The Complete Works of Sangharakshita Vol 2: The Three Jewels I

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Sangharakshita The Three Jewels i


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Windhorse Publications 17e Sturton Street Cambridge cb1 2sn uk © Sangharakshita, 2019 The right of Sangharakshita to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Cover design by Dhammarati Cover images: Back flap © Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx; front: Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, ????????????. Typesetting and layout by Ruth Rudd Printed by Bell & Bain Ltd, Glasgow British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data: A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. ISBN 978-1-909314-30-0 (paperback) ISBN 978-1-909314-29-4 (hardback)

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Foreword, Nagabodhi xiii A Note from the Editor xxi the three jewels Preface to the Fourth Edition


Part i: The Buddha 1 2 3 4 5

Life and Records 00 The Bodhisattva Career 00 The Life 00 The Legends 00 Philosophical Interpretations


Part ii: The Dharma 6 7 8 9 10

Approaches to Buddhism 00 The Essence of the Dharma 00 Doctrinal Formulas 00 Cosmology 00 The Wheel of Life 00

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11 12 13 14

The Nature of Existence 00 The Human Situation 00 The Stages of the Path 00 The Goal 00 Part iii: The Sangha

15 16 17 18 19

The Assembly of the Noble 00 The Glorious Company of Bodhisattvas The Monastic Order 00 The Place of the Laity 00 Popular Buddhism 00


the meaning of conversion in buddhism 1 2 3 4 5

Introduction 237 Going for Refuge 00 Entering the Stream 00 The Arising of the Bodhicitta 00 The Turning Around in the Deepest Seat of Consciousness 00 going for refuge


the ten pillars of buddhism The Ten Precepts in Pāli 311 The Ten Precepts in English 00 The Ten Positive Precepts 00 Introduction


Part i: The Ten Precepts Collectively 1 2 3

The Relation Between Refuges and Precepts 323 The Canonical Sources of the Ten Precepts 00 The Ten Precepts and Total Transformation 00

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4 5 6 7 8

The Ten Precepts as Principles of Ethics 00 The Ten Precepts as Rules of Training 00 The Ten Precepts as ‘Mūla-Prātimokṣa’ 00 The Ten Precepts and Other Ethical Formulas The Ten Precepts and Lifestyle 00


Part ii: The Ten Precepts Individually 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

The First Precept: The principle of abstention from killing living beings; or love 357 The Second Precept: The principle of abstention from taking the not-given; or generosity 00 The Third Precept: The principle of abstention from sexual misconduct; or contentment 00 The Fourth Precept: The principle of abstention from false speech; or truthfulness 00 The Fifth Precept: The principle of abstention from harsh speech; or kindly speech 00 The Sixth Precept: The principle of abstention from frivolous speech; or meaningful speech 00 The Seventh Precept: The principle of abstention from slanderous speech; or harmonious speech 00 The Eighth Precept: The principle of abstention from covetousness; or tranquillity 00 The Ninth Precept: The principle of abstention from hatred; or compassion 00 The Tenth Precept: The principle of abstention from false views; or wisdom 00 the history of my going for refuge

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Introduction 403 The Diamond Sūtra and the Sūtra of Wei Lang U Thittila and Pansil 00 Going Forth 00 Śrāmaṇera Ordination 00 Bhikṣu Ordination 00 ‘Taking Refuge in the Buddha’ 00


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8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

A Survey of Buddhism 00 Dhardo Rimpoche and The Path of the Buddha Ambedkar and the ex-Untouchables 00 More Light from Tibetan Buddhism 00 The Three Jewels and Other Writings 00 Bodhisattva Ordination 00 Light from Vatican ii 00 ‘The Meaning of Conversion in Buddhism’ 00 Founding the Western Buddhist Order 00 The Wider Context 00 Levels of Going for Refuge 00 Going for Refuge Old and New 00 Upāsaka into Dharmacārī 00 Ambedkar and Going for Refuge 00 Conclusion 00 my relation to the order


extending the hand of fellowship forty-three years ago




was the buddha a bhikkhu?


