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The Past and Future of the Order Part 1 - Order Weekend 1985

by Sangharakshita

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... I have to
go.
So that in a way is quite simple but there are other questions which may look at the matter
from other points of view.
Dear Bhante, when you die.....
It seems to be generally accepted.(Laughter) Don't take it too much for granted though!
(Laughter) We have been hearing quite a lot about the resurrection lately! (Laughter). I at
least hope to avoid a crucifixion! (Laughter)
When you die and are no longer head of the Order do you think it a good idea to have
a new one, or the Order continue in a different way.
I'm not sure whether the question means a new head or a new Order. Grammatically it could
mean either. But I'll take it in the first place, to mean a new Order. I think it probably doesn't
mean that but in a way it'll be the old Order, in a way it'll be a new Order because things are
changing all the time. The identity is in continuity of life and growth not in the conservation
of unchanging elements. So we will have a new Order and at the same time we will have an
old Order, because it'll be an Order that is, because it's a living thing, growing all the time.
But what about head of the Order? If the question is referring to that do you think it a good
idea to have a new one, or the Order to continue in a different way. Well this is obviously
something that I have been thinking about quite a lot, and I must say I haven't come to any
definite conclusion as yet. In some ways one might say that it's not possible to have a new
head, in the sense that the person, whoever it is, who starts something whether on a larger
scale or a smaller scale, on a higher level or a lower level, the person who starts something or
who inaugurates something, has a special position, by virtue of the fact that he is the first. So
in that sense only one person can be the first. So you can't have a second person who is the
first. The first is the first, that should be obvious.
So inasmuch as I inaugurated the Order so far as the west in concerned, so far as the FWBO
or TBMSG is concerned I suppose I can't be replaced, but that doesn't necessarily mean that
we can't consider the possibility of there being one, as it were, head of the Order. That is
quite a separate question. I must say at present my thinking inclines to avoid two extreme
models. But don't take this as it were too literally or don't take this as the last word on the
subject because it's just my current thoughts.
One of the most important functions that I fulfil, at the moment, obviously is giving
ordinations. So that question of giving ordinations is bound up with the whole question that
has been asked here. In the Buddha's day the Buddha devolved the giving of
ordinations - that is well known. He permitted chapters of ten fully ordained bhikkhus to give
ordinations under, as it were, their own auspices, or on their own responsibility. I don't think
that is a model we can follow, certainly not at present. I don't think it would be possible to
permit say any ten Order members to assume responsibility for admitting new persons into
the Order as a whole. Because it is quite clear that one could find quite a few groups of ten
Order members who would not in fact be qualified to do that. So I think that extreme, that
possibility, is out.
On the other hand I don't feel happy with the idea of a completely centralised movement, a
completely centralised organisation, a completely centralised Order or FWBO with one head
who runs things as it were on a sort of monarchical model. Do you see what I mean?
So it seems to me at the moment that we have to find a solution, we have to find a structure
that falls somewhere between these two extremes. Do you see what I mean? I think it can be
narrowed down in that sort of way. One doesn't want to devolve too much or too far. on the
other hand one doesn't want an over centralised structure. One needs, obviously, an
organisation which keeps together as an organisation, a movement that keeps together as a
movement, an Order that keeps together as an Order, but I don't think the best way of doing
that is having, as it were, one supreme head, a sort of mini pope or anything like that. But as I
say on the other hand I don't think it would be a good idea, to devolve responsibility for such
things as ordination to such an extent that any particular chapter of ten Order members could
exercise all the functions which hitherto have been exercised by myself and some of the
senior Order members. So that's my current thinking. I still have to think about it a lot more.
The other question is like unto it,
How do you intend the Order to be led after your death?
Well this assumes that it has to be led, and also assumes we all agree on what is meant by
being led but I think I've, in fact, already answered that one as far as I can at the moment.
When you are no longer with us ....
This is phrasing it rather nicely (Laughter)
do you foresee any situations where an Order member might legitimately need to
approach a spiritual teacher outside the Order for guidance. If so can you offer some
guidelines for selecting a suitable person to approach.
I would say the only situation where an Order member might, legitimately, do this was when
the Order had collapsed and virtually ceased to exist, because if you had to look outside for
spiritual advice or guidance what would that mean? - that it wasn't available within the Order,
and if it wasn't available within the Order what would that mean? So yes one can't rule it out
because supposing it does happen that the Order does collapse, or it disintegrates in the
future. Well even an Order member might then, legitimately seek advice or guidance
elsewhere. But let us hope that that never happens. If people do seek while there is still the
Order still functioning, advice or guidance outside, it means that there is something very
seriously wrong with their whole attitude to the movement. I do know that this has happened.
It's happened unfortunately on quite a low level so to speak when people resort for advice and
guidance to mediums and people of that sort. There have been several instances in the past
two or three years of Order members actually doing this. I think this is very, very unfortunate.
I'm not referring to those cases where you need professional help which Order members aren't
in a position to give but if you seek for general help or general guidance in the living of your
life or facing up to certain psychological and spiritual problems outside the Order, it means
that there's something seriously wrong with your Sangha refuge. So I think one should never,
never do this without at least, in these sort of cases, consulting other Order members and
ascertaining whether or not it is a matter where professional help is needed which doesn't
exist within the Order. There may be some borderline psychological or psychiatric areas
where Order members aren't very skilled or very sure, and yes it may be necessary sometimes
to refer people for very limited advice and guidance outside the movement but certainly not
for general advice and guidance.
I did notice in these particular cases where people approached mediums it was often in
connection with their love life or their relationships. They seemed to need a certain amount
of bolstering up as confirmation that what they wanted to do or felt like doing was the right
thing to do, or it was OK to do it, and they clearly felt in some cases, they weren't going to get
that sort of support from their fellow Order members so they just didn't ask their advice.
Because it's significant that , very often, you ask one person for advice rather than another
because you know what sort of advice they're going to give you and you ask a particular
person because that's the advice you want. You've already made up your mind what you want
them to tell you.
So I would say no, the only situation when I'm no longer with you, you might legitimately
need to approach a spiritual teacher outside the Order would be when in effect there was no
Order. So I hope that sort of eventuality won't arise.
All right,
Can the Movement survive after Bhante's death if over two thirds of the male Order
members are involved in sexual relationships with women?
Well this really does put the cat among the pigeons doesn't it! (Laughter) Question is who is
the cat and who are the pigeons?
Well I suppose it really depends on what you mean by sexual relationships. If one means
dependent, neurotic, addictive sexual relationships or the sort of sexual relationships that are
described by the author of that celebrated volume, "Ballbreaking", then clearly it would be a
very serious matter indeed if two thirds of the male Order members were involved in
relationships of that sort. So I think people have to be very aware of this. People have to ask
themselves whether through their relationships, sexual and otherwise, they are contributing to
the strength of the Order or to the weakness. One of the things that the author of
"Ballbreaking" brings up very clearly to my mind is the whole question of freedom and
bondage. This is really the crucial issue. He brings this out very strongly I think, despite his
very unfortunate language. He brings this out in an almost existential sort of way. If you have
weaknesses you can ...

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