from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sangharakshita 2002

Sangharakshita (born Dennis Philip Edward Lingwood ; born August 26, 1925 in Tooting , London ; died October 30, 2018 in Hereford ) was the founder of the Western Buddhist Order and the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order (in Germany: Freunde des Western Buddhist Order ) (FWBO). He was a writer and speaker in the field of Buddhist teaching , especially on the subject of Buddhism in the West .


Childhood and youth

Sangharakshita was born Dennis Lingwood in 1925. During his childhood he was bedridden for two years due to an illness. During this time he read enormous amounts of literature and became familiar with art , culture and philosophy . At the age of 16, he read a copy of the Diamond Sutra and had mystical experiences that made him realize that he was and always has been a Buddhist. He was transferred to India during World War II and stayed there after the war to be ordained a bhikkhu .


While waiting to be released from the army after World War II, Sangharakshita decided to stay in India. He parted with his possessions and burned his papers. For the next two years he wandered with a companion through India, especially in the south of the country. They lived on alms and practiced meditation. During this time Sangharakshita met some very well known Hindu teachers, including Ramana Maharshi . He also made the acquaintance of the Mahabodhi Society . At the end of this period of wandering, Sangharakshita decided to seek ordination as a Buddhist monk. At this point he and his companion took a train to Delhi and set off for Sarnath. The monks there were suspicious of this wild-looking couple who came from nowhere and refused to give them ordination. They then traveled on foot to Kushinara during the hottest time of the year, where they were both given Shramana, or novice ordination by the Burmese monk U Chandramani . Although they were ordained, U Chandramani and the other monks in Kushinara stressed that they could not provide any further support and suggested contact with Bhikkhu Jagdish Kashyap in Benares . Kasyap, professor of Pali at Benares Hindu University, welcomed Sangharakshita, and he stayed to study for eight months: Pali, Abhidhamma , and Buddhist Philosophy . At the end of this period, Sangharakshita and Kashyap traveled to the Darjeeling region . Kashyap was considering his own future and planning to leave university. As a consequence, he left Sangharakshita without further ado in Kalimpong City and instructed him to work for the benefit of Buddhism. Kalimpong was Sangharakshita's hometown for 14 years until he returned to England in the 1960s.

During this time in India , Sangharakshita met many notable spiritual teachers, and although he had been ordained in the Theravada tradition just a few months ago , he was always open to other schools of Buddhism. Sangharakshita was particularly influenced by teachers of Tibetan Buddhism who fled Tibet after the Chinese invasion in the 1950s . Perhaps the greatest influence exerted on him was Dhardo Rimpoche , an incarnated Lama who, similar to the Dalai Lama , is said to be born again and again, out of compassion for all beings. Dhardo Rimpoche was both a friend and a teacher of Sangharakshita, and he gave him the Bodhisattva Ordination - which contains a series of vows that commit to the liberation of all beings: Salvation from all suffering, however many lives it may take, and whatever it takes is necessary. CM Chen also had a strong influence on Sangharakshita, teaching him Chan and Vajrayana practices.

Return to the west

In the mid-1960s, Sangharakshita received an invitation to England to help with a dispute that had arisen in the Hampstead Buddhist Vihara . Sangharakshita's ecumenical attitude, which encompassed many strands of Buddhist tradition, was in contrast to the strict Theravada style of Buddhism in the Vihara. This made him both friends and enemies there. It became apparent to him that there was a desire and need for Buddhist teaching in England, and Sangharakshita decided to stay in England. After leaving for a farewell trip to India, he received a letter stating that he was no longer welcome at Hampstead Vihara and that he should not return. It seemed that the Vihara's leadership was dissatisfied with his attitude, but they were also arguably influenced by the rumor that Sangharakshita's friendship with Terry Delamare was a sexual one.

After consulting friends and teachers in India, especially Dhardo Rinpoche , Sangharakshita decided to return to England and found a new Buddhist movement there. So he founded the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order in 1967 (in Germany: Friends of the Western Buddhist Order ). The Western Buddhist Order was established a year later when Sangharakshita ordained the first men and women.

The first location of the new movement was a business space in the basement on Monmouth Street in London , where Sangharakshita not only led the meditations and gave lectures, but also distributed the pillows, made the tea and cleaned it afterwards.

The FWBO and WBO strive to put Buddhism in a Western context without the sectarianism that seems to characterize Buddhism in the East. The FWBO are currently growing into an international movement. There are currently German FWBO centers in Berlin , Essen , Frankfurt am Main / Wiesbaden , Hamburg and Minden .

He died at the age of 93 after a brief illness in Hereford, UK.

Sangharakshita's teacher

Essential lessons

Sangharakshita's teaching is - as he himself writes - an orthodox exposition of Buddhadharma in the best sense of the word (see: The Meaning of Orthodoxy in Buddhism: A Protest ). He emphasizes principles of Buddhist teaching, such as dependent origination and the threefold path of ethics, meditation and wisdom, while questioning the relevance of teachings that only made sense in certain historical and cultural contexts. such as B. the Triyana model in Tibetan Buddhism. Sangharakshita was ordained as a Theravada Bhikkhu but received tantric initiations from Tibetan Lamas.