Appendices The Five Precepts 653 The Eight Precepts 00 The Ten Śrāmaṇera Precepts 00 Dr Ambedkar’s Twenty-Two Conversion Vows 00 The Bodhisattva’s Saṃvara-śīla or Sixty-Four Precepts Notes 661 Index 759 A Guide to the Complete Works of Sangharakshita



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The cross-channel ferry had docked late so as we entered the Assembly Room at unesco’s Paris headquarters the proceedings were already under way and up front a panel of besuited gentlemen was engaged in heated discussion. As unfussily as possible, we took our places and joined the 300 or so delegates to participate in this, the first session of the first International Congress of the European Buddhist Union. This was June 1979, early days in the history of Western Buddhism and even earlier for the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order on whose behalf we’d accepted the invitation to attend. Our exalted surroundings, finessed by Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to unesco, were a never-to-be repeated fluke but somehow helped us feel as if the Buddha-Dharma really had arrived in the sophisticated, post-industrial West. But then, as we took in the proceedings on stage, we could feel ourselves being carried back to another era, another place. What was being discussed, even hotly debated, was the challenge involved in assembling the necessary elements of a traditionally exact ordination sīmā. (‘Perhaps something could be done on a raft in the middle of a river?’) Only then, they held, could we start ordaining monks. And our Western Buddhism must have monks; without monks there can be no Western Buddhism! Hence the priority given to this, the Congress’s first agenda item. It’s not that we didn’t know something about, or respect, the way most Buddhist schools had gone about things throughout history; our f o r e w o r d   /

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Triratna (then fwbo) Community’s approach to Dharma study had introduced us to the customs and teachings of a pretty wide range of them. And quite a few traditional schools, in their intact Eastern form, were gaining a following the West. But to our Sangharakshitatrained ears the discussion seemed quaint, achingly peripheral to the fundamental project of helping people to discover the Dharma and live a viable Buddhist life as Westerners in the modern world. As if to underline the point, before us was the spectacle of four men passionately engaged in a debate about the absolute prerequisite of a technically authentic and correct Theravāda monastic ordination ceremony – when few of the assembled delegates came from Theravāda communities, and when it was pretty obvious that none of the men on the panel showed any wish to become a monk himself. Perhaps mischievously, I couldn’t help wondering whether, deep down, their dream of a Western Buddhist world graced and sanctioned by flocks of yellow-robed monks was rooted in the wish for a world in which they could cosily settle into the less demanding status as laymen. I think that’s when I first grasped just how radical was Sangharakshita’s vision in founding a new kind of Buddhist order: ecumenical, free from the tectonic gulf between monks and layfolk, free from the spiritually deadening atmosphere of surface formalism he’d encountered so often in the East. The defining act of the Buddhist life, he held, is not to become a monk or nun and adhere routinely to the requirements of a particular branch of the tradition. Irrespective of cultural context or lifestyle, you are a Buddhist because and only because you ‘go for Refuge to the Three Jewels’: whatever the conditions of your life you commit to engaging wholeheartedly with the ideal of Enlightenment, with the deepest implications of the Buddha’s teachings and with the active pursuit of spiritual guidance and the highest possibilities of spiritual fellowship. I go to the Blessed One for refuge, to the Dhamma, and to the Community of monks. May the Blessed One remember me as a follower who has gone to him for refuge, from this day forward, for life.

Such exclamations erupt often and fervently from the pages of Buddhist scripture. They occur on occasions when the Buddha has ignited vision, xii  /  T H E


