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Intellect Emotion and Will

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by Sangharakshita

Tape 187: Intellect, Emotion and Will

Order Members, Mitras and Friends, I think I need hardly say how happy I am to be here with you all on this occasion, not only this evening, but also earlier on in the aftemoon when we had the dedication of the new shrine room of the new Manchester Buddhist Centre, and also the `consecration* of this beautiful new image.

One of the reasons why I am so happy to be here with you today is that my association with the Manchester Buddhist Centre goes back quite a long way. I*m not quite sure exactly how far back it does go, but I think it*s probably very nearly twenty years. I think that my first visit to the Manchester Buddhist Centre as such was to a fairly small terrace property somewhere in Manchester, I don*t even remember where it was, with a rather untidy kitchen and lots of hi-fl equipment upstairs! I have very vivid memories of those visits and of course subsequently I visited the other premises of the Manchester Buddhist Centre and couldn*t help noticing that they were getting bigger and bigger and better and better and even that the kitchens were getting tidier and tidier and even the hi-fl equipment didn*t seem as prominent as it was in the earlier days! And of course today we find ourselves in the midst of a Centre which is bigger than ever and more beautiful than ever, in fact superlatively beautiful, and we*ve already heard to whom credit is due for that.

I must also say that I*ve always enjoyed my visits to Manchester as such, I mean, I know from time to time I*ve made little jokes about rainy Manchester, which my Mancunian friends have always taken in very good part though perhaps they did get a little tired of them in the end! But, yes, I always have enjoyed my visits to this city with its fine cultural facilities, especially its Art Gallery where I always used to at least try to go and pay my respects to the pre- Raphaelite paintings, if not to quite all the others.

So yes, I*m happy to be present on this occasion, and I*m enjoying this visit to Manchester too, this visit to this very new, bigger and better than ever, Manchester Centre. And yes, I*m supposed to be giving a talk or lecture.

I remember in the early days of the FWBO there used to be quite a discussion as to whether I should give talks or whether I should give lectures. People seemed to think there was quite an important difference or distinction. A lecture they thought of as something much more formal, and a talk as something more informal and many of our friends in those days used to think that a talk was much better than a lecture because informality was much better than formality.

There was quite a discussion about that sort of thing. But regardless of whether my public spoken utterances can be described as lectures or as talks, I did give quite a lot of them, as many of you know, which was at least to have listened to quite a number of them on tape. In fact it*s extraordinary how long-lived some of them are.

Only a few days ago I received a letter from an unknown correspondent who seems to be an orthodox Christian, and he*d just been listening to a talk I gave thirty years ago on Buddhism and the Bishop of Woolwich, and he was challenging my views on Christianity and on Buddhism and the Bishop of Woolwich. And he wrote, you know, raising various points and in particular he wanted to know why I could be so sure that there were no valid arguments for the existence of a personal creator god. So I thought, this is very interesting. How did this gentleman, who seems to have no connection with the FWBO, get hold of this particular talk, given thirty, yes more than thirty years ago, when I was still living at the Hampstead Buddhist Vihara in North London? But anyway, that*s by the way, it does go to show that these, well some at least of these talks might have survived on tape, and some of course have been edited and published in book form. Be that as it may. I*ve given so many talks in my time, given so many in India, of course. Perhaps it*s a good thing that all the possibly thousands of talks I gave in India were never tape recorded because for the Spoken Word team would be growing grey over their labours! They*re already busy enough.

But I mention this just as sort of propaedeutic to my making the point that if, after all these years of giving lectures, after giving so many of them, perhaps thousands of them, you might not be surprised to hear that I*ve rather gone off giving lectures! It*s like so many other things - you enjoy it very much at first, maybe for a few years, you enjoy doing it again and again, but after a while the novelty does begin to wear off, and I think I can say for me that giving lectures is no longer a novelty. Someone asked me not so very long ago whether I ever felt nervous before giving a lecture. I said, well, no. I said, even when I gave my first lecture, which was when I was twenty-one, I gave it in Singapore, no I didn*t feel nervous beforehand. I don*t know why, I mean, sometimes people do feel nervous it seems, but for one reason or another I*ve never felt nervous.

