A unique figure in the Buddhist world
Born Dennis Lingwood in South London in 1925, and largely self-educated, Sangharakshita developed an interest in the cultures and philosophies of the East 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 (‘protected by the spiritual community’) lived for fourteen years in the Himalayan town of Kalimpong, where he encountered venerable Tibetan Buddhist teachers, giving him the opportunity to study intensively under leading teachers from all major Buddhist traditions. During this time he taught and wrote extensively.
After twenty years in India, Sangharakshita returned to the UK to teach the Dharma. In 1967 he set up the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order — a new Buddhist movement for the modern West, now called the Triratna Buddhist Community.
A translator between East and West, between the traditional world and the modern, between principles and practices, Sangharakshita’s clear thinking and depth of experience have been appreciated around the world. He has particularly emphasised the significance of commitment in the spiritual life, the value of spiritual friendship and community, the link between religion and the arts, and the need for a new society that supports spiritual values.
Throughout his life Sangharakshita has been concerned with issues of social reform; he played a key part in the revival of Buddhism in India, particularly through his work with the followers of Dr Ambedkar. Around one third of the Order is in India, where the movement used to be called Trailokya Bauddha Mahasangha Sahayak Gana, or TBMSG. In 2010 the WBO and TBMSG became the Triratna Buddhist Order.
Sangharakshita speaking at the Manchester Buddhist Centre in 2008: