Buddhist Audio Books

Early Writings 1944 – 1954
By Sangharakshita
ISBN: 978-1-909314-59-7
Read by Subhadra

The articles in this book were first published in a number of different journals. The articles were written over a period of some ten years in the 1940s and 1950s. The exact dates of composition are impossible to determine, but Sangharakshita has been able to recall where he wrote most of them, which allows for an approximate dating. The articles have been arranged in what we hope is the order of writing – based in some cases on intelligent guesswork. And a pattern does seem to emerge. The articles divide into some five periods characterised by place of composition and by authorial name – for in the course of these ten years the author was writing from a number of different countries and publishing under various names and titles. Dennis Lingwood, who, as Sangharakshita, would become renowned, along with others, for bringing Buddhism to the West, and for playing a crucial role in the re-emergence of Buddhism in India, was eighteen years old when he first made his entrance onto the public stage of life. His entry can hardly be called dramatic. He published an article in what for most of his contemporaries was an obscure journal with a small circulation: the Buddhist Society’s bi-monthly The Middle Way. Obscure though it may have been, turning to the May–June 1944 issue we find in ‘The Unity of Buddhism’ an astonishing piece of writing – astonishing not only because of the author’s youth, but because this was someone who had come across the Buddhist teachings for the first time less than two years previously. And yet the author writes with striking confidence and authority. His piece takes in the whole Buddhist tradition, with reference not just to the then more widely-known Pali canon but to the Sanskrit, Nepalese, Chinese and Tibetan canons, to Nagarjuna, Asanga and Vasubandhu. In fact, in this initial article we find Dennis Lingwood giving expression to thoughts and ideas that would become distinctive aspects of the Dharma teaching of Sangharakshita: the fundamental unity of all Buddhist schools, the inspiring ideal of the Bodhisattva, the understanding that Buddhist ethics are founded upon Buddhist metaphysics, and the deeply felt sense that the Dharma taught by the Buddha is for the happiness and benefit of all kinds and conditions of men and women and urgently needed in the modern world.

An Extract from: Early Writings 1944 – 1954
The Bodhisattva Ideal

There are antinomies in any religion. In Christianity we have the dichotomy of God’s foreknowledge of events and man’s free will, and in other religions we have others equally insoluble. Insoluble, that is, on the ground of the principles accepted by their adherents, but not ultimately insoluble. The spirit of man, finding in itself a deeper and wider knowledge, a more profound experience, is driven to formulate its religious postulates anew – is driven to transcend the ground on which antinomies were possible, and, soaring in the wide aether of his inmost being, looks down and sees them as the related halves of a greater truth. In Buddhism we find many such antinomies. And it is the endeavour to transcend these – always in harmony with the inmost spirit of the Buddha’s teaching – that constitutes the history of Buddhist thought. One such antinomy is that of Grace and Works. It was revived in Europe in the Middle Ages, and at a later date – during the Reformation, and is already familiar to us in the controversies of Luther, Calvin, and Zuinglius with the orthodoxy of the Catholic Church. An efflorescence of sects shows life in a religion. Only orthodoxy is dead. Discussion promotes growth. Bearing this in mind we will not harshly condemn those who differ from ourselves in matters of religion, or in anything else; but will endeavour to realise this: that a thing is as true as its opposite. Thus we will admit our opponents to be as right as ourselves; and, grasping our own limited truth in one hand, and theirs in the other, will fit them together, and see how marvellously they correspond. Thus we shall attain to a larger conception of truth. This is the Middle Way of Buddhism. Mahayana has long held to this
principle. It recognizes the truth of what Hinayanists teach, even though the latter assert that their brethren of the larger Vehicle have gone far astray from the teaching of the Buddha. It classes the whole of its own speculations in the body of relative truth, allowing only the most fundamental principles of Buddhism – those unquestionably taught by the Blessed One himself – principles shared alike by the adherents of the greater and lesser Vehicles, to be classed as absolute truth.


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