Monday, December 27, 2010

Re-imagining the Buddha - a new paper by Sangharakshita and Subhuti

Subhuti has just released a new paper entitled 'Re-imagining the Buddha'. Co-authored with Sangharakshita, and based on a series of conversations they had together this Autumn, it's an important clarification and extension of Sangharashita's thinking on the subject of ‘The Imagination’ - and of especial interest to both Western and Indian Buddhists.

The paper continues from where Subhuti's last joint paper, ‘Revering and relying upon the Dharma’, and has been widely anticipated across the Triratna community. At the recent Combined European Order Weekend Sangharakshita briefly touched on the subject:

'I feel it is also important to have this, so to speak, magical element, not just in our lives generally but especially in our spiritual lives. And it is symbol, myth, ritual which help give life this magical element - you might say also imaginative element.'

In the paper Subhuti covers the importance of Imagination, gives a potted history of it in the West, then discusses three areas where it touches on our spiritual lives. Those areas are; imaginative empathy with living beings, aesthetic appreciation as a path to higher states, and imagining the Buddha. The last area is probably the most significant for members of the Triratna Buddhist Community in which we see Sangharakshita presenting a vision of how to find the Buddha in the modern world - whilst being ever more grounded in the historical reality of the Buddha.  These ideas have always been present within Sangharakshita’s teaching, so this is not new – but a further clarification.

Now it is published and available as a PDF here - or, courtesy of  FreeBuddhistAudio, in it's pre-publication form of a series of talks by Subhuti exploring the theme.

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