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faith, and an urge to ‘live the life’ in someone he’s encountered. The words are always uttered in mid-epiphany – by householders as well as by those ready to drop everything and become full-time followers. And yet, by the twentieth century, the formula of ‘Going for Refuge’ had become just that, a formula of words in a dead language recited on ceremonial occasions as a subsidiary to the (equally formalized but status defining) recitation of ethical precepts. The fact that the Going for Refuge is not a formula, much less subsidiary to anything else, seemed obvious to me and my friends. As members of Sangharakshita’s order we’d grown up in an atmosphere suffused with the idea. And yet for Sangharakshita, the journey he’d taken towards reclaiming and articulating the Going for Refuge as the central and, crucially, unifying heart-principle of all Buddhist life had been a long and often lonely one. The volume you hold in your hands is a record of that journey. The writings assembled here allow us to track not only the development of Sangharakshita’s unfolding insight into the significance of Going for Refuge, but also his highly individual relationship with some of the Buddhist world’s most deeply rooted assumptions. We can track, too, his deepening knowledge of and devotion to the Three Jewels (most comprehensively articulated in the book of that name), not just as a student and scholar but as one who goes for Refuge to them, even as one who shares the fruits of his journey with others. In this lifetime at least, the journey began when as a very young man he read the Diamond Sūtra and realized, as he so often puts it, ‘I was a Buddhist and had always been one.’ But perhaps the time-bending manner in which Sangharakshita describes this moment warns us that the metaphor of a journey is only partly helpful. As he writes, in The History of My Going for Refuge: The full significance of that supremely important act became apparent to me only gradually as, over the years, I acted upon the imperfect idea of Going for Refuge which I already had and as, my idea of it being clarified to some extent, I again acted upon it and it was again clarified – the act becoming more adequate to the idea as the idea itself became clearer, and the idea becoming clearer as the act became more adequate.

f o r e w o r d   /

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For the purposes of this volume, and in an attempt to impose a little narrative neatness on things, we must locate the point at which Sangharakshita encountered a life-changing fork in the road. A few years after his ordination he discovered that one of the monks who’d participated in his ordination was impure with regard to some important monastic restraints. This was tantamount to discovering that his ordination, his longed-for entry into the life of a Buddhist monk, was technically invalid. Of course, Sangharakshita could have quietly ignored his discovery, as others had doubtless done countless times over the centuries. But what was he to do or think in a Buddhist world so strongly preoccupied with the formalities of monastic lifestyles and technical correctness, in which the officiant at his ordination ceremony had spent more time correcting his pronunciation of Pāli words than explaining their significance? It was no small thing. It mattered to Sangharakshita personally that his ordination was technically invalid. He had once longed for ordination, believing it to be the indispensable gateway to a truly Buddhist life, and after a series of false starts and challenges had realized, or thought he had realized, his ambition. But there was more. It was inconceivable that his experience was, throughout time, unique. And this carried the unavoidable implication that the entire monastic ordination tradition, and thus the rationale for the ubiquitous and categorical monk–lay divide, must be equally compromised. I don’t know how much the more personal dimension of his status as a Thervāda monk within a particular nikāya mattered to Sangharakshita by the time of this discovery. He was after all happily living as a sincere, committed Buddhist, soon to have his own vihara, surrounded mainly by Tibetan Buddhists, and working for the good of Buddhism in his own singular way. Maybe that’s why Sangharakshita was able to recognize that, despite his lapses under the monastic rule, the so-called ‘impure’ monk who’d attended his ordination ceremony was without doubt living as a good Buddhist in his own way. So what was he to make of this? As Forty-three Years Ago and Was the Buddha a Bhikkhu? record, this event and the reflections it spawned, presented him with a series of challenges and questions he couldn’t ignore. It was time, he realized, to put aside all assumptions – his own and many of the Eastern Buddhist world’s, and ask himself again and again: what does it truly mean to be a good Buddhist? xiv  /  T H E


