Moving Against the Stream, by Dennis Lingwood

The impulse to believe the absurd when presented with the unknowable is called religion. Whether this is wise or unwise is the domain of doctrine. Once you understand someone's doctrine, you understand their rationale for believing the absurd. At that point, it may no longer seem absurd. You can get to both sides of this conondrum from here.

Re: Moving Against the Stream, by Dennis Lingwood

Postby admin » Sat Jul 18, 2020 4:32 am

Chapter Seventeen: Visitors from East and West

During the months that I was lecturing at the College of Psychic Science and developing my friendship with Terry Delamare I was occupied in a number of other ways too. Besides running the Vihara, visiting provincial Buddhist groups, and editing two Buddhist magazines (one of them published from Calcutta), I met, and spent time with, people I had known in Kalimpong, or who had been to see me there. I also had one of the strangest experiences in my life, led three meditation retreats at Biddulph Old Hall, the last of which Terry attended, and ordained one person as an eight-precept lay Buddhist the first time I had ordained anyone in England.

Kesang Dorje was the younger daughter of Raja S.T. Dorje of Bhutan and his Sikkimese wife Rani Chuni, sister of the then Maharaja of Sikkim.Our acquaintance dated from 1950, when we met at her parents house on the outskirts of Kalimpong, shortly after my arrival in the town. A few years later she married the King of Bhutan, Jigme Dorje Wangchuk. Apparently the union was not a happy one. At least there were serious tensions within it. The Dorje family was the second most powerful family in Bhutan, and reputedly even wealthier than the royal family itself, and the marriage between Kesang and the young ruler had been arranged, it was said, in order to consolidate the family's influence in the kingdom. Kesangs eldest brother Jigme Dorje, whom I had also known, was the (non-elected) Prime Minister of Bhutan, while her astute sister Tashi sometimes represented Bhutan in its dealings with the Indian Central Government in New Delhi. Jigme had been assassinated a year ago, when I was still in Kalimpong, and I well remembered the sensation the news of his death had caused throughout the surrounding area and the rumours to which it had given rise. One rumour attributed the assassination to a Nepalese whose brother Jigme Dorje had shot the previous year; another, to friends and supporters of the King acting, perhaps, with the connivance of the King himself. Whatever the truth may have been, Bhutan was for months in a state of turmoil and Kesang, finding herself in an increasingly difficult position, had for a time taken refuge in Calcutta. Now she was in London and had asked Christmas Humphreys to arrange a private memorial service on the anniversary of her brothers death and Toby, as he usually did on such occasions, had invited me to conduct the ceremony.

Whether by accident or design, however, he had omitted to tell Kesang this, so that when she and her younger brother Lhendup arrived at the Buddhist Society they were pleased and surprised to find that the monk who would be conducting the ceremony was the same English monk whom they and their family had known in Kalimpong. The memorial service took place in the Society's library, which I had previously made ready for the occasion. Only Kesang and Lhendup were present, together with Kesang's elder son Jigme, the future king, then nine or ten years old. After chanting the appropriate suttas I gave a short talk in the course of which, besides referring to Jigme's assassination, I spoke of the shortness of human life, of the inevitability of death, and of the importance of practising the Dharma while one was still in a position to do so. No doubt Kesang and Lhendup remembered, as I did, the occasion when, thirteen years ago, I had jointly conducted a similar service over the dead body of their father and had spoken in much the same vein to the grief-stricken family. After I had given my talk and concluded the ceremony by chanting verses invoking on the bereaved brother and sister the blessing of the Three Jewels, Mrs Humphreys and the three women who worked in the Society's office brought in tea and soon a lighter atmosphere prevailed. Later on in the afternoon Lhendup and I were able to have a private talk, and he gave me his version of what had happened in Bhutan the previous year. He also spoke about the political situation in Sikkim, where the position of the new Maharaja, his cousin, was becoming increasingly untenable. As he did so, I could not help thinking how greatly he had changed since our last meeting. Then he had been a strapping young man whose principal interest, apart from women and drink, was football. Now he looked as though he had suffered a lot, his once stalwart frame appeared to have shrunk, and it was evident that all his old confidence was gone. Kesang, on the other hand, had changed very little, and I was glad to see she was still her sweet and gentle self. When the time came for us to part both she and Lhendup expressed a wish to see me again, and in Kesang's case, at least, the wish was fulfilled.

Four weeks after the memorial service Toby and Puck (as Mrs Humphreys was familiarly known) invited me to lunch. The Queen of Bhutan would also be coming, I was told, as would my old friend Marco Pallis. This time Kesang was accompanied not by Lhendup but by Tashi, who was the elder of the two and still unmarried. As Marco Pallis (or Thubden Tendzin, as he preferred to be called) had lived in Kalimpong for several years and had known both sisters, as well as their parents and other members of the Dorje family, the occasion had something of the character of a happy reunion. I myself had seen Marco only once since my return to England, and had formed the impression that he was not anxious to keep up the connection, either because he had no time to spare from his musical activities or, what was more likely, because he disapproved of my failure to adhere to the strict traditionalist principles he had imbibed from René Guénon, the French Sufi master. Unfortunately I had to leave early, as that evening I was giving a lecture in Birmingham. Before my departure Kesang presented me with three lengths of Bhutanese hand-woven cloth.

Wemet for the third and last time two weeks later, when she and Tashi attended the Buddhist Society's Wesak celebrations, which took place in Caxton Hall, Westminster. This was my first Wesak since I returned to England, and as the thrice-sacred day was the highlight of the Buddhist year I had been looking forward to it. In the event I was disappointed. Things were much the same as they had been the last time I attended the Society's Wesak celebrations, some twenty years earlier. Toby was in the chair, there were speeches and a reading from the scriptures, and that was about all. The audience had not changed much in the interval either, whether numerically or in respect of its composition. There could not have been more than a hundred people in the hall, not all of them Buddhists, and including a sprinkling of colourfully attired Asian nationals. The big difference, so far as I was concerned, was the fact that twenty years ago I had been a humble member of the audience, taking pansil from a Burmese monk and listening to the various speeches, whereas now I was on the platform, a monk myself, leading the audience in a (rather ragged) recitation of the Three Refuges and Five Precepts and giving the opening speech after being warmly welcomed by the chairman. In a way it was unfortunate that I spoke first. Back in India I had preferred to speak last on such occasions, so that if any of the previous speakers, who often were orthodox Hindus, happened to misrepresent the Dharma, I would have an opportunity of correcting them. This time there were no previous speakers to be corrected. Rather was it a question of stirring up the audience, which seemed to be in anything but a celebratory mood. I therefore spoke vigorously, reminding my listeners that what we were celebrating that day, above all else, was the supreme fact of the Buddha's Enlightenment; that by following his teaching we could achieve what he achieved; that whether followers of the Theravãda, the Mahãyãna, or any other tradition, as Buddhists we were all one in the Dharma, and that Buddhism in Britain was not going to be confined to any one school. According to a report appearing in The Middle Way I went on to say that I had noticed in the East that when people celebrated Wesak they were remarkably joyful, whereas in the West there was generally an atmosphere of gravity and seriousness. Surely when we come to a meeting like this we can concentrate our hearts on the fact of the Buddha's Enlightenment, I concluded, which should mean so much to all of us. My words w

ere not altogether without effect, but that effect, such as it was, was soon nullified by the other speakers. White-haired Douglas Harding, who was known to many of the Society's members through his book On Having No Head, lost himself and his audience in his very personal brand of Zen mysticism, Toby's speech was very flat, and though Marco Pallis rightly emphasized the importance of devotion in the spiritual life he did so in such a pedantic, old-maidish way that few people could have been inspired by what he said. The decade had yet to learn that 'the medium is the message'.

What Kesang and Tashi thought of our English way of celebrating Wesak I do not know. In Bhutan and Sikkim, as I was only too aware, the major Buddhist festivals were celebrated in a highly elaborate and colourful manner, and in Tibet this was still more the case -- or had been until recently. Even in Kalimpong, where Buddhists were a minority, albeit a substantial and influential one, Buddha Jayanti -- as Wesak was generally known in India -- was celebrated not just with speeches but with pujas and processions and the singing of devotional songs. When I spoke to the sisters afterwards I did not, therefore, ask them what they thought of the meeting. Had I done so, they no doubt would have been far too polite to express anything save warm appreciation of our efforts. But they must have been disappointed. Certainly I was disappointed. I felt I had hardly celebrated Wesak at all, and was glad that two days later we would be celebrating the thrice-sacred day at the Vihara in what I hoped would be a very different manner. Two days later, therefore, we celebrated it not for an hour but for the greater part of the day, and not just with speeches but with a morning devotional meeting, an afternoon 'At Home' for members and friends, and a ceremonial flower-offering by the younger devotees at the commencement of the evening public meeting.

If lawyer Christmas Humphreys was the best-known English Buddhist at the time, then probably poet Allen Ginsberg was the best-known American Buddhist. Three years earlier, when he was not even a name to me, he had come to Kalimpong in search of Tantric initiation and one afternoon had unexpectedly appeared on the veranda of my hillside monastery -- a dirty, hirsute, and dishevelled figure. I had taken him to see my Chinese friend and teacher the hermit Yogi Chen, and Yogi Chen had directed him to the celebrated Dudjom Rimpoche. Since then I had not seen or heard anything of the poet, and it was only when some young men came to see me that I learned, quite by chance, that he was in London. They were from the printers, the young men explained, and had come to enquire what a thousand-petalled lotus looked like. They wanted a picture of one, together with a Sanskrit om, for the programme of the poetry reading Allen would be giving at the Albert Hall in a few days time. I gave them a note for Allen, and a week later he came to see me still hirsute, but this time clean and tidy.

We spent the whole afternoon talking, and Allen told me all about his experiences in India after leaving Kalimpong. Having visited Sikkim and met the Karmapa, the head of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, he had rejoined his wife Peter in the plains and for months the two of them had lived in cheap rooms in Calcutta and in Benares, associating with ganja-smoking holy men, watching bodies being burned at the ghats, reading and writing poetry, and eventually being harassed by the cid. Allen had loved India, even though he had not succeeded in obtaining Tantric initiation and his guru was still William Blake. He did not play his finger cymbals and sing 'The Tyger' that day (as he did the next time we met, a decade later), but before leaving he presented me with a copy of Reality Sandwiches, from which he had read at the Albert Hall, and I took the opportunity of asking him what had really happened on that historic occasion. According to the press, the poetry reading had been a rowdy affair. Allen did not beat about the bush. 'I was drunk,' he said.

A few months later there was a sequel to my meeting with the Beat icon. Among the people Allen had got to know in London that summer was a young poet called Dick Wilcocks. Dick was secretary of the Peanuts Group, and Allen, the born facilitator, had told him about me and urged him to invite me to give the group a Buddhist poetry reading. This he eventually did, with the result that on the evening of 5 November -- Guy Fawkes Day -- Terry drove me from the staid Victorian ambiance of the Buddhist Society, where I had just spoken on The Schools of Tibetan Buddhism, to the Kings Arms public house near Liverpool Street Station, where, in an upstairs room with a bar at the other end, I read poems by Milarepa and Han Shan to an audience of about fifty people. This was the first public poetry reading I had given, but the occasion was a great success, and Terry and I did not get away much before eleven o'clock.

Before my return to England I had been keenly following developments in South Vietnam, where persecution of the Buddhists by the Roman Catholic oligarchy headed by President Ngo Dinh Diem had led, towards the end of 1963, to the overthrow of his much hated regime. I had been kept abreast of those developments not only by the newspapers but by my Vietnamese monk friends. The chief of these was Thich Minh Chau, who was studying at the then Nava Nalanda Mahavihara with my own teacher, Jagdish Kashyap, and sometimes spent the hot weather with me in Kalimpong. One afternoon in June, the day before my meeting with Allen Ginsberg, I received a visit from the South Vietnamese ambassador. Dr Thich Minh Chau would shortly be arriving in England, he informed me. In fact my old friend did not arrive until the middle of August. He stayed with me at the Vihara for four days, and in that time did a good deal of sightseeing. With me for guide, he visited various places of historic interest in London, including Westminster Abbey, St Pauls' Cathedral, and the Tower, as well as spending a few hours in Oxford, where he was particularly impressed by the Ashmolean Collection and by the monastic atmosphere it not being term time of Christ Church and St John's.

The second day of his stay happening to be a Sunday, a special meeting in his honour could be held at the Vihara instead of the usual lecture. After I had introduced him to the gathering, he spoke at length on Buddhism in Vietnam, dwelling especially on recent developments in that unhappy country, and answering questions put to him by members of the audience. What struck people most about his talk, I think, was the fact that, as he made clear, Vietnamese Buddhism was characterized by a harmonious combination of the contemplative Buddhism of the Thien or Chan School and the devotional Buddhism, centred on the figure of the archetypal Buddha Amitãbha, of the Pure Land School.
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Re: Moving Against the Stream, by Dennis Lingwood

Postby admin » Sat Jul 18, 2020 5:01 am

Chapter Eighteen: Shadowy Figures and a Strange Experience

The sangha trust was a rather shadowy body. Or perhaps I should say the members of the Trust were rather shadowy figures. The only one I could be said actually to know was Maurice Walshe, with whom I had been in correspondence previous to my return to England. Indeed it was Maurice who, on the Trust's behalf, had invited me to spend a few months at the Hampstead Buddhist Vihara. Whether he was at that time its chairman I do not know; he was certainly chairman at least from the early days of my incumbency. He was also chairman of the Sangha Association, and in this double capacity was often to be seen at the Vihara, especially when there was an organizational crisis, at which time he would rush round from his home in a panic and generally succeed in making matters worse. Withold Stepien, an amiable but excitable Pole, was the treasurer of the Trust. He was a friend of Ratanasara, and a supporter of the latter's plans for a London Buddhist College, and it was he who, without consulting his fellow trustees, had allowed the ambitious Sinhalese monk not only to invite his old friend Dhammaloka to teach Pali at the College but to promise him that the Trust would meet all his travel expenses, provide him with board and lodging, and pay him a handsome salary. Stepien's loyalty was to the London Buddhist College rather than to the Sangha Trust, and I knew him much less well than I knew Maurice, even, especially as he took little part in the activities of the Vihara and was seen there only occasionally usually in the company of Ratanasara. The most shadowy figure, among the trustees, was Marcus so shadowy that I cannot recall his first name. Marcus was a solicitor. Though not a Buddhist or even interested in Buddhism, he had been brought into the Trust in his professional capacity, and was its longest-serving member. He was seen at the Vihara, very briefly, only on the rare occasions when the Trust met, and I could not have spoken to him more than once or twice.

But though two of the three current trustees were such shadowy figures, the Trust itself was not really a shadowy body, in that it was a registered charity and controlled by statutory requirements and limitations. It was the Trust that owned the Vihara and the house next door, as well as Biddulph Old Hall, and it therefore was the Trust that, in point of fact, allowed the Sangha Association (and, latterly, the London Buddhist College) to use the Vihara premises for its activities and that invited monks to come and stay there. It was the Trust, too, that appointed the resident caretaker of the house next door, the rents from which constituted the Trusts only regular source of income.

The caretaker, Bernie Whitelaw, was a lean, hyperactive man in his late thirties, with a thin, haggard face, grey-blue eyes, and an expression that was both startled and worried. He lived with his cats in the next door basement, all the other flats in the building, with the exception of the one occupied by Dhammaloka, being let furnished to short-term tenants of various nationalities and varying degrees of rectitude. Besides the actual caretaking, Bernie had the unenviable task of advertising vacancies, interviewing prospective tenants, keeping existing tenants happy, collecting rents, and making sure nobody fell into arrears or did a moonlight flit. It was also his duty to come and see me every Saturday morning and give me, out of the rent money, the fifteen pounds the Trust allotted me each week for the housekeeping and other expenses of the Vihara (I had no personal allowance from them). On such occasions Bernie liked to stay for a little chat, and as he was a talkative soul I learned quite a lot about the idiosyncrasies of his tenants, the trouble they gave him with their unreasonable demands, their squabbles, and their reluctance in some cases to pay their rent on time. I also learned a lot about the previous occupants of the Vihara. Monks and novices, like the tenants who were their next-door neighbours, had come and gone over the years, but Bernie and his cats, in their snug basement abode, had remained a permanent fixture, and as his confidence in me increased he expressed himself about them, and their predecessors at the old Sangha House in Swiss Cottage, more and more freely.

