Buddhism is about “awakening”: shortly after the Buddha experienced this for himself, that was how he described it: “I am awakened”. By this, any organisation which considers itself to be “Buddhist” must offer teachings and practices that lead to this goal. What has become clear is that Triratna cannot support true awakening, or “insight”, because true awakening is entirely different than the self-improvement scheme that Sangharakshita taught.
Teaching: Dharma Misunderstood
This article explores why Sangharakshita’s unique understanding of “conditionality” was a profound misunderstanding of the Dharma, the teaching of the Buddha. It is based on a public article, written by a Triratna order member in 2017, that explored Sangharashita’s “particular presentation” of the Dharma.
The Order depicted in this paper, and in the papers that have followed it, is very different from the Order I was told I was joining in 1993. In particular, the Order's relationship to Bhante, as portrayed in these papers, is fundamentally different from what I was led to believe when I was Ordained. This is not just the natural and organic development of what went before - it is, in some respects, a direct reversal of key principles that I had signed up to.
This is a focused summary of Thanissaro Bhikkhu's book "Buddhist Romanticism" that argues Buddhism as interpreted by some teachers in the West, such as Sangharakshita, is really Romanticism which uses the vocabulary of the Dharma, but is actually very different from the Dharma taught by the Buddha.
The FWBO Files is one of the earliest, most comprehensive and thoroughly rehearsed exposés of the group, focusing mostly on Sangharakshita. Its author, a Buddhist scholar and practitioner who was never directly involved in FWBO/Triratna, was deeply concerned about the effect Sangharakshita was having on the development of Buddhism in the United Kingdom.
It covers Sangharakshita's history, from India and Kalimpong to Hampstead and the setting up of the Western Buddhist Order, and goes into his lack of traditional training, the un-Buddhist nature of many of his teachings, his predatory sexual behaviour and more.
First published in 1997, it provoked a response from the organisation, and may be one of the key reasons why the organisation changed its name.