with a Dharma brother inside. Many of my friends participate as well, it's a big part of their practice.

Also in the news, a man in a coma meditated... via Christoper Titmuss, who by the way has an awesome talk on FBA.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


Bhante says in Wisdom Beyond Words. "Every advertisement that you see is in effect an advertisement against Buddhism, because it promotes greed, hatred, and delusion or all three"

Found at Ratnaghosha's blog.