From all this I gathered that Bernie did not have a very high opinion of the trustees, either past or present, nor view with unmixed approval what had been going on at the Vihara previous to my arrival on the scene. Though he was loyal to the Trust in his caretaking capacity, and served it conscientiously, his real connections were with the Buddhist Society rather than with the Vihara and the Sangha Association. He was an ardent admirer of Christmas Humphreys, and a faithful member of his Zen Class. His most fervent admiration, however, was reserved for the police, whose praises he sang even more frequently than he sang those of the Society's lawyer president. They've got this fantastic loyalty! he would exclaim, his eyes shining. It did not surprise me that Bernie's best friend was a policeman. Gordon was a large, slow-moving, blond young man who, since he lived (with his wife) in a distant suburb, sometimes stayed overnight with Bernie after attending the Zen class, of which he too was a regular member. Lest there should be any misunderstanding on my part, Bernie was at pains to assure me that although he and Gordon shared the same bed on such occasions their friendship was a platonic one. Whether Toby was aware of his acolyte's enthusiasm for the force, or what he would have thought of the way Bernie distributed his praises, I do not know. I do however remember an incident which, though slight, may not have been without significance. Toby was paying me a visit, and we were standing by the window of my room talking. On happening to look out, we saw a black police car draw up outside the house next door and three or four uniformed officers get out and go inside. I knew the officers were friends of Bernie's, probably dropping in for a cup of tea and a chat, but Toby's eyes narrowed, and he watched the car for some time, apparently in order to satisfy himself that there was nothing wrong.

What Bernie had told me about the Sangha Trust, particularly its failure to submit returns to the Charity Commissioners, disturbed me. I therefore spoke about the matter to Maurice, who had already been made uneasy by the extent to which Stepien, under Ratanasara's influence, had in effect been siphoning funds belonging to the Trust into the London Buddhist College. Partly as a result of my intervention, and partly due to tensions within the Trust itself, there was a showdown, the upshot of which was that Stepien resigned as a trustee and George Goulstone was elected in his place. There was also talk of inviting Alf Vial to join the Trust, and both he and Mike Hookham in fact did join it some months later.

So far as I remember I had not heard of Goulstone before. He certainly had not been attending lectures or classes at the Vihara, even though he lived only a few hundred yards up the road. Like Marcus he was a solicitor, and Maurice, who seems to have known him socially, may well have invited him to join the Trust in his professional capacity. Unlike Marcus he was a Buddhist, of sorts. At least he had installed an image of the Buddha in the garden of his weekend cottage, so I was told, and was sponsoring a young Tibetan refugee, an incarnate lama, who had recently arrived in Oxford. I never had the opportunity of verifying the first report, but a few weeks after his joining the Trust Goulstone, a short middle-aged man who sported an imperial and dressed in black, invited me to accompany him and his wife to Oxford to meet the new rimpoche, whom they would be seeing for the first time themselves. We reached the towery city by midday, after a pleasant drive, collected the rimpoche, and took him to the Randolph Hotel for lunch. Throughout the meal Mrs Goulstone, a tall handsome woman I had not met before, was very gay and lively, even flirtatious, and I could not help wondering what the rimpoche, who seemed a decent, serious young man, thought of her behaviour. As he knew Hindi, we were able to have a good discussion, and I presented him with a set of Tibetan monastic robes I had brought with me from Kalimpong and never used. From the hotel we returned him to the flat where he was living with two other incarnate lamas, Trungpa and Akhong, both of whom were already known to me. Trungpa and I had met in India, not long after his arrival there in 1959 as a refugee. He was only nineteen then and did not know a word of English. Since that time he had acquired a reasonably good command of the language, and I had invited him to speak at the Vihara's Wesak celebrations.

The day I accompanied the Goulstones to Oxford it was very hot. It had been hot all that week, and was getting hotter, and the fact served to remind me of what Mr Van Buren the acupuncturist had said, back in February, about my needing treatment for my heart and about summer being the best time for treating that organ. In mid-July I therefore went to him for the big prick, as he had called it. There in fact were two pricks, one in the little finger of my right hand, the other in my right wrist. The instant he gave me them there surged up my arm, and from the depths of my trunk, a current of energy which, hitting the brain, knocked me right out of the body. I found myself located, as it seemed, fifteen or twenty feet above my own head, a little to the right. I felt quite unperturbed, as though what had happened was the most natural thing in the world. Moreover, even though I was out of the body I still had a body -- a body that was in all respects identical with my ordinary physical body. (Presumably this was the manomaya-kãya or man-made body of Buddhist tradition.) Looking down with the eyes of this body, I could see Van Buren frantically massaging my legs. When I came to my heart was beating faster than usual, I felt slightly sick, and I was bathed in perspiration. I also had a feeling of physical well-being such as I had never experienced before -- a feeling that lasted several days.

Before I left him Van Buren told me that for thirty or thirty-five minutes I had been technically dead. With this statement I was not in a position either to agree or disagree, since while looking down at myself, so to speak, I had no awareness of the passage of time. So far as I was concerned, the experience could have lasted two minutes or it could have lasted two hours. Years later medical friends assured me that Van Buren was mistaken in thinking I had actually been dead. At the time of death there might well be an out of the body experience, they pointed out, but it did not follow from this that an out of the body experience was an experience of death. Whatever the truth of the matter, the experience I had in Van Buren's consulting room, that hot July afternoon in 1965, was certainly one of the strangest in my life.

After the acupuncture I went to a tea-shop with the friend who had accompanied me, and sat drinking tea outside in the sunshine feeling like one new-risen from the dead. From the tea-shop we walked to Oxford Circus, and from Oxford Circus through Soho to the Charing Cross Road, where I bought a copy of P.W. Martins Experiment in Depth, a Jungian work popular at the time, and where my friend left me. Having looked in a new Chinese shop and bought a small porcelain figure of Kuan Yin for my mother, whom I would be visiting the following month, I made my way to Cambridge Circus and so up St Martins Lane to Monmouth Street. Here I found a shop selling Japanese arts and crafts, and on going inside found that the proprietor, a cheerful man of about forty with big, bulging eyes, had been attending my lectures at the Vihara. The name of the place was Sakura, and in years to come the obscure little Japanese shop or rather its basement was to play an important part in my life and in the history of British Buddhism.
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Re: Moving Against the Stream, by Dennis Lingwood

Postby admin » Sat Jul 18, 2020 5:14 am

Chapter Nineteen: Meditating Among the Ruins

In kalimpong I had been accustomed to start the day with puja and meditation, rising at dawn for this purpose and repairing to the shrine room as soon as I had drunk a cup of tea. For the first six or seven years I spent in the town my principal practice was ãnãpãna-sati or respiration-mindfulness, as it had been during my years of wandering, but from 1957 onwards there was a change. In that year, and the years that immediately followed, I received from Chattrul Sangye Dorje and other leading Tibetan lamas, including Dilgo Khyentse Rimpoche and Dudjom Rimpoche, a number of Vajrayãna initiations, as a result of which an increasing amount of my time came to be devoted to such practices as deity yoga and the Four Foundation Yogas, especially the Going for Refuge and Prostration Practice centred upon the awe-inspiring figure of Padmasambhava. After my return to England I soon found that my duties as Head of the English Sangha and incumbent of the Hampstead Buddhist Vihara left me with as little time for personal meditation as for literary work. Not that I minded overmuch. For me, communicating the Dharma through the medium of the spoken word was an important spiritual practice, and one that sometimes left me, at the end of a lecture, in an exalted state of consciousness from which it was not always easy to come down. Nonetheless it was with a feeling akin to relief that one morning towards the end of May, with Ruth and the Vihara's Three Musketeers for travelling companions, I left Euston for the first of the three meditation retreats I was to lead that summer for the benefit of members of the Sangha Association and other friends.

The first and second of these retreats each lasted a week, while the third lasted a whole fortnight. All three were held at Biddulph Old Hall, the Sangha Trust's meditation centre on the Staffordshire-Cheshire border. I had last visited the place early in March, when the countryside was covered in snow. Now it was spring, and since spring not only comes slowly up this way but stays later than it does in the south, the grounds of Old Hall were gay with clumps and banks of daffodils, the brilliant yellow of which contrasted admirably with the green of the turf and the grey of the ruins that once had been part of the original building. In India I had occasionally given instruction in meditation to individuals, but I had not led a meditation retreat for a group of people before, so that the first thing I had to do, on my arrival at Old Hall on that first day of the first of my summer meditation retreats, was to decide what kind of programme we should follow. As the retreat and its two successors were billed as meditation retreats, the practice of meditation, in the form of ãnãpãna-sati and mettã-bhãvanã, naturally had to predominate, but for obvious reasons I did not want to adopt the insight retreat type of format, which with its twenty hours of so-called Vipassanã practice a day, combined with a complete lack of normal human communication, tended to reduce the retreatant to the alienated state I had observed on my very first visit to Biddulph. I therefore devised a more balanced, mixed type of programme. There were altogether five sessions of guided group meditation a day, one in the morning after breakfast, three in the afternoon after an early lunch, and one in the evening. The morning and evening sessions were preceded by the performance of the Sevenfold Puja, while for the first four days the last afternoon meditation was followed by a session of the speakers class, at which Ruth, Alf, Mike, and others spoke on different aspects of the Dharma. The atmosphere of the retreat is well conveyed in an article by Ruth that appeared in the Sangha Associations journal a few months later under the title 'Meditating Amongst the Ruins:'

It is difficult to convey the atmosphere of complete relaxation and, at the same time, of complete alertness. We really lived every minute of these days in such harmony with everyone and everything around us, as I had never experienced before. There was a constant two-way stream of understanding and friendship between the members of the group and, simultaneously, between teacher and pupils. And the animals were included too. The two Siamese cats who used to be so wild and destructive during their short stay at the Hampstead Vihara, that the neighbours complained bitterly, were now quite tame and part and parcel of the meditation-family.

Our week passed quietly and swiftly in the routine of Buddhist practice. The day started with the sounding of the gong at six-thirty and soon after breakfast our group silently crept up the stairs leading to the Ven. Sthavira's tower-room where we always had our meditation. We were usually joined by Anna who is staying at Biddulph all the year round practising serious meditation as well as helping the wardens in the running of the centre. At the weekend Margaret managed to join us too and even Douglas popped up from time to time when neither the kitchen nor the garden was calling him.

We always started and finished the day with puja -- a little devotional Mahayana service, which included the taking of the three refuges and the five precepts. In the morning we usually had just one hour meditation -- on watching breathing. The rest was spent in walking quietly amongst the shrubs and bluebells in the extensive grounds of the centre, or studying.

Early lunch -- the last meal of the day -- and then extensive meditation on watching breathing and loving kindness with always one hour break after each hour of meditation. We could help ourselves to cups of tea, coffee or soup in our own little pantry during our off-time and if the pangs of hunger were too strong, someone might even take a chunk of bread and a little cheese. There was no you must not! uttered or written on noticeboards -- but, instead, it was left to each of us to decide how much of the monastic discipline he was willing to take.

In the evenings in the Great Hall under the supervision of our beloved Sthavira, we had miniature speakers training classes where we lectured on practically all the schools of Buddhism. The staff happily joined us on these occasions and once even a Buddhist couple from Manchester came along to listen in. This was so nice about Biddulph -- all the people who came to work and meditate there, were practising Buddhists.


I had forgotten the bluebells and the Siamese cats, but I remember Ruth and the other retreatants creeping silently up the stairs to the tower room every morning after breakfast and meditating with me there. I had already meditated on my own earlier having risen at dawn in order to do so. In between the days sessions I gave personal interviews, discussed repair and reconstruction work with a local builder, and tape-recorded the Three Refuges and Five Precepts in Pali for Douglas, the centres youthful warden, who though wary of me at first (he was a disciple of Ananda Bodhi) soon realized I was not as bad as he and Margaret, his wife, had been led to believe. I also finished reading Rodney Collins The Theory of Eternal Life and started on his Theory of Celestial Influence and on Iamblichos The Egyptian Mysteries. After a few days of this peaceful routine I felt almost as though I was back in Kalimpong in my secluded hillside monastery, where during the Rains Residence I would concentrate on meditation and study, see only my resident students and the occasional visitor, and go no further than the garden gate.

When we were four days into the retreat I received an unwelcome reminder of the existence of the outside world. There was a telephone call after breakfast from an agitated Maurice, who told me, in his usual panicky fashion, that there was a 'crisis' at the Vihara and that immediate action was required. On my contacting Victor, the young man who was about to join our little community, he assured me that all was well, and I therefore asked him to go and see Maurice and try to sort things out. Later that morning, during the pre-lunch break, I telephoned our easily-alarmed chairman, whom Victor had by that time seen. There had been no crisis. All that had happened, it transpired, was that there had been no bread for breakfast, and that Ratanasara, instead of sending his personal attendant out to buy a loaf, had used the fact that there was no bread as an excuse for making various complaints of the hardship and difficulty he was experiencing at the Vihara. I was so disgusted by his total lack of the spirit of renunciation that I could not forbear speaking about the matter to Mangalo, who was then at Biddulph, though not taking part in the retreat, and he agreed with me that when it came to spreading the Dharma in England such worldly-minded South-East Asian monks were useless. Nor was this the only time Ratanasara gave me cause to regret I had ever invited him to stay with us. On another occasion I returned to the Vihara to find that, in my absence, he had run up a bill for ninety-two pounds at the local delicatessen -- a bill I had to pay. Small wonder that Victor, who was a shrewd judge of character, should have christened him King Rat!

The fifth day of the retreat was a day of silence (there had been no talking during breaks from the third day), and instead of the speakers class there was an extra session of meditation. A very good atmosphere prevailed, and as I had no personal interviews, and the weather was fine, I was able to spend some time strolling in the garden and grounds. The programme the following day -- our last full day at Biddulph -- was somewhat less demanding. We meditated as usual, but people could talk during the breaks, and in the evening there was a special Buddhist version of that old BBC favourite The Brains Trust. I divided the retreatants into what I hoped were two evenly matched teams, which then took it in turns to ask and answer questions on the Dharma. The puja before the final meditation was more elaborate than usual.

Next morning, when we had all meditated together for the last time, those of us who were returning to London left for Congleton station. We had spent a week bathed in a special kind of atmosphere, and in the words with which Ruth concluded her article, this Biddulph atmosphere of calm and quiet happiness, greatly deepened through our prolonged meditation, we carried away with us when we faced the turbulent waters of the outside world once more. For me those waters, as I encountered them on my return to the Vihara that afternoon, were not so much turbulent as stagnant. It was evident that during my absence the meeting-room shrine, with its brass Buddha image, had been shamefully neglected. There were no candles, and the flowers in the vases were all withered. Having settled in, and had a talk with Victor, I went for a walk over Hampstead Heath, taking Victor with me. As it was Saturday afternoon, and the weather was fine, there were rather a lot of people about a fact of which I was all the more conscious for being fresh from the silence and calm of the retreat. On the way back to the Vihara I bought a packet of candles and some flowers, sadly reflecting, as I did so, that Ratanasara was mindful enough of food but not, it seemed, at all mindful of the Buddha.

