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Sangharakshita and the Shadow of the Past by Vishvapani

On Mon, 27 February, 2017 - 19:01
Candradasa's picture

A strong, moving, nuanced set of perspectives from Vishvapani on areas of historical controversy in the FWBO/Triratna, especially those involving our founder, Sangharakshita. 

The talk spans Vishvapani’s long involvement with the community in both its light and “shadow” aspects - from first coming across the Dharma in Croydon, UK, at the age of 14 in the 1980s until the present day. It is in many ways a timely look at the past and the present, rooted in the Dharma itself as the most helpful context in which to try to meet and hold the inevitable complexities, while still attending adequately to clearly felt pains. 

We hear about his work in relation to the media, we consider communal history from the perspective of karma, we travel to Auschwitz as Vishvapani engages with a history of family sorrow that has much to offer anyone who finds there are no easy answers to suffering. Throughout we are invited to witness the past with a searching, admirable honesty, learning what we will learn and allowing space for a range of responses that might help give rise to a future where shadows are carried well as part of the Dharma shining on through.

Talk given in Cardiff, Wales, February 2017.

Read ‘An Account of Croydon Buddhist Centre in the 1980s by Vishvapani’

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Emily_RH's picture

Thank you for sharing Vishvapani’s talk, Candradasa. I also found it extremely moving. It is humbling and helpful to hear about the personal paths that Order Members with so much knowledge and experience have taken in negotiating the complexities of Triratna’s history. I’m going to share this with some folks in my local Sangha who I think might appreciate it too.



Aryanisha's picture

Hi Emily. Thank you for posting your response - it’s really encouraging. If the local Sangha want more information here is a good place to start for resources and the kula at Adhisthana have just released an introduction 

Wishing you well,


Lizziegu81's picture

Very helpful, moving and thoughtful talk. Being shared around the Karuna offices!

Saddhabhaya's picture

Thank you Vishvapani

Mokshavadini's picture

Thank you Vishvapani for your wise reflections.  I found them extremely helpful, particularly the sharing of your experience on retreat with Bernie Glassman. For me, particularly, the importance of love and kindness being brought to bear at this time shone out from your talk - we are very lucky to have you in the Order.  metta Sara

parami's picture

yes Sara, we are very lucky to have Vishvapani in the Order. A thoughtful man.

love, Parami

sheena's picture

Thank you for sharing this Candradasa. Thank you Vishvapani. 

sheena's picture

Are there any other talks that might complement this one? I found it heartening, helpful and moving although am stuck on one thought which I perhaps need to give space. “people do foolish things with good intentions”.

I don’t know Sangharakshita, only though his writing, of which I have read only a little. Mostly I find his writing hard to connect with. I have asked for ordination a year ago, partly because I wanted to explore my relationship to Sangharakshita and I thought the ordination process would be as good a place to do this. Also because I treasure much of what I have found in Triratna; friendship and beauty. 

My unease sometimes has felt like old chewing gum. After many discussion with friends in and outside of Triatna’s I had a really touching dream about Sangharakshita and I felt my unease lift. But after the last BBC thing I just felt a sadness. To see the distress of Mark Dunlop, and also to know that this is never going to go away. I am doing my best to turn with tenderness towards the hurt of all those impacted by the breaking of the precepts, including Sangharakshita.

So I wonder if I can ever have faith in Sangharakshita’s good intentions? If I can’t is it still sensible to ask to join an order he founded, despite the love, freedom and friendship I have experienced?

Am typing this on my daughters tiny kindle in a quiet moment looking after toddlers so might be as well worded as I might like. Thanks to you all. 

Karunamitra's picture

Not only was Sangharakshita’s behaviour unethical, it was, in the case of men under 21 at that time, illegal and therefore, not possible for them to consent, in the legal meaning. Homosexual age of consent was not lowered until the 90s to 18 and finally to 16 around 2000. 

The extent of his sexual misconduct has deeply disappointed me. I note you use the word ‘problems’ and the Adhistana Kula use the word ‘mistake’ to describe Sangharakshita’s misconduct. I believe these words are euphemisms for what was apparently criminal, at times, and seems to have been predatory and involved procurement. Let us stop playing it down!

kategooch's picture

I found this talk very helpful and moving, thank you