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We provide access to over 300 transcripts by Sangharakshita!
Sangharakshita, Birmingham, UK
Suriyavamsa, Glasgow, UK
Sanghajivini, Newcastle, UK
Vajratara, Sheffield, UK
Eric, FBA Team
Candradasa, FBA Team
Kuladharini, Glasgow, UK
Padmatara, San Francisco, USA
... don't have an urge to be moral they have an urge to be spiritual.
Sumedha: You mean that spiritual is individual, where as moral is more sort of collective
S: You could say that. There is according to Buddhism an aspect of the individual spiritual
life which is ethical and moral but it is certainly not the whole of it. I think the spiritual urge
as distinct from, at least or a develop out of the moral urge is very much stronger. People are
much more likely to die for a spiritual principle than for a moral principle I think.
Sumedha: Mere sort of rectitude is rather dry, it can be rather dry, but the spiritual is not dry
and it goes beyond the merely moral.
Lokamitra: There is a point here that seems important for us and it sometimes it seems to me
that we are not so much trying to make the Dharma available to people as to try and create the
conditions for them, for them to practise it.
S: Right. This is why from the very beginning there has been in the Movement an emphasis
on Right Livelihood. This is also why currently, I am trying to suggest different ways in
which the Movement can be self-sufficient.  Recently it occurred to me that as a movement
we have four great things to offer. First of all there is a definite path of spiritual development
through meditation, Puja, communication and so on - a means of individual spiritual
development. Secondly, we have a spiritual community, an Order, which in Buddhist form, at
least, is not available elsewhere in this country, maybe not in Europe, certainly not to the
depth and with the thoroughness that we have. Thirdly, we have to offer a philosophy of life.
This is not simply the traditional Buddhist philosophy, in it's untranslated and uninterpreted
form. We have in addition an exposition of this in more contemporary terms as the whole
teaching about the path of the Higher Evolution So that if we want to express our basic
philosophy to someone who isn't going to respond to the traditional Buddhist approach, or
who is going to be put off by the traditional Buddhist Pali and Sanskrit terms, we can explain
the whole thing to him simply in terms of the Higher Evolution without even mentioning
Buddhism. Fourthly and lastly we have to offer a sort of blue print, though this is still in the
very early stages - of a whole new culture, civilization and society, remodelled, as it were, in
accordance with our basic principles, as so to make it possible, or at less much more easy, for
people to develop themselves spiritually. Otherwise everything is against you. You are trying
to live in a way which is contradicted by most of the people around you, by circumstances, by
conditions. Nothing is made easy; everything is made more difficult. We realize the truth of
this when we go on retreats. In fact we've known this from the very beginning. It's as though
on retreat there is nothing working against you, except your own mental conditioning, your
own weaknesses, your own imperfections; but your circumstances, your environment, are
cooperating. So I feel that if we are going to have a very large number of people, if we want a
very large number of people devoting themselves to individual spiritual development, we
have just to make it easier for them. It's too difficult for the average person at present.
Circumstances are too much against him. In other words if any considerable number of people
are to be involved in the process of spiritual development, which is the only, the truly human
way to live, then vast changes in society, civilization and culture are necessary.
Chintamani: It occurs to me that the actual creating of those conditions is in itself a practice.
S: Indeed it is. Right. I saw this very clearly in New Zealand, because New Zealand is first of
all a country a bit bigger than Britain as I mentioned in the talk, over three million people,
they haven't got as nearly as much weight of convention as we have here. They are not so
cluttered-up with cultural bric-a-brac, which is not longer really very useful. They are not
much influenced by cultural and intellectual fashion or spiritual fashions. They are
psychologically pretty healthy and they are quite open minded and I think it is a wonderful
thing and I am quite convinced that it is possible for the movement there to spread to such an
extent and so easily that the whole of New Zealand could be effected and influenced of the
good by this. But here it is going to be very very much more difficult, about a hundred times
more difficult and probably in Finland two hundred times more difficult. I began to see very
clearly in New Zealand the way in which a whole society could be remodelled. So you could
have an almost ideal society and it is possible. It is not just a sort of pipe dream.