The second retreat took place four weeks later, and apart from the fact that there was no speakers class it followed the same mixed type of programme that I had devised for its predecessor. This time I travelled up to Biddulph not by train but by car, and thus could pay a short visit to Lichfield, which as the birthplace of Dr [Samuel] Johnson was to me an important place of literary pilgrimage. I had become an ardent Johnsonian at an early age, after borrowing Birkbeck Hills six-volume edition of Boswell's Life from the Tooting Public Library, and in the course of the next few years managed to read practically everything the Great Lexicographer had written. Even in India I did not neglect his works completely, and once back in England had returned to them with renewed zest. It was therefore with great delight that, after visiting the fine old cathedral, I explored the four-storey corner house, now a museum, where Johnson had spent the first eighteen years of his existence, and which contained many interesting relics of his life and work. Before leaving I purchased a brass paper-knife as a souvenir, the handle of the knife being in the form of the bewigged head of the Doctor. The souvenir lies beside me on my desk as I write. Since purchasing it I have visited Lichfield more than once, and seen the corner house on the market square turn from a rather shabby museum into a smart information centre and from an information centre back into a (well maintained) museum, complete with comprehensive Johnsonian bookshop. I have also seen, seated high above the awnings of the market stalls and facing the birthplace, the massive, brooding figure of Johnson, which I do not recollect having seen on my original visit.

The last of these pamphlets, Taxation No Tyranny (1775), was a defence of the Coercive Acts and a response to the Declaration of Rights of the First Continental Congress of America, which protested against taxation without representation. Johnson argued that in emigrating to America, colonists had "voluntarily resigned the power of voting", but they still had "virtual representation" in Parliament. In a parody of the Declaration of Rights, Johnson suggested that the Americans had no more right to govern themselves than the Cornish people, and asked "How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?" If the Americans wanted to participate in Parliament, said Johnson, they could move to England and purchase an estate. Johnson denounced English supporters of American separatists as "traitors to this country", and hoped that the matter would be settled without bloodshed, but he felt confident that it would end with "English superiority and American obedience".

-- Samuel Johnson, by Wikipedia


Partly because of the weather, which was inclement for the time of year, in comparison with the first retreat the second was a little dull, though with two people, at least, I had some interesting discussions, one of them being on Jung's psychology with particular reference to the anima and animus archetypes. As before, the penultimate full day of the retreat was peak day, as I called it, with silence being observed practically the whole time. For me the silence -- and the peace -- was broken by Mangalo, who, having returned earlier in the day from a trip to London, came to see me that evening full of the gossip and backbiting he had heard there. Ratanasara, he said, had not only asked him to cooperate in ousting me; he had also told him that Alf Vial ought not to be a member of the Sangha Trust as he was a Mahãyãna Buddhist! It was the last straw. Such interference was not to be tolerated. On my return to London, I discussed the situation with Maurice and with Alf, and a few days later, at the same stormy meeting at which it rescinded its support for the London Buddhist College, the Trust decided that Ratanasara should be asked to leave the Vihara. The following afternoon I had a frank talk with him and communicated the Trust's decision, for which he apparently had been prepared by Stepien. According to my diary, [It was] interesting to observe his change of tactics. What those tactics were I have long since forgotten, but all ended well, and he swore eternal friendship, and I was pleased and relieved at the way things had turned out.

The third and last of the three summer meditation retreats was in point of fact two separate retreats, even though a few people from the first retreat had stayed on and joined the second. Among those who stayed on was Anna Phillips, who, as Ruth mentioned in her article, was living at Biddulph all the year round. With characteristic impulsiveness, Anna had plunged into Buddhism at the deep end. Not satisfied with attending all my lectures and classes, and being a member of the Sangha Association committee and secretary of the Friends of the Triyana Vardhana Vihara, she had persuaded her trustees to allow her to sink what remained of her capital in the purchase of a terrace property in Camden Town where she would live and create a Buddhist community. She had also asked me to ordain her as a lay sister, and I had agreed to do so on condition that she spent a year at Biddulph deepening her experience of meditation and studying the Dharma. This she was now doing, and the ordination ceremony was due to take place on the peak day of the second of the two weeks that, between them, comprised the last summer meditation retreat. Part of my time during the first week was therefore spent going through the stages of the ceremony with her, and impressing upon her the significance of the step she was taking, as well as in giving meditation interviews to her and the other retreatants, among whom there were several who had not been to Biddulph before.

Terry was one of these. Though entitled to three weeks summer holiday, he had already made arrangements to spend the second and third of those weeks with Vivien in the south of Spain, where they in fact went every year, driving down in the Little Bus and camping. However, he was free to devote the first week to Biddulph and meditation, and we both had been looking forward to a longer period of continuous personal contact than it so far had been possible for us to have. We drove up to Old Hall via Coventry, where neither of us was impressed by the new cathedral, and that evening, after the guided group meditation, I took him through the visualization and mantra-recitation practice centred upon the figure of Vajrasattva, the embodiment of Primordial Purity.

In this practice the meditator imagines a stream of milk-white nectar falling from the heart of Vajrasattva upon the crown of his head, whence it descends through the median nerve, permeating his entire being, and washing away all the defiling passions that obscure the innate purity and radiance of the mind. Terry already thought of the spiritual life in these terms. As a result of his ether abreaction, he had realized that the truth, pure and unadulterated, could be experienced here and now, and that for him -- as he had told Dr Caple -- the best psychotherapy was a prolonged and sincere attempt to dispel the clouds that obscured the pure light of the mind. In the philosophy of Buddhism he had found a context within which, he thought, it would be possible for him to make that attempt, and I judged that the spiritual practice which would enable him to do this in the most direct and effective manner was the one centred upon the figure of Vajrasattva. We did the practice together every morning before breakfast, and in the afternoon Terry did it alone in his room while I talked with some of the other retreatants, one of whom, a young man who had been coming regularly to the Vihara for the last few months, wanted to become a srãmanera or novice monk under my direction.

The fact that Terry and I were doing the Vajrasattva practice together, as well as meditating for five or six hours a day with everyone else, gave to our friendship a new dimension, and created between us a field of spiritual energy that was almost tangible. It was as though within the lake of silence and stillness that was the retreat (that is, the retreat at its best) there was a charmed area of intenser silence and more vibrant stillness that we alone occupied. In these circumstances communication between us naturally deepened. Besides a mysterious mutual revelation of loneliness, there were exchanges my diary, in its usual laconic fashion, characterizes as being, respectively, profound and poignant, intense, and serious and important. There are also a few references of a more specific nature -- references to a discussion on affinity, arising out of notes Terry had made earlier in the day (he was an inveterate maker of notes and filler up of notebooks), to a talk we had about his daughter Fiona, and to a long walk in the course of which we touched on 'deepest themes.' One of those themes was his ether abreaction, and I think it was only then that I fully appreciated the effect the experience had had on him and the extent to which it determined the way he thought about himself and about the spiritual life. By the end of the week I was not only well satisfied with the progress of our friendship but felt I understood Terry better than before. I also realized there was a qualitative difference, so to speak, between him and the rest of the people on the retreat, genuine as their interest in Buddhism and meditation may have been, up to a point. Victor and certain of the other young men (not excluding the one who wanted to become a novice monk) were capable of behaving, on occasion, in a crude and insensitive fashion, but Terry was invariably mindful, invariably well-mannered, and invariably sensitive to the feelings of others, besides being possessed of a depth of seriousness which they entirely lacked.

On the last day of the retreat Terry and I slipped out after the evening puja and meditation and drove to Rudyard Lake. Having walked round it, and explored the picturesque countryside nearby, we found a quiet spot at the edge of a field and there passed the night in the Little Bus. The weather next day was exceptionally fine, and it was with reluctance that, around noon, we returned to Biddulph, having spent the morning in serious talk. Before leaving the place we said our goodbyes, in case we should not be able to do so in private at the meditation centre, and I hung my rosary round Terry's neck and asked him to wear it while he was away. We both were much affected by the thought of our impending separation. After lunch I saw Terry and others off, and a little later found myself being taken by bubble car to Manchester, where I met the members of the Manchester Buddhist Society at the home of Connie Waterton, the secretary of the group, and gave a public lecture in a hired hall. Having stayed up late several nights running I was feeling extremely tired, even after two or three cups of tea, but an energy from deep within came to my rescue and the lecture, which was on Tibetan Buddhism, was pronounced a great success.
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Re: Moving Against the Stream, by Dennis Lingwood

Postby admin » Sun Jul 19, 2020 6:07 am

Chapter Twenty: An Important Milestone

Ordination was a subject that had preoccupied me for some time. In 1959, five years before my return to England, I had written an article entitled Ordination and Initiation in the Three Yanas, the purpose of which was to distinguish, firstly between ordination (samvara) and initiation (abhiseka), and secondly between the different kinds of ordination. The three yãnas in question were the Hînayãna, the Mahãyãna, and the Vajrayãna, representing the three successive phases of historical development through which Buddhism passed in India, as well as the three successive stages of spiritual ascent through which the individual Buddhist, according to the late Indo-Tibetan tradition, passes on his way to Supreme Enlightenment. Speaking of the difference between ordination on the one hand and (Tantric) initiation on the other I pointed out that according to that tradition the rite of admission to the status of lay brother (upãsaka), no less than to that of novice monk (srãmanera), full monk (bhiksu), or Bodhisattva, was termed a samvara, literally restraint, control, obligation, or vow. This was an important discovery. As I wrote many years later in The History of My Going for Refuge,

The fact that admission to upasaka, sramanera, bhikshu, and Bodhisattva status was in each case termed a samvara or ordination meant that the differences between the various grades of religious persons were of far less significance than they were sometimes thought to be. In particular it meant that the difference between the monk and the layman was not a difference between the ordained and the unordained. Both monks and laymen were ordained persons and both monks and laymen were, therefore, full members of the Buddhist spiritual community. This came very close to saying that samvara or ordination was a unifying rather than a dividing factor in Buddhism, and therefore very close to saying, as I afterwards did say, that ordination and Going for Refuge were in fact synonymous and that Going for Refuge was a unifying factor in Buddhism indeed, that it was the unifying factor.


In latter-day Theravãda Buddhism, as this had developed in Ceylon and the other Buddhist countries of South-East Asia, ordination was definitely not a unifying factor. In those countries ordination was identified exclusively with monastic ordination, whether as a novice monk or as a full monk, with the result that the difference between monks and laymen was a difference between the ordained and the unordained. Until quite recently the handful of monks living and teaching in England had all been Theravãdins, and they had introduced into British Buddhism, as a matter of course, the rigid separation of the monks from the laity which was so prominent a feature of Theravãda Buddhism and which they tended to regard as part of the natural order of things. Monks did not eat with the laity, for example, and the fact that at the Buddhist Society's Summer School I chose not to adhere to this convention, as monks attending previous Summer Schools had done, was the occasion of a certain amount of astonishment -- and a good deal of pleasure. Broadly speaking, the Buddhist Society, which provided a platform for all schools of Buddhism, preferred not to emphasize the division between monks and lay people (though monks were always treated with respect), whereas the Sangha Association, whose allegiance was to the Theravãda and which described itself as 'supporting a community of Buddhist monks,' not only emphasized the division but like the Sangha Trust, its sister body, in fact had that division for its constitutional basis and raison d'être. This was one of the reasons for the tensions that had developed, in recent years, between the Society and the Association -- tensions which Ananda Bodhi's abrasive personality, and his assumption that he, as a monk, was the sole authority on what was Buddhism and what was not had increased to the point where there was an open breach between the two organizations. In these circumstances it was not surprising that a year before I returned to England Christmas Humphreys should have written to me, apropos of my expected arrival, that there could be no question of a red carpet welcome at the start, the Buddhist Society being, at that moment, frankly sick to death of the word Bhikkhu!

During the year that had passed since my return I had been able to heal the breach between the Buddhist Society and the Sangha Association, to an extent, as well as to convince at least some people that the division between monastic order and laity was less great than they had supposed. In an editorial on Sangha and Laity, published in the February issue of The Buddhist, I went so far as to assert that to the extent that they, too, have gone for refuge to the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha, the laity are as much Buddhists as are the members of the Monastic Order, and that monks and nuns, lay brothers and lay sisters, together form one great spiritual family. Knowing that most Theravãdin monks would reject as ridiculous, even blasphemous, the idea that the laity were as much Buddhists as were members of the monastic order, I was careful to add that in so far as between the monk and the layman there was a difference of commitment there was traditionally also a difference in their respective duties, the monk being expected to study, practise, and disseminate the Dharma and the lay disciple to give material support to the Sangha (i.e. the monks) and fulfil at least the basic ethical requirements of the Buddhist way of life. Nonetheless, in the concluding paragraph of the editorial I observed:

At this stage in the development of the Buddhist movement in England it is unlikely that the traditional pattern of Sangha-laity relations will be perpetuated in the extreme form that it has taken in some parts of the Buddhist world, and perhaps undesirable even if it were possible. The few bhikshus present in the country have, inevitably, to be more deeply involved in organizational problems than they might care to be, while the laity -- as witness the newly formed speakers class -- are obliged to take a more active part in the propagation of the Dharma than they might feel really qualified for. Nevertheless, if without confusing their distinctive functions this development helps to bring Sangha and laity closer together, and strengthen their common devotion to the Three Jewels, it will be fully justified.


In ordaining Anna Phillips as a lay sister I was actually doing more than just bringing Sangha and laity closer together: I was demonstrating that the two bodies overlapped. They overlapped by virtue of the fact that the ceremony in which Anna became a lay sister was not merely a simple lay precept-taking ceremony, such as was customary in Theravãdin countries, but a samvara or rite of (lay) ordination a rite that registered as definite a commitment to the spiritual life as did that of monastic ordination. In a report that appeared in The Buddhist Anna's ordination was therefore correctly described as an important milestone in the development of Buddhism in this country. It was a milestone not because it was the first time a particular Eastern Buddhist ceremony had been performed in the West, for in the East, as represented by the Theravãdin countries of South-East Asia, lay ordination, as distinct from the taking of the lay-disciple precepts, was quite unknown. It was a milestone -- and an important one -- because it served to make British Buddhists aware of the fact, of which they had not been aware before, that there was such a thing as lay ordination, and that the ordained lay person was as much a member of the Buddhist spiritual family as a monk or nun. Anna's ordination as a lay sister thus constituted a milestone on the road that led me, eventually, to the crucial realization that 'Commitment (to the Three Jewels) is primary, lifestyle secondary.'

Though in my address on the occasion I made it clear that Anna was being ordained, probably not one of the twenty people who witnessed the ceremony had even an inkling of what this signified. (It was years before I realized its full significance myself.) Most of the twenty were already at Old Hall on retreat, following the mixed type of programme I had devised earlier and working their way up to peak day and Anna's ordination, and of these the majority were not people who had stayed on from the previous week but new arrivals. Among the new arrivals were Gerald Yorke and Jack Ireland, who this time came without his brother Musketeers, a Swedish youth, an Austrian Buddhist from Vienna, a young man who was mixed up with the black arts, and an elderly Frenchwoman. The elderly Frenchwoman was Antoinette Willmott, who was married to an Englishman, who lived with him in France, who attended my lectures whenever she was in London visiting her daughter, and who was to become a lifelong friend and supporter.

The ordination took place in the Great Hall, which was decorated for the occasion. After the gathering had taken the Three Refuges and Five Precepts in the traditional manner, and Mangalo and I had chanted the Karanîyamettã Sutta or Discourse on Loving-Kindness, Anna came forward and kneeling before me asked me to give her the Three Refuges together with the Eight Precepts of the lay disciple. She made the request using the traditional Pali formula, which she had learned by heart, whereupon I asked her if she realized the seriousness of the step she was taking and if she was free of such other obligations as would interfere with the discharge of her responsibilities as a lay sister. To both questions she replied in the affirmative. A short catechism followed. What were the Four Noble Truths? What were the steps of the Noble Eightfold Path? What were the three categories of the training? To these questions, too, Anna gave satisfactory answers. She then left the room, returning after a few minutes wearing a Tibetan-style gown (she had cropped her curly brown hair some time ago) and followed by two women attendants bearing flowers, candles, and incense. I then gave her the Three Refuges and Eight Precepts of the lay disciple and announced that henceforth she would be known as Amritapani or Nectar-in-Hand, after which she offered the flowers, candles, and incense at the shrine as a sign of her commitment to the Three Jewels, Mangalo and I chanted verses of blessing, and amid the congratulations of the gathering the 'solemn and impressive ceremony,' as The Buddhist afterwards called it, came to an end.