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‘What relevance does this teaching have to the living of a spiritual life?’ Over the years this was his subliminal mantra as he immersed himself in practice and Dharma study. In the service of a spiritual life, he realized, nothing can or should be taken for granted or accepted merely on the authority of tradition. How then, he reflected, does a contemporary Buddhist extract spiritual nourishment from teachings delivered two-and-a-half millennia ago? It is axiomatic that the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha occupy their central position, but how do we approach and engage with them right now? What does it mean to go for Refuge to the Buddha, to the Dharma, to the Sangha? The Three Jewels, The Meaning of Conversion in Buddhism, Going for Refuge: writings and lectures such as these bear witness to his increasingly creative, and when necessary critical, relationship with the Buddhist world around him. The history of Buddhism is in large part a history of schools and sects, each with its own emphasis, favoured practices, even, sometimes, its own figures of devotion. As the Buddha-Dharma entered new eras, cultures, climates, and even villages, sects and schools had evolved that could seem to have little or nothing in common with each other. What then, was one to make of them? Freed of dutiful allegiance to any one system or school, Sangharakshita could sense a kinship with them all, a kinship he could also sense that flowed between them. To his mind their disparate manifestations were not random or accidental but unified in origin and intention, ways in which the various dimensions of Going for Refuge (described in the talk, Going for Refuge) had been emphasised at different times by different people according to need and cultural disposition. Freed from their national boundaries, and approached intelligently in a consciously ecumenical spirit, what riches might their symbols, myths and practices bring to the treasure chest of possibilities awaiting its Western heirs? How might they enrich and balance the spiritual life of new generations in our highly networked global village? The essentially binary arrangement of celibate monastics vis a vis lay-folk seemed as old as Buddhism itself, even enshrined in scriptural records. But might there be room for an entirely new kind of order, Sangharakshita wondered, one that is neither monastic nor lay, all of whose members are equally challenged to live an intense spiritual life? Could there be too, as he asks in The Ten Pillars of Buddhism, an f o r e w o r d   /

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essentialised moral code pertinent to all, whether or not living under a monastic rule? It is significant as an insight into Sangharakshita’s sense of mission that he introduces this text not simply as a brief outline of the ethical precepts observed by members of his own order but as a tightly argued offering for the consideration of the entire Buddhist world. By placing the Going for Refuge at the centre of things, and in recognising that the act takes place at a range of levels and in an array of dimensions, so much became clear. It was as if Sangharakshita had transported himself and anyone who chose to follow him into a Buddhist realm in which it was possible to speak of ‘Stream Entry’ and the ‘arising of bodhicitta’, or refer to Akṣobhya and Aṅgulimāla, or address issues of the monastic and household life in the same company. Seen this way, the Going for Refuge offers a lense through which the most profound insights, the most sublime visions of the entire Buddhist experience can speak to anyone who is making a sincere effort to live the Buddhist life, and can do so in a context and language that most appropriately and inspirationally meets their evolving needs. We’ll never know what might have happened had Sangharakshita not received his invitation to visit the uk in 1964. Nor can we imagine what might have happened had a falling out with his hosts not liberated him – as he came to see it – to embark on what was to become his major life’s work in establishing the Triratna Buddhist Order and its encircling community of Friends and postulants. This is a project that has offered a proving ground for many of the ideas and principles outlined in this volume. It has also given him the platform from which many of the ideas expressed in these pages first saw light of day as talks or papers delivered to an assembly of the Order’s ‘dharmacārīs’ and ‘dharmacāriṇīs’. This order of men and women, following a wide range of lifestyles, training under a fundamental pāṭimokkha of ten ethical precepts, many of them equally at home with the language of all three yānas, meeting regularly, meditating and studying together, even sometimes living and working together, all in an ambience of strong spiritual fellowship: this has become a living embodiment of Sangharakshita’s vision. It is a Buddhist community in which Going for Refuge to the Three Jewels in all of its dimensions takes centre stage, where commitment is primary and lifestyle, though important, is secondary.. xvi  /  T H E


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Since so much of the material gathered here speaks of the relationship between Sangharakshita’s ideas and the traditional Buddhist world, and since the Triratna Buddhist Order has so many of its roots in the ideas expressed here, it seems appropriate to include in this volume a paper he delivered concerning his views on the Order’s relationship with the wider Buddhist world. In Extending the Hand of Friendship he visits some of the misunderstandings that can limit and confuse those relations. There is no disrespect intended. It’s just that most Buddhist schools, as already noted, have evolved around a particular emphasis or specialization. Over the centuries, and often in geographical isolation, they have come to regard their angle of approach as the norm and sometimes even their way as the only way. So, while being respectful of their achievements, their discoveries and riches, Sangharakshita alerts us to the possibility that they might find it hard to understand our ecumenical approach and our very different kind of order. This is not to say that spiritual fellowship between us all isn’t possible or desirable. But it will be most happily and appropriately enjoyed when we meet as practising Buddhists, as individuals rather than as representatives of our respective movements or traditions. In My Relation to the Order Sangharakshita makes clear that friendship trumps institutional relationships even within a single Buddhist community like the order he has established. Friendship can be ‘horizontal’, between spiritual equals, and it can be ‘vertical’ with those more experienced, more spiritually developed than ourselves. But it is friendship, truly human connection and communication, that matters rather than any institutional relationship. Perhaps, then, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when he we hear him speaking of his own place in the order he’s founded as that of a friend: nothing more, nothing less. This emphasis on what really matters in communication between Buddhists echoes his emphasis on the Going for Refuge itself, to which all else, no matter how important as support, is secondary. It is here, now, and always the life-defining intention and direction behind our actions of body, speech, and mind that really matters. ‘How is this teaching, this ordination, this activity, this moment serving and expressing my deepest values and ideals?’ To live this way is quite a challenge, isn’t it? The writings collected here display the energy and integrity with which Sangharakshita has tried to meet that challenge. I know that you, the reader, find yourself faced with words on a page, pixels on a f o r e w o r d   /

