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Early Writings 1944 – 1954

by Sangharakshita (2019)

The articles in this book were first published in a number of different journals and were written over a period of some ten years in the 1940s and 1950s. The exact dates of composition are impossible to determine, but Sangharakshita was able to recall where he wrote most of them, which allows for an approximate dating. The articles have been arranged in what we hope is the order of writing – based in some cases on intelligent guesswork. And a pattern does seem to emerge.

The articles divide into some five periods characterised by place of composition and by authorial name – for in the course of these ten years the author was writing from a number of different countries and publishing under various names and titles. Dennis Lingwood, who, as Sangharakshita, would become renowned, along with others, for bringing Buddhism to the West, and for playing a crucial role in the re-emergence of Buddhism in India, was eighteen years old when he first made his entrance onto the public stage of life. His entry can hardly be called dramatic. He published an article in what for most of his contemporaries was an obscure journal with a small circulation: the Buddhist Society’s bi-monthly The Middle Way.

Obscure though it may have been, turning to the May–June 1944 issue we find in ‘The Unity of Buddhism’ an astonishing piece of writing – astonishing not only because of the author’s youth, but because this was someone who had come across the Buddhist teachings for the first time less than two years previously. And yet the author writes with striking confidence and authority. His piece takes in the whole Buddhist tradition, with reference not just to the then more widely-known Pali canon but to the Sanskrit, Nepalese, Chinese and Tibetan canons, to Nagarjuna, Asanga and Vasubandhu.

You'll also find here explorations of the entire field of Buddhism: taking in the encounter of Buddhism with western culture and modern life, and brilliant expositions of the implications for humanity of the Buddha's teaching of selflessness.

The pieces collected in this volume are crucial to the development of Sangharakshita’s thought and expression. From visionary early writings to the later articles leavened by deep reflection, there emerges the unmistakeable voice of the writer of 'A Survey of Buddhism.

A community audio book read by Subhadra.

Buy the book from Windhorse Publications

Total running time: 10:10:18