But solemn and impressive as the ceremony was, I detected in the celebratory atmosphere of the retreat that morning an element that was not quite Buddhistic. On reflection I realized that this was due to the fact that some of the women present, quite unconsciously, responded to the ceremony emotionally as though they were witnessing not an ordination but a wedding. They even referred to the two older women who acted as Anna's attendants and who accompanied her to the altar, so to speak, as her 'matrons of honour.' It was as though they somehow felt that Anna was 'taking the veil,' with all that the phrase suggested in the way of union with a heavenly bridegroom. Anna -- or rather Amritapani -- herself appeared to be untouched by any such feeling, and I was confident that in becoming a lay sister she had genuinely committed herself to the Three Jewels. Whether she would be able to sustain that commitment through the years to come was another matter.

By the following morning, the morning of our last full day at Old Hall, the atmosphere of the retreat had changed from the celebratory to the deeply peaceful, and it remained deeply peaceful up to the time of our departure the next day. Like most of the retreatants I left Biddulph soon after breakfast, though not without first having a final word with Amritapani. I was glad that in the course of the summer I had been able to spend four weeks on retreat, one of them together with Terry, and glad that it had been possible for me to devote more time than usual to meditation. I was also glad that I had not only gone through the Vajrasattva visualization and mantra-recitation practice with Terry but taken it up again myself, and resolved that after returning to London I would continue to do it every morning before breakfast.

Since I returned to find myself caught up in a busy weekend (it was the weekend of Minh Chau's visit), this was more easily resolved than done, though it was done, at least for a few weeks. The ensuing fortnight was no less busy. During that time I gave lectures and took classes, compiled an issue of The Buddhist, saw the Three Musketeers and sundry other people, at least two of whom were mentally disturbed, and spent my fortieth birthday at Rayleigh with my mother.

Marking as it does the beginning of the inevitable decline into old age, ones fortieth birthday is generally supposed to be a time of serious reflection, but in my own case I do not recall having had any particularly serious thoughts in connection with the anniversary. My diary certainly records no such thoughts. As it was a year since I had seen my mother, I travelled down to Rayleigh two days before the actual date, so that we would have a little more time together. She was very glad to see me, I gave her the white porcelain Kuan Yin I had bought on the day of my out of the body experience, and we spent the rest of the day very quietly, going for a walk in the afternoon and watching television in the evening -- the first time I had watched it. The following afternoon we took the bus into Southend, where we sat in deckchairs on the front for a while, enjoying the sunshine and the sea breeze, and where we had tea. In the evening we spent an hour with my sister Joan and her husband Eddie, who since my last visit had moved to Rayleigh, and I gave Joan and David, her younger son, the presents I had bought for them in Southend. David, now twelve, was much quieter than he had been before, and obviously devoted to his baby sister, who had arrived at the beginning of the year and whom I was asked to name. I named her Kamala, or Lotus, which years later, as a teenager, she chose to reduce to Kay.

Next day was my birthday, but after lunch I was obliged to bid my mother an early goodbye. The Buddhist Society's annual Summer School was due to begin the following afternoon, and I had much to do at the Vihara before leaving for High Leigh.
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Re: Moving Against the Stream, by Dennis Lingwood

Postby admin » Sun Jul 19, 2020 6:07 am

Chapter Twenty-One: The Divine Eye and Dialectic

While it is possible to fall in love instantly ('Whoever loved, that loved not at first sight?'), friendship requires time for its development and even for its recognition as being such. Though I had taken seriously what Terry told me, after my lecture on 'Buddhism and the Problem of Death,' about his having seen the Pure White Light, and though I had commented in my diary, after hearing his entire history, 'A quite exceptional person,' I cannot say I felt particularly drawn to him in a personal way at that time or that I envisaged a friendship developing between us. As we got to know each other, however, a friendship did develop -- and develop rapidly. We discovered we had a spiritual, even a transcendental, affinity, and communication between us accordingly deepened. At Biddulph it had deepened still further, with the result that by the end of Terry's week there with me I was not only well satisfied with the progress of our friendship but felt I understood him better than before.

Perhaps I understood myself better too. It was not simply that I was well satisfied that the friendship between Terry and me was making good progress. I realized that Terry himself had come to occupy an extremely important place in my life and that if anything untoward was to happen to him I should feel I had suffered an irreparable loss. Until I received the letter in which he informed me that he and Vivien had arrived safely at their destination in the south of Spain, after a non-stop twenty-four-hour drive, I therefore felt increasingly anxious about him, imagining all sorts of dangers and disasters. The long-awaited letter came on my birthday (the postal service between Spain and England was very slow), and the extent of my relief -- and the nature of my expectations is evident from what I wrote in my diary. 'He is all right. Big load off my mind. Can hardly imagine what future may bring.' A few days later, in the middle of the Summer School, Terry telephoned me to say he was back in England. As it happened, I had promised to perform a name-giving ceremony at the Vihara the following afternoon, and we therefore arranged to meet there shortly afterwards.

The name-giving ceremony was for the infant son of Ken Pardoe, a burly, bearded young Midlands Buddhist who was attending the Summer School. After collecting Olive and the baby from Eltham we drove through the dense rush-hour traffic to Hampstead, I performed the ceremony in the meeting room, before the green-and-gold shrine, and bestowed on the little boy the three names his parents had chosen for him, the middle name being a Buddhist one. In India I had performed scores of name-giving ceremonies, most of them for children of the newly converted followers of Dr Ambedkar, but this was the first time I had performed a name-giving ceremony in England. Though I was happy to oblige Ken and his wife on this occasion, my feelings about such ceremonies were mixed, and I certainly had no wish to see performing domestic rituals for the lay community becoming a regular part of the duties of a British Buddhist monk. On leaving the meeting room I spoke briefly to Ratanasara, who happened to be visiting the Vihara, and a few minutes later Terry arrived.

For some time we could hardly speak, and we realized if we had not realized it before -- how deep a feeling we had come to have for each other. To me it was almost as though Terry, after being dead for three weeks, had been miraculously 'restored to life and power and thought.' Eventually we found our tongues, and with an intermission at our usual Indian restaurant in West Hampstead, where Terry had a meal, we talked until half-past four in the morning. Whether on account of the stimulating and refreshing character of our exchange, or simply because we were glad to be together again, neither of us felt in the least tired, and before parting we arranged to visit the Brighton group in a few days' time and Maidstone and John Hipkin the weekend after that. Though I did not get to bed until nearly five o'clock, I rose at half-past seven, roused Ken, who had slept in the meeting room, and at eight o'clock, after drinking a cup of tea, left the Vihara with him for High Leigh. We arrived in time for breakfast, after which I led the morning session of guided group meditation, attended Toby's talk on Zen, and in this way eased myself back into the whirl of activities that was the Buddhist Society's Summer School.

As it was my second Summer School, and as it followed much the same programme as before, my impressions of it are less vivid than those of my first, and I have few distinct recollections of what I did that week. The Recording Angel, in the form of the Notes and News section of the October Buddhist, credits me with having delivered fourteen lectures and talks, and conducted twelve guided group meditation classes and three devotional meetings, besides participating in the brains trust and giving many personal interviews. Such recollections as I do possess relate to the violent toothache I suffered for two days as a result of an abscess, which eventually burst, and to the evening devotional meetings I conducted in the Oak Room on the last three days of the School. In the course of the devotional meetings the participants made offerings of flowers, lighted candles, and incense at the improvised shrine, and recited verses expressive of reverence for the Three Jewels. I remember these meetings because they were very much an innovation, and be- cause Christmas Humphreys had doubted whether more than a handful of people would want to attend them -- nine or ten at the most, he thought. In the event, practically the whole Summer School attended on all three days, only Toby and his immediate entourage remaining aloof, which suggested that some British Buddhists, at least, understood that in order to achieve a balanced approach to the spiritual life it was essential to cultivate the spiritual faculty of faith (sraddhã).

The Brighton Buddhist group was run by Carl and Violet Wragg, a white-haired, septuagenarian couple who had become interested in Buddhism only a few years previously, after a lifetime of involvement with Spiritualism. As theirs was one of the provincial groups I visited regularly, I had come to know both of them quite well, and indeed regarded them as friends. Terry knew them too, as he had accompanied me on more than one of my Brighton visits and once, when I was on retreat at Biddulph, had actually gone and led the guided group meditation class on my behalf. On the occasion of the visit that had been arranged at the time of our reunion, a few days before, we met beneath the indicator at Victoria Station as usual and caught the six-thirty train. We were soon deeply absorbed in discussion, so deeply that we were astonished when we saw rising sheer on either side the white chalk-cliffs that showed we had reached our destination. A member of the group was there to meet us and drive us to the months venue, the groups meetings being held sometimes at the treasurers house and sometimes in a rented room above the Tatler restaurant. Later they were always held at the Wraggs' house in nearby Hove, in a downstairs room whose doors opened into the garden and where a permanent shrine had been set up.

The name of the Tatler restaurant has remained lodged in my memory, not on account of the number of times we met on its premises, but because of an experience Violet had there during one of my lectures, an experience about which she told me some time afterwards. While I was speaking, she said, she saw standing behind me a strange figure, rather larger than life, who appeared to be overshadowing me and inspiring me. He was clad in a red robe and wore a curiously shaped red hat, and although his features were of a decidedly oriental cast they were neither Indian nor Chinese but somehow both. From this description I had no difficulty recognizing Padmasambhava, the Greatly Precious Guru, whose form I had been accustomed to visualize as part of the Going for Refuge and Prostration Practice. Neither Violet nor Carl had even heard of him before. They knew nothing of Tibetan Buddhism, and had only a limited acquaintance with Buddhist doctrine and history. Their interest in Buddhism was practical rather than theoretical, and Violet, whom I knew to be psychic, was a serious meditator. A few years later there was to befall me, in the Wraggs' own sitting room, an experience in connection with Violet no less remarkable than the one that had befallen her at the Tatler restaurant in connection with me.

John Hipkin was a personable, confident, and highly articulate young man who lived at the Blue House, a sixteenth-century farmhouse located about seven miles out of Maidstone. He lived therewith his wife Bronwyn and his friends John and David, who like himself were teachers. John Eliot -- 'the other John' as he was called -- was his best friend, and in so far as the four young people -- the married couple and the two single men -- shared the expenses of the place it could be regarded as a commune. I do not remember when or where John Hipkin and I first met, but it must have been either at Eccleston Square or at a meeting of the Cambridge University Buddhist Society (Cambridge was his Alma Mater and he was, or soon would be, a Fellow of King's), for he had no connection with the Hampstead Buddhist Vihara at that time and joined the Sangha Association only later at my suggestion -- an act which was to have consequences that could not then have been foreseen. Wherever it was we met, we had taken to each other, and at the beginning of the year I had spent a couple of days at the Blue House with him and the other members of the commune. Naturally we discussed Buddhism, and as the other John was a Methodist lay preacher and one of the friends who dropped in was preparing for the Methodist ministry (another was an ex-sramanera!), the question of the relation of Buddhism to Christianity in general and to Methodism in particular, as well as to psychology and existentialism, inevitably arose. Though discussion was at times very lively, it was both serious and friendly, and I confided to my diary, 'Very much impressed by the spirit of these young people.' John Eliot seemed particularly open-minded, and he evidently had read quite widely in Buddhism. John Hipkin, though no less open-minded, had read much less widely, and on the second day of my stay we therefore visited the new County Library and I selected for him, from the rather good section on Buddhism, some half a dozen books to read. This would be his homework for the next three weeks, I told him. Since then we had kept in touch, our most recent meeting having taken place at the Summer School. Probably it was on that occasion that John had suggested Terry and I pay him a visit some time during the weekend after next.

As I was free that weekend (except for the Sunday afternoon meeting at the Vihara), my friend and I did not drive straight to Maidstone. Instead, we made an extensive detour, spending two nights on the road and taking in Rochester, Canterbury, Ashford, and Tenterden. In Canterbury we looked round the cathedral. Very much impressed, my diary recorded. Like projection of contents of own mind. Whether both of us were impressed, or only I was (on a subsequent visit Terry was decidedly not impressed by the ecclesiastical goings-on, as he called them), and what I could have meant by the comment that the interior of the vast Gothic structure was like a projection of the contents of my own mind, I am now quite unable to remember. What I do however recall is the atmosphere of the place, which was quite unlike the atmosphere of any of the cathedrals I had hitherto visited or was to visit in years to come. But distinctly as I recall it, I can find no words to describe that atmosphere, though such epithets as warm and golden and harmonious and gracious may give an indication of the kind of effect it had on me both at the time and subsequently.

It was on a gloriously fine Sunday morning that Terry and I arrived at the Blue House, there to be welcomed by John and Bronwyn and the others. Not long after our arrival a pure white bird -- either a dove or a pigeon -- came and settled on the roof of the garage, where it stayed for half an hour. The bird had not been seen before, and its appearing when it did seemed like a good omen an omen that portended the success of our visit. Good omen or not, the visit certainly was a success. Terry got on well with the Johns (owing to his high standards he did not always find it easy to get on well with people), and in the discussions which we had with them and with the various friends who dropped in both before and after lunch he acquitted himself admirably. It was not just that he had a good mind. He was a formidable dialectician who invariably succeeded in driving his opponent, step by relentlessly logical step, into a corner from which there was no possibility of escape.

I use the word 'opponent' advisedly. For Terry, anyone with whom he became locked in serious discussion (myself alone excepted) represented a threat. He was dangerous. He was dangerous because he was powerful and because, being powerful, he might want to harm Terry, or even destroy him. He therefore had to be defeated, for an opponent defeated was an opponent rendered powerless and, therefore, incapable of harming one. Consciously or unconsciously, Terry regarded discussion as being like a game of chess, in which one picked off ones opponents pawns, bishops, and other inferior pieces until his king was left defenceless and could be immobilized and checkmated. The only difference was that Terry played not to win so much as to prevent the other person from winning; he had no wish to harm his opponent, but wanted only to make sure his opponent could not harm him.

His dialectical method was in a way Socratic, for like the Socrates of at least some of the Socratic Dialogues he was concerned not to advance any thesis of his own but simply to undermine whatever thesis might be advanced by his interlocutor. In this he was often highly successful, at times leaving his opponent totally nonplussed and on the verge of an existential crisis, much as Socrates sometimes left a respondent feeling as though he had been stung by an electric ray whose touch temporarily paralyses. On future occasions Terry was to give John Hipkin -- himself no mean debater -- a taste of this kind of treatment, thus earning his deep respect, but in the present discussions he made no attempt to press home his advantage over either of the two Johns, though leaving them in no doubt as to his dialectical ability. He therefore was no less satisfied with our visit to the Blue House than I was, and when the time came for us to set out for London we both regretted having to leave.

Though now living in Kent, John Hipkin kept up his connections with Cambridge (he and Bronwyn were soon to move there), especially his connections with Kings College. It was in a room at Kings that I had addressed the Cambridge University Buddhist Society back in April eight months after my arrival at the Hampstead Buddhist Vihara. The reason for the delay was that Ananda Bodhi had quite a following among the undergraduate members of the society, some of whom were strongly opposed to my being invited to speak, the Canadian monk having told them as it seems he had told everybody else that I had been thrown out of the Hampstead Buddhist Vihara. The leader of this group was one Lance Cousins, a pretty, effeminate-looking youth who besides being a member of the Cambridge University Buddhist Society was also a member of the Sangha Association, and who shortly after my arrival in England came to see me at the Vihara. The opposition had eventually been overcome with the help of Dr Carmen Blacker, the lecturer in Japanese at the University, who I believe was then either Senior Chairman or Senior Treasurer of the Society, and John Hipkin himself may well have played a part. He certainly played a part some two years later, when Lance Cousins and his supporters again tried to prevent my being invited to speak by the Society and were again defeated.