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screen. But as you read on just try to see Sangharakshita sitting alone in his study with pen poised over paper. Or see him standing at a lectern bringing forth these words, these ideas, into the world. Now as then he is sharing with you in friendship, as you sit here reading, his thoughts, his journey, his vision. This, he is saying, is what really matters. Nagabodhi 1 January 2018

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a note from the editor

This second volume in the Complete Works series contains nine texts of very different lengths, their genesis ranging from articles written for an Indian encyclopedia to talks given to members of the Western Buddhist Order (now the Triratna Buddhist Order). A short explanatory note introduces each one. They are presented in the order in which they were composed with the exception of Extending the Hand of Fellowship which, along with My Relation to the Order, was originally envisaged as an extension to The History of My Going for Refuge. In the present volume the three texts follow on one from the other. The editorial work has been mainly to create endnotes, in the first place providing a full reference for all quoted passages from Buddhist literature. Wherever possible I have given a reference to the particular translation quoted. Generally I have tried to give references to both the older translations of suttas and sūtras which Sangharakshita himself drew from, and to more modern ones which may be more accurate having the benefit of now many decades of scholarly work on Buddhist scriptures and their translation. When a non-specific reference is made to the Buddhist tradition (such as ‘in the Mahāyāna’) I have tried to find a specific source in the sūtras, commentaries, and other works. For anyone interested in exploring further, I highly recommend the Sangharakshita Library at Adhisthana – Triratna’s central location in Herefordshire, uk, and home to Sangharakshita – which contains thousands of books. They provide a n ot e f r o m t h e e d i t o r   /

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the background to the development of Sangharakshita’s thought, his understanding of the Buddhist tradition, and his particular presentation of the Dharma. Our policy is to give sources that are to be found in a printed book on the understanding that, although all things are impermanent, the Internet may be less reliable in the long term. At the same time I would like to acknowledge with gratitude accesstoinsight and other Buddhist and non-Buddhist Internet sites without whose help I might never have located some sources. Two of the nine texts in this volume strike a more personal note: The History of My Going for Refuge and My Relation to the Order, both of which were originally delivered as papers to members of the Order. In the second of these in particular, Sangharakshita mentions developments in the Order and Movement he founded which were familiar to his auditors at the time but which may need explanation for readers of the Complete Works. Some endnotes, therefore, offer a glimpse into the history of the Triratna Buddhist Community and with a few brush strokes of fact try to evoke the times and the people who took a lead in setting up some of Triratna’s institutions. I have done my best to check with those who were there, but should readers notice errors of fact, please inform the publisher so that corrections may be made in future editions. As editor I have been dealing with words and letters, with sources of quotations and the like but in the end they are all only a vehicle for the transmission of the Dharma, the Buddha-Dharma which, though ungraspable – or precisely because ungraspable – is, as the suttas tell us, kalyāṇa: lovely – at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end. The texts in this volume, these communications from Sangharakshita, have contributed enormously to my own understanding of the Three Jewels, the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha, and to communicating to me something of their loveliness. May it be so for all readers who come to these pages. Kalyanaprabha Great Malvern 1 March 2018 To help readers unfamiliar with Pāli and Sanskrit, plurals have been indicated by an -s suffix rather than employ the technically correct orthography. xx  /  T H E


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