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Was the Buddha a Bhikkhu

Was the Buddha a Bhikkhu
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208 x 138
The reflections sparked by Sangharakshita's discovery that his bhikkhu ordination was technically invalid, have decisively influenced his vision of the Buddhist spiritual life. They underlie many features of the Western Buddhist Order and the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order which he founded. And they inform much of his literary output, particularly an essay, FORTY-THREE YEARS AGO: REFLECTIONS ON MY BHIKKHU ORDINATION, that was published in 1993.

If, as Sangharakshita argued, the Theravada ordination tradition no longer meets its own technical stipulations, then a number of issues present themselves for re-examination. Is it not possible that a 'bad' monk might be the better Buddhist than a good one? What does it really mean to venerate the 'robe'? How does the laity's reverence affect the spiritual health of a bhikkhu? Do women need to resurrect the bhikkhuni sangha in order to live spiritual lives?

Surprisingly, perhaps, the only published comment on the essay comprised an assault on its technical foundations. In this essay, Sangharakshita answers that challenge in meticulous detail. As a rejoinder it is an important piece of work in its own right. But it also offers some further insights into Sangharakshita's understanding of Buddhism, and a glimpse of his formidable seriousness of purpose.