Not all Ananda Bodhi's followers were as blindly devoted to him as young Lance. Some of them, much as they might have benefited from his 'insight meditation' teaching, or have relished his 'hell and brimstone' style of lecturing, were by no means unaware of the fact that their hero's character was deeply flawed, and could even make jokes at his expense. Maurice Walshe, who in any case was more devoted to the so-called Vipassanã than to Ananda Bodhi himself, and in whose attitude to his old teacher there lurked (as I had noticed quite early on) a distinct element of ambivalence, was one of these. Clare Sampson was another. At the time of my arrival on the scene she was Secretary of the Sangha Association, and having been re-elected to the post a few months later worked with me, quite happily, for the whole of the ensuing year. Svelte and sophisticated, and the daughter (so I was told) of a titled woman, twenty-year-old Clare to the best of my knowledge was the Associations' sole socialite member. At first she came and consulted with me at least once a week, wearing a black sheath dress and a string of pearls and with her blonde hair dressed in the fashionable beehive style. Though she took her duties as (Honorary) Secretary of the Association seriously, and was helpful to me personally in a number of ways, she never attended my meditation classes, or went on retreat with me, and was hardly ever seen at lectures -- least of all when they took place at the Buddhist Society. Like Maurice, she had practised insight meditation under the guidance of Ananda Bodhi, and after the Canadian monks abrupt departure had continued, like Maurice himself, to practise it under the guidance of Vichitr whenever the plump Thai happened to be in London. Unlike Maurice she had little or no interest in Buddhism, and when she relinquished her post in order to have more time for her social life (she was said to have set her cap at Jeremy Thorpe, the future leader of the Liberal Party) I was not greatly surprised.
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Re: Moving Against the Stream, by Dennis Lingwood

Postby admin » Sat Jul 25, 2020 2:12 am

Chapter Twenty-Two An Inquisitive Princess

The British Buddhist movement was very small much smaller than I had imagined it to be when I was still in India. Because it was so small, it felt it needed to keep up its connections with the wider Buddhist world, and the Buddhist Society, as represented by Christmas Humphreys, had long made a point of laying on a reception for any prominent Asian Buddhist who happened to be visiting, or passing through, London, regardless of whether they were monk or layman, and regardless of the school of Buddhism to which they belonged (before my arrival the Sangha Association had honoured only Theravãdin monks in this way). I was therefore not surprised to learn, towards the end of September, that the President and Council of the Society were giving a reception to two leading Thai Buddhists who were then in town and that I was among those invited to attend the function.

The two visitors were Princess Poon Diskul, a cousin of the King of Thailand, and Mr Aiem Sanghavasi, President and Honorary Secretary respectively of the World Fellowship of Buddhists, and the reception was held at the Society's premises in Eccleston Square. Princess Poon was no stranger to London. As she reminded her hosts and the other guests, when replying to Christmas Humphreys words of welcome, she had first visited the Society in 1930 with her late father, Prince Damrong, while her uncle, the late King Chulalongkorn, had been a patron of the original Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland in 1907. Toby was obviously gratified by these references to the (present) Buddhist Society's history, as he had a strong sense of tradition, and was particularly proud of the Society's links with the Thai royal house. What the purpose of her present visit was Princess Poon did not say, but knowing that she and Sanghavasi were already preparing for the Fellowships next conference (conferences were held every two years, each time in a different Asian country) I assumed the pair were in London to consult with Christmas Humphreys, who I believe was one of the Vice-Presidents of the Fellowship, about the choice of venue.

The World Fellowship of Buddhists had been founded at Kandy, Ceylon, in 1950, by Dr G.P. Malalasekera, the distinguished author of the Dictionary of Pãli Proper Names, who some years later became the Ambassador for Ceylon in the USSR, where he had persuaded the State Publishing House (so he once proudly told me) to print 40,000 copies of a Russian translation of the Dhammapada. Short, plump, and amiable, Malalasekera invariably dressed at least when abroad in traditional Sinhalese costume, consisting of white sarong, long white overshirt, and a sort of embroidered stole. He and I had corresponded during my Kalimpong days, when we were both being violently attacked in the pages of the fanatical, but mercifully short-lived (Theravãdin) Buddhist paper The Buddhist World, but it was not until our paths happened to cross in England that we actually met. I do not remember all the grounds on which the papers fiercely orthodox and (as I afterwards discovered) alcoholic editor attacked Malalasekera, but one of them certainly was that he was sympathetic to the Mahãyãna and had by inviting the heretical Mahãyãnists to join his organization in effect recognized them as genuine Buddhists, despite their not being followers of the pure pristine Dharma, as the editor and his associates were pleased to term the Theravãda. Malalasekera was what I called a liberal Theravãdin (I had no quarrel with the Theravãda as such, if by Theravãda one meant simply the teaching of the Buddha as contained in the Pali Canon), and there were many issues on which we were in hearty agreement, though I suspect he would have been dismayed by some of the later developments in my thinking, had he lived to see them.

To date there had been seven conferences of the World Fellowship of Buddhists, the last having taken place towards the end of 1964. It had taken place at Sarnath, near Benares, where according to tradition the Buddha spent the rainy season after his Enlightenment explaining to his five former companions in asceticism the Middle Way he had discovered. Toby and Puck attended as delegates of the Buddhist Society, and a brief mention of the conference appears in the former's autobiography, Both Sides of the Circle. We listened to the reports of the delegates, and the splendid speeches, Toby wrote, and I played my part in the work of the committees. There was much talk of what should be done but little of who would do it, or how and when. In the official account he produced at the time for The Middle Way he was less dismissive, though even here he spoke of tedious messages from Heads of State and resolutions that were so many pious platitudes.

I did not attend the conference, and probably would not have attended it even if I had been in India at the time instead of being newly arrived in England. I had not attended any of the Fellowships previous conferences, though often urged to attend by friends who thought it would be worth my while to do so. It was not that I disagreed with the Fellowships ecumenical objectives, or that I was not happy to meet brother and sister Buddhists from different parts of the Buddhist world. Such was far from being the case. But experience had convinced me that gatherings of this sort were more or less a waste of time, and that I, for one, was better occupied getting on with my own work, of which in any case I had more than enough to keep me busy. As for meeting Buddhists from different parts of the Buddhist world, living in India as I did I met them anyway, either at the Maha Bodhi Society's Calcutta headquarters or at one or other of the places of Buddhist pilgrimage. Some of them even made their way up to my hillside hermitage in Kalimpong.

Despite my conviction that conferences were a waste of time, I might have been less disinclined to attend the Fellowships Sarnath conference, had I still been in India, if I had not known that earlier conferences had been little more than talking shops. After the third conference, held in Burma in 1954, the delegate of a North American Buddhist group had written, in some bewilderment, I had supposed that there would be considerably more attention to devotional practices, including periods of meditation. My friends in asking about the conference almost invariably bring up this suggestion. The relatively small space given to devotions constituted a surprise. Am I merely betraying my occidental and Christian background in saying that world-wide Buddhism as a vital force will never come into existence until there is a spiritual basis more concrete than mere acceptance of a common faith? I did not think the writer was betraying any bias. Buddhists, in fact, by virtually excluding devotional practices from the programme of their conferences, showed a bias which was distinctly non-Buddhist and non-oriental. The suggestion that we needed a spiritual basis more concrete than the acceptance of a common faith put a finger on one of the weakest points in the modern Buddhist movement of revival. It put a finger, indeed, on one of the weakest points perhaps the weakest point in much of traditional Buddhism, and years were to pass before I was able to identify the act of Going for Refuge to the Three Jewels, considered as the central and definitive Act of the Buddhist life, as the concrete spiritual basis that was needed if Buddhism was to be a vital force in the modern world. Meanwhile, in the fifties and sixties, conferences of the World Fellowship of Buddhists continued to follow the type of programme of which my North American Buddhist had complained. Reviewing the official report of the Fellowships fifth conference, held in Thailand in 1958, and attended by 199 delegates, visitors, and observers from eighteen countries including the host country, I wrote in the Maha Bodhi Journal:

There were five Plenary Sessions, five business meetings, one for each subject committee, and an Executive Council meeting, besides a wide variety of religious, educational and social engagements. Despite the criticism which had been so often levelled against the practice, the Plenary Sessions were as in previous years mainly occupied with the reading out of Messages. The committees all passed a number of praiseworthy resolutions but without making any concrete suggestion as to how they could be implemented. As with the reports of the previous General Conferences, the reader is apt to get the impression of a week of hectic sightseeing by representatives of various Buddhist organizations or of none followed by two years of complete inactivity. The present report, for instance, comes out two years after the conclusion of the Conference.


Having dealt with the last conference, I turned to the next:

The W.F.B., which claims to be the global organization of the Buddhists, has been in existence for ten years. Apart from its excellent magazine World Buddhism, published from Ceylon, it appears to have no permanent achievement to its credit. Work on the Buddhist Encyclopaedia, we understand, has practically come to a standstill. This reviewer suggests that if there is still enough life in the W.F.B. to hold the Sixth General Conference due to meet next month, though the venue is not yet known all concerned would be well advised to give more serious thought to the future of the organization.


The conference did not meet the following month. It met more than a year later, in Cambodia, and a month before it did so I returned to the attack in an editorial in the Maha Bodhi. Having pointed out that a Buddhist organization was not something imagined to exist in its own right above and beyond the individuals who composed it, but simply the means of their fruitful communication with one another, I continued:

In view of the very nature of Buddhism it is impossible that the Fellowship, or any other Buddhist organization however widespread, should develop into a kind of super-body which would control its constituent and affiliated groups in a dictatorial manner and think, speak and act on their behalf. Yet surely more is expected of the W.F.B., after more than a decade of existence, than simply to assemble every two or three years for the purpose of sightseeing in the host country, listening to messages of greeting, and passing resolutions it is powerless to implement.

No thinking person needs to be reminded that we live in critical, even dangerous times, when the continued existence of the human race itself is at stake. In circumstances such as these it is imperative that the Buddhist point of view should be powerfully projected in the world and the pacific moral influence of the Buddha's teaching brought massively to bear on contemporary issues. This year's Conference should give its most serious attention to the question. The W.F.B. urgently needs a permanent headquarters, an efficient secretariat, and a really first-class journal: makeshift arrangements will no longer suffice. It must devise ways and means of bringing about a much closer understanding and more active co-operation between the Buddhists of the world than at present obtains. Unless such steps as these are taken without delay the W.F.B. will never be a force to reckon with in the world of Buddhist affairs, much less still a vital factor in the much wider, more complex and more dangerous world of the Cold War and the Atom Bomb.


These steps were not taken, least of all at the W.F.B.'s sixth conference, held as this was in the Cambodia of Sihanouk Varma, the playboy prince, and the organization never became either a force to reckon with in the world of Buddhist affairs or a vital factor in the wider world of international relations and power politics. Nevertheless I continued to support the Fellowships ecumenical objectives, little as these were realized in practice, and was glad to attend the Buddhist Society's reception and to meet Princess Poon and Aiem Sanghavasi, neither of whom I had met before. Two days later they came to see me.

Princess Poon was a tiny, bird-like woman with a round, moon-like face framed by an abundance of grey curls. She wore Western dress, as did Aiem Sanghavasi, a rather small, youngish man who did not look comfortable in his dark, ill-fitting lounge suit. The princess took the lead in the conversation, her companion merely supporting her with an intervention from time to time. Every now and then they consulted together sotto voce in their own language. Afterwe had discussed Buddhist affairs in general for a while, and I had given them a brief account of the present state of Buddhism in Britain, so far as this was known to me, Princess Poon started asking me about the activities of the Vihara and about the relations between its various resident members. In particular, she wanted to know how well Vichitr and the Thai monk who had recently joined him there had fitted in and whether their behaviour had given me cause for complaint in any way, and I began to realize that my visitors had come with a definite purpose in view and that there was something they wanted to find out.

Truth to tell, neither Vichitr nor his companion had fitted in very well. They had not made the slightest effort to fit in. Of Vichitr it could even be said that all his efforts had been directed to not fitting in, and to making it clear to everyone that although temporarily based at the Vihara he belonged to the Thai Sangha, not to the English Sangha. To an extent I could understand their position and even sympathize with them. So far as they were concerned, they were living in a kind of bardo or intermediate state, waiting for the moment when they would be able to move to the temple the Thai government was building in Wimbledon, and probably saw no point in trying to adjust to a situation in which they had no personal interest and would be leaving soon. Consequently they tended to treat the Vihara very much as a hotel, where they ate and slept when in London (Vichitr was often away), and where they received people, but with the running of which they had nothing to do. But even a hotel has its house rules, and Vichitr and his companion did not always observe the rules of the Vihara. The rule they most frequently flouted had to do with food. Though the Vihara was vegetarian, I would often return from visiting one of the provincial groups to find in the refrigerator the remains of whole chickens they had ordered from the local delicatessen.

Yet little as the Thai monks had fitted in, and much as their behaviour had given me cause for complaint, I was reluctant to apprise Princess Poon of the true state of affairs. The very idea of informing in this way on my two guests, who after all were fellow monks, was repugnant to me. Besides, though Princess Poon was clearly anxious to know how well Vichitr and his companion had fitted in, and whether their behaviour had given me any cause for complaint, why she should want to know this was not clear at all. Were she and Sanghavasi trying to find out what kind of attitude I had towards their monks? Or were they looking for a handle against the monks themselves, whether because they came from a monastery that was out of favour with them, or because they belonged to a different faction within the Thai Buddhist establishment? Thai Buddhist politics were, as I knew, extremely complicated; there were wheels within wheels within wheels. There was also the question of face to be considered. Face was no less important to the Thais than to the Chinese, and if it was known that I had complained about them to two such prominent and influential people as Princess Poon and Sanghavasi the two monks might suffer a serious loss of face, both in their own eyes and in the eyes of their compatriots. These thoughts all flashed through my mind in an instant, and I therefore simply gave my visitors to understand that the Thai monks had fitted in reasonably well and that I had no complaints regarding their behaviour.

Though I must have known many of the guests at the Buddhist Society's reception, the only people I actually remember meeting there, apart from Dr Malalasekera, are Maurice and Ruth Walshe. I remember meeting them because they had just spent five weeks in Japan and I had not seen either of them since their return. At that time few English Buddhists had visited Japan, or knew very much about Japanese Buddhism (apart from Zen!), and Maurice soon wrote for The Buddhist a lively and informative article entitled All is not Zen in Japan. Ruth did not write about their experiences, but she talked to me a lot about them. In particular she spoke about the visit she and Maurice had paid to the Soto Zen monastery where Peggy Kennett, a former member of the Buddhist Society, was staying and practising Zen and where they had a long discussion with her teacher. Kind-hearted Ruth was very concerned for Peggy. Her teacher, who was the abbot of the monastery, had seemed very displeased with his English disciple. He kept scolding her in front of us! Ruth exclaimed, in shocked tones. What she and Maurice had not realized, and I think never did realize, was that the abbot was scolding not Peggy but them. He was scolding them for their wrong views about Zen views which she, supposedly, was mirroring for their benefit. Mirroring played an important part in Japanese education and culture. Basically it consisted in reflecting a child's or a disciple's misbehaviour or misunderstanding back to him by mimicking it in such away that he was shamed into conformity. Four or five years later, when she returned to the West as Jiyu Roshi, Peggy's attempts to introduce this typically Japanese technique into the culturally very different world of British Buddhism had some amusing consequences.
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Re: Moving Against the Stream, by Dennis Lingwood

Postby admin » Sat Jul 25, 2020 2:35 am

Chapter Twenty-Three: Changes at the Vihara

By mid-November I had been incumbent of the Hampstead Buddhist Vihara for well over a year, and during that time my work had increased to such an extent that it was hardly possible for me to do more than I was already doing. Indeed, I needed to do less. During the summer months I had suffered, on and off, from an extremely painful gumboil (with me always a sign of physical strain), which I took to be a warning that I was doing too much work on too little nourishment, for I was still following the rule of taking no solid food after midday and did not always eat properly even before then. Besides all my regular lectures and classes at the Vihara and at the Buddhist Society, and my lectures at the College of Psychic Science and elsewhere, I had The Buddhist to edit and produce, the provincial groups to visit, correspondence to deal with, visitors to receive, personal interviews to give, and the everlasting telephone to answer. There was also, of course, the Vihara itself to run, with all that this entailed in the way of caring for the shrine and meeting room and making arrangements for such mundane things as shopping, cooking, and cleaning.

