Out now: Nagabodhi's biography of SangharakshitaOn Wed, 1 March, 2023 - 10:30
We’re delighted to announce the publication of Nagabodhi’s page-turning biography, Sangharakshita: The Boy, the Monk, the Man. In an absorbing narrative, Nagabodhi takes the reader on a journey through the twists and turns of Sangharakshita’s life; the experiences, insights, and reflections that nurtured his approach as a teacher; and the legacy he left behind.
Sangharakshita was a pioneer in spreading Buddhism outside of Asia, as well as in the revival of Buddhism in India in the wake of the conversion of Dr Ambedkar. He founded the Triratna Buddhist Order.
Nagabodhi writes this about the book:
‘I’ve tried to tell Sangharakshita’s story. I’ve done my best to give a balanced and textured view of the man appropriate to an introduction of this sort…. You’ve maybe read or studied some of his writings, heard a few of his talks (maybe warming to his rhetorical idiosyncrasies, maybe not). More than likely you’ll have heard of allegations, controversies, and criticisms surrounding anything from the way his sexual activity and opinions on gender and family life might have affected the early days of his community to the sheer nerve of establishing a new kind of Buddhist order in the modern world. It has been a considerable challenge to compress such a fully lived life and such an exceptional but complex mind into a book of this size. I hope I have done the task – and Sangharakshita himself – some justice at least.’
Praise for Sangharakshita: The Boy, the Monk, the Man
‘A jewel of a book that weaves together anecdotes, Buddhist history, awakening insights, while also shining the light onto a multifaceted and nuanced human being… a must-read for those who want to get to know the authentic Sangharakshita.’
– Vimalasara, author of Eight Step Recovery
‘A nuanced and subtle portrait of a brilliant and complex personality; it handles Triratna’s history with care but doesn’t brush over the controversies. This is a must-read for anyone involved in Triratna.’
– Dharmacharini Kamalagita, Chair of Cardiff Buddhist Centre
Join tonight’s online book launch
The online book launch for Sangharakshita: The Boy, the Monk, the Man, with Nagabodhi in conversation with Saddhanandi, will take place later today (Wednesday 1st March), from 19:00 to 20:30 GMT. Nagabodhi has a reputation as a gifted storyteller, so it promises to be an entertaining and illuminating evening.
An extract from Sangharakshita: The Boy, the Monk, the Man
It was one of those stop-start motorway jams, first one lane nudging forward then another. I tried not to stare, but it passed the time to take in my neighbours as they drifted in and out of position alongside. And then I saw him. At the wheel of an ordinary family car, perspiring slightly in the summer heat, the sleeves of his white shirt neatly rolled, a wife beside him and two kids in the back, it was Sangharakshita!
Okay, a doppelganger. Not an exact carbon copy, but close enough to have sent me into a spin. ‘Could it be him? A secret life? A twin brother he’s never mentioned?’ I looked more
closely and, okay, it wasn’t him. There were subtle physical differences, but more to the point there was something about the man that didn’t set him apart from the crowd in the way something about Sangharakshita would have done, even in a traffic jam at the wheel of a Ford Mondeo.
All the same, the double take had left me wondering as I sat there. Could it have been him? Might Dennis Lingwood of Tooting, South London, have turned out differently and lived the sort of life that would have found him, a family man in late middle age, driving along a motorway to who knows where?
It’s tempting to begin a shortish book about Sangharakshita with the often repeated line that, on reading Madame Blavatsky’s Isis Unveiled at the age of sixteen, he realized he was not a Christian ‘and never had been’, and, on reading the Platform Sūtra of Wei Lang (or Huineng) and The Diamond Sūtra shortly afterwards, he realized he was a Buddhist ‘and always had been’. Wasn’t that when things really got going? Weren’t they the experiences that defined him and set the course of his life and mission? Why not start the story there?
But whose life? Who was the young man in whose mind those insights dawned? What was the raw material, and how might it have influenced the way the insights landed and played out over the next seventy-seven years?
In case you missed it….
… in our latest podcast episode, Nagabodhi talks with Dhammamegha about his life in relationship to Sangharakshita, and the interesting process of writing about him. He explores who Sangharakshita was, and his life’s project of working out what it means to be a Buddhist in today’s world. He also talks candidly about Sangharakshita’s sexuality, his relationships, his legacy, his experiments in ways of being, and the nature of community or sangha.