Last Thursday September 1st we celebrated Sangharakshita, the founder of the Triratna Buddhist Order and movement of which Llangollen Buddhist Centre is a part, following his 91st birthday on August 26th.
For those of you who don't know his story, here's a very brief biography.:
He was born in South London in 1925. Largely self-educated through reading, he early on developed an interest in the cultures and philosophies of the East, and at the age of 16, after reading two Buddhist texts, he realised that he was a Buddhist.
Conscripted into the army, he was posted to India, and when the war ended, he stayed on and became a Buddhist monk given the name of Sangharakshita. He stayed in India for twenty years, studying under teachers from the major Buddhist traditions, and working and writing for the good of Buddhism. He played a key role in teaching and supporting the followers of Dr Ambedkar after their conversion to Buddhism.
Returning to England in the late 1960s, he realised the need for a new Buddhist movement there. This new movement was first called Friends of the Western Buddhist Order, now Triratna.
In Triratna, there is no distinction between monastic and lay, the only distinctions are about levels of commitment..Sangharakshita has always emphasised the importance of spiritual friendship and community, the significance of the arts in spiritual life, and the need for new ways of living to support spiritual aspirations.
For many of us, Sangharakshita's ability to see through cultural traditions to the essence of Buddhism in commitment to the Three Jewels has made Buddhism accessible to us - not an 'Eastern' religion, but a teaching about how to live a truly human life. Coming into contact with Triratna has been life-changing for many of us. We have been inspired and feel deeply grateful to Sangharakshita,, and last Thursday was a chance to express that.
Sangharakshita has given many talks, and written many books - available from Windhorse Books and on line on Free Buddhist Audio..