Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Living Ethically: latest book by Sangharakshita

Sangharakshita's latest book has been released by Windhorse Publications, his publishers. It's entitled ‘Living Ethically: advice from Nagarjuna’s Precious Garland’ and is based, like many of his recent books, on edited transcripts of a seminar held many years ago. That's not as simple as it might sound - the seminar would have recorded, - probably at Padmaloka in 1975 or 1976, onto reel-to-reel tapes, painstakingly transcribed some years later using a typewriter, scanned still later - and now, finally, edited...

In this particular case what survived to be edited was only a single carbon-copy. Silabhadra, who did the scanning in 2004, commented as he began it "The only remaining original was just a carbon copy of the original typescript of the seminar. Much of what follows will, I predict, be totally incomprehensible!"

To illustrate just how true his prediction was, we copy below the first few lines of the scan of transcription:

All flght, let's go
on to Chapter One
and read a verse at
a time, going round the circle
Chapter One
I bow down to theA i~~a;-2+. fre~from all defects,
... adorned with all virtues, the sole
friend o~~beings.
There's quite a number of points to go into here.
Tho is being
saluted here, who is the author bowing down to?
The Pu-ddha.

From such unpropitious ingredients, we are fortunate indeed to have the book itself! Even the process of editing was not easy: Sangharakshita is now in his 84th year and has for some years suffered with little or no eyesight. The book was therefore produced in collaboration with Samacitta, chair of the nearby Birmingham Buddhist Centre, who visited him most days over the past year, reading him the manuscript and writing down his responses.

She writes - " I have been delighting in my contact with Bhante recently. Since he can no longer read with his own eyes, I was asked to help him edit his next book by reading the manuscript to him. The decline of his eyesight is obviously a great loss, not only for him personally but also indirectly for us, but for me it has led to a situation which is giving me a great deal of spiritual nourishment and inspiration".

On the book itself, Windhorse, his publishers, say –

“In a world of increasingly confused ethics, Living Ethically looks back over the centuries for guidance from Nagarjuna, one of the greatest teachers of the Mahayana tradition. Drawing on the themes of Nagarjuna’s famous scripture, Precious Garland of Advice for a King, this book explores the relationship between an ethical lifestyle and the development of wisdom. Covering both personal and collective ethics, Sangharakshita considers such enduring themes as pride, power and business, as well as friendship, love and generosity”.

Living Ethically' should be available in FWBO Centre bookshops - but can also be obtained on-line via Windhorse.

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