After returning from the Summer School I therefore started sounding out Maurice and Goulstone regarding the possibility of the Trust providing me with full-time paid secretarial help. I already had an agency shorthand-typist coming and taking dictation whenever I had an unusually large number of letters to answer, but this ad hoc arrangement (paid for, I think, by the Association) was not very satisfactory. The same person was not always available, sometimes I did not get the finished work back for a week or more, sometimes it contained mistakes, and sometimes the shorthand-typist herself usually an elderly woman arrived in so depressed and tearful a state that I was obliged to spend the time listening to her troubles and counselling her instead of giving dictation. Though I explained all this to Maurice, and though he was aware of the extent to which my work had increased, his initial reaction when I sounded him out on the subject of full-time paid secretarial help was one of alarm. The Trust couldn't possibly afford it, he protested. It simply didn't have the money. Goulstone was more sympathetic. As Treasurer of both the Sangha Trust and the Sangha Association, he had a better understanding of the needs of the situation. He knew that Clare Sampson would not be around much longer, and that it would not be easy for the Association to find a new Honorary Secretary, especially one who could help him in the way Clare sometimes did. The upshot was that the trustees agreed, after weeks of discussion, that the Trust could, in fact, afford to meet the expense of a full-time secretary, that Goulstone and I would share her services, and that it would be up tome to find the right person.

I found her with the help of Kathy Phelps, the blonde, voluptuous young cockney woman who was soon to become General Secretary of the Buddhist Society in succession to staid, elderly Joan Pope, who had occupied the post for longer than most members of the Society could remember. She had a friend who was looking for a job with a religious organization, Kathy told me in the society's office one afternoon over a cup of tea. This friend had spiritual interests, was working on a book on occultism, and might well be just the sort of person I wanted. Could she ask her to come and see me? She certainly could. A few days later, therefore, the friend presented herself at the Vihara. I saw and liked her, as did Goulstone, and three weeks later, when November was almost over, despite last-minute objections from Maurice, our new full-time secretary started work in the ground floor front room that Vichitr and his companion fortunately had just vacated. Instead of Office of Thai Sangha the sign on the door now read Reception.

Francoise Strachan, brown-haired and simply dressed, was a quietly spoken young woman of average looks and rather more than average intelligence. Within a few weeks she had created a proper office, probably the first either the Trust or the Association had ever had, and had started relieving me of all kinds of minor but time-consuming tasks. Besides typing articles meant for publication in The Buddhist, she dealt with routine correspondence, received casual visitors, answered the telephone, passed on messages, went to the post office, and bought flowers for the shrine, all of which enabled me not only to devote more time to my own real work but to have a little time to myself. Goulstone found her no less useful than I did. Formerly he had rarely been seen at the Vihara, usually only when there was a meeting of the Association committee or, more recently, of the Trust; but now, wearing his black opera cloak and smelling of whisky and cigars, he was to be seen there almost every weekday morning, generally spending at least half an hour closeted with Francoise before going on to his legal practice. Despite his increased interest in the Vihara, he did not start attending lectures and classes, and on Sunday afternoons and weekday evenings I saw no more of him than I had done before Francoise's arrival.

That we now had a full-time secretary working in our ground floor front room, with all that this entailed for me in the way of reduced workload, was not the only change to take place at the Vihara that autumn. Our little community saw various comings and goings both before and after the departure of the Thai monks. Most of these were of young men who wanted, or thought they wanted, to become monks, and whom I invited to stay at the Vihara for awhile and have at least a tongue-tip taste of monastic life. Only three of them lasted for more than a couple of weeks (one or two did not even manage to pluck up the courage to accept my invitation), and they therefore remain, for the most part, shadowy figures whose names I have long since forgotten. The three exceptions were Victor, who had moved into the Vihara when Ratanasara moved out; the young man who, after coming to the Vihara regularly for some months, had been on retreat with me at Biddulph, and whom I had recently ordained as Vajra bodhi; and the one who lasted longest Eric, whom I was to ordain as Viriya.

Eric was a pink-faced, sandy-haired young man of twenty-five or twenty-six whose slightly aquiline nose was wrinkled up, more often than not, in an expression of disgust. I do not remember where we first met, but it must have been either at a meeting of the Brighton Buddhist group or at the Buddhist Society's Summer School, probably the latter. Wherever it was, he was soon coming to see me regularly; we had a number of serious discussions, and one early September afternoon, in the course of a particularly good exchange, he asked me to accept him as a probationer. I remember that afternoon very well, though not so much on account of Eric's request itself, which was not entirely unexpected, as because of what followed. Eric had a girlfriend called Elizabeth, whom I had not met, and he had asked her to come to the Vihara two hours after his own arrival there, by which time, as he knew, he would have made his request and, he hoped, been accepted as a probationer. No sooner had she entered my room, and been introduced, than he drew a deep breath and told her, with evident emotion, Liz, I'm going to become a monk. However much she may have been aware of her boyfriend's intentions, this abrupt announcement must have come as a shock to Elizabeth, but she took it well, and Clare having joined us for a cup of tea we all spent the rest of the afternoon together pleasantly enough. A week later Eric moved into the Vihara.

A new broom sweeps clean, says the proverb, and so far as the domestic arrangements of the Vihara were concerned Eric proved to be every inch a new broom. He swept and cleaned the kitchen and dining room, turned out cupboards, threw away junk, burned stacks of old magazines, mowed the lawn at the back of the house, and weeded the overgrown little front garden. Within a month of his arrival the Vihara was looking neater and tidier than it had done for a long time. So much of a new broom was Eric that eventually he swept out of the Vihara both Victor and Vajrabodhi, whose untidy ways, and lack of care for the place, caused his nose to wrinkle up in an expression of deeper disgust than usual. Victor, who in any case was not really a probationer, having asked for ordination in a rash moment and then regretted it, had been showing signs of restlessness for some time. After spending three weeks in North Africa, and a week in his home town of Nottingham, he moved into Amritapani's community in Camden Town, where his girlfriend was already staying. Subsequently, as a result of his being involved in an incident there, he had to leave the place in a hurry and was not seen for a year or more. As for Vajrabodhi, he left the Vihara in a huff after he and Eric had clashed in the kitchen. His departure may have had something to do with the fact that I had reprimanded him for allowing a sixteen-year-old girl to come to his room for private lessons in the Dharma, as he most unwisely had been doing. He left without telling anybody, and some weeks later I heard that he and the girl had gone to stay with friends of the Vihara in Gloucestershire and that the girl was pregnant.

Eric's passion for cleanliness and order was not simply of the utilitarian kind but possessed a decidedly aesthetic dimension. He had a great interest in Japanese art and culture, was learning the Japanese language, preferred chopsticks to a knife and fork, and when not actually working wore a blue and white patterned kimono about the house. Before long he struck up a friendship with Emile Boin, the proprietor of the Japanese shop in Monmouth Street, and Emile's partially deaf wife Sara, and at Eric's suggestion Emile presented me with a yellow silk kimono. So far as I remember, Eric had no particular interest in Zen, but naturally he was interested in meditation, and therefore was happy to join me in my morning sessions on the cushion. Sometimes we went for a walk on Hampstead Heath before meditating, for like me he was an early riser and liked to be up and about before dawn. Sometimes, indeed, we were out so early that it was still dark when we got back, and then Eric would take up his guitar and in his pleasant, rather nasal tenor voice sing, to his own accompaniment, plaintive country-and-western ballads (as I suppose they must have been) until the clock struck seven and it was time to meditate. Terry usually joined us for our morning sessions, after which the three of us would have a cup of tea and a chat together and he would leave for work.

The appearance at the Vihara of a full-time paid secretary, and the comings and goings of various members of our little community especially the arrival of Eric on the scene were important changes, and they made a big difference to me. But there also took place around this time another important change, and one that made, in the long run, an even bigger difference to both me and Terry. On 19 November Terry left his job. Or rather, he told the advertising agency for which he worked that he would be leaving at the end of the year. He also moved, earlier that same week, from his old quarters in Chalk Farm to a bigger flat nearer the Vihara.

Terry's decision to leave his job was not a sudden one. It was a step he had been contemplating for some time, even before meeting me. Though good at his (well-paid) design work, and popular with his colleagues, he nonetheless felt, in the competitive, manipulative world of advertising, out of place to the point of alienation, and indeed had developed for its shallow, materialistic values a loathing that at times made him physically ill. During the last few months he had been finding it increasingly difficult to carry on, though he kept up a cheerful front and nobody in his office not even the faithful Alan had the least idea how he really felt. From time to time he was the victim of moods of depression out of which I did not always find it easy to talk him.

These moods were not entirely due to the kind of work he was doing. His visits to Ilford also played a part. Every other week he collected Fiona from her mother and took her to his parents place for the weekend. These weekends under the parental roof were a sore trial to Terry. Besides reminding him of his solitary, unhappy childhood, and thus reviving all his old feelings of resentment towards his parents (feelings he was forced to conceal), they tended to confirm his impression that his daughter was being subjected, at the hands of her mother and grandmother, to influences of the same repressive and deadening kind that had had such a disastrous effect on his own emotional life. As an instance of this, he once told me that by the time she was three they had conditioned Fiona into refusing to be undressed, or given a bath, in front of her father or grandfather. What was an even greater trial to him, his parents had never told their friends and neighbours about the breakdown of his marriage, the whole subject being in their eyes too painful and too shameful to be mentioned. If anyone asked after Gillian Terry had to say she was quite well, thank you, as though the two of them were still living together a piece of pretence that revolted his honest and truth-loving nature. He therefore returned from his visits to Ilford tired and depressed, and in need of a good deal of encouragement and reassurance.

The flat to which Terry had moved was situated in Lancaster Grove, conveniently equidistant from Belsize Park and Swiss Cottage Underground stations, and not far from the Hampstead Public Library. It was bigger than his old flat only in the sense that it comprised not a single but a double room one corner of which had been partitioned off to form a kitchen. Terry had moved there not only because his flat in King Henry's Road was small and dark, and not at all the sort of place he wanted to spend his days as well as his nights in once he had stopped working, but also because he was concerned to provide me with a quiet place to which I could retire whenever I needed a brief respite from the busy life of the Vihara. The upstairs, eastward-looking front room at 3 Lancaster Grove was certainly quiet much quieter than my own room on busy Haverstock Hill. It was quiet partly because Lancaster Grove was a side street, so that hardly any noise penetrated from outside even when the windows were open, and partly because the various occupants of the other flats in the building, a substantial Victorian property, were out most days of the week and even when they were in made little or no sound and kept out of each others way. During the six or seven months that Terry (and I, sometimes) lived there, the only people we actually saw, apart from the landlady, were the two women, apparently mother and daughter, who occupied a room on the same floor as us and whom, to their embarrassment, we occasionally surprised tiptoeing along the passage towards the common bathroom. The landlady herself, who lived in the rather gloomy basement flat, we saw only when Terry paid the rent. Like many landladies, old Mrs Hartmann was a suspicious soul (rightly so, if even half the stories Bernie Whitelaw told me about his tenants were to be believed), and Terry had not won her confidence immediately. On his going to see her about the room and explaining that he would be sharing it, occasionally, with a friend who was a Buddhist monk, she had insisted on seeing me before accepting him as a tenant. As she only wanted to make sure I was not an Indian, the interview passed off successfully, and two weeks later Terry moved in.

From the middle of November, therefore, I had nearby a place of retreat. I had only to walk a little way up Haverstock Hill, turn left into Belsize Avenue and then, having continued along it for a few hundred yards in the direction of Swiss Cottage, turn left again into Lancaster Grove. As I did so, the noise of the traffic would gradually die away, then cease altogether, and when, fifteen minutes after leaving the Vihara, I entered Mrs Hartmann's domain, it would be to find myself enveloped in a profound silence a silence I could guarantee would be broken, over the next few hours, only by the occasional flushing of a distant toilet.

While Terry was still working I tended to make use of the flat only at weekends and late in the evening, sometimes staying there overnight when I had a lecture to think about the following morning. Since we were free from interruptions (we took no telephone calls, and received no visitors), our discussions could last as long, and go as deep, as we pleased, without the necessity of our going away for the weekend in the Little Bus. It was at this time, I think, that the subject of energy first arose and was discussed, at great length, between us. How it arose I no longer recollect. Probably it was in connection with the sexo-yogic practices of the Vajrayãna, as described to me in Kalimpong by Yogi Chen, or Wilhelm Reich's highly controversial ideas about energy, character armour, and orgasm, or, what is most likely, in connection with both. Terry was particularly interested in the relation between sexual energy and spiritual energy, especially so far as this has a bearing on the practice of celibacy. Fond as he was of Vivien, he was finding the sexual side of their relationship increasingly repugnant. Her orgasms, so he told me, were becoming more and more primitive, and when they had intercourse he felt as though a fine thread was being drawn from his brain. Whether he ever communicated his repugnance to Vivien I do not know, but it was she who, in effect, solved the problem, around this time, by embarking on a Freudian analysis one of the requirements of which was that she should abstain from sexual activity while it was in progress. As Terry was not interested in finding a new girlfriend, this meant a period of abstinence for him too, and he in fact remained celibate for the next two years or more. But although not interested in finding a new girlfriend, he was certainly interested in finding a dãkinî. A dãkinî, in Tantric tradition, is a woman or a goddess who, as the embodiment of a current of spiritual energy, has the effect of arousing the dormant energies of the practitioner by whom she is taken, in fact or symbolically in meditation, as a paredra or consort. Terry had first heard about dãkinîs from me, when I told him, quite early in our friendship, about Jamyang Khyentse Rimpoche, perhaps the most eminent of my Tibetan teachers, whose own dãkinî and chief disciple was a young woman remarkable alike for her beauty, her intelligence, and her devotion. At the time he showed little interest in the subject, and in our discussions on energy it was touched on only incidentally; but during the months that followed the ending of his sexual relationship with Vivien he became increasingly interested, not just in dakinis in general, but in the idea of finding that unique, magical person who, by being his dakini, would grant him the kind of ideal fulfilment he had expected to find in marriage. It was an idea that eventually came to preoccupy him virtually to the point of obsession and which, in the end, proved to be no more than a will-o-the-wisp leading him deeper into the morass of disappointment, frustration, and despair.

That development was then many months away. Meanwhile, not all our time together at the flat was spent in discussion. Terry had a record player, and sometimes we listened to music last thing at night. Our favourites were Mozart, Chopin, and Grieg, especially the piano concertos of all three composers, and, in my case at least, Haydn and the Elgar of the Enigma Variations. As a teenager I had been passionately fond of music, and had listened to symphony concerts on the radio whenever I had the opportunity. For me music was not the brandy of the damned but the ambrosia of the blessed, and swept me up to heights of ecstasy in away that even poetry could not do. In India I was rarely able to listen to music that is, Western classical music. Such music was not easy to come by, and in any case, as a (Theravãdin) Buddhist monk I was expected to observe the rule of abstaining from dance, song, instrumental music, and improper shows. This rule I had long understood as applying only to music of the cruder and more vulgar kind, such as must have been no less popular in the Buddhas day than it is in our own, and I was therefore able to listen to Mozart and the rest of my and Terry's favourites with a clear conscience. The School of Economic Science, which Terry had recently left, indeed regarded the music of Mozart, in particular, as having a positive, spiritualizing effect on the mind.

