Obituary for Sangharakshita

Urgyen Sangharakshita 1925-2018

Obituary for Sangharakshita

Sangharakshita, born Dennis Lingwood, was born in South London in 1925. More or less self educated, he developed an interest in the cultures and philosophies of the East early on, and realised that he was a Buddhist at the age of sixteen.

The Second World War took him as a conscript to India, where he stayed on to become the Buddhist monk, Sangharakshita. Based for fourteen years in the foothills of the Himalayas, he had significant contact with leading teachers in the major Buddhist traditions. Writing and teaching extensively himself, he played a key part in the revival of Buddhism in India, particularly thorough his work among followers of Dr B.R.Ambedkar.

In the early 1960s he was invited to return to England and to the small Buddhist community there. He went on to establish the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order (FWBO) in 1967, and the Western Buddhist Order in 1968. A translator between East and West, between the traditional world and the modern, between principles and practices, Sangharakshita, or Bhante as he was known, brought to the task a depth of experience and clarity of thought that have been appreciated throughout the world. In lectures, talks, books and conversation, he particularly emphasised the decisive significance of commitment in the spiritual life, the value of spiritual friendship and community, the link between religion and art, and the need for a “new society” supportive of spiritual aspiration and ideals. In 2010 the FWBO was renamed the Triratna Buddhist Community. It's now an international Buddhist movement with over sixty centres on five continents.

Over the past two decades Sangharakshita handed on his responsibilities to senior disciples, while keeping up literary work, personal correspondence and contact with many people. More recently he oversaw the publication of a number of papers clarifying the basic approach and teaching on which the movement he founded is based. Until his death on Tuesday 30th October, he lived at Adhisthana, our centre in Herefordshire, where, despite age and infirmity, he continued to see people, write and deal with correspondence.

Bhante accomplished many things in his long life. His unflagging energy and inspiration provided us all in the Movement with books, lectures, all manner of projects and initiatives… But perhaps he will be remembered best, and perhaps he would like to be remembered best, as a friend. Bhante always responded to the best in the thousands of people he connected with over the years. His small acts of kindness, his lively interest in people, his patience, his concern and his sympathy will remain an inspiration to so many of us.