But certainly, yes, I*ve become a little tired of giving lectures. It*s not that I think that giving lectures isn*t a good thing, yes it*s a perfectly good thing, it*s a very legitimate and valuable activity and I*m very glad to hear that the new Manchester Buddhist Centre will very soon be the venue of well, a number of what I*m sure will be splendid lectures by Dharmacaris and Dharmacarinis alike. But I must add, well perhaps I should also just mention here, that, yes as I am sure you will see in due course, there are other Order Members who are able to give really good talks. I must admit that sometimes I think nowadays - well, just between ourselves - I think some Order Members give better talks than I give now. Maybe I was quite good in my prime, say twenty-five or thirty years ago, but I think now I*m not so good at giving lectures, frankly speaking. I don*t think my present-day lectures are really up to the standard of those I gave a quarter of a century or half a century ago. So I think yes, it*s just as well that you*ll be listening to lectures by Subhuti and Nagabodhi and Kamalashila and Srimala and Sanghadevi, and all the other, you know, very capable and well-informed Order Members.

I recall in this connection the lecture - I think it was called a lecture - that Subhuti gave at the opening of the Nottingham Buddhist Centre. I listened to it very carefully because I may say I*m a bit of a connoisseur in lectures! I know a good lecture from a bad one, or a bad one from a good one, and Subhuti*s lecture was very good indeed. In fact, I thought it was quite a classic. And of course I knew that I was going to be giving a lecture or a talk at the opening of the new Manchester Buddhist Centre but I couldn*t help thinking, well you know, Subhuti*s lecture is really a classic of its kind. It*s so appropriate to the opening of a new Buddhist Centre, whether the Nottingham one or the Manchester one, it*s a pity that they just couldn*t play the tape of Subhuti*s talk and just you know dispense with me! But I didn*t venture to suggest that because I thought perhaps the idea might not be, you know, very well received! Even though I*m sure you all do think very highly of Subhuti*s lectures, including that one which he gave in Nottingham.

But though nowadays I*ve gone off you know giving lectures, and may well not actually give any again, who knows, I*m quite happy to read papers. Now some of you may think that that*s rather strange because to prepare a talk is relatively easy. I spent just a couple of hours preparing the present talk which means that well a lot of it isn*t prepared at all - it*s unprepared, what people like sometimes to call spontaneous. I don*t think up the jokes beforehand! So people might think it*s rather strange that I prefer to read papers because papers sometimes take weeks and weeks to write and they*re really hard work, but nonetheless I do nowadays prefer to prepare and read papers rather than give talks or lectures because I feel that I can express myself more fully and accurately and pertinently and perhaps with less possibility of misunderstanding when I commit myself to writing and then read out.

But anyway I wouldn*t have minded preparing a paper to read on this occasion, in fact I would have been very happy to do so, but I must admit I*ve not had time to do so. I won*t go into the reasons why I wouldn*t have had time to do so, except to mention that I have been very busy with all sorts of preparations for my forthcoming tour to which Arthapriya did allude, and perhaps a bit later on I shall have something to say about that tour, that forthcoming tour.

So all right, I*m not really very happy any longer giving talks or lectures, I haven*t got a paper to read, so what shall I do? Well, I thought that what I would do, and this is the thought that occurred to me just a few days ago when I was making a few notes with this talk. I*d share with you just a little of my current thinking. Some of you know that I spend quite a bit of my time just thinking, I quite enjoy just thinking, I quite enjoy just reflecting, and I find that there*s all sorts of things to think about and reflect upon, Dharmic things and non-Dharmic things, personal things, literary things, artistic things, current affairs, even the current political situation, people - you know, friends, contacts in the Buddhist world, books that I read, books that I have read, experiences that I had perhaps twenty-five, thirty, forty years ago. I spend quite a lot of time reflecting on and thinking about all these things, especially things which are connected with or have some bearing on the FWBO and of course on the Dharma, which is the basis and foundation of the FWBO.

Some people - I suppose most of you - do know that ...

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