What the School thought of Wagner I do not know. The composer was by no means a favourite of mine, though as a teenager I had enjoyed the overtures to Lohengrin and _____r, but when a member of the Sangha Association offered, that autumn, to take me to see all four constituent parts of the Ring cycle at Covent Garden I was glad to accept. Wendy was a tall, angular woman of thirty or thereabouts who worked at Coutts in the Strand and was a keen practitioner of judo. Her angularity was not only physical but mental. There were all sorts of sharp corners and edges to her personality, and while she could be warm-hearted and generous (as her offer tome demonstrated) she was morbidly quick to take offence and was, in truth, of so prickly, indeed so spiky, a disposition, and so extremely sharp-tongued, that I called her to her great amusement and delight Kutadanta or Sharp Tooth, after an old brahmin mentioned in the Pali scriptures. Had I then been as familiar with modern psychology and its jargon as I afterwards became, I would probably have said that Wendy-Kutadanta found it difficult to accept herself as a woman (in India the women had appeared to experience no such difficulty). She certainly resented being treated as a woman, and the fact that I accepted her offer to take me to see the Ring cycle pleased her immensely, for since monks were not supposed to go out and about with women my acceptance meant I was not treating her as a mere woman but as a man. So pleased was she that she dressed for our opera-going in a striking, Chinese-style outfit of yellow satin, heavily embroidered, which besides giving her a distinctly oriental look made her appear much more feminine. I of course had on, over my robes, the long fawn-coloured cloak I always wore outside the Vihara. We must have been an odd-looking pair. The first time we made our way to the Royal Opera House, through Covent Garden market, one of the porters called out to his companion, with true cockney wit, Look, mate, ere comes Julius Caesar and Cleopatra! Neither of us could help laughing, and Wendy, strange to relate, seemed not at all displeased to think that she looked like the royal Egyptian femme fatale. As for me, for a moment it was as though Caesars laurel wreath encircled my brow.

An incident that occurred on our way back from Covent Garden one night was definitely not a laughing matter at the time. I do not remember which part of the cycle we had just seen (probably it was _______, the concluding part), but whichever one it was, so overwhelmed was I by the experience that during our journey back to Belsize Park I sat speechless, unable to utter a word. Unfortunately, Kutadanta completely misunderstood my silence. She thought I was silent because I was angry with her, and that I was angry because I had not enjoyed the performance and blamed her for being responsible for my having wasted a whole evening. This was enough to throw her into a state of emotional turmoil in which she blamed herself for taking me to the opera, blamed me for allowing myself to be taken, hated me for being angry with her, and hated herself for hating me. The misunderstanding was cleared up only some days later when, having recovered the use of my tongue, I thanked her warmly for giving me the opportunity of seeing the complete Ring cycle and assured her I had thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.

Towards the end of November, when Terry had been settled in the new flat for less than a fortnight, we spent two days in Cambridge. The reason for the visit was that the University Buddhist Society had invited me to speak on Practical Problems of the European Buddhist problems with which I was beginning to be well acquainted. The lecture was to have been given by Marco Pallis (the subject was of his own choosing), but as he was ill I was asked, at short notice, to take his place, even though I had addressed the Society only a few weeks earlier, on The Spiritual Community in Buddhism. On our arrival in the city we met John Hipkin for lunch, and at his suggestion went to see the Russian Hamlet at the local Arts Cinema. Both Terry and I enjoyed this black-and-white version of the famous play, and though thirty-four years have passed since I saw the film, the appearance of the murdered kings ghost on the castle battlements, amid swirling mist, remains a vivid memory. It was also at Johns suggestion indeed, on his warm recommendation that we saw Peter Brooks production of Peter Weiss's controversial Marat/Sade at the Aldwych. Neither of us enjoyed it very much, though not because it could be regarded, from a strict Theravãdin point of view, as being an improper show. Improper or not, I was in any case beginning to be less rigid in my observance of the rules relating to such matters as taking solid food after midday, listening to music, and wearing robes, at least when I was at the flat with Terry.
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Re: Moving Against the Stream, by Dennis Lingwood

Postby admin » Sat Jul 25, 2020 2:41 am

Chapter Twenty-Four: North of the Border

Most of the ten or twelve provincial Buddhist groups were situated in the southern part of Britain, and so far my pastoral excursions had carried me no farther north than Newcastle, whose chairman, the bluff, rationalistic Bill Halford, had introduced himself to me at my first Summer School and invited me to pay them a visit.

The visit did not take place until the following April. Having travelled up by the Flying Scotsman, and caught a glimpse of York Minster and of Durham Cathedral and Castle on the way, I was met at the station by Bill and by him driven some miles out of town to a small lake in the moors known, so he informed me, as the Duck pond. The trip served a double purpose. It enabled my host to tell me about the book he was writing about Newcastle Buddhist affairs (the group had eight or nine regular members, all men), and what he thought of Ananda Bodhi, about whom he was not very complimentary, as well as to show me the moors, of which he seemed rather proud, but which, seen through a thin veil of rain, beneath a leaden sky, to me appeared bleak and desolate in the extreme. In the evening I gave personal interviews to members and friends, and conducted a meditation session, at the Quaker meeting house where the Newcastle group usually met. Bill and others then escorted me to the station, where I caught the Pullman back to London after what according to my diary had been a very worthwhile visit. As I settled into my little compartment I could not help thinking how comfortable and convenient the sleeping arrangements were, especially when compared to the conditions under which I had been accustomed to travel in India.

Since that visit to the Newcastle group I had penetrated no farther north than Biddulph. Later in the year, however, I received an invitation from Glasgow. The invitation came not from a Buddhist group at that time there was no Buddhist group in Glasgow but from Glasgow University as represented by its lecturer in the Philosophy of Religion, the Reverend E. H. Pyle. Glasgow being the second biggest city in Great Britain, and its university an old and distinguished one, naturally I was happy to accept, and after a further exchange of letters it was agreed that my visit should take place during the first week of December. At ten o'clock one Sunday morning I accordingly left for Glasgow from Euston, Terry accompanying me. Luckily we had the compartment to ourselves, so that we could talk freely and I was able to work on my lecture notes while my friend either read or dozed. Terry was visiting Scotland for the first time, but I had been there once before. It was from Glasgow that, twenty years earlier, I had embarked for India, and I had vivid memories of the docks, of the crowded quayside, and of how my khaki-clad comrades and I had filed up the gangway into the bowels of the enormous grey troopship without knowing where we were, where we were really going, or how long we would be away.

At Queen Street station Terry and I were met by Ernest Pyle, a short, balding man of about my own age, and an Indian student who was the president of the International Society. Our train having arrived two hours late, they took us straight to the university and straight to the meeting room where, after a cup of coffee, I addressed the members of the International Society on The Buddhist Way.

I explained that Way in terms of the twelve positive nidãnas, beginning with in dependence upon suffering arises faith and concluding with in dependence upon liberation arises knowledge of the destruction of the defilements. Not that I plunged straight into my subject. After giving an outline of the Buddha's early life, and describing his attainment of Enlightenment, I explained how that Enlightenment or Vision of Reality found conceptual expression, for purposes of communication, in the principle of conditionality, and how conditionality itself was of two kinds, cyclical and spiral, or reactive and creative, and how the Buddhist Way was based on the second kind of conditionality. Only when I had prepared the ground in this manner did I launch into an extended account of each of the positive nidãnas in turn.

The lecture was attended by about 170 students of all nationalities, and I was given an enthusiastic reception. Many questions were asked, and there was much vigorous discussion.

The following afternoon I addressed a much smaller gathering, consisting mainly of Ernest Pyle's own students, on The Nature and Development of Buddhism. As I wanted to leave plenty of time for discussion, this lecture was shorter than the previous one, besides being more technical and less systematic. In it I dealt, initially, with various questions of interpretation, as I called them. Sîlavrata-parãmara, the third of the ten fetters binding to mundane existence, was not dependence on rites and ceremonies (the usual translation) but attachment to moral rules and religious observances as ends in themselves. Nor had the Buddha borrowed this or that idea from his upanishadic predecessors, or from popular Indian religion, as alleged by some scholars. He had simply used the language of his time and place to communicate his own unique vision, and in so doing had given a new meaning to such key terms as brãhmana and vasala.

This led me to explore the nature of the relation between a founded (or universal) religion like Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam, and an ethnic religion like Judaism and Hinduism, and this, in turn, to what I called the phenomenology of Buddhism, that is to say, the fact that its history comprised the three great phases of development known, respectively, as the Hînayãna, the Mahãyãna, and the Vajrayãna. Having briefly characterized each of these phases, I addressed myself to the question of the supposed deification of the Buddha in the Mahãyãna, insisting that the Buddha was neither God nor man. He belonged to a third category, for which there was no equivalent in Western thought that of Enlightened man. In conclusion I reminded my hearers that we should be careful how we applied Western categories to Eastern religions, a point that was well taken and one which, in particular, gave rise to a number of questions in the lively and prolonged discussion that followed.

The actual giving of my two lectures occupied only a fraction of the time Terry and I spent in Glasgow, but thanks to Ernest Pyle our programme nonetheless was a full one. On the Monday morning he came to the University Guest House, where we had spent the night, and took us on a sightseeing trip into the city centre. We went by bus, I noted in my diary that evening. Everything very grim and grimy. Victorian Gothic. Not so cold as had expected. After visiting a second-hand bookshop, where I bought a nice edition of Bishop Butlers Works, in two volumes bound as one, we went to see the River Clyde, on whose dull, polluted waters we gazed down from an iron bridge and which I thought, in the words of my diary, quite picturesque. At one point we bumped into our guides teenage son. Down the side of the youngsters face ran the scarlet line of a recently healed wound. He had been standing outside a cinema one evening, his father explained, when someone had suddenly appeared out of the darkness and slashed his cheek with a razor. The notorious razor gangs were, it seemed, still operating in Glasgow.

Back at the University we took coffee with the Professor of Divinity and the University Chaplain, lunched with Ernest Pyle and the young lecturer in Logic, met the Professor of Zoology and his wife, and saw the university library. We then had tea with our host in his study, where a number of people came to see me, including the Chaplain for Overseas Buddhists, and where we were kept talking until it was time for me to give my second lecture. After the lecture and the ensuing discussion Ernest Pyle took us round to his own place for tea and from there, after more talk, to the station and the Pullman in which we were to travel back to London that night.

It had been an interesting visit, and we had much to talk about and, in- deed, to reflect upon. My visits to Oxford and Cambridge had been at the invitation of their respective Buddhist Societies, which were student organizations, so that my contacts within those twin seats of learning were largely confined to that tiny section of the undergraduate population which, for various reasons and in varying degrees, was attracted to Buddhism. In the case of Glasgow, my visit took place at the invitation of the University itself, and I addressed not only one of the bigger student organizations but Ernest Pyle's class in the Philosophy of Religion. I also had the opportunity of getting to know Ernest Pyle himself and of meeting, through his good offices, representatives of some of the University's different faculties. Thus although my visit to Glasgow was a short one, I had there a range of contacts that was wider, intellectually speaking, than I had at either Oxford or Cambridge, or than was available tome at the Hampstead Vihara and the Buddhist Society. My exchanges with representatives of the various disciplines from Divinity to Zoology, limited as those exchanges may have been, in fact gave me a better understanding of the nature of the challenge to which Buddhism in Britain would have to rise if it was to exert a real influence on the spiritual and intellectual life of the nation. Perhaps new ways of presenting the Dharma would have to be found. We might even be able to learn some- thing from other spiritual groups. Only the previous month Terry and I had investigated an Ouspensky group with this possibility in mind. The group met in a hired room in Victoria, in the shadow, so to speak, of the Buddhist Society. Including the speaker, there were four people present besides ourselves, and the talk, which was devoted to Ouspensky's teachings, was the poorest I had heard since leaving India. It was certainly poorer than any I had heard at the speakers class, and Terry and I did not bother to visit the group again.

We did not visit Glasgow again either (in the following decades I was to visit it many times on my own), though Ernest Pyle and I continued to correspond. The correspondence came to an end only some years later, when the friendly, broad-minded Congregational minister transported himself and his family to the other side of the globe and took up a teaching appointment at an Australian university.
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Re: Moving Against the Stream, by Dennis Lingwood

Postby admin » Sat Jul 25, 2020 2:49 am

Chapter Twenty-Five: A Secret Life

A biography or an autobiography even a set of memoirs can deal with the particular human being who happens to be its subject in a variety of ways. It can skate more or less lightly over the surface of his life, describing circumstances and chronicling outward events, or it can seek to penetrate beneath the surface and to explore in greater or less depth attitudes and motivations that are not immediately apparent and which may even have been concealed. It can also do both, either balancing narrative and psychological analysis or giving more weight to one or other of them in accordance with the inclinations of the author and the kind of life his subject has led.

Tibetan Buddhists have long recognized that inasmuch as a human life is lived on a variety of levels a biography should take account of all of them. The biography of a saint or a great teacher is therefore often divided into three parts, one giving his outer, one his inner, and one his secret biography. The outer biography covers such matters as the saints birth, parentage, secular education, doctrinal studies, monastic ordination, and travels, while its inner and secret counterparts deal, respectively, with his spiritual practices and his transcendental attainments and realizations. It thus is a multi-layered work, reflecting in its highly organized formal structure the storeyed complexity of the saints or great teachers experience as he lived his life.

Though the ordinary persons experience will be much less comprehensive in range, it is similarly stratified. Besides the outer world of work and play, there is the inner world of more or less conscious thought and emotion, great as the extent to which thought and emotion are bound up with external objects and events may be. There is also the world of dreams, recollections of which sometimes mingle with the stream of waking consciousness only, more often than not, to be quickly forgotten.

In my own case I have always been aware that I lived on different levels. Though neither a saint nor a great teacher, I too had an outer, an inner, and a secret life (secret in the Tibetan Buddhist sense) and had, therefore, in principle, not only an outer and an inner biography but a secret one as well. When I came to write the first volume of my memoirs, on which I started rather light-heartedly in 1959, there however was no question of my structuring them in accordance with the time-honoured Tibetan model, about which, in any case, I may not have known at the time. My life was far too complex to be divided up in any such way, besides which there were levels on which I dwelt only intermittently, so that no connected account of them was possible. Indeed it is doubtful whether it ever is possible for all the experiences of a persons lifetime to be included in a single narrative line, greatly though such inclusiveness may be desired, and doubtful, therefore, whether any biography can really be considered complete.

In my memoirs I had a good deal to say about my outer life, rather less about my inner life, and very little about my secret life (again in the Tibetan Buddhist sense), so that the three divisions of traditional Tibetan biography were by no means equally represented. This was due partly to the fact that I happened to have a strong visual memory and enjoyed describing the scenes through which I had passed and the people I had met (I was definitely one of those for whom the visible world exists), and partly to the fact that, especially when working on my second and third volumes of memoirs, I could rely on reports of my activities that had appeared, over the years, in the pages of the Maha Bodhi Journal, as well as on old letters, odd diary leaves, and my published writings on Buddhism. For my secret life there was no comparable record, save for a handful of poems of a more personal nature and the occasional cryptic reference in notebook or diary.

A reference of this kind occurs at the beginning of the entry I made in my diary for Monday 6 December 1965 the second day of my visit to Glasgow. It reads, Slept very little. Feverish most of the night. Mental state very clear. Extraordinary experience of Transcendental, such as have not had since leaving Kalimpong. Terry had experience of intensely heightened state of awareness. That is all. The entry goes on to speak of the arrival of tea (presumably brought by one of the Guest House staff), breakfast, and the coming of Mr Pyle to settle our programme for the day.