Lokamitra: So there are two aspects to this question, one is an outward going a converting of
the gods, as it were, like Padmasambhava did in Tibet.
Lokamitra: And one is a more inward thing of working on it ourselves to create the situation
for ourselves and that is the most important you see for us to do at the moment or at least to
S: We started with number one, this seems in a way quite natural and quite right. We started
with meditation classes once a week at Sakura. We started with individual development. Then
the Order came into existence where a number of people were devoting themselves in this
way, committing themselves in this way. And then as a medium of communication with
people who weren't taking very happily or readily to traditional modes of expression the
philosophy came into existence, the restatement of the ancient teachings, but then we find that
we are getting bigger, we are getting stronger, we're getting more confidence and we begin to
feel ready to start taking on the world, as it were. Because we see so many of our fellow
members suffer and are just not able to do what we could have otherwise could have done, at
least to a greater extent, there is just so little cooperation from the environment, even active
opposition, not from unsympathetic individuals who are unsympathetic as individuals, but just
from the existing set-up and the way things have come about maybe through nobody's fault
Sumedha: Just inevitably?
S: Just inevitably as it were, though not very likely to have. Here the Buddha is, as it were,
making clear, that even in the case of a secular society, as it were, though of his society which
was not completely secular, the Vajjians society because they have got their shrines and their
offerings. It's sort of ethnic you could say that it's an ethnic religion going on, well all right
using that term secular society, even if you. are going to have a secular society, the secular
society itself must respect spiritual values or allow free scope to the exorcise of those values
or the application of those values by those who want to. Otherwise you would be sowing the
seeds of discontent
Jitari: In this secular society that we have referred to here, to the Vajjians, what is the
reference to the shrines both inner and outer?
S: I am not sure what is meant by both inner and outer here it may be public and private.
Public meaning those that are kept up by the whole tribe. Private meaning the individual
house hold shrine, house hold gods and divinities: and that only my guess. I am not quite sure.
The word for shrine is Tithia incidentally or Tactia in Sanskrit. Shrine is probably the nearest.
We have many of these sort of things in India today. If you get there a stone covered with
Bougainvillea at the foot of a tree and it is sometimes adorned with flowers, and is given
some sort of reverence and you believe maybe a god lives in the tree, a tree spirit - well that's
the shrine, a Tithia. This is 'Hope' religion with the tribe and its disciplinary culture  and is
quite important on its own level, it helps bind the two tribes together. Needless to say in
industrialized countries most of this sort of thing has been simply destroyed. They even made
what or hadn't been destroyed before, long ago perhaps by the church.
Chintamani: There are still a few remnants of that left in the British Isles particularly in
Khema: There is a lot of that in Ireland, lots of little shrines dotted everywhere a bit like ...
without a figure of any sort or maybe just a alcove.
S: Or maybe sort of nominally Christian, but the feeling of them is as it were...
Khema: Is connected with folklore, you really fed it.
Sumedha: it's a focus for the tribe's aspiration and because it is not general, that specifically it
has more power when things become more general and diffuse the individual cannot respond
to them any more.
S: They are perhaps a way of relating to the powers of nature.
Sumedha: The people want to feel if they live in an agricultural community where they
depend on the crops that nature is responsive and their way of feeling that nature is responsive
is that the gods are there who will respond to them. Whereas modern man doesn't feel that so
S: Also, recent researches have tended to show that there is a sort of as it were psychic
connection between man on the one hand and the vegetable kingdom on the other. There isn't
just myths, there isn't just sort of a up-moded superstition there is something in it as it were on
a psychical level and finds expression in the sort of copious.
Sumedha: Even on a purely materialistic ...