Going for Refuge is the essential key to Sangharakshita thinking about the Dharma . He sees taking refuge as an essential act in order to become or be a Buddhist. In response to suffering and dissatisfaction, we seek refuge in sensual experience, career, family, power, possessions, even conventional religion. The only reliable and purposeful refuge are the three jewels alone: ​​the Buddha , the Dharma, and the Sangha . A Buddhist is one who takes refuge in the Three Gems.

One can follow the development of one's thinking through one's writings. For example, in A Survey of Buddhism , Sangharakshita suggests that it is the bodhisattva ideal that brings together all the different lineages of Buddhism as the unifying factor. A few years later, by the time Three Jewels was released, that changed and Refuge became the central theme. Sangharakshita describes the development of his thinking in A History of My Going For Refuge . Today he sees taking refuge as the central act in the life of a disciple of the Buddha, an act that should not only find ceremonial expression but is of ongoing spiritual importance. Bodhichitta, the “spirit of enlightenment” or “will to enlightenment for the benefit of all” is a supra-individual force, and becomes effective through “commitment”, the “self-commitment” of the individual to the goal, and through continually renewed, deepening refuge. Going for refuge has different hierarchical levels in Sangharakshita's thought: Someone who was born into a Buddhist culture and practices more for reasons of sociological conditioning than out of personal commitment has taken ethnic refuge. Once you have decided to get involved personally, you have taken temporary refuge. When taking refuge has become central to one's life and the connection manifests itself in ethical behavior and the ability to practice the Dharma effectively, Sangharakshita calls it actual refuge. Beyond this arises the True Refuge, which corresponds to the arising of bodhicitta , and the Cosmic Refuge, which corresponds to the Dharmakaya .

Another key in Sangharakshita's teaching is the special emphasis on friendship. Kalyana mitrata, or “spiritual friendship”, is extolled in the Buddhist scriptures, and Sangharakshita encourages his followers to discover friendship as a spiritual practice. For example, it is said that the Order he founded is simply a network of friendships between people who have effectively taken refuge.

The order that Sangharakshita founded is neither monastic nor lay, and this aspect of its teaching has generated much opposition from traditional Buddhists. He wanted to keep the difference between lay people and monks and nuns small because he observed during his time in India that many monks only practice superficially, while in contrast many lay people practice very devotedly and effectively. The Mahayana Buddhism has attacked the idea in texts such as the Vimalakirti Nirdesha that only monks can effectively practice so Sangharakshita is this assumption alone. Nevertheless, the order he founded is unique with this centrality of taking refuge. Because the members of the order are not necessarily celibate, they are usually viewed as lay people by monks and nuns of traditional orders. Most religious do not consider themselves lay (as they are often full-time practitioners) or entirely monastic (as they do not follow the rules of Vinaya ).

Sangharakshita emphasizes that the Buddha taught two different types of dependent arising. The first is familiar to most Buddhists and says that arising is dependent on causes and that we oscillate between stages such as birth and death and pleasure and pain. From this perspective, reaching nirvana means severing the causes of birth and death. The second kind says that something arises depending on causes and the arising progresses in increasing ways, so that suffering leads to trust, trust leads to joy, and so on. This doctrine is present in various texts of the Pali Canon , but has apparently been largely overlooked by other Buddhists. The importance of this teaching is that it shows that Dependent Origination is an all-encompassing model of reality, it includes both the transcendent and the relative world.


Dennis Lingwood (Sangharakshita) has been charged with sexually abusing students on multiple counts. With reference to "spiritual friendship", "spiritual advancement" or "overcoming attachment to the opposite sex", he would have persuaded male students to engage in sexual activities with him. Inside Out South West interviewed three former members of the Triratna (FWBO) in September 2016 who said they had been pressured into sexual activities with Sangharakshita (Dennis Lingwood).

Key publications

Buddhism basics

  • A Survey of Buddhism (1957, 2001)
  • The Three Jewels (1967, 1998)
  • A Guide to the Buddhist Path (1990, 1996)


  • Wisdom Beyond Words: Sense and Non-sense in the Buddhist Prajnaparamita Tradition
  • The Inconceivable Emancipation: Themes from the Vimalakirti Nirdesa
  • The Drama of Cosmic Enlightenment: Parables, Myths, and Symbols of the White Lotus Sutra
  • Know Your Mind: The Psychological Dimension of Ethics in Buddhism
  • Living with Awareness: A Guide to the Satipatthana Sutta


  • The Rainbow Road: From Tooting Broadway to Kalimpong
  • Facing Mount Kanchenjunga
  • In the Sign of the Golden Wheel
  • Moving Against the Stream: The Birth of a New Buddhist Movement
  • The History of My Going for Refuge


  • Complete Poems 1941-1994
  • The Religion of Art
  • Ambedkar and Buddhism
  • What the Buddha a Bhikkhu?

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. George D. Chryssides, Margaret Z. Wilkins: A Reader in New Religious Movements: Readings in the Study of New Religious . Continuum International Publishing Group, London 2006, ISBN 0-8264-6167-0 .
  2. ^ Sangharakshita Memorial Space . ( [accessed October 30, 2018]).
  3. ^ "The dark side of enlightenment, Madleine Bunting," The Guardian October 27, 1997, | "Apology sought over 'abuse' at Buddhist retreat" by Jo Taylor, BBC, September 26, 2016,