Perhaps the most remarkable feature of this experience of the Transcendental, as of similar experiences of mine in the past, was its complete and utter discontinuity with any of my immediately preceding experiences. True, I had been speaking, only a few hours earlier, about the Buddha's Vision of Reality, and about how that vision found expression, for purposes of communication, in the principle of universal conditionality, but even though I had felt very much in tune with my subject, as I usually did on such occasions, this fact alone did not suffice to account for the abrupt appearance, or descent, of an experience of such a totally different order. It was as though I was living, on another level, a secret life that normally had no point of direct contact with my outer or even with my inner life, and that by the time of my visit to Glasgow this secret life had reached a point where its accumulated energy, no longer able to confine itself to its own level, so to speak, had suddenly burst through into the two lower levels. The sleeplessness, the feverishness, and the greatly enhanced mental clarity that accompanied the experience of the Transcendental were, as I well knew, all symptoms of that bursting through, and as such they could be seen as the infinitely remote repercussions of that experience in my physical and mental being.

That my experience of the Transcendental that night should have been such as I had not had since leaving Kalimpong was hardly surprising. The life I had been leading for the last sixteen months, with its continual round of lectures, classes, personal interviews, and travel, was very much an outer life, and although there was an inner life too this was subordinated, to a great extent, to the requirements of the outer life. Of secret life there was none, or rather, that life was left to look after itself in its own mysterious way on its own level, where it continued to accumulate energy and from whence, during my Glasgow visit, it suddenly broke through into the lower levels on which I normally dwelt. It was not the first time such a thing had happened tome. In India, too, there had been times when my life was one of lectures, classes, personal interviews, and travel for months together, and during these periods too (as during quieter periods of retreat) there had been experiences which served to remind me that I had a secret as well as an outer and an inner life and that this secret life continued almost regardless of what was happening on the two other levels.

I was reminded of the existence of this secret life not only by the occasional irruption of the Transcendental but also by dreams, or rather by the appearance in a number of different guises of what was essentially one and the same dream. In these dreams there were always two buildings. Sometimes the buildings were like a monastery or a hermitage, sometimes like an ordinary house, but whatever their appearance, and regardless of whether they were large or small, one was always either situated on a higher level than the other or tucked away somewhere behind it, the two structures being connected by a secret path or, as in at least one dream, by a flight of stone steps cut in the mountainside. The building standing on a lower level, or alternatively in front of the other one, was open to the public; much frequented, it was a busy place, and it was here that (in my dreams) I usually stayed. The other building was private; it could not be seen from the one open to the public, and few people were even aware of its existence. Occasionally I would find myself making my way to it, either alone or with two or three friends. In other dreams, again, it would be derelict, or deserted, or I would realize that I had not visited it for a long time or even had forgotten that such a place existed and that it belonged to me.

When Terry moved to the flat in Lancaster Grove and I started spending part of my time there, it was as though the dream that had haunted me for so many years had, in a manner, come true. Once again there were two buildings, one public and one private, and once again, only this time in full waking consciousness, I found myself making my way from the former to the latter from the Hampstead Buddhist Vihara to what Eric, more truly than he realized, jocularly referred to as the Other Vihara. But there was an important difference. In my dreams I had visited the private monastery or hermitage only occasionally, and at times had even forgotten about it completely. The Other Vihara, on the contrary, I visited at least once or twice a week, and I was always very much aware that by walking a couple of miles I could transport myself to an atmosphere rather different from the one by which I was usually surrounded. But though I spent much less time in Lancaster Grove than I did at Haverstock Hill, the truth was that at this time my centre of spiritual gravity had begun to shift from the Hampstead Buddhist Vihara to the Other Vihara, or rather, to that for which the Other Vihara, as the outward embodiment of the private monastery or hermitage of my dreams, had come to stand. This shift was eventually to have far-reaching consequences, not only for me but for the Buddhist movement in Britain, even for Western Buddhism as a whole. Those consequences would not begin to be felt for a year or more. In the meantime there awaited me more work, many important new impressions, and an experience of treachery such as I had never expected to have to face.
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Re: Moving Against the Stream, by Dennis Lingwood

Postby admin » Sat Jul 25, 2020 2:57 am

Chapter Twenty-Six: Restoring the Balance

My diary entry for 1 January 1966 was very different from my entry for the corresponding day of the previous year. This time there was no summary of my reflections on the recent history of British Buddhism, no expression of my hopes for the future, and no invocation of the blessings of the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and dakinis. There was only a record of the principal events of the day, as indeed there had also been in my entry for the last New Years Day. That New Years Day I had spent at the Hampstead Buddhist Vihara. It was a fairly typical day, in the course of which I had attended puja in the shrine room with the rest of our little monastic community, received an unexpected telephone call from an old friend, and seen members of the Sangha Association. This New Years Day I spent with Terry at the flat, where I had in fact passed the night. The day was by no means a typical one, either for my friend or for me. My diary entry reads:

Got up at about midday, having spent the morning talking. At about 1 o'clock went and had lunch at the Indo-Pak. First time I had been out in civilian clothes. Then down to George Cummins, where Terry collected a box of stuff from his former office. Looked down the Charing X Rd for a jacket for me, but finally decided against getting one. Walked round Soho. Had a coffee. Did our shopping for the week, some of it in a street market. Stopped at Chalk Farm, where Terry collected his laundry. Looked round a second-hand bookshop. Terry bought a couple of paperbacks. Back to the flat. Terry found he had lost a black address book and thought it might still be at the office. Went back and searched, but without any success. Terry left a note for Alan. On returning to the flat discovered the address book in a camera case. Spent the evening reading, talking, and listening to records. Terry still depressed on account of the circumstances of yesterdays farewell.


There are several points here that require explanation. To begin with there is the fact of my not getting up until about midday. By nature, I was (and still am) an early riser, and except for the rare occasions when I was ill I had not spent a whole morning in bed since I was a teenager. Terry was an early riser too, though in his case this was due not so much to personal inclination as to the fact that for many years he had had a nine-to-five job. Now that he had stopped working he saw no reason why he should not spend the morning in bed if he wanted to, and I saw no reason why I should not follow suit. In both cases there was an element of conscious rejection of a particular conditioning. What Terry was rejecting, in effect, was the Protestant work ethic in which he had been brought up, which was an integral part of a system and a way of life he had come to loathe, and according to which such minor indulgences as spending the morning in bed were not just wrong but positively sinful. In my own case I was rejecting the idea that as a Buddhist, and especially as a monk, it was necessary for me always to be leading a strictly disciplined life, as I had done for the last so many years. Not that I was disposed to question the value of discipline. Leading a disciplined life, working methodically, and following a regular routine, were things that came easily and naturally to me, so that I was all the more aware of the danger of their becoming matters of fixed habit and of my becoming incapable, eventually, of functioning in any other manner. Discipline was a means to an end, not an end in itself. From time to time it was therefore necessary to go, prophylactically, to the opposite extreme, at least in small harmless ways.

Thus it was that on that New Years Day I did not get up until about midday, after Terry and I had spent the morning talking to each other across the room from our respective beds. Thus it was, too, that it was not until about 1 o'clock that we drove across to West Hampstead and had lunch at our favourite Indian restaurant. According to the Vinaya, it was an offence for a monk to partake of solid food after midday. In India I had observed this rule strictly for a number of years, and it was official policy at the Hampstead Vihara. During the last few years of my stay in India, however, I had adopted a more flexible attitude, especially when on tour among the newly converted Indian Buddhists, though I continued to observe the 12 o'clock rule, as some of my bhikkhu friends jocularly called it, during the four months of the Rains Residence, when I immersed myself in study, meditation, and literary work and did not go beyond the gate of my small hillside monastery. But regardless of whether I did or did not partake of solid food after midday, it was clear to me that the principle, as distinct from the rule, was moderation in eating, and that this was a principle to be honoured by monk and layman alike. Though it was an offence for a monk to eat after midday, it was a very minor offence, and one that could be expiated by formal confession to a fellow monk. Theravãdin lay folk, who generally were ignorant of the Vinaya, tended to regard the offence as a serious one, sometimes even going so far as to equate it with the infinitely more serious offence of engaging in sexual intercourse with a woman, which automatically entailed permanent expulsion from the monastic community. Had a Theravãdin layman, especially one of the older generation, happened to see me eating in the Indo-Pakistan restaurant that afternoon he (or she) would have been deeply shocked. He would have been still more shocked to see me wearing civilian clothes. That is to say, he would have been shocked had it been possible for him to believe the evidence of his senses and not think, as he was almost bound to think, that it was a case of mistaken identity on his part. Back in his own Sri Lanka, or Burma, or Thailand, it was unthinkable that a monk should ever wear civilian clothes. There a monk was one who wore the yellow robe, and one who wore the yellow robe was a monk, so that despite what the Buddha says in the Dhammapada, verse 142, one who was not wearing the robe could not possibly be a monk and therefore the person seen in the restaurant, in this particular instance, could not possibly have been wearing civilian clothes and have been the Venerable Sangharakshita.

In India I had not once thought of wearing civilian clothes, that is, not since my going forth into the homeless state, and especially not since my formal ordination as a Buddhist monk. I always felt quite at home in the yellow robe, and in any case, in the socio-religious context within which I was then living and working, the question of my wearing anything other than the robe simply did not arise. People may have been some- what surprised, initially, to see a Westerner wearing the yellow robe of the renunciant, but they at least knew what the robe signified, so that even though it happened to be a stranger who was the bearer of the message the message itself was a perfectly familiar one and communication between us could, therefore, be easily established. In England in Great Britain the situation was entirely different. There the yellow robe did not signify anything, though the shaven head (if one did not wear a beret in public, as Ratanasara did) might convey a suggestion of something vaguely medieval and ascetic. My mothers friends had shown no surprise at my yellow robe, not only out of English politeness but because she had already told them all about me; but this was exceptional. Even in cosmopolitan London I had to put up with some strange looks, even with the occasional rude comment, when travelling by bus or tube, especially if I happened to be on my own. Some people seemed to think I was in fancy dress; others, that I was wearing a sari underneath my cloak, or even that I was a transvestite.

Thus it was with a distinct feeling of relief that, for the first time in nearly twenty years, I went out in civilian clothes. It was a relief to be able to walk down Charing Cross Road and round Soho, and to have a cup of coffee, without being stared at or feeling that I was being looked at out of the corner of somebody's eye. I have known Western Buddhist monks who did not mind being intruded on in this way and who, in the case of one or two of them, not only enjoyed being the object of so much attention but flaunted themselves and their yellow robes in a manner that was calculated to attract it. I was of a very different temperament from such exhibitionists. Far from wanting to attract attention, I sought to avoid it as much as possible. I wanted to be free to go about my occasions without being taken particular notice of by anybody. I wanted to be inconspicuous, to be lost in the crowd, to be the observer rather than the observed.

I was certainly inconspicuous that afternoon, as I walked round central London in my civilian clothes. I was wearing a pair of grey flannel trousers I had bought in Cambridge a few weeks earlier, together with a tweed sports-jacket belonging to Terry. The jacket fitted me perfectly, as did the shirt (complete with sober tie) that went with it, for my friend was narrow-shouldered for his height, which was well above average. Terry was pleased to see me in civilian clothes, for he was one of those who believed that such oriental trappings as yellow robes had nothing to do with the actual study and practice of the Buddha's teaching and could, in fact, be an obstacle to its being taken seriously by intelligent people. For my part, I felt less strange in civilian clothes than I had expected to be, given the length of time that had elapsed since I last wore them, and soon I felt as much at home in jacket and trousers as I did in robes, besides being more comfortable in them when it was a question of going out and about. Not that I very often went out in civilian clothes. I went out in them only occasionally, and even then only with Terry, and more often than not we would be driving around in the Little Bus rather than walking or using public transport.

Nobody at the Hampstead Vihara knew that I sometimes wore civilian clothes, with the possible exception of Eric, whom I may have told. Had the more decidedly Theravãdin members of the Sangha Association known they would have been scandalized, for thanks to the efforts of a succession of Sinhalese, Thai, and Thailand-returned bhikkhus the minds of a section of the British Buddhist community were already imbued with the formalistic notions that prevailed in the Buddhist countries of South-East Asia. As for the other members of the Association, most, I suspect, would not have objected to my wearing civilian clothes sometimes, anymore than most members of the Buddhist Society would have done. According to Christmas Humphreys the true Buddhist was one who wore the yellow robe within (a favourite phrase of his), and probably he and his colleagues at the Society would have preferred to see Western monks wearing ordinary Western dress rather than going about in what the average Englishman, and even the average English Buddhist, could not but regard as outlandish costume.

My finally deciding against getting myself a jacket, when Terry and I looked down Charing Cross Road for one, was certainly not owing to any shortage there either of clothing shops or jackets. Rather was the opposite the case. There were several such shops, and in each shop there were so many jackets, of so many different sizes, colours, materials, styles, and prices, that in the end, unable to make up my mind which one to choose, I decided to put off the whole perplexing business to another day, with the result that several years were to pass before I actually bought myself a jacket. My indecisiveness was due, in part, to the fact that as a monk I was not used to buying my own clothes (ones yellow robes were provided by the laity, and were always of the same traditional pattern), in part to the fact that I had been away so long that I had no idea what sort of clothes would be suitable for someone of my age and position (or lack of position), and neither Terry nor the shop assistants were able to give me much help in this connection.

While I had experienced no difficulty in adjusting psychologically to being back in Britain, the truth of the matter was that living, as I did, in the esoteric enclave that was the Hampstead Buddhist Vihara, I had little knowledge of what life in the workaday world outside was really like. Not only did I have no idea what sort of clothes to buy. Doing the weeks shopping and collecting laundry, as Terry and I did after walking round Soho and having a coffee, were novel experiences for me, the more especially as some of that shopping was done in a crowded and noisy street-market and I had not set foot in a launderette before. To my friend, of course, such tasks as shopping and collecting ones laundry were only too familiar, and it was thanks to him that, as the weeks and months went by, these and a hundred other concomitants of modern living became familiar to me or became less unfamiliar. It was Terry more than anyone else, in fact, who enabled me to make the transition to living in England (as distinct from living at the Hampstead Buddhist Vihara), just as twenty years ago it had been the then Robin Banerjee who enabled me to make the transition to living in India, and for me, at least, this was an important element in our friendship.

The last point that requires explanation, in my diary entry for New Years Day, relates to the fact that in the evening Terry was still feeling depressed. He was depressed, as the entry itself indicates, on account of the circumstances of the send-off his colleagues at the advertising agency had given him the previous evening. This had been a boisterous, alcoholic affair; he had not looked forward to it, and returned to the flat slightly drunk and wanting to talk. It was not the boisterousness, or even the freely flowing alcohol, that had disturbed him, so much as his being there on what he felt were completely false pretences. Though he had worked for the agency for a number of years, and was regarded as a popular figure, none of his colleagues really knew him, so that the good old Terry who was the recipient of their hearty, if alcoholic, good wishes for the future was not he but a totally different person. They knew nothing of his problems, nothing of his aspirations, and did not understand why, at the age of thirty, he was leaving a well-paid job in order, apparently, to study philosophy.

Another source of Terry's depression was the fact of his having been unable to make a short speech acknowledging his colleagues good wishes, as was customary on such occasions. He had made a few notes beforehand, and indeed tried to speak, but after stammering out a few words he was so overcome by anxiety, and was sweating so profusely, that he was obliged to stop and sit down. He sat down amid applause, his colleagues thinking he had simply had too much to drink. But Terry knew better. For him, therefore, his failure to rise to the occasion was a deeply humiliating experience, and one that served to reinforce the inferiority and anxiety he often felt in social situations.
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