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Buddhadharma : Winter 2010
79 winter 2 01 0 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly Triratna Buddhist Community, formerly called the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order, or FWBO, is not well known in North America, but it’s one of the largest Buddhist organizations in Great Britain and has an increas- ing international presence. For those not familiar with the group, this book tells a fascinating story of the growth of an important Buddhist movement. The author, Vajragupta, is a prominent member of the organization and it was pub- lished by Triratna’s own press, so don’t expect a hard-hitting exposé, but Vajragupta and the group as a whole do try to take a sincere look at their failings even as they celebrate their success. JAmes WilliAm ColemAn is a professor of sociology at the California Polytechnic state University in san luis obispo, and is the author of The New Buddhism: The Western Transformation of an Ancient Tradition. the triratna StorY Behind the Scenes of a new Buddhist Movement The story starts in India, where a young Briton, Dennis Lingwood, left the military at the end of World War II and began a long spiritual quest. Although he studied with several Buddhist teachers and was given the name Sangharakshita, he never affiliated himself with any individual lineage, and eventually founded an independent Buddhist movement that combined elements from different Buddhist traditions. Like other Western Buddhist movements, the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order had its roots in the counterculture of the sixties and seventies. But the FWBO was exceptional not only in its lack of affiliation with a particular lineage, but in its active pursuit of converts, and its intention not merely to spread Buddhism in the West but to bring about a fundamen- tal transformation of Western society. The movement spread rapidly in Britain, and came to be based around “right liveli- hood communities,” which sought to support communal liv- ing by developing businesses based on Buddhist principles. In its early days, FWBO members had a reputation among other British Buddhist groups as being rather brash and standoffish, hard and Valuable leSSonS Reviews By vajragupta windhorse publications, 2010 220 pages; $13.95 (paperback) reviewed by James coleman Early members of the FWBO community (c. 1970) and present day Sangharakshita, 1977 BOTTOMPHOTO:©aLokavira/tiMMSonnenSchein.coM.TOPPHOTOS:PHOTOGRAPHERSUNKNOWN